Stories, Streets, and Saints
Photographs and Oral Histories from Boston's North End
A time capsule of a classic Italian American neighborhood, told in the voices of its inhabitants.
Stories, Streets, and Saints documents the history of an important Italian American neighborhood, Boston's North End, from the age of immigration at the turn of the twentieth century to the era of neighborhood upheaval in the "New Boston" of the 1980s. Drawing on years of fieldwork, on-site photography, and scholarly research, Anthony V. Riccio records, translates, and transcribes compelling oral histories of elderly Italian American storytellers who weave social history in their unique village idiom, providing an intimate look at daily life in an Italian American neighborhood. Testimonies of post-Unification southern Italy reconstruct the dire social and economic conditions that caused millions to pursue the promise of America. Rare firsthand stories of the Spanish Flu offer timely narratives in the wake of COVID-19, and eyewitness descriptions reconstruct the horrific Molasses Explosion of 1919. Riccio's own photographs from 1979 to 1983, along with images from old family albums, illustrate these oral histories, creating a lasting record of the experiences of Italian Americans, who, like many other ethnic groups, contributed mightily to the building of America.
Anthony V. Riccio (1952–2022) was Manager of Stacks and Collections Maintenance at the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University. He was the author of several books on Italian American culture and history, including The Italian American Experience in New Haven: Images and Oral Histories; Farms, Factories, and Families: Italian American Women of Connecticut; and From Italy to the North End: Photographs, 1972–1982, and the coauthor, with Silvio Suppa, of Cooking with Chef Silvio: Stories and Authentic Recipes from Campania, all published by SUNY Press.
"Decades ago, Anthony Riccio worked with and lived among the Italian Americans of Boston's North End. He photographed its residents and their streets and listened to their stories. Now Riccio has lovingly shared those photos and interviews in this outstanding book. In bringing to life this classic American urban ethnic neighborhood, Stories, Streets, and Saints makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Italian American history." — Vincent J. Cannato, author of American Passage: The History of Ellis Island
"Anthony Riccio has the gift of empathy. You meet him and you know he is listening, really listening. This is why the speakers of this beautiful book generously gave him stories and insight. They offered him glimpses of their Italian past—from sulphur mines to town celebrations, from simple recipes to ancient prayers—and of their North End's small world. Both are now gone. They hand him small bites of wisdom honed by their old age. Riccio gathers them and keeps them safe for the future." — Ilaria Serra, author of The Value of Worthless Lives: Writing Italian American Immigrant Autobiographies
"Stories, Streets and Saints is the culmination of years of documenting the ancient Italian oral tradition with community elders who weave an Italian American social history in the unique idioms of their villages. The book contributes an important tessera to the multiethnic American mosaic, offering an intimate account of everyday life in historic Italian American enclaves." — Marianna Gatto, Executive Director and Cofounder, Italian American Museum of Los Angeles