Date of Award

Summer 2008

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Maura Hametz

Committee Member

Jane Merritt

Committee Member

Annette Finley-Croswhite

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.H47 B46 2008


American perceptions of Italy and Italians between 1861 and 1881 were characterized by competing and conflicting images. These two decades in the late­ nineteenth century demonstrated the transitional nature of American attitudes towards Italians as contact between the two peoples increased. American travelers went to Italy initially to recreate the journeys of educated Europeans of the Grand Tours of the eighteenth century. By the 1860s this style of travel was on the decline to be replaced by traveling based on exploring the "real" Italy. However, the two styles overlapped and resulted in conflicting and complementary images. In part this was a result of increasing Italian migration to the U.S. Many Americans initially welcomed Italians as the prescription for an under-populated nation in need of successful agriculturalists. However, as more Italians arrived, especially those from the poorer South, attitudes shifted to a more negative and hostile tone. Each of these American perspectives were pushed aside when Italian heroes were considered, however. Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi represented ideal Italians. They strove for Italian independence, just as the American Founding Fathers had less than a century before.

Using a variety of primary and secondary source material, these competing and conflicting perceptions are explored. The project examines 1861 to l881 as a transitional period for American perceptions, while providing a broader context for understanding the changing nature of American and Italian societies during the period.


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