February 2022

O Mio Padrone: Occupations of Italian Immigrants (1870-1920)

For a percentage of their salaries, a padrone (boss/agent) would ensure that a job was waiting for any able-bodied Italians who wanted to work in America. The padrone system, though often exploitative, was invaluable in bringing a large proportion of unskilled laborers to join the workforce of projects like the construction of the NYS Barge Canal, dams, bridges, buildings, railroads, or highways, as well as mining or factory work. This presentation explores the many occupations that Italians held, specifically in New York State, and how the padrones recruited these “birds of passage” in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Please note: the video for this talk is no longer available to view.

Pamela Vittorio is a professional genealogist, historian, author, educational film maker, and a research writing professor in the Dept of English Language Studies at the Parsons School of Design, NYC. Her research interests include artifacts, forensics, and DNA, as well as Canadian, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Polish, and Scottish genealogy, and families of North American canals. Pamela is currently the Vice-President of Programming for the IGG. She volunteers at several museums, and until recently, served as secretary of the board for the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum. She is a volunteer mentor for the National Genealogical Society, and serves on the Collections Committee at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse.

Pamela J. Vittorio