“We’re always looking for types of historical programming to deliver and I’ve been wanting to do a cultural type of history program for a while, so I thought this would be a good first one to do,” said Spurlock.
It really started out when we were researching an area known as “Little Italy,” but it’s actually not the home to any Italian immigrants, he said, so the research question came about “Where did they live then?” We did some preliminary research on that and from there, we decided we were going to do a program on it.
“There’s still a lot of members of descendants from some of the early Italian families in Hamilton that are around, but it’s not so big of a community that it’s difficult to collect all the information that’s available,” Spurlock said.
Much of the data that has been gathered about the Italian heritage in Hamilton has been from census records, which are only available up to 1950, he said.
“Besides using historical newspapers to fill in gaps after that time period, we are mostly covering the period up until our records run out or become contemporary,” Spurlock said. “I can tell you that it started with one Italian immigrant. He arrived in 1852. That’s the earliest record we have of him being here.”
The discussion will cover early immigration to the United States, and then, specifically to Hamilton from Italy, and that includes the push and pull factors, why people left and why people came.
The talk will also include the development of the two or three “Little Italys,” or areas of town where they initially started to gather, some of the businesses that they ran, the formation of the local Italian American Society, and the movement of some of the Italian families to the Lindenwald neighborhood.
Another aspect Spurlock will talk about is how Italians responded to some of the crises in the community and the world around that time, such as how they reacted to World War I and World War II, where Italian’s were initially the enemy in both of those wars. He will also address the latest generations of Italians, who descended from the initial pioneer families.
“The introduction of all these communities to our area are a critical part of the development of Hamilton,” Spurlock said. “You can see the lasting effects of those families coming here and forming communities, whether that’s Italian, German, Irish, or whatever.”
How to go
What: Hamilton’s Italian Heritage at the Hamilton Lane Library
When: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Hamilton Lane Library, 300 N. Third St.
Cost: Free. No registration is required.
More info: (513) 894-6557 or www.lanepl.org