Anthony V. Riccio
Author, Photographer, and Oral Historian
 

Anthony's New Book, Farm, Factories, and Families: Italian American Women of Connecticut


Book Tour Events

APRIL

  • April 27th, Sunday, Cherry Blossom Festival, Christopher Columbus Park, New Haven, 12:00-5:00

MAY

  • May 3rd, Saturday at 2:00, Hagaman Library, East Haven
  • May 5th, Monday at 7:00, BACIO, Bridgeport Area Cultural Italian Organization, Bridgeport
  • May 7th, Saturday, Waterford Library, 2:00
  • May 12th at 7:00, Sons of Italy, Branford, CT
  • May 18th, Saturday, 2:00, Woodbridge Historical Society
  • May 30th, Friday, at 7:00 Dante Alighieri Society, New London

JUNE

  • June 1, Sunday at 1:00Naugatuck Historical Society
  • June 11th, Wednesday, 7:00 Branford Saint Mary Women’s Guild
  • June 24th, Tuesday at 7:00, Waterbury UNICO
  • June 25th, Wednesday Blackstone Library, Branford, CT

 JULY

  • July 23rd, Wednesday, 7:30, East Lyme Library

TV APPEARANCES

  • May 28th, Wednesday at 9:00, "Connecticut Style" on Channel 8, New Haven
  • June 30th, Monday at 9:30, "The Fox CT Morning Show" Channel 61, Hartford

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.