Historical Novel on Italian Immigrants Presented in Cleveland

Jun 01, 2014 1260

Author of Historical Novels on Italian Immigrants to Host Workshop and Book Discussion in Cleveland. 

The events are presented by the Consulate of Italy in Detroit and Hon. Consulate of Italy in Cleveland in partnership with Western Reserve Historical Society, the Northern Ohio Italian American Foundation, The Laura and Alvin Siegal Center for Lifelong Learning, and the WRHS Genealogy Committee.

USA Today bestselling author Pamela Schoenewaldt will host two events in June at the Western Reserve Historical Society. On Friday, June 13, 2014 from 2:00-4:00pm, Pamela will lead a workshop called "Writing About Family." This is open to anyone interested in discovering a new perspective about family and family history through writing prompts and exercises. Attendees should bring a few family photos, something to write with and on, and the ability to amaze yourself. The cost to attend is $25 and advanced registration is required. On Sunday, June 15, 2014 from 2:00-3:30pm, Pamela will present her newest novel "Swimming in the Moon" in the setting of the beautifully restored Hay Garden, where guests will enjoy refreshments while they learn about the novel and its development. This program is FREE with admission to WRHS. Contact Pamela Dorazio Dean to register or for more information pdean@wrhs.orgor 216-721-5722 ext. 1523 or www.wrhs.org

Schoenewaldt's inspiration to write stories about Italy and Italian immigrants grew through her relationship with her husband Maurizio Conti, an Italian physicist. Together they lived in Naples for ten years while he worked at the university. This gave Pamela a taste of what it is like to be an immigrant. Pamela explains, "I was welcomed in a warm community in a beautiful land, but still I was a stranger, always different, always referred to as l'Americana. So this sensitized me to the challenges of immigrants in America. When I moved back in 2000, I began working on initiatives for immigrant rights. The two interests collided and I seem to have found my niche. Also in the time I was in Italy, I met so many people whose family members had gone to America, or gone and come back, and these stories worked on my imagination. What would it have been like, for instance, to leave Naples and travel to America a hundred years ago? I wanted to put myself there and write that story."

"Swimming in the Moon", her second novel being presented at WRHS, is Schoenewaldt's newest work about Italian immigrants coming to America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It centers on two characters, fourteen-year old Lucia and her young mother Teresa who, in 1904 when the story opens, are servants in a magnificent villa on the Bay of Naples. Unpleasant circumstances urge them to escape to Cleveland, Ohio, where they find work in the garment industry. Schoenewaldt says that "Swimming in the Moon" would not exist without the WRHS Italian American Collection. Invited to Cleveland and Youngstown by Hon. Consul Serena Scaiola in 2011 to present her first novel "When We Were Strangers", Pamela spent time sifting through materials from the Collection including lists of names and professions of people in Little Italy and photographs from the Hiram House and Big Italy. She also learned of the 1911 Cleveland Garment Workers Strike, something she worked into the story.

During her writing process, Schoenewaldt regularly referred to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History and bombarded Pamela Dorazio Dean, Curator for Italian American History, with questions. "Just knowing that I had access to this treasure trove of history," says Schoenewaldt, "kept me grounded and inspired as I pieced out the story."

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