Italian Americans and Social Justice


  • Katlynn Read (CCSNH, Great Bay)
  • Melanie Matts (Journalism and Italian Studies, UNH)


  • Anna Marra (Italian Studies, UNH)


More than 5.5 million Italians immigrated to the United States from 1820 to 2010. Many of the immigrants faced racial and social discrimination. The project aimed to discover, document, and share with the public the often-overlooked history of Italian immigrants who fought for social justice and human rights.  

The project gave specific focus to the lesser-known story of Italian American women such as Angela Bambace, one of the organizers of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union (ILGWU); Catherine De Angelis, a pediatrician and child advocate; and Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first U.S. citizen to be canonized as a saint. The project shed light on these forgotten figures and recuperated their writings, teachings, and stories to discover how they can still inspire us today.  

This project inspired a COLA student to use both of her majors. We heavily involved student intern Melanie Matts, ‘23 – Journalism and Italian double Major. In her role as Mellon Research Intern, she researched Italian activists across the area. She used her journalistic skills to investigate, interview, and write and edit articles for a website dedicated to the documentation of Italian American stories. Her work greatly contributed to the website - a multi-media platform that amplified Italian American voices and stories with audio, video, and graphics.  


1) Created a site that included a short biography and essential bibliography of Italian Americans who fought for social justice. Once published, the site was available as a base for future courses at UNH as well as by other universities and high schools across the country. Through this website, we sought and continue seeking to engage the public in a dialogue about the diverse experiences of immigrants and their fight for Social Justice in the U.S. (Fall 2021)  

2) Created an issue of Italian American Roots – the UNH Italian American magazine - wholly dedicated to Social Justice. (Spring 2022) 

3) Created an article on Sarah Wool More - secretary of the New York Society for Italian Immigrants and writer of the first English-Italian handbooks for immigrants - to be first presented at the NEMLA conference in 2022 and published on Forum Italicum.