University of Minnesota

Massaro, Dominic R., Collection

Order Sons of Italy in America Archives

Finding Aid

IHRC Archives

Immigration History Research Center Archives, University of Minnesota

Descriptive summary

Creator: Massaro, Dominic R.
Dates: 1923-2012
Abstract: The Dominic R. Massaro Order Sons of Italy in America Collection (1923-2012) consists of records and minutes of Supreme Conventions (1960-1987), Supreme Council Minutes (1963-1987); correspondence of Massaro as Director of Public Relations, Chairman of the Membership and Expansion Committee, and as National Historian; correspondence and reports of various OSIA committees and activities; convention material, council minutes, correspondence, committees, and activities of the OSIA New York Grand Lodge; and some records of other state lodges. Also included are documents relating to local lodges, in particular, the Northwest Bronx Lodge No. 2091, including minutes, financial records, correspondence, membership lists,and activities. Additionally, there is a large amount of material pertaining to non-OSIA activities relating to Italian Americans and general ethnic issues. Programs in New York, Washington, D.C., and throughout Italy are well reported (newspaper clippings, photographs and artifacts).
Quantity: 201 linear ft.
Language: English, Italian.
Collection ID: IHRC1496


The collection was acquired from Justice Dominic R. Massaro between 1987 and 2013. The earlier accessions were processed by Edward Tebbenhoff and Jennifer Guglielmo under the direction of the OSIA Project Coordinator John Andreozzi and IHRC Curator Joel Wurl. Accessions comprising Record Group III were processed by Mary George, Keit Osadchuk and Joshua Olson, the projects were supervised by IHRC Archivist Daniel Necas. The printed version of the present Inventory was prepared and edited by Shelby Johnson. The processing and editorial work was completed during the tenure of IHRC Directors Rudolph Vecoli, Donna Gabaccia, Erika Lee and Program Director Haven Hawley. 


Dominic R. Massaro is one of only a dozen Americans of Italian descent to hold Italy’s highest decoration - - Cav. di Gran Croce della Repubblica Italiana.  It is he who advanced the Sons of Italy Archives project in 1973. 

             Born and raised in The Bronx, he enjoys a career filled with prominent public service as a member of the bar, jurist, author and lecturer.  A “highly qualified” nominee to the state judiciary by Governor Cuomo, and reappointed by Governors Pataki and Patterson, since 1987 he has presided as a Justice of the Supreme Court of New York, the oldest court (1691) of continuing jurisdiction in the United States.  The jurist holds four earned degrees: a bachelors in economics and a masters in government from New York University, a second masters in criminal justice from Long Island University, and a doctorate in jurisprudence from New York Law School.

             For nine years he served first as a New York city (l967-71) and then state (1971-75) human rights commissioner under Mayor Lindsay and Governor Rockefeller.  President Nixon named him to the Appeals Board of the United States Selective Service System; and, during the Ford Administration, he served as United States Regional Director of the Agency for Voluntary Service (ACTION), with jurisdiction from New York to the Caribbean over such well-known efforts as the Peace Corps.  For nine years thereafter, he was administrative law judge for the City of New York.

             President of the Catholic Students Association while an undergraduate at NYU, he later served for 20 years as chairman of the Cardinal’s Committee on the Italian Apostolate of the Archdiocese of New York.  He is a 35-year trustee of the archdiocesan Lavelle School for the Blind.

             Justice Massaro is a past “Outstanding Young Man of America” chosen in 1964 by the U.S. Jaycees.  In 1974, he received the “William Paca Award” from the Federation of Italian American Democratic Organizations of New York State.  He was named “Catholic New Yorker” in 1986.  In 1994, he was joint recipient of the “Lehman-LaGuardia Award in Civil Rights” by the Order Sons of Italy in America and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.  UNICO National gave him its highest award in 1995.  OSIA conferred him with its highest “Bene Emeritus” designation, also in 1995.  Tiro A Segno named him “Honorary Member” in 1999.  The National Council of Columbia Associations in Civil Service presented him its “Role Model” Award in 2003, likewise FIERI National in 2005; the Italian American Labor Council presented him with the Four Freedoms Award in 2010.  He is the recipient of the Police Honor Legion of the City of New York, the Congressional Medal of Merit, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the Gold Cross of the Organization of Latin American States.  In all, the jurist holds more than ten score awards, honors and citations presented him over the years for professional and civic accomplishments. 

