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Aitala family papers

Ms. Coll. 697

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Aitala Family
Aitala family papers
Date [bulk]:
Date [inclusive]:
Call Number:
Ms. Coll. 697
5 boxes (and 1 oversized folder)
Language note:
Papers are chiefly in Italian with some English, as well as translation from Italian into English of some poems.
Documents, notebooks, and diary entries relaying the narrative of the Aitala family’s migration through and immigration from Italy to the United States during and after World War II.
Cite as:
Aitala family papers, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania
PDF Version:

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Scope and Contents

The Aitala Family Papers reveal the narrative of a family–through documents, writings, journals, and children’s notebooks. Permission documents for travel and identification illustrate the Aitala family’s journey from Rovignio d’Istria (presently Rovinj, Croatia) across the Adriatic Sea–as World War II forced relocation to Trieste, in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy. Around 1947 the family become labeled as refugees and were given permission to travel to Rome. Finally, after becoming displaced persons and living in Bagnoli near Naples, Italy, the family immigrated to the United States in 1952 as Displaced Persons.

Concetto Aitala (1901-1960) was an agricultural teacher and head of the family; his papers represent chiefly documents for identification and travel for the purpose of relocating his family from region to region. Wife, mother, and Italian teacher, Anna Zaccai Aitala (1908-1954), expresses her happiness and sadness about moving and emigrating to the United States through the writings and stories contained in the papers. The children Franco G. Aitala (1932-2005) and Ruggero Aitala (1937-) reveal glimpses of World War II seen through a child’s eyes with compositions, poems, and drawings contained in school notebooks and composition journals.

Also contained in the Aitala’s papers are expense ledgers from 1942 to 1956. The financial needs and expenditures are recorded during the family’s life in Italy and as they immigrated to the United States.

The Aitala Family Papers illustrate the confusion and bureaucracy of relocation during World War II and its aftermath, and immigration to a new country as they became displaced from their own. The papers also disclose the emotional attachment to one’s culture and country of origin while creating roots and learning the language and customs of a new one.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts,  July 2008

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Donna Brandolisio

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Source of Acquisition

Gift of Tina Aitala, 2008.

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Controlled Access Headings

  • Diaries
  • Drawings (visual works)
  • Family papers
  • Manuscripts, American--20th century
  • Manuscripts, Italian--20th century
  • Notebooks
  • Photographs
  • School records
  • Writings (documents)
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Families
  • Immigrants' writings, Italian
  • Immigrants--Italy

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Collection Inventory

I.  Documents and Writings, 1926-2001. 1 box (Folders 1-44).

Series Description

Arranged alphabetically by family member beginning with documentation; followed by writings, including poetry, diary entries, essays, stories, some drawings, and miscellaneous notes. Following the family members are some letters and organization information regarding immigration to the United States.

Box Folder

Aitala Family. History, ca.1951.

1 1

Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1908-1954. Documents, 1944-1952.

1 2

Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1908-1954. Employment history, 1951-1953.

1 3

Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1908-1954. Notes?, 1926-1927.

1 4

Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1908-1954. Writings, lists, 1928 and before 1931.

1 5

Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1908-1954. Lists, ca. 1930-1931.

1 6

Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1908-1954. Miscellaneous writings and lists, 1947?-1948, n.d.

1 7

Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1908-1954. Story/essay, May 1949.

1 8

Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1908-1954. Will and testament?, June 7, 1949.

1 9

Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1908-1954. Poem, diary entry, writings, April-May, 1952.

1 10

Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1908-1954. Diary, essays, Sept.-Nov., 1952.

1 11

Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1908-1954. Expense ledger, Summer 1953.

1 12

Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1908-1954. Diary, January, 1953.

1 13

Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1908-1954. "A Christmas I Will Never Forget" , Nov. 8, 1953.

1 14

Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1908-1954. Clippings, 1952?, 1954.

1 15

Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1908-1954. Posthumous documents, 1954-1959.

1 16

Aitala, Concetto, 1901-1960. Documents, teaching credentials, travel papers, 1930-1945.

