Mass emigration from Italy began in 1876. The United States of America was the largest single recipient of Italian immigrants. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of immigrants from nations all over the world were migrating to America.
Italians in America would cluster into groups related to their place of origin. For example, the Neapolitans and Sicilians settled in different parts of New York, and even people from different parts of Sicily settled on different streets. Most of the Italians were concentrated in the Mid-Atlantic States by 1910 with 472,000 in New York and nearly 200,000 in Pennsylvania.
It was during the period between 1902 and 1907 that most of our Colosi and Bongiovanni family came to America. Anthony Bongiovanni in 1902, followed by Dominic Nastasi in 1903, Dominic’s wife, Rose and her family, including daughter Nicolina came in 1904, and Professor Angelo Colosi and his daughter came in 1907.
Agricultural Italians from southern Italy, for the most part became urban because the abundance of cheap land that had been in America could no long be found. Starting from the bottom of the occupational ladder and working their way up, they took jobs shining shoes, picking rags, cleaning sewers, and whatever other hard, dirty, dangerous jobs others didn’t want. Children worked at early ages even at the expense of their educations. For Italians, it was a rare thing to resort to charity or prostitution to get money.
At the start, living conditions among many of the Italians tended to be over-crowded and filthy. Italian laborers often skimped on food in an attempt to save money. But after a while, the dirtiness of their homes disappeared along with the complaint of weak Italians from lack of nutrition. Over the years, the tendency was that most Italians rose up the economic scale by acquiring skills in manual labor jobs rather than pursuing higher education and entering a profession.