Date of Graduation

1986

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

This study examined the assimilation of twentieth century Italian immigrants and their chidren through a variety of educational experiences in a rural area. The objectives were to describe how they acquired their language, to determine factors which affected their assimilation, and to compare and contrast, through a review of the literature, urban experiences with the rural experiences of subjects in this study. Little has been written about Italian immigrant experiences in rural areas. Therefore, to supplement the published and unpublished studies on the Italians in the cities, the techniques of oral history were utilized in order to study Italian immigrants and their children in Washington, Pennsylvania. The results indicated that the majority of the Italian immigrants who came to Washington, Pennsylvania between 1890 - 1940 were from Southern Italy and for the most part were agricultural workers who migrated to the United States for economic reasons. It was also found that Italian immigrants were put at a disadvantage by the language barrier, customs, religion, and mannerisms. However, they were self-contained, and by banding together and isolating themselves, they felt secure and were able to retain an identity. This type of settlement helped them learn the English language from their own children, neighbors, boarders, and relatives who migrated earlier. Most important, various factors facilitated assimilation of rural Italian immigrants such as the English language, work experiences, lodges, churches, recreational activities and the newspapers. Finally, the implications of this study indicated that the techniques of oral history could be employed in ethnic studies courses along with helping use oral history to reconstruct the history of their communities.

Share

COinS