“why, It's Mother”: the Italian Mothers' Clubs of New York

Carol Bonomo Jennngs and Christine Palamidessi Moore

in American Woman, Italian Style

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780823231751
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241286 | DOI:
“why, It's Mother”: the Italian Mothers' Clubs of New York

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The Italo-American Women's Club of Williamsburg staged a homegrown play entitled Why, It's Mother and was set in 1938 depicting the then gloomy situation of the first-generation female Italian immigrant. The establishment of Italian Mothers' Clubs was a short-lived twentieth century phenomenon. These clubs filled a need for many first-generation Italian immigrant women. To understand the development of Italian Mothers' Clubs, one must understand a woman's role in the family structure of southern Italy. Italian families were nuclear families headed by the father or eldest male. One's family also included one's in-laws, other nuclear families to whom one was related by marriage. Historians dealing with the Italian family also generally agree that Mezzogiorno culture was “patriarchal.” Italian Mothers' Clubs functioned for a brief time in New York, but in that time Italian women completed their transformation into Italian-American women.

Keywords: first-generation; Italian immigrant; Mezzogiorno culture; Italian Mother's Clubs; Italian family; patriarchal; New York

Chapter.  6441 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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