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Beyond Cannery Row

Sicilian Women, Immigration, and Community in Monterey, California, 1915-99

Carol Lynn McKibben

Publication Year: 2005

Presenting a nuanced story of women, migration, community, industry, and civic life at the turn of the twentieth century, Carol Lynn McKibben's Beyond Cannery Row analyzes the processes of migration and settlement of Sicilian fishers from three villages in Western Sicily to Monterey, California--and sometimes back again. _x000B_McKibben's analysis of gender and gender roles shows that it was the women in this community who had the insight, the power, and the purpose to respond and even prosper amid changing economic conditions. Vividly evoking the immigrants' everyday experiences through first-person accounts and detailed description, McKibben demonstrates that the cannery work done by Sicilian immigrant women was crucial in terms of the identity formation and community development. These changes allowed their families to survive the challenges of political conflicts over citizenship in World War II and intermarriage with outsiders throughout the migration experience. The women formed voluntary associations and celebrated festas that effectively linked them with each other and with their home villages in Sicily. Continuous migration created a strong sense of transnationalism among Sicilians in Monterey, which has enabled them to continue as a viable ethnic community today. _x000B_

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Centennial Series


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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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p. vii

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pp. ix-x

It is a great pleasure to acknowledge the debts I have incurred in writing this book. First, I would like to thank the Sicilian families of Monterey, California, who opened their homes and their hearts to me. They generously allowed me to share their lives...

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pp. 1-12

Here is how it was. The families came from Italy for a better life. In Italy there was nothing. The women couldn’t work. There was no work. Only fishing. That was for the men. So the families got together. They sent the father or the son first. My grandfather went in 1912. He went to Chicago, because...


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1. Sicilian Women, Fishing Lives, and Migration Strategies

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pp. 13-34

The chapter begins with an analysis of the demographics of the Sicilian migration over time to demonstrate that it was clearly a family and chain migration from the outset. Next, this chapter will explore the ways in which the Sicilian migration to Monterey...

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2. Work and Identity

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pp. 35-56

The woman responsible for the preceding narrative, Mrs. Lucy Ventimiglia Gruwell, lives in Pacific Grove. She is ninety years old but looks and acts twenty years younger. She is tiny, full of wit and energy. She insists repeatedly that she “likes to...

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3. Family, Conflict, Community

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pp. 57-74

The preceding narratives from Peter Cutino and Vita Crivello Davi expressed the passion and power of Sicilian family and community life in Monterey. It was echoed by narrators who also described extremely close connections between individuals and couples that began in their childhoods. It was clear from the narratives that..

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4. Good Americans

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pp. 75-97

The desire to acquire citizenship on the part of new immigrants is a measure of the extent to which they express a sense of belonging to the body politic of their adopted state. As such, it is both a highly valued and highly controversial matter for immigrants...

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5. Women on Parade: The Political Meaning of the Festa

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pp. 98-117

Rosalie Ferrante’s vivid memory of the Santa Rosalia Festa in the preceding narrative suggested just how compelling a celebration it was in the eyes of a young child. By the 1950s and 1960s, when Ms. Ferrante experienced her...

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pp. 118-126

Monterey, California, is a special place. It is richly diverse, both culturally and environmentally, offering scholars a unique opportunity to peer into a microcosm, to explore a complex process such as immigration in a remarkable but manageable milieu. Once the capital...


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pp. 127-138


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pp. 139-152


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pp. 153-159

E-ISBN-13: 9780252091902
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252030581

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Centennial Series
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OCLC Number: 811409483
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Beyond Cannery Row

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Italian American women -- California -- Monterey -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • Women immigrants -- California -- Monterey -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • Sicily (Italy) -- Emigration and immigration -- History -- 20th century.
  • Monterey (Calif.) -- Emigration and immigration -- History -- 20th century.
  • Italian American families -- California -- Monterey -- History -- 20th century.
  • Fishers -- California -- Monterey -- History -- 20th century.
  • Fish canneries -- California -- Monterey -- History -- 20th century.
  • Community life -- California -- Monterey -- History -- 20th century.
  • Monterey (Calif.) -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • Monterey (Calif.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
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