WRHS Italian American Collection

By: Pamela Dorazio Dean, MA, CA


In 2006, WRHS partnered with the Northern Ohio Italian American Foundation, the Italian Sons and Daughters of America, and the Italian American Cultural Foundation to establish the WRHS Italian American Collection and hire a curator specifically dedicated to preserving and documenting Italian American history in Northeast Ohio. Pamela Dorazio Dean has filled that role for the last 15 years and is now also serving as director of the new Italian American Museum of Cleveland (IAMCLE.)

The WRHS Italian American Collection contains approximately 85 objects and over 300 linear feet of manuscript materials, which include documents and photographs. The objects and manuscripts serve as a way to preserve the people, places, and organizations that comprise the history of Italian American experience in Northeast Ohio. Many of these resources have been used in exhibits, in public programs, and as teaching tools for students. They have also been consulted by researchers, such as author Pamela Schoenenwaldt, who referred to the collection when writing When We Were Strangers and Swimming in the Moon.

A number of items from the Italian American Collection are currently on display in the WRHS exhibit Cleveland Starts Here and in the gallery at the Italian American Museum of Cleveland. A listing of the artifacts and manuscript that are part of the WRHS Italian American Collection can be found doing a search in the WRHS on-line catalog.