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Italian Interest Group

Image by Dima Port


Merlino brothers of Lipari, Sicily, ca 1918.
Courtesy of the Merlino family

The Southern California Genealogical Society's Italian Interest Group welcomes anyone interested in broadening their understanding of Italian and Italian American genealogical research. We are a collaborative group that shares our discoveries and helps one another to solve research problems. Together we learn useful Italian vocabulary, locate and examine various Italian vital records, explore the many Italian regions and provinces, and delve into historical events, cultural gems, family traditions, and more. We invite researchers—beginners and experts alike—to bring your genealogical questions and other items to share with others.

Unisciti a noi!

Questions? Email the Italian Group: 

2024 Meeting

Presentation: Emidio Spinogatti

March 16

Online, 10 a.m. to noon

Genealogist Emidio Spinogatti discussed the considerations of working with a researcher in Italy, the types of records and resources available only to onsite researchers, the unique challenges of genealogical research within Italy, and more. A hosted discussion was followed by a Q&A.

July 20

Online, 10 a.m. to noon

To be announced

November 18

Online, 10 a.m. to noon

To be announced

Tour of the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles

May  18
10 a.m. to afternoon

The Italian Interest Group will meet at the IAMLA for a docent-led tour followed by no-host lunch at the San Antonio Winery. More information

September 21

Online, 10 a.m. to noon

To be announced

More Information

Meetings can be attended ONLINE via Zoom until further notice (a paid Zoom account is not required):


Italians in America

According to the 2020 United States Census, over 16 million people identified as Italian. This makes Italian the fifth most reported ancestry in the U.S., after German, English, Irish, and American. Italian Americans are also the fourth largest European ancestry group in the country.


Most Italian immigrants arrived to the U.S. through New York's Castle Garden or the legendary Ellis Island. In the 1880s, they numbered 300,000; in the 1890s, 600,000; in the decade after that, more than two million. By 1920, when immigration began to taper off, more than 4 million Italians had come to the United States, representing more than 10 percent of the nation's foreign-born population.

  • Castle Garden Emigrant Depot opened in 1855 and closed in 1890.

  • In the early 1900s, more than 2 million Italians immigrated to the U.S.

  • Between 1900 and 1910, most Italian immigrants were from Southern Italy and Sicily, escaping rural poverty.

  • Emigration from Italy declined by 1920. By then, over 4 million Italians were in the U.S., representing more than 10% of the foreign-born population.

  • The second Italian diaspora (a large-scale emigration) occurred after World War II.

Although Italy as a unified nation did not exist until 1861, the Italian peninsula sent millions of its people to the shores of North America. These new arrivals thought of themselves as Neopolitans, Sicilians, Calabrians or Syracuseans. They might not have understood each other’s dialects, but on arrival in the United States they became Italian Americans. By the turn of the 20th century, they would be ready to change the continent once more.


— Library of Congress, Immigration and Relocation in U.S. History, Italian

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, International Database (demographic data) and USA Trade Online (trade data); Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook (country reference maps); and the National World War II Museum.

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