Saving history: Last Year in the Past

Each year a number of activities are undertaken through efforts of the Western Reserve Historical Society and by me as Curator for Italian American History to save the history of our Italian American community. While some of those activities are explored in this column each month, I think it’s important to share some details so you can understand more about what we do to save history and how it’s accomplished - particularly during Italian Heritage Month. After all, how can we come to know and stay in touch with our heritage without it being preserved?

Here is a review of my work to preserve our past during the last WRHS fiscal year which ran July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016. I focused my work in three main areas: Collection Development and Preservation, Community Outreach and Development and Fundraising. Should you be interested in a full annual report, please send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your address and I will be happy to mail one out to you.

Collection Development and Preservation
Activities are undertaken to develop and maintain the Italian American Collection, including soliciting, collecting and accessioning materials (books, photographs, papers, artifacts, etc.) from donors and processing and cataloging them. It also includes research to understand more about the collection and the stories they tell. Some highlights include:

  • Little Italy Historical Museum Records and Photographs – fully processed and cataloged
  • Ferrando Sisters Scrapbook – conducted research and began processing
  • Columbus Statue of Akron, OH Records and Photographs – accepted into the collection
  • Tony Brush (Brescia) – accepted heavy bag he used in home and at Alta House into collection
  • A History of the Italians in Hubbard, OH – accepted into the collection

Community Outreach
This area of focus includes a wide variety of activities that share the collection and my knowledge with the public. Some highlights include:

  • Assisted about 25 researchers with investigations into various Italian American subjects
  • Started monthly column “Saving History” to share news about the collection
  • Developed and presented exhibits – “Next Stop: Italy, By Way of: Cleveland;” “Italian American Women of NEO;” “Brief History of Italians in Cleveland”
  • Led 2 tours of Italian Americans at Lake View Cemetery and made 8 presentations to various groups
  • Conducted oral history project with the help of volunteer Mark Oprea

Development and Fundraising
Funding for the Italian American Collection comes through grants and individual donations. Activities are conducted to maintain and increase financial support. Some highlights include:

  • Met with 10 individual donors and organizations to solicit their support of the collection
  • Initiated the development of plans with the Council on Italian American History to grow the Italian American Heritage Preservation Fund at The Cleveland Foundation