Bronx Italian American History Initiative

Capturing the History of Italian Americans in the Bronx

Family portrait at church st nicholas of tolentine 1952

Family portrait taken in 1952 at St. Nicholas of Tolentine church

Founded in 2016, the Bronx Italian American History Initiative (BIAHI) is a collaborative oral history research project that studies the history of Italians and Italian Americans in the Bronx in the 20th century.

The BIAHI recovers the personal narratives of Italian and Italian American residents of the Bronx, both past and present, through an archive of catalogued video and audio interviews. Our goal is to document and map the cultural centers in which they settled, lived and worked, and how they interacted with other ethnic and racial groups as their own racial privilege shifted.

In collaboration and with support from the Bronx African American History Project (BAAHP), we situate our work within a fabric multi-ethnicity and to thus develop a more in-depth knowledge of the relations between neighborhoods in the Bronx that have been home to individuals of African, Irish, Jewish, and Spanish descent.

Our project has been made possible by generous support from the Calandra Italian American Institute, the Bronx African American History Project, individual donors and Fordham’s Office of Research.

 

Our News

Raising Bronx Voices

Raising Bronx Voices

Since the 1970s, Fordham students have been studying and contributing to the spirit of innovation and community renewal that has come to define what it means to be a Bronxite. Fifty years ago, a new art form burst forth on the streets of the Bronx, born from rich musical traditions and a spirit of innovation [...]

As Hip-Hop Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary, Fordham Helps Preserve Its Legacy

As Hip-Hop Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary, Fordham Helps Preserve Its Legacy

Fifty years ago, a new art form burst forth on the streets of the Bronx, born from rich musical traditions and a spirit of innovation in neighborhoods of color ravaged by deindustrialization and written off by most of the country. In the ensuing decades, the Fordham community has not only studied and celebrated hip-hop, it [...]

Fordham’s Bronx African American History Project Attracts Scholars Worldwide

Fordham’s Bronx African American History Project Attracts Scholars Worldwide

Online visitors from more than 70 countries have accessed Fordham’s Bronx African American History Project (BAAHP), an extensive archive of essays and interviews with African Americans who have made the Bronx their home.  “We had downloads from Ukraine and the Russian Federation on the same day—two countries at war with one another,” said Mark Naison, [...]

Students Work with Bronxites to Paint Community Mural

Students Work with Bronxites to Paint Community Mural

Fordham students and Bronx residents are working together to create an Earth Day mural at an after-school center for underserved youth a block away from the Rose Hill campus.  “We’re working on having our students understand that what goes on outside is community. It’s love. It’s history,” said Lisa Preti, an assistant director in student [...]

Bronx History Makers Rewrite the Narrative

Bronx History Makers Rewrite the Narrative

First, there was redlining, then there were the fires, and now, inevitably, there’s gentrification. But there was also bebop, bachata, salsa, and hip-hop. And today the borough serves up cuisine from Italy, Albania, the Caribbean, and Ghana. The Bronx has seen it all. Yet too frequently, it’s the fires that outsiders remember and the poverty [...]

Bronx African American History Project Gives Voice to People Affected by COVID-19

Bronx African American History Project Gives Voice to People Affected by COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York in March, student researchers with Fordham’s Bronx African American History Project saw an opportunity to document history as it happened and give voice to their neighbors. “It was more important than ever to capture these stories, because the Bronx was probably one of most hard-hit boroughs out of [...]

Bronx Italian American History Initiative Shares Personal Stories in New Social Media Campaign

Bronx Italian American History Initiative Shares Personal Stories in New Social Media Campaign

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bronx Italian American History Initiative has created a new social media campaign that shares Humans of New York-style stories about Italian and Italian American residents of the Bronx.  “The idea is to inspire people to stay home, but also get to know more about the community that they’re [...]

Fordham’s Largest Scholarship Fund: A Half-Century of Changing Lives

Fordham’s Largest Scholarship Fund: A Half-Century of Changing Lives

As a Fordham undergraduate in the late 1990s, Brian Purnell was focused on his studies but also on his parents—specifically, the debts they had incurred to pay for his education. “Making college … not too onerous of a financial burden on my parents was a priority for me,” he said. Then, in sophomore year, one [...]

Frederick J. Brown Tribute Fills McGinley Ballroom with Art and Music

Frederick J. Brown Tribute Fills McGinley Ballroom with Art and Music

It may be located squarely in the Bronx, but for a few hours on a recent Saturday night, Fordham’s McGinley Ballroom was transformed to a 1980s SoHo art loft. The event, 120 Wooster St: A Celebration of the Life and Career of Frederick J. Brown, showcased art, jazz, diversity, and, most of all, a wonderful sense [...]

Cultural Groups Bring Live Music and Dance to Campus on Bronx Celebration Day

Cultural Groups Bring Live Music and Dance to Campus on Bronx Celebration Day

At the second annual Bronx Celebration Day on April 21, a Mexican folk dance troupe, Marzarte Dance Company, held hands with Fordham students and local residents for an energetic chain dance around the Walsh Lot of the Rose Hill campus.  Folklorist and choreographer Martha Nora Zarate-Alvarez, who heads the Bronx-based ensemble, said the group’s lively [...]

Second Annual Bronx Celebration Day Brings Local Music and Art to Campus

Second Annual Bronx Celebration Day Brings Local Music and Art to Campus

The Bronx is something Fordham celebrates every day; it’s the home of the University’s first campus. It’s also a vibrant borough full of wonderful people with a rich history that is integral to New York City. To honor Fordham’s Bronx connection, the University will host its Second Annual Bronx Celebration Day on Saturday, April 21, with [...]