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Italian American Oral History Project

Identifier: MSS-202

Scope and Contents note

This collection primarily consists of audiotapes of the interviews, arranged alphabetically by interviewee surname, as well as an inventory of contents, a subject index to the interviews, and transcripts and/or summaries of certain interviews. Also included are some student papers that used the project's interviews as sources.


  • 1982-2002


Conditions Governing Access note

No restrictions. Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

For a list of which interviews can be digitized, please see the Copyright Transfer event.

Permission to publish material from the Italian American Oral History Project, MSS-202, must be obtained from the University Archivist. The University Archivist may be reached by phone at 906-227-1225, or e-mail, The University Archivist may also be reached in Room 126 of the Learning Resource Center, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI.

Biographical / Historical note

In 1982, the Center for Oral History at Northern Michigan University (now defunct), together with the Paisano Club of Upper Michigan, Northern Michigan University, and the Michigan Council for the Humanities, sponsored a project on Italian immigration to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The project was directed by Dr. Russell M. Magnaghi, professor of history at Northern, and entailed interviewing one hundred and fifty Italian-American individuals from a variety of economic and cultural backgrounds; it involved contact with every Italian-American community in Upper Michigan, neighboring Wisconsin, and Ontario. These communities included: 1.Chippewa County: Sault Saint Marie. 2.Dickinson County: Iron Mountain, Kingsford, Loretto, Norway, Vulcan. 3.Gogebic County: Bessemer, Ironwood, Wakefield. 4.Keweenaw County: Mohawk. 5.Houghton County: Baltic, Calumet, Franklin Mine, Hancock, South Range. 6.Iron County, Michigan: Caspian, Crystal Falls, Iron River, Virgil. 7.Mackinac County: Cedarville-Hessel. 8.Marquette County: Gwinn, Ishpeming, Marquette, Negaunee. 9.Menominee County: Hermansville. 10.Iron County, Wisconsin: Hurley, Kimball. 11.Ontario: Sault Saint Marie. The Italian American Oral History Project spanned twenty years, with many individuals giving and collecting oral histories. The project's initiator was Greta Swenson, formerly of Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, aided and encouraged by Msgr. David Spelgatti. Among the interviewers were Donna Anderson, Mary Adams Bone, Rick Filizetti, Pete Frecchio, Flora Fregerio, John Ghiardi, Bev Gschwind, Diane Kordich, Greg Nienwendorp, Adele Perugini, Greg Rose, Myron Re, Christine Sericati, Greta Swenson, Robert Varda, and Alycee Westphal. Besides the interviewers and interviewees, many unnamed people also helped by providing basic information on who to interview within a specific community. They are remembered and thanked as well.

Dr. Magnaghi donated the original tapes to the Northern Michigan University Archives. Two additional copies have been made to facilitate their use among researchers. They are available at the Michigan Collection in the Bentley Library at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and at the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul.


19 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Related Archival Materials note

Approximately 80 of the oral history interviews have been digitized and are freely available online:


Magnaghi, Russell M. (1987). Miners, Merchants, and Midwives: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Italians. Marquette, Mich.: Bell Fontaine Press.

View This Collection Online

This collection is part of UPLINK, the Upper Peninsula Digital Network. You can see it on the UPLINK website here.

Italian American Oral History Project
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives Repository

Harden Learning Resources Center 126
1401 Presque Isle Ave
Marquette 49855 United States
906-227-1333 (Fax)


This collection guide includes collections from member organizations of UPLINK (the Upper Peninsula Digital Network) as well as the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives. UPLINK collections document the history of the Upper Peninsula broadly, while the Central UP & NMU Archives focuses on such topics as Northern Michigan University history, the local iron mining industry, and the politics, economics, religion, environment, and culture of the Central Upper Peninsula region.

These finding aids will give you an overview of the contents and context of each collection. Finding aids only exist for collections that each organization has shared with UPLINK or (in the case of the NMU Archives) for processed collections. For a more comprehensive list of collections that might help with your research, please contact the relevant heritage organization(s) directly.

Northern Michigan University
1401 Presque Isle Ave. • Marquette, MI 49855-5301 • 906–227–1000
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