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Books & DVDs

Reviews of books and DVDs of special interest to Italians and Italian Americans by John A. Cofrancesco

  Italian Genealogy

  The Italian Heritage

  The Cofrancescos in the USA

  Italian Cuisine

  Italian Thoughts


Italian Genealogy
The following books provide vital information that is necessary for anyone tracing their Italian roots.  While a great deal of research of the Cofrancesco genealogy has been accomplished and is available on this web site, these references will be of assistance in interpreting and translating old records, expanding our knowledge base, and perhaps discovering how additional individuals are linked to Our Tree.
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Discovering your Italian Ancestors
by Nelson, Lynn

Betterway Books, 1997

This practical guide takes beginners step-by-step through the research process, and includes advanced tips for more experienced researchers. You’ll learn

 * General guidelines of genealogy that ensure success.
 * How to use major American records such as census and naturalization records, ship passenger lists and passport applications.
 * How to use minor American records such as family letters, church and cemetery records and newspapers.
 * How to find Italian Vital records-civil documents that record births, marriages, and deaths.
 * How to read margin notations in Italian records to learn even more about your family.
 * How to interview relatives.

This easy to use reference includes information on how to read foreign handwriting from hundreds of years ago and provides a step-by-step analysis and translation of civil and ecclesiastical records. It contains a photocopy of each of the common records in their handwritten form. Then each document is shown in modern script, but still in Italian. Finally each document is translated into English but the original format is retained so a person can quickly learn where one can find specific information in the original record under study.

Click here to purchase this book.

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Italian Genealogical Records
by Cole, Trafford R.

Ancestry Incorporated, 1995

This advanced text by Trafford Cole covers Italian records in extensive detail. Cole discusses the history and development of Italian record keeping, and he describes the records themselves-the civil vital records, ecclesiastical records, and others, such as notary and military records-that can be found in repositories throughout Italy, providing reproductions of typical records and a complete translation and through explanation of each. Cole also discusses the unique aspects of researching Italian sources: how to approach the task of obtaining information, wherever it may be found.  Sample letters for obtaining records through correspondence allow you to go directly to the source of the information you need. The significance of Italian surnames and the relevance of Italian noble families in the search for family history are also covered in this detailed guide.

Click here to purchase this book.
The Italian Heritage
The following books and DVDs provide valuable and fascinating information about the history of Italy and the immigration of Italians to the United States.  They are of interest to the descendants of Italian immigrants as well as to Italians who chose to remain in their native land.
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A Traveller's History of Italy
by Lintner, Valerio

A Traveller’s History of Italy covers the period from 200,000 BC through modern Italy. Obviously this paperback volume cannot provide a detailed historical record, however it does a creditable job of bridging the gap between voluminous historical textbooks and the historical “notes” that one often sees in the typical travel guides to Italy.

It is ideal for the serious traveler who wants the “back-story” of the places he is going to visit. What it does not do, nor is it intended to do, is to provide detailed information about the various ancient ruins, churches, and other destinations that a typical tourist wants to see. Rather it provides a historical framework into which a serious traveler can place what he is seeing into a broader context.

In addition to the text, it contains a historical gazetteer of important cities and towns cross-referenced to the main text; and a list of Emperors, Popes, and Heads of State, as well as an extensive chronology of major events in the history of Italy.

To purchase this book click
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La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian American Experience
by Mangione, Jerre and Morreale, Ben

Harper-Collins Publishers, Inc, 1992

This book spans from the time when Italian explorers first crossed the Atlantic to 1990.  It paints a vivid picture of the events in Italy leading up to the Risorgimento, the unification, and the disillusionment that resulted in the great migration.  La Storia continues with the immigrant struggles in a new land and concludes with their successes and the great contributions that Italians have made to the United States.

Click here to purchase this book.

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The Scattered Italians Reflections on a Heroic Journey
by Gambino, Thomas

Author House, 2007 
This is a is wide ranging, if somewhat unusual, book by a second generation Italian American, raised in New York by his mother and her Sicilian father. This close contact with his maternal grandfather, and later with his father and Sicilian paternal grandparents who lived nearby, provided Thomas Gambino with an intense exposure to Italian culture and values that shaped his entire life. He made innumerable visits to his homeland, lived and worked in Rome for seven years, and became an Italian citizen in 2005. Presently living in Hawaii, he plans to live some of his later years in Italy.

His book briefly recounts the history of Italy as it relates to the development of the character of the Italian people and the events leading to the diaspora (scattering) of the Southern Italians following the Risorgimento, in search of a better way of life. He traces his life from growing up in a cold water flat in Brooklyn through college and then 34 years in the airline industry, which gave him the opportunity to travel extensively to Italy as well as other countries throughout the world.

Mr. Gambino presents his views of the present political and economic conditions of modern day Italy and the challenges the Country now faces. The author, displaying his Sicilian heritage, is at times blunt, direct, and opinionated, but always informative and thought provoking: a book well worth reading.

