New Digital Collection: “Italians in Milwaukee Oral History Project”

Photo courtesy of Milwaukee County Historical Society

Photo courtesy of Milwaukee County Historical Society

UWM Archives has launched a new digital collection: “Italians in Milwaukee Oral History Project,” a collection of oral history interviews concerning Italian-American life in early 20th century Milwaukee!

It was created in 1991 by Lawrence Baldassaro, Emeritus Professor of Italian at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Diane Vecchio, Professor of History at Furman University.

The interviews, which paint a vivid portrait of Italian life in Milwaukee from the 1900s through the 1940s, were conducted with Italian immigrants to Milwaukee and children of early immigrants.

The recordings detail immigration to America, Italian traditions, the community and character of the old Italian Third Ward, Depression-era immigrant employment, and Italian-American homemaking and lifestyles, among other topics.

The interviews capture fascinating and unique memories, including narratives of growing up Italian in Milwaukee, mouth-watering descriptions of food, harrowing accounts of trips to America, and heart-warming recollections of the Italian community’s businesses and characters.

The collection includes 20 interviews, many of which were conducted at Milwaukee’s Italian Community Center, and totals eleven hours of recordings.

The Archives of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries have digitized the audio, which are now online at

Excerpts from select interviews can be found on Soundcloud, at

For more information, contact Michael Doylen at 414-229-6980.