The reader who is looking for a Who's Who of famous Italian-Americans or a definitive treatment of Italian immigration need go no further. The former has already been done and the latter will have to wait until scholars produce the monographs upon which such a study depends.
This is a textbook on the Italian-American experience. What is presented in this book is a survey of Italian immigrants and their descendants on the farms, in large cities, and in small towns of the United States from the colonial period to the present. We have selected the Italians of Oswego, New York, as examples of the experiences of the newcomers in small-town America. The second edition has been substantially revised and takes advantage of the most recent scholarship in Italian-American studies.
We have attempted to present the Italian-American experience as an integral part of American history rather than as an isolated social phenomenon. Though our principal concern is the immigrant and his impact on and reaction to American society, we have not ignored that society nor its attitudes and treatment of the new Americans. For example, we view the Italian-American, traditionally thought to lack constructive leadership, as playing a significant role in the progressive movement in helping fellow Italians.
We have sought to integrate the Italian-American experience with major themes in American history such as nativism, immigrant stereotypes, urbanization, and industrialization, fully realizing that the deeper significance of American immigration is lost if we try to tell the story of immigrants as a unique social occurrence. We are equally certain that no fine tuning of American history is possible if it is written with slight regard for the fifty million immigrants who have made their way to these shores. Moreover, historians will fall short of the mark if newcomers