Concise Documentation: A Deeper Look into American History

Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

A major problem we face today is our failure to chronicle the specifics of a given period, region, or ethnic group. Authentic history is derived not merely from authority figures, but from individuals. The contemporary historical narrative—the "then this...then that" overgeneralized textbook—fails to take into account history's true form: a colorful mosaic. In many texts, documentation of the Italian-American community is often, simply limited to a few, brief sentences as a caption under one of several noted photographs of Manhattan's Little Italy during the 1920s, accompanied by a summary of Italian-American cuisine and celebrities. Ambiguous summarizations, so-called "expert opinions," and sketchy generalizations designed to bind different data together have "dumbed-down" American history. With the prevalence of studying mainstream topics with painstakingly, trite commentary from the accepted documentarians, scholars are increasingly developing an oversimplified perception of history. Frustrated with reading the same, conventional approaches to history, I set out on an endeavor to write a true social/cultural history of the Italian immigrant experience.

I began my journey on Staten Island—one of New York City's five boroughs,...

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