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George Pozzetta (October 29, 1942 - May 19, 1994) was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. His family originated in the Alpine region of Piedmont. His father, Attilio, was from the village of Seppiana; his mother, Mary Ciolina, was born in the United States, but her parents came from the nearby village of Toceno. His maternal grandparents were part of the migration of woodcutters who came to work in the forests of western Massachusetts. His paternal grandfather traveled back and forth several times, working on railroads, before settling in the United States. George Pozzetta's father worked in the paper mill and was a member and officer of the United Papermakers and Paperworkers local. Growing up in an Italian immigrant working-class family powerfully influenced his life and his scholarship.
After receiving his bachelor's and master's degrees in history from Providence College in Rhode Island and serving in Vietnam as a U.S. Army officer (for which he received the Bronze Star Medal), George Pozzetta pursued graduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He wrote his dissertation, "The Italians of New York City, 1890-1914," and received the doctorate in 1971. He soon joined the history department at the University of Florida, where he remained. His enthusiasm and accessibility made him a popular and effective instructor; he was the recipient of the Teacher of the Year Award in 1978. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to teaching and research, he was promoted to the rank of professor in 1987.
George Pozzetta's publications constitute an extensive and enduring body of literature relating to American social history. In over 50 pieces (chapters in books, journal articles, and encyclopedia entries), as well as in several edited volumes, George ranged widely over the terrain of 20th-century America, including Progressive reform, the South, politics, and immigration historiography. In addition to his own writings, George has placed future generations of students in his debt through the compilation of 20 volumes of judiciously selected journal articles in American Immigration and Ethnicity (1991). His strong interest in the history of the South and Florida is reflected in a number of publications, including the groundbreaking Shades of the Sunbelt: Essays on Ethnicity, Race, and the Urban South , coedited with Randall Miller (1988), as well as by his editorship of the Florida Historical Quarterly .
George Pozzetta's abiding commitment, however, has been to immigration and working-class history-and in particular to the history of Italian immigrants. In the forefront of those who over the past two decades have been rewriting our history from a pluralist perspective, his scholarship is distinguished by respect for and empathy with his subjects, scrupulous and thorough research in Italian as well as American sources, a full appreciation of the transatlantic dimension of migration studies, and a capacity to view the particular in a broad interpretive perspective.
Although his researches on Italian Americans span a variety of topics, George Pozzetta's twin interests in working-class and immigrant history realized their highest expression in The Immigrant World of Ybor City: Italians and Their Latin Neighbors in Tampa, 1885-1985, coauthored by Gary R. Mormino (1987). Deservedly included in the University of Illinois's Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Centennial Series and awarded the Theodore Saloutos Prize for the Best Book in Immigration History (1987) by the Immigration History Society, this monograph serves as a model for future studies. It incorporates a sophisticated treatment of class consciousness and conflict, including the role of radical ideologies and ideologues, with an appreciation of ethnic culture as a basis for group solidarity. Women and gender differences receive sensitive consideration as do the continuing relationships between the immigrants and their places of origin. More distinctively, The Immigrant World of Ybor City is a model of an interethnic approach because the relationships among Sicilian, Cuban, and Spanish cigar workers (as well as with their Anglo antagonists) is a central theme of the work.
As due recognition of his accomplishments, George Pozzetta was the recipient of many honors and awards, including the decoration by the Italian Republic of Cavaliere nell'Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana . He also served as president of the Florida College Teachers of History (1976-77) and of the American Italian Historical Association (1978-80). (From Obituary by Rudolph J. Vecoli, 1994)
Papers include correspondence, research notes and resource files (including primary sources) on subjects of Pozzetta's interest, drafts and manuscripts of his articles, book chapters and book reviews, copies of papers submitted by students and colleagues, and a set of oral histories for which Pozzetta interviewed primarily Italian Americans in Florida. A significant segment includes drafts and sources pertaining to his unfinished monograph on Italian Americans during World War II. The correspondence segment, particularly Pozzetta's extensive and detailed communications with other leading immigration historians, provides valuable documentation on the development of the field and its emerging directions.
The Pozzetta, George collection is available for public research.
The Pozzetta, George collection is the physical property of the Immigration History Research Center Archives, University of Minnesota.
For further information regarding the copyright, please contact the IHRC Archives.
The Pozzetta, George Papers, Italian American Collection, IHRC Archives, University of Minnesota
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