Emigration from Venetian Slovenia to North America at the Beginning of the 20th Century on the Basis of Passenger Lists
The paper discusses emigration from Venetian Slovenia to the USA in the early decades of the 20th century on the basis of passenger lists compiled by the US immigration authorities. It illustrates the dynamic and structural characteristics of the movements and the typological change from seasonal continental to transatlantic labour migration. The overseas migration was also intended to be temporary and was part of the conservative socio-economic strategies of the rural communities. However, in many cases it led to the permanent settling of the emigrants in the USA. This marked the beginning of permanent emigration from Venetian Slovenia and introduced the process of depopulation of the region. The logistical aspects and the role of social networks in the migration and settlement process are discussed as well.
KEY WORDS: Venetian Slovenia, Friuli, emigration, America, passenger lists
The paper examines the little-known phenomenon of emigration from Venetian Slovenia to the USA from the beginning of the 20th century to the 1930s. The analysis is based on passenger lists compiled by the US immigration authorities. The dynamic and structural characteristics of the overseas migration are presented in comparison with the seasonal labour migrations prevailing in Friuli and in Venetian Slovenia at the time. The overseas migrants were predominantly men heading to mining and industrial centres. Apart from ten percent of skilled workers, mainly masons, the emigrants were unskilled labourers. They commuted from the European seasonal labour market to the longer-lasting and often repeated labour periods in the USA. Most of them, however, settled in America permanently, which coincided with the immigration of women (16%), especially wives and other members of the nuclear family, whose arrivals were concentrated in the years after WWI. The emigration to the USA was a turning point in Venetian Slovenia’s migration history, as it marked a deviation from the seasonal tradition and the conservative socio-economic strategies of the rural communities. This was the first significant permanent emigration from the area and resulted in a loss of residents in the post-WWI period.