"Anthony Riccio's collection of women's oral histories is an extremely valuable addition to the growing literature regarding Italian American women's lives. The detail in which these women speak about their work lives as charcoal burners, clay kneaders, cheese makers, union organizers - one had her ribs broken - adds a much needed dimension to an understanding of Italian American women. This volume is filled with thoughtful reflections ranging from Mussolini to issues of social justice. Riccio has unleashed from these women dramatic and sometimes harrowing stories never before heard, or perhaps even imagined."
Carol Bonomo Albright
Executive Editor of Italian Americana
Coeditor of American Woman, Italian Style: Italian-Americana's Best Writings on Women
Texas Christian University
by Catherine Murtagh
Anthony V. Riccio’s Farms, Factories, and Families: Italian American Women of Connecticut (2014) is a valuable primary source containing oral interviews with Italian women immigrants and their daughters and granddaughters as well as sons and grandsons. Riccio, the stacks manager at the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University, adds this latest volume to two previously published books that also drew on oral histories, The Italian American Experience in New Haven: Images and Oral Histories (2006) and Boston’s North End: Images and Recollections of an Italian American Neighborhood (2006). In the foreword, Mary Ann McDonald Carolan of Fairfield University writes that “in the private sphere of the home or in public arenas such as factories or shops,” Riccio reveals “that women wielded the real power in Italian American families, creating a situation that was at odds with the supposedly patriarchal society in which they lived” (p. xvi). Riccio’s book weaves a story of change over time and makes an argument for the influ- ence women exerted despite living in highly patriarchal households and communities.
Scritto da (Redazione), venerdì 7 marzo 2014 17.03.33
Ultimo aggiornamento venerdì 7 marzo 2014 17.03.33
"Le donne italo-americane del Connecticut", l'ultimo libro del fotografo Anthony Riccio
"The Italian-American women in Connecticut," the latest book by photographer Anthony Riccio
July 18, 2014
The Westerly Sun
By NANCY BURNS-FUSARO Sun Staff Writer
"Pawcatuck women featured in book on Italian American women"
ABOUT THE BOOK
“Farms, Factories and Families: Italian American Women of Connecticut" is the story of Italian American women who tell their largely unknown history in their own words, through oral history interviews and photographs. History is often dominated by the exploits of men, but the book uncovers the behind the scenes roles of Connecticut’s Italian American women, the glue of Italian American culture. As quietly heroic figures, they stood behind husbands and managed the family economy, invested in real estate, put aside money for their children’s education, cooked meals, nurtured large families -- and when times were tough -- as they often were from the 1920's to the 1950s -- joined men on production lines and more than held their own. During the depression with men out of work, Italian women entrepreneurs boldly struck out on their own, converting front rooms into grocery and millinery stores and first floors into garment factories. In the early 1930s, Italian American women led the struggle for establishing unions, risking their livelihood against male-owned garment industries that exploited them under terrible sweatshop conditions. During WWII, they took the place of men on assembly lines, producing tons of war materiel ahead of deadlines that brought the war to a quicker end.
"Farms, Factories and Families: Italian American Women of Connecticut" took almost a decade to write. Traveling the state of Connecticut conducting oral history interviews with elderly Italian American women in a race against time, I tried to record and document their legacies before they passed away. The Italian American women profiled in this book represent the last of a generation who could reconstruct small village life in rural regions of southern Italy, weaving stories of uprooting themselves from families to journey to America in steerage, often with two or three young children in tow. The book’s visual documentation comes from family albums, which provide rare glimpses of their experiences in southern Italy and their working lives in Connecticut – toiling on tobacco farms, in the sweatshops of New Haven, on the production lines of U.S. Rubber in Naugatuck, and many family farms in North Haven, Hamden, East Haven, Waterbury, and Woodbridge. The portraits of these women storytellers reveal visual biographies in the expression of their faces.