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Researching Genealogy & Local History in the Bronx's "Little Italy": Community History Resources
Blog posts, videos, and oral histories can be a rich source of information on this research topic. Compiled are some links to family histories and personal narratives that may bring your research some helpful color and depth.
Voices from East of Bronx Park is an oral history project from the New York Public Library that works to both preserve and document the neighborhood history of the Allerton, Pelham Parkway, Morris Park, and Van Nest communities through the stories of people who have experienced it.
Much has changed, but when I was growing up Arthur Avenue was the heart of Bronx's Little Italy, a vibrant Italian-American working class neighborhood lined with delis, bakeries, cafes, restaurants and merchants of every kind. I was raised on Arthur Avenue, starting out in a cold-water flat before spending my formative years working in my parent's deli and butcher shop. I went on to open a butcher shop of my own there in my late twenties, shortly before I was incapacitated by Guillain-Barre syndrome. I'm Salvatore Cappiello, and this is my story.
Italian Genealogy Group
The Italian Genealogy Group is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting Italian family history and genealogy. It provides free databases vital record indexes for:
New York City Births (1878-1909)
New York City Marriages (1866-1937)
New York City Deaths (1862-1948)
Community-based local history societies and advocacy groups can be useful sources of historical knowledge.
Created by Fordham University, the Bronx Italian American History Initiative (BIAHI) is a collaborative oral history research project that studies the history of Italians and Italian Americans in the Bronx in the 20th century.
The Bronx Community Research Review Board (BxCRRB) is a non-profit, volunteer organization focused on ensuring the proper representation of all Bronx residents during any community research projects, regardless of social status or economic standing.
Originally called “Figli d’Italia,” the Order Sons of Italy in America was established in the Little Italy neighborhood of New York City on June 22, 1905, by Vincenzo Sellaro, M.D., and five other Italian immigrants who came to the United States during the great Italian migration (1880-1923). Their aim was to create a support system for all Italian immigrants that would assist them with becoming U.S. citizens, provide health/death benefits and educational opportunities and offer assistance with assimilation in America.
Religious life was very important for many of the Italian immigrants who came to the United States. The majority of these immigrants identified as Catholic. The Bronx falls within the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of New York. Bronx church records can be found on FamilySearch by searching "Bronx Borough, New York Genealogy Church Records" or through contacting the churches directly.
Some of the churches within the Belmont and Morris Park area include:
Our Lady of Mount Carmel's Church
St. John the Baptist Church
The Redeemed Christian Church of God Chapel of Restoration
Church of the Nazarene
(Image courtesy The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. "St. Raymonds Catholic Church, N.Y. City" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1905.)