Tuesday, November 30, 2010

1990s PBS documentary: "Italian Swiss in California"

I may have mentioned this on a couple of entries, but I have been in search of a particular PBS documentary from the 1990s. I recall watching a documentary, probably in the mid-90s, specifically about Italian Swiss (Ticinese) in California and their descendants. Although I had it on, it was one of those times where someone was over visiting and I probably missed most of it. At the time, I remember feeling a cultural tie-in, but it didn't quite register to me at the time. I recall something fairly comparable to programs about certain ethnic groups. Like just recently, there was a documentary 'The Greek Americans', or some such title, about Greeks in America, past and present.

What I recall about it was it had many interviews, most in somewhat rural areas, with Italian Swiss descendants. It appeared to be in a number of locations in both northern and southern California. Needless to say, today I can see the significance of this and would like to find that documentary. If anyone out there has any information about it, please e-mail me at camun@live.com.

I had heard two estimates of the number of Italian Swiss immigrants to California between the 1850s and probably the 1930s. One was 20,000, and the other was 90,000. Maybe someone can clue me in on that too. I suspect that it was closer to the 90,000 figure. There are a lot of similarities between Ticino and Val Camonica. Both are located in rural and mountainous Alpine terrain, and speak the Lombard language. In other words, both are Lombardian peoples.


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