In the summer of 1929, Mrs. Giustina Micono and her son
arrived at Ellis Island from their home in Naples, Italy (“Death” 1929). Her
husband had made a similar trip six years before, saving money to eventually
send for them, but perished tragically while constructing a skyscraper just one
day after the ship his family was aboard departed for America. Without money or
a husband with a job, Mrs. Micono faced almost immediate deportation, but was
saved by the Italian Welfare League, which fought on her behalf to be allowed
entry, and won.
Like most of the world, Italy suffered greatly in the first half of the 20th century, as a result of the two World Wars and the Great Depression devastating most developed nations. World War I caused distrust amongst many first world nations, and brought about a massive decrease in trade across the globe. “These policies took several forms such as import tariﬀs, currency control and quota restrictions” (Perri and Quadrini 2000, 4). The collapse of the economy and subsequent worldwide political strife made way for conflicts that would spark the second World War, sowing even greater turmoil and tragedy into an already struggling nation. After World War II came to a close, Italy’s infrastructure suffered massive damage, and its economy was in shambles. Thousands of children were left homeless and orphaned. While Italy would eventually recover, the initial years were difficult. “In the aftermath of World War II, Italy and France like the other European belligerents experienced persistent, rapid, disruptive inflation” (Casella and Eichengreen 1991, 1). With the country as unstable as it was, it was no wonder why the nation had to turn to outside help to care for their orphans.