             Justice Massaro has received numerous academic recognitions, including conferral of doctoral degrees, honoris causa, in laws, letters and judicial administration.  Published in legal and scholastic journals, in 1988 he was a co-author of New York’s Role in the Ratification of the United States Constitution (Charles Evans Hughes Press, N.Y.); in 1996 he authored “Provisional Remedies” in Enforcing Judgments and Collecting Debts in New York (West Pub. Co., St. Paul, Min.).  The jurist lectures annually on both sides of the Atlantic.  He is trustee of the American University of Rome.  The author of over two hundred fifty published legal opinions, on three separate occasions the journals of the American Bar Association credited him with “trends in the law.”  His 1991 treatise, Cesare Beccaria, The Father of Criminal Justice: His Impact on Anglo American Jurisprudence (Universitas Internationalis Press, Pescia; The Digest, Nat’l. Italian American Bar Assn. Journal, Wash. D.C.) earned the Primo Dorso.

             The jurist is “president emeritus” of the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations.  He has served as chair of the Verrazzano Institute at Mercy College (New York), the Garibaldi Museum (New York) and the Sons of Italy Archives at the University of Minnesota; as president of the Gramercy Boys Club of New York and The Bronx Chamber of Commerce; and is honorary chair of the Italian American History and Culture Committee of New York.  From 1987-1991, he served as chair of the Bronx County Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution.  From 1991-1993, he served as non-partisan chair of New York’s Legislative Advisory Committee on Urban Public Higher Education.  In 1992 he was named “Diplomat” by the Colombian Academy of International Law in Bogotá and in 2000 “Academic” by the Pontifical Tiberian Academy in Rome.  He is listed in Who’s Who in American Law and The American Bench.

             Justice Massaro has for many years been a leading American articulator for the non-marginalizaton of Italy in any reorganization of the United Nations Security Council.  In 1998, he served as the American Judges Association Observer to the Rome Treaty Conference on the Creation of the International Criminal Court.  His chairmanship of the United States Antonio Meucci Memorial Committee witnessed success in 2004 in the acknowledgment by Congress of Meucci’s claim in the invention of the telephone, as did his efforts in 2009 to place an official United States marker in Florence in memory of Filippo Mazzei, “patriot” of American independence.  He since earned high marks for his role in reinstatement of the Advance Placement Italian Language test by the College Board that high school students obtain college credits.

             Justice Massaro served as a member of the New York State Education Department’s first Italian American Advisory Council (1973-77).  Currently, he serves as National Historian of the National Italian American Foundation, and is a director of the Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò at New York University; of the Italian Government school for North America, LaScuola d’Italia Guglielmo Marconi, and of the Fiorello H. LaGuardia Foundation, all in New York.  As a sometime historian, he is credited with the establishment of both the Sons of Italy Archives (1989) and the NIAF Archives (2005) at the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota.  A Major (ret.) in the Judge Advocate General Corps of the Army New York Guard, he is past president of the National Commission for Social Justice and a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow.

             In the world of chivalry, his credentials are impressive.  Both of Italy’s royal houses, that of Savoy and of Bourbon-Two Sicilies have granted him high decorations.  Likewise, he holds the Grand Cross of the Roman Catholic Church’s Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.  Pope John Paul II accorded him the dignity of Pontifical Knight of the Grand Cross of St. Gregory the Great, and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta conferred him with the Grand Cross of its Order of Merit.  He is honorary chair of the American Society of the Italian Legions of Merit and serves as Principal Representative of the American Judges Association (NGO) at the United Nations.


January, 2011.




