Today we are starting a new weekly series called “Italian of the Week,” where we will be giving you information on an important Italian or Italian American. For our inaugural post, we’re focusing on the Order Sons of Italy in America® founder Vincenzo Sellaro.
Vincenzo Sellaro was born on April 24, 1868 in Sicily. He received his medical degree from the University of Naples in 1895, and immigrated to the United States two years later. In 1898, Vincenzo completed post-graduate courses at Cornell Medical School, and obtained his medical license shortly thereafter. In 1905, Vincenzo became a U.S. citizen.
While living and practicing medicine in New York, Vincenzo saw a need for a fraternal organization that united all Italian Americans. On June 7, 1905, he saw his idea become a reality. Originally called Figli d’Italia, the first meeting was held at his home in the Little Italy neighborhood of New York City. A few weeks later, on June 22, the first official meeting was held, and soon after the organization was renamed “L’Ordine Figli d’Italia in America” (the Order of the Sons of Italy in America®) .
Among his many contributions to society, Vincenzo Sellaro founded the Columbus Italian Hospital in New York (where both English and Italian could be spoken). In 1922, Vincenzo was knighted by the Italian government, and in 1928 the Governor of New York gifted him with the key to New York State. Four years later, Vincenzo passed away at the age of 64.
Each week, we will bring you a new post highlighting an important Italian or Italian American. Have suggestions on who you’d like to see next? E-mail us!