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Eduardo Migliaccio papers

Identifier: IHRC1540


Papers (1909-1958) of Italian American character actor Eduardo Migliaccio "Farfariello" (1880-1946) consist of photographs, playbills, correspondence, manuscript and published sheet music, and scrapbooks of memorabilia. Photographs from the collection have been digitized and are available in the U Media Archive digital repository, please see a link in the "Digital material" section below.


  • 1909-1958


Language of Materials

Italian and English, some French.


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.


A character actor in theater, Eduardo Migliaccio (1880-1946) was born in Cava dei Tirreni, Salerno, Italy on April 15th, 1880. He became involved in theater after studying design and sculpture at the Istituto di Belli Arti in Naples. He immigrated to the United States in 1897 with his family and first worked for a time at the Sandolo Bank (Hazelton, Pennsylvania) before beginning his career as a performer in New York's Little Italy around 1900. Basing his character on the machiettista Nicolo Maldacea, Migliaccio performed under the name "Farfariello," meaning "little butterfly" and soon became well known for his "macchiette" in the Italian American theater. A performance tradition similar to vaudeville, machietta featured short skits or scenes of familiar characters including foolish countrymen, high society women, young school girls, and young soldiers. Most were performed in the Neapolitan dialect with many Italian-Americanisms included. By creating wigs, prosthetics and elaborate costumes, Migliaccio performed satirical and exagerated caricatures that depicted the immigrant experiences. Migliaccio embodied the characters with distinct gestures and body language, and like many machiettistes acted as not only a singer, but also a dancer, mime or clown who held a distorted satirical mirror up to their audiences.

While Migliaccio wrote many of the verses and some music for his sketches, his papers are a testament to his collaboration with the Italian immigrant community. Many names reappear in his manuscripts and published materials, including Raffaele de Luca, Antonietta di Pisanelli, Eduardo di Capua, Giuseppe del Colle, and Ernesto Migliaccio, among others. Often, Migliaccio would compose the text, and his collaborators would set it to music, or rearrange pre-existing songs for their performance group.

By 1917, Migliaccio had gained noteriety as the "King of the Impressionists" and organized his own performance company that toured to Chicago and California in 1919. In the 1930s he brought his talents back to Italy for brief tours. Praised for his efforts to keep the émigré community in the United States connected to Italy, King Victor Emmanuel III knighted Migliaccio in 1940 as a Cavaliere del Ordine della Corona d’Italia. After this, newspapers and programs refer to him as Sir or Cav. Eduardo Migliaccio. Migliaccio died of cancer in a Manhattan hospital on March 27, 1946.


20 linear feet


The collection is divided between Migliaccio's professional and personal life, however there is notable crossover between the two. Within his Personal papers (Series 1) are his Writing (Subseries 1) which includes giornale (Journal) papers, poetry. Much of this is titled “Tempi che corrono,” which appears to be a collection of poetry and prose. This series is principally in Italian, undated, and written on loose sheets of paper. Because of this, it is difficult to find organization amongst the items. (Subseries 2) is comprised of Migliaccio’s Correspondence, also written in Italian and largely undated. It also includes Miscellaneous items including legal papers and scrapbooks. Migliaccio also collected a fair number of magazines and published materials related to the Italian emigre community (Subseries 3). These are arranged with collected newspaper clippings as well. Perhaps the most interesting portion of the personal series is Subseries 4, Photographs. This includes portraits of Migliaccio in costume for multiple characters, and family portraits, found mostly in oversize box 34.

Migliaccio’s Performance papers comprise the second and largest series. Most of this is sheet music (Subseries 1), placed in oversize flat boxes for preservation. To preserve the order in which they were acquired, the sheet music is not organized by composer or lyricist, handwritten vs. printed, subject or language. Some machietti include original folders, separate lyric sheets, and multiple instrumental partsheets. Others are less complete, including only manuscript papers. Migliaccio collected published music by other composers, which were likely performed in the same context as his own material. His musical collection also includes collections of sheet music by others and pedagogical collections (Subseries 2). Unlabeled sheet music is separated (Subseries 3), as are programs from specific performances. Because Migliaccio performed with a band of musicians, music is also organized into partsheets for each instrument (Subseries 4). The last two subseries (Subseries 5 and 6) are comprised of text alone--including lyric sheets and playscripts.

Processing Information

The collection was processed in several stages: initial processing and description were done by IHRC Archives staff during the years 1975-1984, the project was continued by graduate student Jon Oppenshaw in 2004, and finalized in 2019-2021 by graduate student assistant Charlotte Noble who also wrote the current finding aid.

Inventory of the Eduardo Migliaccio 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