IT and US: The Italian Enclaves Historical Society
- WTI Magazine #122 Dec 14, 2019
The Italian Enclaves Historical Society was created in April of 2019. The organization’s motto is: “making Italian American history every day” by documenting the people, places and things that showcase Italian culture in the United States in the twenty-first century. As over six million Italians migrated to the United States between the mid 1800’s and mid-twentieth century, dozens of Italian neighborhoods and churches popped up throughout the country. Many of these places have faded away and in many cases their institutions have long been gone, but much still remains scattered across America. The society’s overarching goal is to complete the massive task of forming an online database that catalogues each Italian neighborhood and Italian National parish that has existed since migration from Italy in the mid 1800’s with current and historical photos.
Raymond Guarini, the founder of the IEHS has worked diligently over the last seven years to take photographs of every Italian neighborhood and their character by depicting their feasts, businesses and churches. He portrayed his work on Instagram and Facebook three years ago and has received a constant flow of followers and fans who have also shared their photographs and stories in what has evolved into a social media phenomenon of sorts that has attracted other like-minded, passionate individuals. Having traveled to dozens of individual places, Guarini still has much to see in what amounts to a race against the clock to preserve the memory of the quickly fading twenty-first century Italian enclaves of America.
Carefully curating a board of directors was no easy task, but the Italian Enclaves Historical Society has attracted the best and brightest from across the country and even Rome with the addition of Umberto Mucci of We The Italians, author and Italian cultural expert Stephanie Longo, St. Rocco Society President and litigation attorney Stephen LaRocca, culinary expert Michele Di Pietro, food blogger Anthony Scillia, and sociology professor Dr. Jerome Krase. Krase has been traveling to Italian Enclaves since the 1970’s and has amassed an archive of photos which he is allowing the society’s website to showcase upon completion. There are also several executive board members currently being added and a huge amount of interest from all parts of the country from other passionate individuals to further the society’s mission.
The society’s recent formation happened in conjunction with the publication of a book called New York City’s Italian Neighborhoods that was created by Raymond Guarini and Cav. John Napoli, author of the Il Regno blog. The book serves as a visual homage of New York City’s many Italian neighborhoods with photographs of current businesses, churches and recent events such as saint processions and feasts. Proceeds from the book, which is published by Arcadia Publishing under the Images of Modern America series, will be shared with the Saint Rocco Society of Potenza and The Italian Enclaves Historical Society. The Italian Enclaves Historical Society currently has a fundraiser on GoFundMe that aims to raise a modest $2,500 for the creation of its initial catalogue of neighborhood and church photographs.