Click here to purchase this book.

Emigrant Nation
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Emigrant Nation: The making of Italy Abroad
by Choate, Mark I.

Between 1880 and 1915 some 13 million Italians left their homeland and immigrated to the Unites States, Brazil, Argentina, and other countries. Officials of the newly unified Italy sought to maintain a connection among the “little Italys” throughout the world, and to their motherland, by establishing educational, cultural, business, and financial links. Perhaps one of the most well known institutions to emerge was the Bank of Italy, established by the Italian immigrant Amadeo Giannini in 1904, to serve the Italians who settled in San Francisco, California. In 1930 this bank became the Bank of America.

This book explores the various institutions and programs that were to emerge, and the debate that took place in Italy over priorities and the emigrants best interest.

The following link provides access to an extensive review of this book, and places where a copy can be purchased.

  Link   Emigrant Nation

The Journey of the Italians in America
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The Journey of Italians in America
by Scarapaci, Vincenza

Pelican Publishing Company, Inc (2008)

This book should be given as a gift to the next generation of Italian Americans so they know, and to the older generation, so they can retell their stories with pride. Beautifully written, Vincenza Scarpaci has captured the very essence of what immigration was about and how the Italians assimilated themselves into their individual communities and moved forward into the future. This is a treasure trove of memories and photos of a time past and yet still lived in many ways. Even if you’re not of Italian descent, you can’t help but be pulled back in time with these stories and live them again. A big salute to Vincenza and the Italian American communities.

Note: The review of this book was taken directly from an on line review. It is typical of several reviews.

Ellis Island

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Forgotten Ellis Island
The Extraordinary Story of America's Immingrant Hospital
by Conway, Lorie

A century ago, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, one of the world's greatest public hospitals was built. Massive and modern, the hospital's twenty-two state-of-the-art buildings were crammed onto two small islands, man-made from the rock and dirt excavated during the building of the New York subway. As America's first line of defense against immigrant-borne disease, the hospital was where the germs of the world converged. The Ellis Island hospital was at once welcoming and foreboding—a fateful crossroad for hundreds of thousands of hopeful immigrants. Those nursed to health were allowed entry to America. Those deemed feeble of body or mind were deported. Three short decades after it opened, the Ellis Island hospital was all but abandoned. As America after World War I began shutting its border to all but a favored few, the hospital fell into disuse and decay, its medical wards left open only to the salt air of the New York Harbor.

Click here to purchase this DVD.

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Pride & Passion
The Italians in America
by Amoruso, Marino

This DVD is a special collector’s edition of the Director’s Cut. It is an amazing documentation of the contributions of Italians to America, and what it means to be an Italian-American. Must viewing for all Italians, Italian-Americans, and anyone with an interest in history and culture. Unfortunately it is only available in English.  (114 minutes) Copyright 2008, NSE Films Inc.

    Prologue – Growing Up Italian
    Early American History
    The Ellis Island Era
    Arts & Entertainment
    Did you know?
    Business & Politics
    Epilogue: A Better Life
    Bonus Features
        Lo Bianco on Sinatra
        Science & Discovery

To see a preview or purchase this DVD click on Pride & Passion
The Cofrancescos
in the USA

The following books provide details about the American Italian experience in the various locations in the United States where they chose to make their new home.


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The Italian Immigrants of Connecticut
1880 To 1940

by Gesualdi, Louis J.

Transactions, The Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1997

This study is based largely on the oral history, recorded during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, of Southern Italians who immigrated to Connecticut between 1880 and 1940. It tells in their own words the difficulties they encountered in living and finding employment in their new homeland. Many of the problems they encountered, and the coping mechanisms they employed, were not unlike those of other ethnic groups who immigrated to the United States in later years. Well worth reading! This publication can be ordered from It is listed as "Transactions Volume 54". bullet-red-10.png  BOOK

The Italian American Experience in New Haven: Images and oral histories. 
by Riccio, Anthony V.

State University of New York, Albany, 2006
Based largely on interviews with Italian Americans living in New Haven, Connecticut, this book traces the immigration of Italians who found work at the 800 firms during the 1900 to 1920s in this bustling manufacturing town.  By 1900, over 5000 Italians lived in New Haven.  By some estimates their number grew to as high as 60,000 by 1920!  Readers will find the stories told in the peoples own words, and accompanied by photographs, to be of great interest.  Their experiences were paralleled in immigrant towns throughout the United States.  Mention is made of immigrants from San Lorenzello, but no Cofrancescos are named.  However the New Haven Directory of 1928 lists 25 Cofrancesco families, with some of the men employed in New Haven factories. 

Click here to purchase this book.


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Growing up Italian and American in Waterbury
An Oral History
by Bologna, Sando and Marano, Richard M.

