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Maltese in Michigan

Joseph M. Lubig

Publication Year: 2011

Maltese in Michigan is an enlivening volume depicting the struggles and accomplishments of a singular culture, an immigrant narrative at once recognizable and enigmatic. Without realizing it, most Americans are probably familiar with the Maltese people through the cross displayed by firefighters, which bears a strong similarity in design and meaning to the one used by the Knights of Malta. The noble qualities embodied by the Maltese Cross are reflected in the pride and accomplishments of Maltese immigrants in Michigan, a small but vibrant ethnic group. Rooted in the post–World War II experiences of the 20th century, the Maltese established themselves in the city of Detroit, and thrived due to a strong work ethic and Catholic faith, while maintaining a strong central identity. This volume is a tribute to the Maltese of Michigan and all who have begun anew in an unfamiliar land and culture.

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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A Short History of Malta.

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pp. 1-6

Homer called Malta the “navel of the sea.” This island nation is comprised of five islands lying at midpoint between Europe and Africa off the southern shore of Sicily. Of the five, Malta, Gozo, and Comino (Kemmuna) comprise the area inhabited by the Maltese...

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The Maltese as Early Patriots in America

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pp. 7-10

Given the strategic location of Malta in the Mediterranean and the fact that it was tiny and overcrowded, it was natural that Maltese went with the Knights of Malta and other nations to find a new life and opportunity in the Americas. Th e first governor of New France, Chevalier de Montmagny (1636–1648) was a Knight of Malta and brought associate knights with...

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Coming to America Prior to World War II

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pp. 11-18

Perhaps the social restrictions placed on males due to the dense population of the country combined with the desire for better paying or more consistent work led to the start of the waves of emigration. The first movement out of the country began in 1883, when seventy workers emigrated from Malta to Queensland, Australia. Political complications put this plan and additional ideas of mass emigration to Australia on hold. At the turn of the nineteenth century Maltese migrants were looking...

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World War II and Immigration

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pp. 19-24

The Maltese did not come to the America because of political or religious persecution, disease, or famine. The Maltese came to the United States to capture a better life for themselves and for their children. Emigration has been a release valve for the Maltese government, as evidenced by the incentives offered to potential migrants. One of the incentives offered after World War II was the “assisted passage grant...

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One Family’s Journey

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pp. 25-28

Through written histories and personal interviews with the seven Zampa children we can see that the path from Malta to America did not always go according to plan. The plans for their journey would be completed in two phases with Michael, the father, traveling to Detroit first with daughters Rosemarie and Yvonne. Stella would stay in Malta...

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Connections to the Church

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pp. 29-34

The Maltese are clearly affiliated with one religious group. It is easy to understand from their history that 98 percent of Maltese adhere to the Roman Catholic faith. Th e Maltese who came to America and to Michigan kept their allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church. The Catholic church of the first Maltese in Detroit was staffed by Maltese priests....

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The Struggle to Become “American”

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pp. 35-38

Maltese priests, acting through the National Welfare Conference, advocated for Congress to relax the 1921 and 1924 laws limiting immigration. The strong Maltese connection to the Roman Catholic Church made the Maltese attentive to the pleas of other Catholics when they encouraged the Maltese to assimilate. Americanization committees...

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Keeping the Maltese Identity

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pp. 39-42

One way for an ethnic group to establish itself in a community was through the media. The need for immigrants to know they were in a familiar setting could help them carry the customs, folklore, language, and customs of their home country to their new world. The Maltese in Detroit established this link between their old and new...

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The Measure of Success

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pp. 43-46

During the first wave of immigration in the 1920s some Maltese opened up their own eateries. One place at 972 Michigan Avenue was called the So Different Restaurant, boasting that it was “The best place to eat.” Other eateries followed, such as the Melita Bakery at 2511 Fifth Street, which achieved popularity because it could...

Appendix 1: Maltese Food

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pp. 47-54

Appendix 2: A Eulogy for Mary Stella and Michael L. Zampa Delivered by Victor M. Zampa

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pp. 55-58

Appendix 3: Maltese Surnames

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pp. 59-60

Appendix 4: Language

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pp. 61-64

Appendix 5: 2000 Census of Maltese in Michigan

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pp. 65-70

Appendix 6: Reflections on World War II

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pp. 71-78

Appendix 7: Maltese Ethnic and Social Organizations

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pp. 79-80


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pp. 81-84

For Further Reference

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pp. 85-86


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pp. 87-89

E-ISBN-13: 9781609172237
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611860191

Page Count: 98
Publication Year: 2011