University of Minnesota
Immigration History Research Center

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News Release Dec. 10, 2002

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 10, 2002
Joel Wurl, Immigration History Research Center, (612) 625-0553,

Sons of Italy Foundation Grant to the Immigration History Research Center

The Sons of Italy Foundation has made a pledge of $90,000, to be fulfilled over the next three years,to endow a curatorial position for the Italian American Collection of the Immigration History Research Center (IHRC), College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota. The pledge will be matched by Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities on a 1:4 ratio, yielding an additional $22,500. In addition to yielding annual income, earnings will be reinvested in the endowment.

The IHRC holds the richest and largest archive/library of historical materials pertaining to Italian American history in the nation. Over the course of some 40years, the IHRC has gathered these materials (newspapers,periodicals, manuscripts, and archives) from all over the country—and from Italy as well. They now occupy several thousand feet of shelf space in a new state-of-the art archival facility, the Elmer L. Andersen Library, on the main university campus.

The crown jewel of the Italian American Collection is the archives of the Order Sons of Italy in America, the oldest and largest fraternal organization of Italian Americans. The Sons of Italy Archives itself, which includes personal papers and national, state, and local lodge records and publications, documents many aspects of the history and culture of this ethnic group. These records are used for research by scholars,students, and family historians, who come from all over the country as well as from abroad (particularly Italy). A growing portion of the collection can also be accessed anywhere in the world through the IHRC’s website.

In order for such materials to be available for study, however, they must be organized and inventoried. For this work, a curator is needed, fluent in the Italian language and trained in archival skills. Besides processing the records, the curator will provide reference services for researchers and the general public. The Italian American Collection is open to all persons who have a relevant research need.

While this grant is a wonderful beginning, to fully fund the curatorial position, additional contributions to the Italian American endowed curatorship fund are needed. Both individuals and organizations concerned with preserving the Italian American heritage are encouraged to contribute.