Saturday, February 7, 2009
The product of jewish mother and a catholic father, the colorful "little flower" (literally, the english translation of the italian word. fiorello), Fiorello H. Laguardia championed the rights of the downtrodden as a congressman off and on (mostly on) between 1916 and 1932 and then as the incorruptable (what a novel concept!) fusion mayor of New York City from 1934 thru 1945. He was one of the greatest personalities of the melting pot of ethnic groups that continuosly infuses new life and diversity into American culture and is perhaps best remembered by the masses for reading the funny papers over the radio during a newspaper strike in the midst of the (last) depression.
A virtually unknown part of LaGuardia's life was a foray into magazine publishing- an obscure italian language monthly L'Americolo, begun in 1925. This magazine is not held in any major american library (by virtue of not being listed in the Union List of Serials) and there is only one small reference to it on the internet (with no dates of publication listed) in a later biography of great ethnic americans. I happened upon it at a paper show and was amazed and pleased to find La Guardia's name inside.
Ethnic magazines have been printed in america since 1764 when Geistliches Magazien was published by and for the Pennsylvania german immigrant population, printed with the first German type cast in America (an interesting etymological aside here: the misnomer of the "Pennsylvania dutch" which are actually the Pennsylvania deutsch").
Virtually every major American ethic group has had their own publications. Some, like Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and the great humor magazine Puck were published concurrently in separate editions in two languages. The german-language Puck, published by Joseph Keppler, actually preceded the english language edition.
Ho-hum- just another great example of the importance of studying american magazines.
See you soon, ciao (btw, a legal scrabble word), auf wieder sehen!
Posted by Steven Lomazow M.D. at 9:07 PM