Maltese Americans Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thefirst immigrants from Malta to the United Statesarrived in this country during the mid-eighteenth century to the city of NewOrleans, Louisiana. Many Americans assumed Malta was part of Italy.In some cases "Born Malta, Italy" was put on tombstones of Maltesebecause of the confusion. However, at this time and in the nineteenth centurythe Maltese who emigrated to the United States were still scarce. In fact, inthe 1860s, only between five and ten Maltese emigrated to the United Statesevery year. The majority of them were agricultural workers, and, in the case ofNew Orleans, market gardeners and vegetable dealers. After World War I, in 1919,Maltese immigration to the US increased. Thus, just in the first quarter of1920 more than 1,300 Maltese immigrated to the United States. Detroit, Michigan, withjobs in the expanding automobile industry, drew the largest share ofimmigrants. It is believed that in the following years, more than 15,000Maltese people emigrated to the United States, later getting U.S. citizenship.
A significant percentage of early Malteseimmigrants intended to stay only temporarily for work, but many settled in theUS permanently. In addition to Detroit,other industrial cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, and SanFrancisco, California, attracted Maltese immigrants. Later, afterWorld War II, the Maltese Government committed to pay passage costs to Maltesepeople who wanted to emigrate and live at least two years abroad. This programled to increased emigration by the people of the island and made upapproximately 8,000 Maltese who arrived to the United States between the years1947 and 1977. Also during this century, the island's government also promoted theMaltese emigration because the island was overpopulated. A Maltese communitythrives in SanPedro and LongBeach.
The majority of Maltese immigrants arrived inthe first half of the twentieth century, settling in cities like Detroit, New York City, San Francisco, Houston, and Chicago. The majority ofAmericans of Maltese descent now live in these five cities, particularlyDetroit (approximately 44,000 Maltese) and New York City (more than 20,000Maltese), the latter mostly concentrated in Astoria, Queens.
The 2010 AmericanCommunity Survey estimated 35,103 Americans of Maltese ancestry. Of these, 24,202 have Maltese as their firstancestry. This includes Maltese born immigrants to the United States, theirAmerican born descendants as well as numerous immigrants from other nations ofMaltese origin.
As in their country of origin, MalteseAmericans predominately practice Roman Catholicism as theirreligion. Many are practicing Catholics, attending church every week andactively participating in their local parishes.
Diane Gale Andreassi, a reporter for the South Lyon Herald, haspublished 'Maltese in Detroit', a book documenting the emigration of Maltese,to the US city known for its automobile industry.
Detroit is in fact home to one of the largest Maltese communitiesoutside outside the country,.
Published by Arcadia Publishing in the Images of America series, thebook is filled with pictures of early immigrants and introduces readers tosettlers and current residents.
Pictures of Most Holy Trinity in Detroit and the Maltese clubs inDearborn and Detroit offer a flavour of life among the Maltese today. From 35,000-70,000 people of Maltese heritage live in the United Statesand the Detroit area has the largest concentration. In fact, it is one of thelargest Maltese populations in the world outside the Mediterranean.
"The response to the book has been overwhelming,'' said Andreassi,who was born in Detroit of parents who left their homeland to settle in thelarge Maltese-populated Corktown neighbourhood of Detroit. "It waswonderful to meet so many Maltese people and to learn about the pride they havein their heritage,''
The book illustrates the importance of the Roman Catholic church inMalta and among the Maltese immigrants in their new land. It introduces readersto the Maltese priests who were among the notable people who welcomed andhelped acclimate the others as they arrived.
It took a year to assemble Maltese in Detroit, but it was a labour oflove for Andreassi, who graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn witha double major in economics and English. She started her career in journalism at the Dearborn Heights Leader andthe Observer & Eccentric Newspapers as a reporter and a lifestyles editorbefore taking a leave to raise a family.
Andreassi has worked on countless free-lance stories for a number ofpublications, including Gale Research, working on encyclopedia entries, one ofwhich was about Malta and its people.She was active in Livonia's St. Colette religious education program formore than 10 years and worked as a substitute teacher and volunteer in LivoniaPublic Schools. Andreassi is an avid reader of books and newsprint.