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2. Factors determining the late nineteenth century deportation process from Italy: memoirs and legal actions of the Jacini inquiry

A. “In the valleys of the Appennines and the Alps, as well as in the lowlands, especially in the Southern Italy and even in some of the better farmed lands of Northern Italy, there are hovels where whole families live together with goats, pigs and other animals. There are probably hundreds of thousands of such places.”

B. “Farmers from rural areas are worth as much as they are useful. For those who are helpless, bedridden or unable to work death is something less important or somehow less serious than a large bovine or sheep loss. When an animal falls sick a family may be driven to despair.”

C. “1877. This year should be given special attention, as it is marked with a considerable decrease in arts and crafts level. At Mr Rossi’s workshop in Schio all employees work only three days a week. Carpenters from the major city workshops are jobless. Half of the masons or more, almost two thirds of them hang around the main square. Half of the coachbuilders have been fired: all by mid-June, which seems incredible. [...]

Emigration to the United States is still increasing considerably. In November, whole families with children and grown-ups are still leaving [...] in fact the phenomenon is reaching higher and higher levels. Entire villages look deserted overnight: their inhabitants sold all their belongings and sailed away on Ferrata ship.

Source A: Excerpt from Senator Jacini inquiry final report is taken from G.A. STELLA, Odissee. Italiani sulle rotte del sogno e del dolore, Rizzoli, Milano, pp. 24.
Source B: L. ALPAGO NOVELLO, L. TREVISI, A. ZAVA, Monografia Agraria dei Distretti di Conegliano, Oderzo e Vittorio in Provincia di Treviso, in "Atti della Giunta per l’Inchiesta agraria e sulle Condizioni della classe Agricola", Vol.V, tomo II, Roma 1882, p. 214.
Source C: E. FRANZINA, Merica! Merica! Emigrazione e colonizzazione nelle lettere dei contadini veneti e friulani in America Latina. 1876-1902, Cierre, Verona, 1994, p. 32.


These tree excerpts are taken from different books and present three different points of view that allow to analyse the difficult Italian situation in those early years.

The first one is taken from Senator Jacini’s report. He was the head of an inquiry commission formed in 1877 by the Italian Parliament in order to get to know the country life conditions. The second one is taken from an account given by a Jacini’s contributor, a physician who was in touch with farmers and peasants in Treviso area for a long time and therefore knew the territory and its problems well. The third one is taken from a late eighteenth century memoir by a very popular author from Vicenza who didn’t come from a rural background but from the industrial working class which seems to be in trouble as well.


  1. What are the life conditions of families from rural areas?
  2. Are hovels located in Southern Italy only?
  3. Does emigration strike rural environments only or also the industrialized ones?
  4. How can you get information about difficulties (and therefore about deportation factors) that made so many Italians emigrate?

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