It's Only Natural

Over 25 million Italians have emigrated between 1861 and 1960 with a migration boom between 1871 and 1915 when over 13,5 million emigrants left the country for European and overseas destinations.
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darkerhorse
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It's Only Natural

Post by darkerhorse »

My 100% Sicilian grandfather was described as "bruno" on his passport (October), "natural" on his ship manifest (November), "ruddy" on his citizenship record (May), and "ruddy" on his WWII registration card (April).

From memory, for the eight years I knew him, I'd say he was brown-skinned or dark-skinned year-round. Perhaps he became ruddy in the sun? Not olive-skinned, though he might have had brown skin with olive undertones, I suppose.

On ship manifests, I noticed a lot of complexions for Italians are listed as "natural" or "regular". My understanding is that the manifests were typically completed at the port of departure by English-speaking natives.

I searched NY Passenger Lists for various complexions I thought of. The base for the first number is birth = Italy and Race/Nationality = Italian. The second number is birth = Italy, Race/Nationality = Italian, and departure = Italy.

I suspect the second (smaller) number is better, as some of those born in Italy who are declared as Italian but departing from outside Italy may have lived outside Italy for generations. You can see that in the figures for light and white.

Anyway, here are the numbers.

natural = 722,933/701,082
dark = 288,911/249,545
regular = 284,529/283,217
brown = 147,607/118,313
medium = 34,936/32,665
light = 33,311/3,953
white = 20,330/2,089
ruddy = 15,252/12,875
olive = 365/215

Apparently, Italians don't usually describe complexions as "ruddy" or "olive", perhaps that's considered "natural" or "regular"?

I welcome comments and suggestions, especially about what "natural" and "regular" mean.

I threw in the bit about olive complexion because my grandmother was also 100% Sicilian but her family had light-to-medium olive skin. They arrived before ship manifests recorded complexion but, in U.S. military records they were described as "light" (February/October). My father ended up with a complexion in-between my two grandparents, sometimes described as "ruddy", but I'd say darker than my grandmother, but not as dark as my grandfather. I'm probably a shade lighter due to having a non-Italian mother.

I also knew the reference to olive skin would catch the eyes of some of the forum members.
darkerhorse
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Re: It's Only Natural

Post by darkerhorse »

I just searched for a few more complexions:

Rosy = 63,659/60,720
Pale = 18,030/15,729
Sallow = 908/434

I wonder how they correspond to the previous complexions?

Pale sounds like light or white, while sallow could be pale or olive, I suppose. Is rosy like ruddy?
darkerhorse
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Re: It's Only Natural

Post by darkerhorse »

Black = 2,809/2,007
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