The Dominic R. Massaro Order Sons of Italy in America Collection (1923-2012) reflects decades of service to OSIA and consists, on the national level, of records, reports and minutes of Supreme Conventions (1960-87), Supreme Council minutes and reports (1963-87), voluminous correspondence of Massaro as National Director of Public Relations (1963-66), Chairman of the National Commission on Membership and Expansion (1966-69), Supreme Deputy to Bermuda (1969-73), National Deputy (1973-79), and as National Historian (1981-91).  Likewise, his service as Chairman of the Board of Overseers of the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum (1975-77), Counsel to the Sons of Italy Foundation (1983-86), President of the National Commission for Social Justice (1987-89), and Chairman of the Board of Overseers of the Sons of Italy Archives (1988-91 and 2003-05).  During all this time, Massaro became New York’s longest serving Supreme Delegate (since 1965), until he retired from the Supreme Lodge in 1991.  Massaro was named Bene Emeritus of OSIA, its highest membership recognition, in 1995.

            On the state and local levels, correspondence and reports of various OSIA committees and activities, convention material, council minutes of the OSIA New York Grand Lodge, where Massaro became the longest serving Grand Delegate (since 1959), including Massaro as State Chairman of Public Relations (1959-63), Grand Trustee (1963-64) and Chairman of Italian Affairs (1966-68).  Records of other state lodges are here as well.  Also included are documents relating to local lodges, in particular the Northeast Bronx Lodge No. 2091 where Massaro first joined OSIA in 1958, later merged as Uguaglianza Northeast Bronx Lodge No. 83 (2001) with Massaro as Secretary (1959-63), Chairman of the Metropolitan Council of Lodges (1962-64), and Venerable (President) (1969-70), including minutes, financial records, correspondence, membership lists, and activities.

            Additionally, there is nearly an overwhelming amount of material covering a half century pertaining to non-OSIA activities relating to Italian Americans and general ethnic issues.  Programs in New York, Washington, D.C., and throughout Italy are well reported (newspaper clippings, photographs and artifacts).

Here, the collection is rich in documentation of Massaro’s involvement at the highest levels with Italian government authorities and in many other organizations and projects, Italian American and beyond.  These include the organizations mentioned in the biographical sketch above and also the following: American Committee on Italian Migration (ACIM), American Justinian Society of Jurists, American Society of the Italian Legions of Merit, American University of Rome, AMITA, Belmont Library and Fermi Cultural Center, Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, Columbian Association, Columbian Lawyers Association, Columbus Citizens Foundation, Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations, Constantinian Order of St. George, Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, Esca Club, Fiorello H. LaGuardia Foundation, Free Albania Committee, House of Savoy, Imperiale Contrada della Giraffa, Italian American Anti-Defamation League, Italian American Center for Urban Affairs, Italian American Curriculum Studies Project, Italian American Institute at CUNY, Italian American Legislative Committee on Urban Public Higher Education, ItalianAmerican Museum, Italian Apostolate, Italian Heritage and Culture Committee, John Cabot University, La Scuola d’Italia Guglielmo Marconi, Mercy College, Mother Italy Monument, National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO), National Italian American Bar Association, National Italian American Coordination Association (NIACA), National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), Northeast Bronx Senior Citizens Center,  Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, Order of Malta, Path to Peace Foundation, Republic of San Marino, Tiro A Segno, Tuscan American Association, Vatican, and Verrazzano College.

            The collection ends, fittingly enough, with Massaro presiding for six years (2005-2010) over what is perhaps the most prestigious Italian American entity in the United States: the American Society of the Italian Legions of Merit, all of whose members are chosen by Italy for high decoration.  Reflecting the entire collection is a regularly posted scrapbook(s) totaling 19 volumes of looseleaf reportage on the Massaro persona and the traction he enjoyed, and yet enjoys, at the hub of the organized Italian American community.



Foreword from the printed version of the "Inventory of the Papers of Dominic R. Massaro" by Donna Gabaccia (published in 2013 by the IHRC/A, University of Minnesota)


The Dominic R. Massaro Collection provides researchers with a wonderful snapshot of Italian American ethnicity in the second half of the twentieth century.  Few individual collections so effectively complement the institutional records of a major American ethnic organization (in this case the archive of the Order Sons of Italy in America - - OSIA) as does Justice Massaro’s.