Waterbury, Connecticut was an important destination for Cofrancescos. Between 1902 and 1926, 19 Cofrancescos from three separate families emigrated from Cerreto Sannita and made Waterbury their home. This book is a remarkable oral history by Sando Bologna and Attorney Richard M. Marano about growing up in Waterbury. It reflects on the humor, neighborhoods, pathos, hard work, patriotism, education, and sociability of the city’s past and present. This book is out of print but copies may be found in your local library. (See here)

Boston Italians
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The Boston Italians
A Story of Pride, Perseverance, and Paesani, from the Years of the Great Immigration to the Present Day
by Puleo, Stephen

Apparently only one Cofrancesco who immigrated between 1881 and 1926 chose Boston as his final destination. This was an Antonio Cofrancesco from San Lorenzello who immigrated through Ellis Island in 1903. Fourteen Cofrancescos immigrated through the port of Boston, but none remained in that city. However many Italians chose Boston as their new home and most lived in its North End. Stephen Pulio’s book tells their story of poverty, illiteracy, and prejudice. He describes their transformation into Italian Americans during the great depression and WW II. He concludes with their rich history in Boston up to the present day. The story of the Italians of Boston is one of America's most important history lessons for anyone seeking to understand the heritage of their ancestors.

Click here to purchase this book.

Long Island

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Long Island Italians
by LaGumina, Salvatore John

In 1901 Paolo Cofrancesco from San Lorenzello arrived at Ellis Island. He was 30 years of age and apparently the only Cofrancesco to immigrated between 1881 and 1926 whose destination was Long Island. Although not mentioned by name in LaGumina’s book, he was one of many Italians who sought the suburbs of Long Island as an alternative to the city life of Manhattan and the other boroughs of New York. They were attracted by the employment opportunities, fertile land, and the dream of home ownership. LaGumina relates that they became the largest of all ethnic groups on Long Island. Even today Italian Americans make up 25% of the total population of Long Island. An interesting book that adds to the fabric of the rich Italian American history.

Click here to purchase this book.
Italian Cuisine

The following books contain recipes for cuisine from southern Italy, as well as information on the history and preparation of Italian foods.
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Naples at Table-Cooking in Campania
by Schwartz, Arthur R.

Harper-Collins Publishers, Inc, 1998

While technically this is a cookbook, it is so much more.  It includes information on the history and preparation of Italian food.  It covers the well-known Italian recipes, as well as some of the lesser-known specialties.  It encompasses the cooking of the provinces of Avellino, Benevento, Caserta, and Salerno, the internationally famous resorts of the Amalfi Coast, Capri, and Ischia - and of course, Naples itself.

Click here to purchase this book.

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Regional Italian Cuisine

by Benussi, F., Hess, R., and Salzer, Sabine
Translated into English by Giacon Castleman, Elizabetta

Barron’s Educational Series, Inc 1999

A profusely illustrated collection of more than 200 authentic Italian recipes and cooking techniques, that is equally at home on a living room coffee table or in a kitchen. Organized into eight culinary regions, it is further divided into appetizers, first courses, second courses, vegetable side dishes, desserts, and of course the wines of the region. This makes it easy to create an entire meal that is characteristic of any part of Italy. Recipes from the Cofrancesco region of origin, Campagna, are well represented.

Click here to purchase this book.

Cover photograph by Bildagentur Eising AG, Schweiz
Italian Thoughts

These lighthearted books by a well-known Italian journalist provide an amusing look at one Italian’s views of the United States and insight into the Italian mind.
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An Italian in America
by Severgnini, Beppe

Rizzoli (Milan, Italy), 2001
Beppe Severgnini, a well-known Italian journalist, and his wife Ortensia, lived in Georgetown, Washington D.C., USA for a year in the mid 1990s. This book recounts, in an insightful and humorous way, the differences he found between the American and Italian way of life. The American reader will be surprised to learn that things we take for granted are found strange or unusual to an Italian. Conversely, the Italian reader will discover information about the American way of life that he does not find in tourist guides. Available in Italian and English.

  Link   Un Italiano in America

  Link   An Italian in America

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La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind
by Severgnini, Beppe

Beppe Severgnini is a newspaper columnist who's been helping fellow Italians make sense of U.S. culture for years. Now, he is turning his wit toward his homeland, exploring the nuances of life in modern Italy. He is really funny - in a very Italian way. You won’t need luggage for this hypothetical and hilarious trip into the hearts and minds of Beppe Severgnini’s fellow Italians. In fact, Beppe would prefer if you left behind the baggage his crafty and elegant countrymen have smuggled into your subconscious. To get to his Italia, you’ll need to forget about your idealized notions of Italy. Although La Bella Figura will take you to legendary cities and scenic regions, your real destinations are the places where Italians are at their best, worst, and most authentic.

Click here to purchase this book.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 02 September 2010 )

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