My name is Chris Caravella. I am a fourth generation Italian-American and current president of the St Bartholomew Society. The Society was founded in New Orleans in 1879 by Italian immigrants from the island of Ustica. We have been in continuous operation for 136 years and we're not the only Italian American benevolent society to date from this period. There are three of us that are still active. We are relics from a time period in Italian American history that is poorly documented and which predates the huge tide of immigration that swept the US at the end of the 1800's. Most of the conversation of the Italian American experience today centers on this latest generation of immigrants and the struggles they faced in finding their way in their new home. But as I began researching my Italian family, it drew out this earlier story and my presentation today will show how through genealogical research I am able to rebuild a portrait of the entire Italian American community in New Orleans during the 1800s.

So this is the island of Ustica where the Caravella family is from. I prepared this presentation in 2008 and I will pop in and out of it to show you some things I've discovered since then and at the end I'll present a study that I did in 2010 that puts the story of just this one population group into the greater perspective of the entire Italian American community in New Orleans in the 1800's.