POINT Chapter 15 Meeting - August 1, 2009

POINTers In Person
Lou Costello Chapter 15

Northern New Jersey

Pursuing Our Italian Names Together
August 1, 2009

The Northern New Jersey chapter of POINTers In Person met on August 1, 2009 at the ElmwoodPark Municipal Building.  Twenty-seven people attended.

Maria Carparelli (#2100) opened the meeting.  It was mentioned that the chapter’s website now contains recipes and it is hoped many will contribute family recipes to it.  The Italian American  Museum in Manhattan presented the film, “Golden Door”, in August as part of  its Cinema Culturale Film Series.  The two evening viewing included a discussion concerning the film, which is about Italian immigration, and a private tour of the museum.

Lillian Pappas (#2717) alerted members about a useful website, www.fultonhistory.com.  Over 150 years of newspapers were scanned onto this website where researchers can search over 10,258,000 New York State historical newspaper pages.  Although the focus of this website is on upstate and central NY State regions, it also includes lower NY newspapers, as well as postcards.  Lillian found articles in the 1913 Brooklyn Eagle, using this resource, which showed that her  family contributed to the naming of Columbus Day (formerly known as “Discovery Day”).

Maryanne Graham (#3654) presented the treasurer’s report.  The chapter has 39 active members.

Dr. Sandra Lee (originally spelled “Lea”) gave the presentation, “Immigrant Stories in Image:       Family, Work, Religion”.  Her slide show featured photos from her recent book about Italian       immigrants from the Nutley/Belleville/Newark area (Essex Co., NJ).  She has spent ten years       researching her Italian ancestry and has traced one line back to the 1600s.  Dr. Lee is a Seton Hall University full Professor in Professional Psychology and a Research Associate with Seton Hall’s Alberto Institute of Italian Studies.  Recently, she gave a presentation in Palermo, Sicily on “Italian American Neighborhoods: Family, Work, Religion”, a professional conference sponsored by the Sicilian Psychological Association and the Italian American Psychology Assembly.  It was based on research from her book.  While in Sicily, she visited some of the towns where her ancestors lived: Cammarata, Sciacca and Siculiana.  Other ancestors came from near Milan.

Her book on Italian Americans on Newark, Belleville and Nutley includes research and photos of original Italian immigrants and their families living in those towns.  She collected photos and  family histories from individual family albums and boxes of old photos.  Her book portrays the life and people of the original old Italian neighborhoods of these Essex County towns from the 1880s to the 1950s.  Her current focus is New Jersey although her family settled in the Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania.  Italians settling in Newark basically came from the provinces of Salerno and Avellino, originating from towns such as Castelgrande, San Fele, Avigliano, Teora, Caposele, Lioni, Calabritto, and Maddaloni.  Many settling in Belleville came from Sicily.  Those who settled in Nutley came from the Province of Cosenza (especially Acri), the Province of Avellino (especially Teora) and from the Calabria region.

The second part of Dr. Lee’s project has begun.  Anyone who wishes to contribute photos or family stories for her next book may contact her at slee88@aol.com or Sandra.lee@shu.edu. The entire collection of scanned photos will be donated to the archives at Seton Hall University. The Italian Heritage Project currently features 200 families and about 7,000 photos.

Sue Berman’s (#4405) grandmother’s 1922 passport from Caposele, as well as other photos were featured in Dr. Lee’s book.  Wedding gowns worn proudly in some photographs were later recycled by creative Italians into communion dresses and christening gowns, Dr. Lee noted.  Interesting stories surrounded each photograph. For example, mention was made of someone in one  photo who had applied for a dog catcher’s license, but came out of the municipal building with an undertakers’ license instead – and this was the trade he practiced for the rest of his life.  A caption under one photo captured a true sentiment, “We had nothing, but we had everything”.

       Future meetings will be held on:

            November 7, 2009
            February 6, 2010
            May 1, 2010
            August 7, 2010

        For details, see our website: https://sites.rootsweb.com/~njpoint/


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