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Discovery Day - Begin Your Italian Genealogy Research Today!

Updated: Oct 13, 2019

Italian Americans

 Image Credit: Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper of July 2, 1887
Discovery Day - Marveling at Lady Liberty for the First Time

Celebrating "Discovery Day"

On July 21, 1892, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus arriving in lands which later became known as the Americas. While history debates President Harrison's motives for such a proclamation, even as early as the mid-1860s, New Yorkers hosted Columbus-themed festivities. San Francisco's Italians celebrated their first Discovery Day in 1869, and Philadelphians erected a statue of Columbus in Fairmount Park in 1876 - it had already become a day of celebration thanks to ethnic efforts of Catholic Italian Americans.

The Knights of Columbus, and international Roman Catholic fraternal society lobbied state legislatures for October 12th to become a holiday, ultimately succeeding in getting Colorado to agree in 1907. New York followed suit, exactly 110 years ago, and held their first Columbus Day parade on October 12, 1909. By 1934, it was designated a national holiday by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Over the past 30 years, historians have uncovered new information about Columbus' evolving legacy. Understandably Native Americans, whose history and future suffered a severe toll from that point of discovery, have caused many to reevaluate the glorification of the man and his discovery event. As such, many have challenged the name of the Columbus Day holiday, instead celebrating it as Native American Day (as South Dakota did in 1990) or Indigenous Peoples Day (as Seattle and Minneapolis did in 2014).

Celebrating Your Italian Roots and Planting Your Ancestral Pride

Whatever way you see the motives of originally celebrating Discovery (or Columbus) Day, perhaps today is as good a day as any to reflect on the the day that YOUR Italian ancestors set foot on this continent, America - be it one momentous day in the mid to late 1800s or the early 1900s. Celebrate their hopes and fears as, much like those earlier explorers, they were in search of a better life. Many never found it and returned once or more (they were the Birds of Passage), but they made it possible for you to become the Italian American you are today! Why not plant the roots - your personal ancestral tree - and see where they grow and bloom? ItaliaPatria Genealogies can help you ... contact us today!

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