“Il Fuoco di Minonga”: The 1907 Mine Disaster and the Making of Transnational Identity in West Virginia

Joan Saverino, Historical Society of Pennsylvania

On December 6, 1907, the worst mine disaster in American history occurred in Monongah, West Virginia. About fifty percent of the victims were Italian immigrants.  Joan Saverino explores current efforts to publicly commemorate the 100th anniversary of this historic tragedy.  Much of the ceremonial planning has been spearheaded by local Italian Americans. Their efforts have rekindled a public relationship between two peoples and two places—Marion County, West Virginia, and specific regions of Italy from where many of the miners originated—that have been left out of history and memory. Using the lens of place, this talk examines the meanings this historic event and these current initiatives have for Italian Americans in West Virginia and implications for the remaking of Italian American identity in the 21st century.