Vincenzo Sellaro: Italian of the Week

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!


5 thoughts on “Vincenzo Sellaro: Italian of the Week

  1. I love your newsletter. I am second generation. My grandfather came from Borgetto, Sicily. (suburb) of Palermo. His name was Alfredo Ventigellini. (Joseph Porcase) .I would love to find more information about him. He came to the USA when he was 18 years old in 1913. On the ship S’anta Anna. It was later destroyed on the coast of Africa. I went to Sicily in 2009 I felt as if I I was home. Gracie. ps. I still cook that way. 🙂

  2. As a proud member and historian of The Sons of Italy, Fr. Capodanno Lodge #212, it is nice to see our founder, Dr. Sellaro, from Sicily, honored and remembered. It is important to acknowledge our trailblazers and remember the sacrifices made for Italian Americans to gain the respect and appreciation they earned through hard work and dedication in this country.

    Marianna Randazzo
    Author of Given Away, A Sicilian Upbringing

  3. I never knew about your blog until now. I know it is late, but however I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to you for making Dr. Vincenzo Sellaro your highlighted Italian for the week of January 24, 2015.

    Dr. Vincenzo Sellaro is my Great Granddaughter, his only Son, Angelo was my Grandfather…My Mother was born in 1939, which was 7 years after her Grandfather’s death in 1932.

    When we learned of the Organization Order of Sons of Italy/ OSIA about 20 years ago, my Mother was surprised and very happy to read of all the wonderful things her Grandfather had accomplished in his lifetime, her Father, Angelo spoke only of him as a wonderful Father, Doctor and nothing more. My Mother is so very proud to be Dr. Vincenzo Sellaro’s Granddaughter and of her Italian heritage and so are we.
    I know this is not what your blog is for but, Since my Mother is not in great health we would like to know if you have any other information or know of anyone who may have more information on his other 2 children, daughters Serafina aka Sadie and Cecilia and their extended families and if so could you please let me know. It would be greatly appreciated
    So again I thank you for highlighting my great Grandfather, Dr. Vincenzo Sellaro obmyn your blog

    Sincerely, Charena S. Mauldin

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