Vecoli, Rudolph J. 1927–2008

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Vecoli, Rudolph J. 1927–2008

(Rudolph John Vecoli)


See index for CA sketch: Born March 2, 1927, in Wallingford, CT; died of leukemia, June 17, 2008, in St. Louis Park, MN. Historian, educator, and author. Vecoli was a natural-born U.S. citizen, but he devoted his career to studying the immigrant experience, beginning with his own Italian American roots. He observed and later documented that immigrants to the United States do not abandon their heritage at the border. Despite what had been perceived as a voluntary, even enthusiastic, process of assimilation into American society, immigrants cling to their traditions, surreptitiously if necessary. Vecoli traveled far afield in search of obscure records that would enhance his understanding of the immigrant experience. He found it in dusty attics, obsolete business and bank receipts, and insular ethnic fraternal societies. Vecoli conducted much of his research through the Immigration History Research Center that he established at the University of Minnesota in 1967. He taught at the university for decades, after brief appointments at state universities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Illinois. Vecoli was also an active founding member of the American Italian Historical Association and the Immigration and Ethnic History Society. For twenty years he chaired a history advisory committee of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. Vecoli was awarded many honors over the years, including recognition from the government of Italy and the cities of Lucca, Italy, and Ljubljana, presently the capital of Slovenia. He won a public service award from the Immigration History Society in 1988. Vecoli was the author of The People of New Jersey (1965). He edited several other books, including The Other Catholics (1978), Italian Immigrants in Rural and Small Town America (1987), and A Century of European Migrations, 1830-1930 (1991).



New York Times, June 23, 2008, p. A21.