As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
Liverpool is to celebrate its 800 year birthday (received the charter 1207 AD) in 2007 and will celebrate becoming European Capital of Culture in 2008 so we have a couple of big years coming up. In response to these important dates, National Museums Liverpool is building a new museum and in being an employee I am involved in discussing what the content will be. One of the areas I have pinpointed is the different ethnic communities that have coexisted within Liverpool. For those who donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know much about the cultural makeup of Liverpool, in its capacity of a port and its close geographical location to Ireland it has developed distinctly different than anywhere else in England. Amongst other factors because of its large Irish population, which is reflective in the dialect/local accent.
Back to my point. There have been and still are many other cultural communities residing in Liverpool, which have and do contribute to the culture. But for obvious reasons it has been the Italian community in Liverpool, which has most interested me. It was a small community to the north of the city centre. They started to arrive during the1860Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s onwards, probably to board ship for the AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s because Liverpool was the gateway at that time.
Similar to many Irish settlers they could not raise the funds to cost the trip so ended up settling up in Liverpool and later bringing their families to their new community. The area they settled in was predominantly Irish but they coexisted without any rivalry, in fact Italians developed a very good reputation for being hard working and honest in Liverpool, which is no easy feat with Celtic types such as Irish and to a lesser degree Scots and Welsh who were the main identities in Liverpool, oh I forgot the English as well.
However, during the Second World War because of the ItalyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s allegiance to Germany anyone who was remotely linked to being Italian were packed off to interment camps to the Isle of Mann and I believe initially to Canada as well, not so sure this lasted because there was a ship sank by I think a U boat off the coast of Ireland heading to Canada where many Italians lost their lives to the sea.
The funny thing is that the camps to begin with were in Liverpool and there was no hostility towards them from the locals. I think this reaction to put anyone remotely Italian into camps stemmed from the reaction of locals (better known as Scousers) during the First World War to German people living in the city. Whenever their was a ship sank such as the Lusitania the people took it personally (We have always loved all our registered ships, such is the nature of a seafaring folk), so rioted each time, destroying anything remotely German.
At last, my question: Does anyone else have similar or different stories of Italian communities from their countries during the wars? I think it would be good to compare LiverpoolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Little Italy with similar Italian communities elsewhere
Searching for Palombella family in Molfetta, Puglia
I had many old uncles, as well as my great grandparents, interned during the war. Most were simply sent inland away from coastal areas where the presence of 'enemy aliens' was deemed dangerous. The ship that went to Canada was called the Arandora Star. My great grandmother's cousin died when it was torpedoed, along with many, many others from the Italian community. There is a website which lists all of the names and birthplaces of the Italians who died. I will get back to you with its 'address' if you like.
Ironically, at a time when my great grandfather was interned as an enemy alien here, the Nazis were busy killing his mother in Italy for being a British sympathiser. I think it was a very difficult time all round. The night Italy joined with Germany my Grandmother recalls her mother burning anything that linked them with the previously popular Mussolini - such as pictures of my grandmother in her white dress and red sash. On a lighter note, somewhere in a garden in Aberdeen there is buried a bust of Mussolini which another old aunt, long gone now, interred hastily during the hours of darkness!
Thanks for the link to the passenger list of the Arandora Star, very interesting.
Great family story as well, and by the way I'm an archaeologist by profession so if you need tips on locating and excavating the buried Mussolini bust then no problems (ha). On a more serious note it must be nice to have those types of family stories branching across generations and countries. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not the case for me. I am typical of someone from Liverpool in that the Italian is on my mother's side and my fatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s parents were Irish and German, which makes me, I think Scouse ha, but my point is it is typical for similar families in Liverpool in that the connection to their origins is lost in the initial generations.
So I have been commissioned by the family to trace the Italian side because obviously with me being an archaeologist and working for a museum then it will take me all of 10 minutes. They have been sorely disappointed as you can imagine.
I do have transferable skills in that I know the majority of the sources available and have good a understanding of the limitations and discrepancies of the information out their but I think I lack the practical experience of an experienced genealogist but I'm learning.
I do think that trying to locate where my ancestors came from in Italy is going to be very difficult especially that I only speak a little Italian and my reading and writing skills are not much better. So I will have to enrol on a course soon I think.
Searching for Palombella family in Molfetta, Puglia