Why did they Emigrate
During the late 19th and early 20th Century many Italians emigrated from Italy. They left their homeland in search of a better life, but what was their reasons for leaving.
Between 1850 and 1930 the Italian population grew from 26 million to 40 million people. This caused many problems. Farming land became scarce, trees and woodland areas where cut down to make room for more crops but the rain washed away the most fertile soil as a result of this the land was barren and no good for farming.
The South of Italy were probably hit hardest by this as the land was dry and full of rocks so farming was unreliable. When crops failed, a lot of Italians from the small villages either moved North as prospects were better, the North had more industry and jobs than the South. Others chose to emigrate.
For the many that chose to follow the dream it wasn’t an easy passage. For some the journey was made by foot and train (where possible) to France then by sea to England: for others who sailed from Italian ports the journey was long and hard. The living space was cramped and quite often food and water were in short supply. The journey was made worse by stormy seas. There was a high level of sickness due to the conditions, once the ship arrived at its destination there was then the long lengthy process before being let into the Country.
All Immigrants were given a medical exam any with health problems were examined further others with long term health issues were sent back.
The majority of these immigrants spoke little or no English so this added to the lengthy process. Translators were few and far between but were used when possible to ask the necessary questions e.g. name, date of birth, place of birth and if they had any money.
Italians settled in small communities around England known as “little Italy's” it was easier to be near other Italian families everyone helped each other, it was a comfortable and familiar set up more like home. Most Italians married other Italians from within their community or other Italians communities in nearby towns.