The “True” Italian American Documentary
“Dispelling the Myth”
The culture the Italian immigrants brought with them was generally not the high Italian culture of Dante and Michelangelo, but the culture of the region or village from which they came. These individual but related cultures established the basis of contemporary Italian American culture.
A University of Chicago study of fifteen ethnic groups showed that Italian Americans were among those groups having the lowest percentages of divorce, unemployment, people on welfare and those incarcerated. On the other hand, they were among those groups with the highest percentages of two-parent families, elderly family members still living at home, and families who eat together on a regular basis.
Italian-American culture, and transplanted Italian culture, have influenced American culture in a variety of ways. They opened restaurants, foods, coffees and desserts; wine production (in California and elsewhere in the U.S.); popular music, starting in the 1940s and 1950’s . Continuing into the present; operatic, classical and instrumental music; jazz; fashion and design became popular. “Capra-esque” movies (in the style of Frank Capra); Italianate architecture, etc. in homes, churches, and public buildings were the order of the day.
Montessori schools; Christmas crèches; fireworks displays; bocce; Columbus Day parades; and the commemoration of Columbus, are reflected in numerous monuments, city names, names of institutions and the poetic name, “Columbia”, for the United States itself.
The Italian American Museum in New York City, established in 2001, is dedicated to the struggles of the Italian immigrants. Their descendants, added greatly to their achievements and contributions to American culture and society.