The inspiration for this website came to me in the winter of 2019, when my daughter was writing an essay for her US History 2 class in high school. The subject matter was the internment of enemy aliens in the United States during World War 2. She was a high school junior at the time, and her US history teacher instructed the class to write an essay about the internment, and to research and report the story of an individual who lived through it.
I asked my daughter if she had picked an individual person yet, and if not, I suggested for her to research the stories of some of the Italian-American Fishermen in California who had their boats and homes seized, and were forcibly relocated. Better yet, track down interviews with any of the remaining internees. I added that many Americans of Italian descent had been imprisoned in various internment camps at the outset of the war, and that their stories were well-documented.
School Curriculum only taught about the Internment of Japanese-Americans
Her response was that she’d love to write about the Italian internment, but the curriculum focused solely on the internment of Japanese-Americans. I found this odd, as the internment of Italian-Americans was so well documented by the US Department of Justice, major universities, and research journalists. It surprised me that it was completely absent from the modern American history curriculum. Missing too, was the internment of over 10,000 German-Americans, and a number of other individuals that met the specification of “enemy alien”.
So I suggested that she ask her teacher for permission to write her essay on an Internee from the many affected Italian-American communities across America. Her interest piqued, my daughter discussed her thoughts with her teacher the next morning.
At dinner the next night, my daughter told the family all about her conversation with her history teacher. The outcome of the discussion was that the teacher would certainly allow her to write her paper on the Italian-American internment, and looked forward to reading it. The resulting paper included a section on internees Giuseppe and Maria Scottoline, the grandparents of New York Times Bestselling Author, Lisa Scottoline. My daughter received an excellent grade (94, an A-), as well as an enthusiastic response from the teacher.
Classified History Gets Revealed by the US Department of Justice
As a parent, I came away from the experience with some conflicting emotions. I was quite happy that her teacher openly welcomed an alternative assignment. I was also dismayed at how this important chapter in American history had been completely hidden from the American public. Former President William J. Clinton signed legislation into law on November 7, 2000 that authorized the US Department of Justice to investigate the violation of civil liberties of Italian American civil liberties during World War 2. This Act resulted in the USDOJ report called “Report to the Congress of the United States – A Review of the Restrictions on Persons of Italian Ancestry During World War 2”, and it was delivered to Congress and made public in November 2001.
This website has been created to provide information to the public about the Italian-American experience, and to supply a research portal for anyone interested in seriously researching this pivotal time in history. We hope that the reader finds this website to be enlightening and thought provoking.
For the student in particular, this evidence-based history sheds light on dark corner of American history; one that remains overlooked in public education. Educators, you won’t find this history in any current textbook. However, this site was also built for you too. Please feel free to incorporate this history into your lesson plans. This crucial history has been developed into a 17 lesson curriculum & 3 short plays that cover the complete German, Italian and Japanese Internments. It is available at the German-American Internee Coalition website. For the parents, this is part of the history that we were not taught about in school, and it remains a glossed over period of 20th century American history. To all, please take the time to read our articles and their supporting research, and contact us with any questions or commentary. We’d be happy to discuss any event that we have researched and subsequently written about.
As most of the content on this website is of a historical nature, it is imperative that we strive for full transparency regarding data collection methods and fact-checking standards, as well as maintaining the highest journalistic standards possible. The original source documents referenced within this website, as well as personal narratives, are a treasure trove of information invaluable to the planning of curriculum and public communications.