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American Folklife Center Collections: Italy

This guide provides access to ethnographic resources documenting Italian expressive culture in Italy and the United States in the collections of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.


David Taylor, photographer. Andy Briguglio bricks up the top of his forno. San Pedro, California. 1989. (Caption based on David Taylor's photograph log for this item.) Italian Americans in the West Project Collection. Library of Congress American Folklife Center,

American Folklife Center collections documenting Italians in Italy and the United States represent the diversity of their expressive culture. Among its unique collections are Italian songs collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell in California in the 1930s, available in the presentation California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties; Italian songs, work, and traditions recorded by Alan Lomax in Italy in the 1950s; and ethnographic study of Italian religious traditions in New York found in the Joseph Sciorra collection. American Folklife Center field projects have included documentation of Italian Americans including documentation of Italian ranchers in Nevada, available online in Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945 to 1982; documentation of various Italian traditions in Chicago, available online in the Chicago Ethnic Arts Project Collection; documentation of Italians in Lowell Massachusetts online in the Lowell Folklife Project Collection; documentation of Italian businesses and workers in New Jersey, online in Working in Paterson; and documentation of a wide variety of Italian traditions in the Italian Americans in the West Project collection.

Italian Americans in the West Project Collection

The Italian Americans in the West Project collection contains the sound recordings, photographs, video recordings, fieldnotes, publications, ephemera, and accompanying manuscript materials associated with the American Folklife Center's Italian Americans in the West project. The purpose of the three-year field research project was to document aspects of traditional cultural expression of Italian Americans in the western United States. Field research was conducted from 1989 through 1991 and was directed by American Folklife Center staff.

Additional Collections of Interest

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

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Lou Maiuri, 92, is the son of Italian immigrants who arrived in West Virginia in the early 1900s. "Italians are big on food," Lou says from his basement cellar, where the shelves are lined with preserved peppers, canned beans, and a family-recipe pasta sauce he's been making for 70 years. Mike and Amy often find themselves exploring Italian-American foodways in West Virginia in places like Clarksburg's historic Glen Elk District with its bakeries and delicatessens, at traditional spaghetti houses, and with seasoned cooks like Maiuri, who shares his recipe for homemade pasta sauce and ravioli in this video. (Event Date: September 15, 2021)

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