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Maurice R. Marchello papers

 Collection — Box: Oversize 1
Identifier: IHRC1467


Papers (1922-1972) of Maurice R. Marchello (1902-1973) include biographical material, personal correspondence, materials relating to his legal and literary careers, and to his civic and political activities, as well as miscellany, photographs, newspaper clippings, ephemera, and travel mementoes. Included are manuscripts of articles written for "Fra Noi," scripts of radio broadcasts, speeches, lectures, short stories, and manuscripts of his books "Crossing the Tracks" and "Black Coal for White Bread."


  • 1922-1972


Language of Materials



Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.


This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law. For further information regarding the copyright, please contact the IHRCA.


Maurice R. Marchello was the fourth son of the Italian-American coal minter Maurizio A. Marchello, a native of Castellamonte, Province of Torino, Italy, and Anna Nigretto, a native of Cuorgen, Province of Torino, Italy. In the early 1890’s, the Marchello family emigrated to America where Maurice R. was born on August 9, 1902 at Coal City, Illinois. His parents had been the first of Italian descent to settle in the city. As one of eight children, Marchello found it necessary to begin working at an early age in order to augment the family’s meager income. At the age of fourteen eh became a “mine boy”. But in 1918 he switched from mining to railroading and was employed as a “switch hand”. In his new profession he progressed to a “carpenter’s helper” and ultimately served as a Railway Mail Clerk until 1922. Never abandoning his academic pursuits in spite of his necessary employment, Marchello graduated from Rock Island, Illinois, High School in 1921. Proceeding to the University of Chicago, he earned a PH. D. in 1924 and a J.D. in 1926. In between these two achievements he spent the year of 1922 at the University of Rome in Italy on a scholarship from the International Institute of Education. There he received an honorary Italian B.A. Admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1926, Marchello continued to practice law in the Chicago, Illinois area for the remainder of his life. In 1929, he married Josephine Lau of Chicago. Her death in 1948 left Maurice a widower for twenty-five years. Their marriage produced two children, Maurice J. and Marcia Marie. Never one to shun civic or political duties, Marchello served as Attorney for the Illinois State Treasurer from 1930 to 1931. He was also Attorney for the Illinois State Auditor from 1931-1932. Throughout his years as a Chicago attorney, Marchello faithfully served and promulgated the causes of the Democratic Party both at the State and Federal Levels. He organized and was President of the Italian Democratic Club of the Ninth Ward and was especially an ardent supporter during the reign of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. After distinguishing himself as a lawyer in private practice for twenty-nine years, Marchello, in 1961 commenced a second career, that of journalism and author. He had previously been a co-editor in 1934 of La Tribuna, an Italian-American Chicago, Illinois newspaper, but his duties had been slight and only for the year’s duration. However, from 191 to 1973 Marchello wrote numerous articles for another Italian-American Chicago newspaper, Fra Noi. These dealt with the local Italian community in particular and with Italian-American interest stories in general. It was in 1969 that Maurice R. Marchello authored his first full-length book entitled Crossing the Tracks. This was a collection of amusing tales and anecdotes about the Italian-American immigrant experience. Two editions were published and over five thousand copies were sold by Vantage Press. Spurred on by success, Marchello authored a second book in 1972. This one he entitled Black Coal for White Bread. The volume contains a collection of informative and often tragic stories of the Illinois coal mines. Marchello was as active in the Italian-American community as he had always been within the American community of Chicago, Illinois. He was a charter member of the “Il Circolo Italiano” at the University of Chicago; President of the Venetian Union, 1936-1937; Secretary of the Piedmontese Lodge of the I.A.N. Union; Trustee of St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Kensington, Illinois since 1927; a member of the Justinian Society of Lawyers and its representative to the “Second A.C.I.M. Symposium on Italian Migration” in Rome in 1961; and a frequent lecturer at De Paul University for its “Soujourn in Italy” classes. For his numerous contributions to Italian-American history both through his writings and his activities, Maurice R. Marchello was decorated on December 8, 1971 by the Italian government. He was the recipient of the title “Cavaliers of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity”. This was, according to Marchello’s own testimony, the greatest and most memorable day in his life. At 5 a.m. on Sunday, March 18, 1973 at the age of 70, Maurice R. Marchello died. His was one of a million success stories of Italians who in American found prosperity and happiness. No one would have been more delighted to recount and to hear about such successes than Marchello himself. Indeed, he devoted his life to defend and to propagate just such successful pursuits.


2 Linear Feet

Processing Information

Through the efforts of Professor Rudolph J. Vecoli, Director of the Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota, the Maurice R. Marchello collection was deposited at the Center on December 10, 1973 by Maurice J. Marchello, his son (of the collection’s author). The collection was processed during 1974-1975 by Alberto C. Meloni.

Inventory of the Maurice R. Marchello papers.
IHRC Archives
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding Aid in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Immigration History Research Center Archives Collecting Area