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Bronx Italian American History Initiative

Founded in 2016, the Bronx Italian American History Initiative is a collaborative research project that studies the history of Italians and Italian Americans in the Bronx in the 20th century. It is led by Dr. Kathleen LaPenta (Modern Languages and Literatures), Dr. Mark Naison (African and African American Studies) and Dr. Jacqueline Reich (Communication and Media Studies).

In keeping with the best practices outlined by the Oral History Association, the BIAHI aims to recover the personal narratives of Italian and Italian American residents of the Bronx and to document and map the cultural centers in which they settled, lived and worked. Through these narratives, we study the network of cultural institutions that shaped and sustained neighborhood growth, such as churches, schools, theaters, restaurants and groceries as well as other privately owned or operated businesses, sports organizations, social clubs and music venues. BIAHI investigates the racialization of Italian Americans as white and examines the processes by which individuals remember and reconstruct their life histories in the context of race and multi-ethnic relations. By partnering with the Bronx African American History Project (BAAHP) we aim to situate our work within a fabric multi-ethnicity and to thus develop a more in-depth knowledge of the relations between neighborhoods in the Bronx that were home to Jews, Irish, Italian, Latinos, and blacks.

Please fill out the following information if you are interested in being considered for an interview.

Please feel free to contact Dr. LaPenta ( with any questions.