Sicilian Americans

  (Redirected from Sicilian American)

Sicilian Americans (Italian: Siculoamericani; Sicilian: Siculu-miricani) are Americans of Sicilian birth or ancestry. They are one of the largest and most prominent Italian American groups in the United States.[2] While being a subset of Italian Americans, the Sicilian Americans are often considered a separate group in the US, owing to some cultural and historical characteristics.[3]

Sicilian Americans
Siculo-americani  (Italian)
Siculu-miricani  (Sicilian)
United States Sicily
Total population
(2000 American Community Survey)[1]
Regions with significant populations
New York City, New Haven, Buffalo, Rochester, Erie, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Boston, Pittston, Johnston, Rhode Island, Detroit, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans, Milwaukee Birmingham
American English • Italian • Sicilian
predominantly Roman Catholic
Related ethnic groups
Italian Americans • Italian Canadians • Italian Australians • Maltese Americans • Italians (Sicilians)


A Sicilian café in New York, 1889.

Sicilian emigration to the US grew substantially istarting in the 1880s to 1914, when it was cut off by the World War. Many Sicilians and plan to return home after a few years making money in the United States, but the wartime delay allowed many to assimilate into better jobs and wartime experience, so they did not return. By 1924 about 4,000,000 Sicilians emigrated to the US, And several million returned.[4]. The Emergency Quota Act, and the subsequent Immigration Act of 1924 sharply reduced immigration from Southern Europe except for relatives of Sicilians already in the U.S.[5] This period saw political and economic shifts in Sicily that made emigration desirable. There was also a large wave of immigration after World War II. A great portion of the Sicilian immigrants would settle in New York City, New Haven, Buffalo, Rochester, Erie, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Boston, Pittston, Johnston, Rhode Island, Detroit, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans, Milwaukee, and Birmingham.


Sicilian immigrants brought with them their own unique culture, including theatre and music. Giovanni De Rosalia was a noted Sicilian American playwright in the early period and farce was popular in several Sicilian dominated theatres. In music Sicilian Americans would be linked, to some extent, to jazz. Many of the more popular cities for Sicilian immigrants, like Brooklyn, New Orleans or Chicago, are pivotal in the history of jazz. In Brooklyn the predominantly Sicilian neighborhoods were Bensonhurst and Gravesend, In Chicago "Little Sicily" and in New Orleans it was "Little Palermo." One of the earliest, and among the most controversial, figures in jazz was Nick LaRocca, who was of Sicilian heritage. Modern Sicilian American jazz artists include Bobby Militello and Chuck Mangione.[6]

Film director Frank Capra, a native of Bisacquino, Sicily

The Sicilian-American respect for San Giuseppe (St. Joseph) is reflected in the celebration of the Feast of St. Joseph, primarily in New Orleans and Buffalo, every March 19. Many families in those cities prepare a "St. Joseph's Day table", at which relatives or neighbors portray Jesus, Joseph and Mary and oversee the serving of meat-free Lenten meals to the poor of the community. The tables are the vestiges of a Sicilian legend which states that farmers prayed to St. Joseph, promising that if he interceded in a drought, they would share their bounty with the poor. The foods served at such tables include: pasta con sarde (spaghetti with sardines); lenticchie (lentils); and various froscie (omelettes) made with cardoon (wild artichoke), cicoria (dandelion) and other homely vegetables. Desserts include sfingi, zeppoli, a light puff pastry; sfogliatelle, pignolati, struffoli (honey balls); and cannoli, a Sicilian creation. One tradition has each guest at a St. Joseph's Day table receiving a slice of orange, a bit of fennel and a fava bean, for good luck.[7]

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Table 1. First, Second, and Total Responses to the Ancestry Question by Detailed Ancestry Code: 2000" (XLS). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  2. ^ Laura C. Rudolph, "Sicilian Americans."
  3. ^ Klein, Jennifer M. "SAGE Reference - Sicilian Americans". Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  4. ^ "Destination America . When did they come? | PBS". Retrieved 2019-09-25.
  5. ^ "Who Was Shut Out?: Immigration Quotas, 1925-1927". Retrieved 2016-08-15.
  6. ^ Laura C. Rudolph, "Sicilian Americans."
  7. ^ Laura C. Rudolph, "Sicilian Americans."

Further readingEdit

  • Gabaccia, Donna. From Sicily to Elizabeth Street (State University of New York Press, 1984).
  • Gabaccia, Donna. Militants and Migrants: Rural Sicilians Become American Workers (Rutgers University Press, 1988).
  • Mazzucchelli, Chiara. “Heart of My Race”: Questions of Identity in Sicilian/American Writings (Florida Atlantic University Press, 2007).
  • Raab, Selwyn. Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires (St. Martin's Press, 2005_.
  • Rudolph, Laura C. "Sicilian Americans." in Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 4, Gale, 2014, pp. 151-163). Online
  • Schiavelli, Vincent. Bruculinu, America: Remembrances of Sicilian-American Brooklyn (1998).

External linksEdit