Did you know…that the Montessori Method of teaching was developed by an Italian doctor? …that an Italian established the branch banking system in America? …that the popular red wagon was crafted by an Italian? …that an Italian created a pasteurization process to extend the shelf life of orange juice?
What better way to honor our Italian culture than by learning about some of the most accomplished men and women of Italian heritage who have so greatly contributed to America? “Thirty-One Days of Italians” was created in 2007 to bring attention to them during Italian American Heritage Month. Each day in October is assigned to someone of Italian heritage.
To start, the first day in October is a day to honor every Italian immigrant who journeyed to America and stayed, many under adverse conditions, to work and to build a better life for their families. The last day in October is set aside in tribute to anyone of Italian heritage – a favorite relative, friend, celebrity – you would like to honor.
In between, each day provides an enlightened education on Italian American history. “Thirty-One Days of Italians” is a compilation of 74 names. All have significantly contributed to American culture, but 16 have made such major contributions – in some cases changing the course of history – that America would not be the same without them. They are Honorary Members and are celebrated on the same day in October each year. The remaining names rotate on a three-to-five-year cycle.
Honorary Members (in alphabetical order) are Father Pietro Bandini, Constantino Brumidi, Mother Francis Cabrini, Enrico Caruso, Christopher Columbus, Enrico Fermi, Amadeo Pietro Giannini, Guglielmo Marconi, Filippo Mazzei, Antonio Meucci, Maria Montessori, Andrea Palladio, Antonio Pasin, Arturo Toscanini, and Amerigo Vespucci.
Some names are better known than others but knowing the name doesn’t always mean knowing the history. Dr. Maria Montessori, the first female doctor in Italy (graduated in 1896), originally planned to be an engineer but decided to develop a program to teach children based on their individual potential. Today her teaching methods are used throughout the world.
Enrico Caruso, still admired as one of the most acclaimed tenors in the world, was the first artist to sell one million copies of a recording, launching the phonograph industry and paving the way for other musicians to record their music. Guglielmo Marconi received the first patent for wireless telegraphy and when the Titanic sank, it was men from Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company Limited that signaled for help for the survivors. Naming America after Amerigo Vespucci was based on a letter not written by Vespucci. (Would it have been the United States of Columbia?)
Somewhat unknown may be Amadeo Pietro Giannini, who left school at 14 to help run a family produce stand. Twenty years later, he opened the Bank of Italy to provide financial services for the working class; and he later formed the Bank of America. (Giannini also inspired Frank Capra’s characterization of George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”) The creator of the classic Radio Flyer wagon, Antonio Pasin, was an immigrant from Venice who learned his woodworking skills from his father and grandfather in Italy and began making wagons from wood in America. Taking a cue from the automotive industry, he started producing metal wagons and named the company Radio Flyer after Marconi’s invention of the radio and Pasin’s interest in flight.
Above are highlights of some of the Honorary Members you’ll find on the 2018-19 List of “Thirty-One Days of Italians.” The rotating names on the list are also impressive and include Anthony Rossi, the founder of Tropicana and inventor of a pasteurization process for orange juice.
This month spend a day with and learn about (in alphabetical order) Father Geno Baroni, John Ciardi, Pietro di Donato, Anthony Fauci, Frank Frazetta, Domenico Ghirardelli, Ella T. Grasso, John N. LaCorte, Gian Carlo Menotti, Giovanni Pietro Antonio Nobili, Ezio Pinza, Anthony Rossi, Bruno Sammartino, and Luisa Tetrazzini.
“Thirty-One Days of Italians” was founded to celebrate a group of remarkable people in October, but it extends year-round. The website serves as a portal for anyone who needs resources about the incredible accomplishments and contributions to America made by those of Italian heritage.
Visit “Thirty-One Days of Italians” at thirtyonedaysofitalians.com to learn Italian American history, share it with family and friends and celebrate your Italian heritage.
Thirty-One Days of Italians 2018-19 List
HM: Honorary Member
October 1: The Italian Immigrant [HM] - A day to honor every Italian who journeyed to America from Italy.
October 2: Amadeo Pietro Giannini [HM] - Established the branch banking system in America.
October 3: Guglielmo Marconi [HM] - Known as the Father of Radio for his experiments with long distance wireless transmissions.
October 4: Filippo Mazzei [HM] - Supporter of American freedom during American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson’s inclusion of “all men are created equal” into the Declaration of Independence is a paraphrase of Mazzei’s “All men are by nature equally free and independent.”
October 5: Antonio Meucci [HM] - Original holder of the patent for the forerunner of today’s telephone.
October 6: Anthony Rossi - Founded Tropicana and developed a pasteurization process to extend the shelf life of the juice.
October 7: Gian Carlo Menotti – Opera composer, founded the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds.
October 8: Ella T. Grasso - First woman in America to become state governor in her own right.
October 9: Father Pietro Bandini [HM] - Missionary for Native Americans. In 1898 established Tontitown, “a perfect example of colonization” in Arkansas.
October 10: Enrico Fermi [HM] - Discovered radioactive elements that heralded the nuclear age.
October 11: Antonio Pasin [HM] - Created Radio Flyer wagon.
October 12: Christopher Columbus [HM] - Navigator that changed the world, opening trade routes and immigration from Europe to the Americas.
October 13: Maria Montessori, M.D [HM] - Developed an educational method for teaching children.
October 14: Anthony Fauci - One of the most cited researchers and scientists in the world.
October 15: John Ciardi - Poet laureate, etymologist, English professor, and radio host.
October 16: Giovanni Pietro Antonio Nobili - One of the first missionaries to work with Native American Tribes; helped establish Santa Clara College.
October 17: Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini [HM] - First American citizen to become a saint.
October 18: Enrico Caruso [HM] - World’s most acclaimed tenor in the early 1900s.
October 19: Domenico Ghirardelli - His company developed the Broma process, a method of extracting cocoa butter from cacao beans.
October 20: John N. LaCorte - Established the Italian Historical Society of America and was the driving force behind the naming of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
October 21: Arturo Toscanini [HM] - One of the world’s greatest orchestra conductors.
October 22: Frank Frazetta - Legendary fantasy and science fiction artist.
October 23: Pietro di Donato - Author of the Italian American classic Christ in Concrete.
October 24: Luisa Tetrazzini - World known soprano opera singer of the early 20th century.
October 25: Amerigo Vespucci [HM] - Namesake of America.
October 26: Bruno Sammartino - The “Living Legend” and “The Italian Superman” of heavyweight wrestling. Holds two Championship reigns in the World Wide Wrestling Federation (now WWE).
October 27: Constantino Brumidi [HM] Known as the “Michelangelo of the [U.S.] Capitol.”
October 28: Ezio Pinza - Considered by many to be the world’s greatest bass baritone of the early twentieth century.
October 29: Father Geno Baroni - Founder and president of the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs and founded the Urban Rehabilitation Corporation, the forerunner to Housing Counseling Services.
October 30: Andrea Palladio [HM] - “Father of Architecture,” wrote The Four Books on Architecture, the most famous and influential books on architecture of all time, and still in print.
Visit thirtyonedaysofitalians.com for biographies and resources.