“Stephanie Longo has rightly earned the reputation as a foremost expert in Pennsylvania Italians. Author of several books, she provided a mastery of historical accounts and records in the outstanding Italians of Lackawanna County. Another book, just as good, if not better, is her Italians of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Stephanie writes, ‘Statewide, roughly 784 people in Pennsylvania in 1870 were born in Italy. In 1900, this number had risen to 484,207.’ Today, Pennsylvania and Northeastern Pennsylvania, in particular, contain one of the highest concentrations of Italians in the country. Stephanie reminds us that many Italians came to work the coal mines and railroads and settled in large numbers in Scranton, Pittston, Dunmore, Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton and Carbondale.
Stephanie has lived much of her life in Lackawanna County. This and adjacent Luzerne County make up Northeastern Pennsylvania. She dedicates the book to her grandparents Joseph and Anna Mascaro Longo as true examples of what it means to be Italian-American in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Stephanie’s research is truly exemplary. Her inventory of historical photographs bring special visual context to her writing. There are pictures of the small cramped hovels people lived in Campania, Calabria and Sicily. They remind us of the dire circumstances that Italians sought to escape from when coming to America.
Stephanie shares several stories of how Italians were sometimes persecuted in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Once, a priest at an Italian parish received an anonymous letter that threatened to dynamite the church unless all Italians left the area.
Fascinating anecdotes, historical records and insightful commentary make up Italians of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Stephanie loves the human side of history and it shows. So many photographs come with mini stories. One black and white photograph, taken in 1924 in San Cataldo, Sicily, shows Vincent Palermo and his wife and family. The Palermos left Italy to escape fascism, but were refused entry at Ellis Island because Anna had vision problems. Instead of returning to Italy, however, they entered the United States through Canada. The Palermos went to Throop upon arrival, but later moved to Dunmore, where they sold produce. She goes on to say they had three more children after they settled in America.
Italians of Northeastern Pennsylvania is another marvelous book by Stephanie Longo. She is a writer who reinforces the pride we all have in our Italian American roots. What an outstanding book!