Italians in the United States are commonly associated with communities in cities in the east. But during the course of research on ranching culture in Nevada between 1978 and 1982, American Folklife Center researchers met Italian American ranchers and found architectural evidence of Italian settlement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Italians, like many others, responded to the prospect of land for settlement and joined the westward migration during the mid- to late 1800s. There seemed to still be opportunities to document evidence of Italian settlement of the past as well as Italian communities of the present.
The Italian Americans in the West Project collection was developed to help add to a richer understanding of Italian settlement in the United States. Field research was conducted from 1989 through 1991 and was directed by American Folklife Center staff. During the course of the field research, teams of folklife researchers explored the ways Italian Americans have defined their identity as a cultural group in the past and present. Subject areas included public and private aspects of expression, foodways, occupations, festivals, and vernacular architecture. Multiple research sites afforded the opportunity to map cultural intersections of ethnic and regional history. The sites were chosen on the basis of cultural and economic definitions of the West, in communities where Italian Americans have long been associated with the distinctive economies of the regions. A book of essays related to the project, Old Ties, New Attachments: Italian-American Folklife in the West edited by David Taylor and John Alexander Williams, is available for free online from Google Books.
New Digital Collection: “The Italian Americans in the West Project”
Filed by February 12, 2021on