Cape Breton Italians the Focus of Book

The Beaton Institute at Cape Breton University will host a book launch in conjunction with International Archives Day (June 9) and CBU Press.

Long out of print, Italian Lives, Cape Breton Memories, edited by Sam Migliore and A. Evo DiPierro, was first published in1999. Earlier this year, CBU Press breathed new life into the book, including making it available as an e-book.

A strong and vibrant Italian presence on the island dates back more than 150 years. The book conveys the rich and varied experiences of Italians living in Cape Breton in their own words—the immigration experience; work experience in the home, the steel plant and the coal mines, and life in business, politics and other areas of endeavour.

Many of the chapters in Italian Lives were contributed by members of the local community, many relying on archival materials for their research.

“The connection between culture, history, archives and books is vital,” says CBU Press Editor-in-Chief Mike Hunter. “They go back a long way,” he joked.

“Seriously, a great many of our authors – including fiction writers – spend countless hours in archives gleaning insights from the past for their work,” he noted.

According to the International Council on Archives, “it’s the documentary of human activity retained for its long-term value.”

Catherine Arseneau, director of the Beaton Institute, says archives are essential to our understanding of our community. “The records created by individuals and organizations as they go about their lives provide a direct window on past events.”

“We are the custodians of society’s memory,” she added.

The theme for International Archives Day 2017 is Archives, Citizenship and Interculturalism, and under that banner the Beaton Institute and CBU Press are teaming up for the re-launch of Italian Lives, with Italian-Cape Breton displays and tours of the Beaton archives, 2-4 p.m.

Other related activities June 9 include a public talk and exhibit opening in the CBU Art Gallery, entitled: In Our Time: The Political Cartoons of Josh Silburt (1942-1947). Silburt was cartoonist at the Sydney Post Record during those years. A talk about the exhibit is scheduled for 12 noon and the opening 6-8 p.m. in the CBU Art Gallery.