Giovanni Schiavo, pioneer historian of the Italian American experience, publishes his monumental work, Four Centuries of Italian American History.

"There is little more important for a citizen to do than to study American history." This concept was fully embraced by Giovanni Ermengildo Schiavo (1898-1983) as he sought to record the history and contribution of Italians to the United States. Born in Trapani, Sicily, he was a precocious child who learned to read and write before entering school. In 1916 he and his family came to live in Baltimore, Maryland where he earned a Bachelor's degree, became a Ph.D. candidate, a citizen and worker in various journalistic positions in Italian American media such as La Domenica Illustrata and Il Corriere del Wisconsin. The journalistic experience confirmed in his mind that from 1926 on, writing and publishing would be his profession. The result was the production of over thirty volumes of documentation of the Italian experience in America. His first book, The Italians in Chicago, underscored his determination to record the history of Italian immigrants. In the 1930s, Schiavo edited the Italian American monthly Atlantica Magazine, while simultaneously serving on the editorial staff of the New York Herald Tribune and Il Progresso Italo Americano. In 1934 Schiavo organized his own Vigo Press and determined that it be the milestone of the long journey as chronicler of the saga of the Italians in America. The Vigo Press's first publication, The Italians in American Before the Civil War finds Schiavo presenting a vast procession of heroic men worthy of being remembered: Fra Marco da Nizza, Father Kino, Beltrami, the Tonti brothers, Paolo Busti, Francesco Vigo, and Filippo Mazzei. It was Schiavo who first associated Mazzei with Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence. Subsequent books dealt with the contribution of Italians to music in America, to the Catholic Church in America, and to public life. Most of this is summed up in his monumental Four Centuries of Italian American History (1952). Other important works published by Schiavo are: Philip Mazzei: One of America's Founding Fathers; Antonio Meucci: Inventor of the Telephone; The Italians in America Before the Revolution; and The Truth About the Mafia and Organized! Crime in America.

In the last couple of generations other historians of the Italian American experience have come to acknowledge his pioneering contribution to the field of Italian American history.

View Previous Entry     View Next Entry       Back to Timeline