1 17

Aitala, Concetto, 1901-1960. Documents for travel and identity, 1946-1949.

1 18

Aitala, Concetto, 1901-1960. Employment history and c.v., 1947-1952.

1 19

Documents for immigration, 1951-1953.

1 20

Death certificate, 1960.

1 21

Aitala, Franco G. (Franco Gaetano), 1932-2005. Documents, travel, and identity, 1946-1953.

1 22

Medical history, 1947.

1 23

Aitala, Franco G. (Franco Gaetano), 1932-2005. Military leadership exam, ca. 195?.

1 24

Aitala, Franco G. (Franco Gaetano), 1932-2005. Poem & other essays, ca. 1947-1949.

1 25

Aitala, Franco G. (Franco Gaetano), 1932-2005. "Storia di Draguccio" , before 1950.

1 26

Aitala, Franco G. (Franco Gaetano), 1932-2005. Essays, after 1952.

1 27

Aitala, Franco G. (Franco Gaetano), 1932-2005. Letter to Lily, October, 1960?.

1 28

Aitala, Franco G. (Franco Gaetano), 1932-2005. "Attesa" , typescript, undated.

1 29

Aitala, Franco G. (Franco Gaetano), 1932-2005. Poems, 1 photograph, 1991-2001.

1 30

Aitala, Ruggero, 1937-. Documents and identity, 1946, 1951.

1 31

Aitala, Ruggero, 1937-. Drawings, 1943.

1 32

Aitala, Ruggero, 1937-. Arithmetic, 1950-1951.

1 33

Aitala, Ruggero, 1937-. Clippings, July 1953.

1 34

Aitala, Ruggero, 1937-. Writings, algebra, undated.

1 35

Aitala, Ruggero, 1937-. Aitala family history, 1996.

1 36

Aitala Family. Story, "La balleinetta" , 1949, 1949.

1 37

Aitala, Lucia. correspondence to Franco and Ruggero Aitala, 1961.

1 38

Politeo, Romola. correspondence to Anna Zaccai Aitala, 1927.

1 39

Unknown correspondent, April 1959.

1 40

CARE, Inc. form letter in Italian, ca. 1950.

1 41

"Guide for New Americans: An Introduction to Your New Homeland" , 1950.

1 42

United States. Displaced Persons Commission. published materials, rules & regulations, 1950.

1 43

Dry cleaning slip, undated.

1 44

II.  Notebooks and Ledgers, 1942-1956. 3 boxes (Boxes 2-4, Folders 45-63).

Series Description

Contain Franco and Ruggero Aitala’s school notebooks and exam books arranged chronologically by person. In addition there are family expense ledgers arranged chronologically.

Box Folder

Aitala, Franco G. (Franco Gaetano), 1932-2005. Composition books, school notebooks, 1941-1946.

2 45-52

Aitala, Franco G. (Franco Gaetano), 1932-2005. School journal, 1942-1950.

3 53

Aitala Family. Expense ledgers, 1942; 1947-1950; 1954-1956.

3 54-56

Aitala, Ruggero, 1937-. School notebooks, 1946-1950.

4 57-63

III.  Printed Material. 1 box (Box 5, 3 items).

Series Description

Three publications regarding the history of Istria and Trieste.


Book: A.D. 2045 Rebus Istriano, Dussi, Lino.


Booklet: Momenti di Capodistria, quell’estate del 1925, Cherini, Aldo.


Journal: La Sveglia, periodico della “fameia capodistriana”, dicembre 2004.


IV.  Miscellaneous Oversized Material. 1 folder (8 items, 9 leaves: located in map case).


Map, Europa Politica: Africa settentrionale ed orientale ed una dettagiliata carta della grecia edizione speciale, ca. 1941.


Travel permission for Concetto Aitala, July 1946.


Document; verso poems by Aitala, Franco and Aitala, Anna Zaccai, 1947.


La Scuola in Azione, febbraio 1946. 1 leaf from journal.


Newspaper, Il problema giuliano, Roma, 9 marzo 1947. 1 leaf.


Clippings, 1952-1954.