Steel Museum Offers Youngstown's Italian Heritage Online

Mention the "Steel Museum" and Youngstowners proudly point to the modern structure at 151 W. Wood Street. Officially known as the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor, the institution is operated by Youngstown State University Department of History on behalf of the Ohio History Connection. The museum houses the storied past of Youngstown's once famous steel industry and of its working class. Furthermore, it is also the internet home of a rich online collection of Youngstown's diverse ethnic history, "Steel Valley Voices: an Ethnic Community Archive."

The large section comprising the Italian Collection holds digital copies of documents and photos as well as audio and video resources on Mahoning County's historic places and people: Smoky Hollow's Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Youngstown's St. Rocco's Church, St. Anthony's in Brier Hill, and the Niles Fire Brick Company. The website features several mémoires, including excerpts from Carmen Leone's "Rose Street" and Tom Occhipinti's "Tools," a moving audio tribute to his father. Downloadable files include transcripts of oral histories given by former residents of Brier Hill, Smoky Hollow, and Niles, Ohio. In addition, two scholarly studies on the first generation of Youngstown's Italian community can be found here.

Even more, the Italian Collection at "Steel Valley Voices" holds one of the largest collections of Italian immigrant correspondence in the U.S. with over 200 letters exchanged between Youngstown's Italian community and relatives in Italy, Brazil, and Canada between 1894 and 2002. Downloadable, many are transcribed and translated. They offer a unique window into the area's immigrant past revealing "births, deaths, marriage notices, and family crises and joys."

Thanks to Youngstown's "Steel Museum," the area's Italian heritage has a digital home that can be accessed free of charge at http://steelvalleyvoices.ysu.edu/resources/collections.

For more information on "Steel Valley Voices: An Ethnic Community Archive" contact Donna M. DeBlasio, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Applied History at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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