            That synergy is a boon for researchers for, as Rudolph J. Vecoli (my predecessor as long-time Director of the Immigration History Research Center) put it, “The Sons of Italy Archives . . . is the keystone of the Center’s Italian American Collection.” (1)  Historians who want to understand how ethnicity changed and evolved over time among the children and grandchildren of Italian immigrants - - one of the largest groups of immigrants arriving in the United States before 1924 - - will find in the Massaro Collection a treasure trove of detailed documentation.  Surveying Justice Massaro’s collection one wonders if there was any task he did not take on for OSIA: his local lodge (Northeast Bronx Lodge No. 2091), the OSIA New York Grand Lodge or during his decades of leadership and activism on the national level.  Justice Massaro seemed able to contribute to Italian American life and respond to Italian American issues without ignoring dozens of other organizations, Italian American and beyond, and public service responsibilities that filled his days and that are also fully documented in this vast collection.  In all, it totals some 200 linear feet of primary resource material!

            Archives like the IHRC benefit enormously from the historical interests of people who are not professional historians.  Justice Massaro’s interests in documenting and writing history reaches back to 1963, when he helped to found the Bronx County Historical Society Journal.  Two years later, in 1965, he wrote a history of the Sons of Italy, first published as a pamphlet, and later, following his ten years as National Historian for OSIA, as OSIA's definitive historical statement. (2)  Initiating its archives project in 1973, through Justice Massaro’s efforts the IHRC also acquired the archival records of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF, 2005).  All lawyers, let alone judges, of course, are trained to be concerned and careful about evidence, but Justice Massaro always thought of the importance of documentation also for the writing of history and the understanding of the past.  When such sensitivities emerge from within ethnic group organizations, the work of the IHRC in collecting and ordering materials so they may be made accessible to future historians becomes immeasurably easier.  Furthermore, Justice Massaro’s interest in the writing of history makes his collection an interesting starting place for historians of ideas who can now compare the dynamics and interpretive twists and turns of histories of immigration and ethnicity written from within as well as outside of academic settings.

             The IHRC and Justice Massaro have a very long history of collaboration.  I am pleased to support the publication of this Guide, which will help introduce researchers, whether they come from universities or Italian American colonies, to the richness of the Massaro Collection, the OSIA collection, and the Italian American collections of the IHRC.


Donna R. Gabaccia

Rudolph J. Vecoli, Chair in Immigration History, and

Director, Immigration History Research Center, 2005 – 2012

(1) "Preface to the First Edition,” Guide to the Records of the Order Sons of Italy in America, compiled by John Andreozzi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, Immigration History Research Center, 1989), p. iii.
(2) The Background, Founding, Evolution and Social Relevance of the Order Sons of Italy in America in OSIA: A Century of Progress 1905-2005, Centennial Journal (2005), p. 47 et seq.




The collection consists of three sets of materials, acquired and processed in separate phases between 1987 and 2013.  Each of these sets constitutes an individual record group within the collection:

Record Group I. - Original accession - Received 1987-1988 (28 lin. ft.)

Record Group II. - Supplemental accession - Received 1989-1996 (45 lin. ft.)

Record Group III. - Supplemental accession - Received 1997-2013 (98 lin. ft.)

Print materials separated from the collection and included in the Italian American book, serial and newspaper holdings at the IHRC Archives comprised ca. 30 linear ft.




The Dominic R. Massaro Collection (OSIA) is available for public research.



The Dominic R. Massaro Collection (OSIA) is the physical property of the Immigration History Research Center Archives, University of Minnesota.


For further information regarding copyright, please contact the IHRC Archives, 311 Elmer L. Andersen Library, 222-21st Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455.



The Dominic R. Massaro Collection (OSIA), IHRC1496, Italian American Collection, IHRC Archives, University of Minnesota.



Order Sons of Italy Archives at the Immigration History Research Center

National Italian American Foundation Records at the Immigration History Research Center

Dominic Massaro materials at the Bronx County Historical Society Archives

Index Terms

Italian Americans--New York (State)--Societies, etc.
Italian Americans--New York (State)--New York--Societies, etc.
Ethnic groups--New York (State)--New York.

Back to all finding aids in IHRC VITRAGE.