Sellaro
1868
Vincenzo Sellaro, organizer of the Order Sons of Italy in America, is born in Polizzi Generosa, Palermo.


In the American pluralistic society the creation of ethnic organizations by groups that found themselves strangers in an unfamiliar land, anxious, lonely and exposed to perilous risks, has been an identifying point of the American immigrant experience. As Alexis de Toqueville observed over a century and a half ago, this nation was conducive to the establishment of mutual aid societies that were organized to advance legal, civic, political, educational, and social goals. These were the thoughts that prompted Vincenzo Sellaro (1868-1932) to found the Order of the Sons of Italy.

Sellaro was born in Polizzi Generosa, Palermo province, Italy. He received a medical degree from the University of Naples in 1895, migrated to New York in 1897, completed medical course work, and opened a private medical practice in New York's historic Little Italy. Sellaro quickly became aware of glaring obstacles faced by Italian immigrants. He assembled a small group of men to his home in June 1905 to found a mutual aid society. Rather than a society limited to a particular provincial identification, he favored a large umbrella organization -- the Order of the Sons of Italy in America (OSIA). What was envisioned was the enrollment of men and women of Italian extraction to provide immediate assistance to families in the event of death or sickness. OSIA sought to promote the welfare of the group within American society and to foster an appreciation of their language and traditions under the motto of liberty, equality and fraternity. The order also actively promoted loyalty to America. In time OSIA grew into a national organization that can lay claim to being the oldest, largest and most geographically representative of all Italian American organizations. By 2002 it counts several hundred lodges encompassing a membership of approximately 500,000. The fraternal mutual society strives to meet its goals through a wide variety of community, cultural, social, charitable, educational, patriotic, youth, and civic programs.






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