Aileen H. Clyde 20th Century Women's Legacy Archive: Italian American oral histories

Italian oral history project, MS 0580

During the 1970s, the American West Center conducted interviews with ethnic minority Utah residents in an attempt to find out more about their life and experiences in America and Utah. The interviews contained in the Italian oral histories were conducted between 1971 and 1979. Events recalled by the interviewees span the period of time from the late 1800s to 1979. Topics covered include family life, early life in Italy, immigration, ethnic ceremonies and customs, social activities, work in the mines and railroads, relations with other ethnic groups, and achieving American citizenship. Most interviews were conducted by Phil Notarianni. Other interviewers include Floyd O'Neil, Kent Powell, Helen Papanikolas, and Mary Peterson. Also included is a transcript of a CBS news special, "Essay on the Mafia," recorded in June 1972.

This collection is not digitized.  In-person access only.

  • Margaret Bertolina

Phil Notarianni conducted this interview. Topics covered include Bertolina's early life in Italy, her father's farm work and politics, her father's education, her family's move to Helper, her brother's store, and her marriage in 1916. Bertolina also talks about the fire in the family store in 1919, their new store, activities concerned with the grocery business, oil drilling in Moab, lodges, and her brother's return to Italy in 1923. She also discusses building tenants such as the Success Market and Pigly-Wigley, success with the family market, her move to Salt Lake, the economic decline of Helper, social life in Helper, Italian weddings, their lodge building, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Masons. 

  • Ambrosina Colombo Bonza

Recorded in Price, Utah, in November 1979 by Floyd O'Neil. Subjects include Bonza's childhood in Tubigo, Italy, the Patron Saint Vincent, her employment in Castle Gate, coming to the United States, and Paulina Ruggeri. She also talks about the family farm in Woodside, Utah, crops, their move to Sunnyside, her children, and her experience with the unions. She discusses the treatment of Italians, Italian cooking, Italian families, and her return to Italy.

  • Mr. and Mrs. Jim Chiodo

This interview by Phil Notarianni includes biographical information on the couple, recollections of joining the local lodge, their social activities, and Italians on the west side of Salt Lake. Mr. Chiodo discusses becoming a United States citizen, returning to Italy to find a wife, working for the Denver Rio Grande, and attending church at Saint Patrick's in Salt Lake City.

  • Catherine Fratto

Phil Notarianni talks with Fratto about her experiences as a midwife, Italian superstitions, the loss of customs due to acculturation, medical cures, social activities, wine making, dowry presentation, celebrating the feast of Saint Lucy, and mourning traditions from the old country.

  • Josephine Caputo

No tape recording was made of this interview. The transcript is based on Phil Notarianni's hand-written notes from a conversation with Josephine Caputo in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is the niece of Monseignor Alfredo F. Giovannoni. Subjects include Josephine Caputo's background, her impressions of Msgr. Giovannoni, observations about Giovannoni's personality, Giovannoni's birthplace and education, his ordaination, a chronology of events in Giovannoni's life, and his time spent as chaplain to Italian prisoners of war during 1943-1947.

  • Charlie and Rose Leonelli

Recorded in Tooele, Utah, in August 1974, by Phil Notarianni. Subjects include Mr. Leonelli's father's life, people of various nationalities in Tooele, and early wages and union activities in Tooele. The Leonellis remember Italian parties, celebrations, and music, their experiences during the Great Depression, the unions of the early 1930s, Italian businesses, Old Town and New Town, jobs performed by various nationalities, boarding houses, Italian Prisoners of War, Catholic priests, old-fashioned remedies, Italian cooking, and wine making.


Interviews with Italian Americans in Utah, MS 0516

The Utah Endowment for the Humanities funded the Oral History Institute (OHI) of Salt Lake City to conduct interviews with members of different ethnic minorities and racial groups. This particular series of interviews with Italians took place in 1987. Events recalled by the interviewees span the time period from the 1880s to 1987. Common themes within the interviews are family life, work, religion, discrimination, and relations with the community, and in particular the Mormon establishment in Utah. Of interest are interviews that relate experiences during the 1922 Carbon County Coal Miner's strike and also reminiscences of the 1922 Carbon County Castlegate Mine Explosion.

  • Filomena Fazzio Bonaci

Mrs. Bonaci (b. 1910) discusses the experiences of her family in the Carbon County, Utah, coal mines. She recalls the 1922 coal miner's strike, the Depression, and World War II.

  • Mary Lucia Nicolavo Juliano

Mrs. Juliano (b. 1904) reminisces about her childhood in rural Utah, ethnic relations in eastern Utah, her married life and raising children.

  • Mary Angotti Palomi and John Angotti

Leslie Kelen interviewed Mary Angotti Palomi (b. 1911) and her brother, John Angotti (b. 1930). Mrs. Palomi recalls the trip from Italy when she was a child and a brief period of life on her father's cattle ranch before a flood destroyed the property, causing her father to return to work in the coal mines. The pair reminisce about childhood in Sunnyside, Utah; conditions in the coal mines and surrounding camps; religious and ethnic differences in eastern Utah; and the 1922 miner's strike.

Ambrosina Colombo Bonza oral history interview, ACCN 0807

The Ambrosina Colombo Bonza oral history interview (1979) was conducted by Floyd A. O'Neil of the University of Utah American West Center. Bonza was an Italian immigrant to Carbon County, Utah. She discusses her life in Carbon County, her family, and social conditions.

This oral history transcript has not been digitized.  On-site access only.

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