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Social conditions in Southern Italy during the agricultural depression of the late 19th Century spurred the first wave of emigration as thousands of people escaped to the New World.

By the end of the 19th Century there were more Italian migrants in the USA than from any other country. In the Post-War era more than a quarter of Italy's population left the country to find a new life in America and Australia. While many Italian names have survived intact, many families chose to anglicise their surnames to fit in with their new country. The names of many more were altered on arrival in America by Ellis Island immigration officials who inadvertently changed names through misunderstanding or mis-spelling as they documented details of the new settlers.

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