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Alessandro Sisca papers

Identifier: IHRC2408


Papers include personal correspondence, untitled works, and notes; notebooks of clippings; published works by other writers; correspondence, records, receipts, contracts, poetry, short stories, and clippings pertaining to La Follia di New York; and correspondence, published materials, and miscellany of Marziale Sisca. Correspondents of Marziale Sisca include Thomas Dewey, Fiorello La Guardia, Enrico Caruso, and Presidents Taft and Eisenhower. Selected items from the collection have been digitized and are available in the University of Minnesota's U Media Archive and on the Digitizing Immigrant Letters project website (see "Digital material" below).


  • 1893-1968


Language of Materials

Italian, English


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.


Riccardo Cordiferro was born October 27, 1875, in San Pietro in Guarano (Province of Cosenza). Immigrating to America in 1892, he founded the literary journal La Follia with his father, Francesco , and brother, Marziale, in January 1893. For fourteen years he remained its director but during that time he was threatened and persecuted by various factions. In 1909 he was forced to resign the directorship, but remained on the editorial board and continued publishing his works under various pseudonyms (Cordiferro, Corazon de hierro, Ironheart, Eisenherz, Sandro, Ida Florenza, etc.) His first wife Annina Belli and their two children Franchino and Emilia all died within a two-year period (1897-1898). In October 1899 he married Lucia Fazio. Renowned for his work as a journalist (not only with La Follia but also for his contributions to La Sedia Elettrica, La Notizia, and The Haarlemite), Cordiferro was requested to speak to diverse Italian organizations but especially to labor groups. As a result of his intense socialist and anticlerical views, he was imprisoned several times. The events surrounding the Sacco and Vanzetti case saw him as official spokesman for the Utica, N.Y. pro Sacco and Vanzetti committee. Rallies for the defense of Italian anarchists often found him as the principle speaker. Besides social subjects, many of his conferences dealt with literary topics. He enjoyed popularity as a playwright with several of his dramas being performed in various American cities. Cordiferro was also the author of many songs a few having been introduced to the public by Enrico Caruso. The Depression, however, took its toll on the poet. His long search for employment can be seen in his correspondence from the thirties. These problems and hardships also affected his health, and following several months of illneww, Alessandro Sisca died on August 24, 1940. More biographical and bibliographical information on the poet can be found in Folder 1.


9 linear feet


Since this collection did not consist solely of Cordiferro’s papers and did not seem to be in any particular order, it has been organized into three basic categories: 1. Papers of Alessandro Sisca (F. 1-141) 2. Materials relating to La Follia (F. 142-159) 3. Correspondence and papers of Marziale Sisca (F. 160-169)

Section 1: Alessandro Sisca Much of this material arrived at the Archives in large brown envelopes each with a title describing the contents. In some cases the titles did not suit all the papers and works, and in order to avoid separating drafts of some of the works, the papers were organized according to Cordiferro’s own bibliography. In the interest of the researcher, mention has been made in the folder descriptions as to which envelope the material belonged. The titles can all be found in Folder 1. Cordiferro saved many newspaper clippings in which he pasted in composition books. To preserve the clippings themselves and his organization of them, it was necessary to take apart the notebooks and place the pages in bond folders. Many reflect the activities of the Italian-American community, reviews of his works, etc. Since many of his works appeared in various publications, only the clippings are found here. They have been processed in the same manner as the other notebooks but have been filed with his works. This section has been further divided into the following sub-sections: a. Correspondence (F. 2-6) b. Works arranged according to the bibliography (F. 7-85) c. Untitled works and notes (F. 86-95) d. Notebooks of clippings (F. 96-124) e. Miscellaneous; clippings and published works by other writers (F. 125-141)

Section 2: La Follia In as much as both Sisca brothers were editors of the journal the material in this section relates to both of them. Two primary functions of La Follia are evident here. First of all, it sponsored annual gala concerts for the Italian community in New York and correspondence, receipts, contracts, clippings, etc. Second, it served as a means of diffusing the works of Italian and Italian-American writers in the community. Their poetry, short stories, etc. which were submitted to La Follia are arranged in chronological order and those which are not dated follow in alphabetical order (F. 150-157).

Section 3: Marziale Sisca With political and social views quite different from his brother’s, Marziale’s involvement in the Republican party is evident by his correspondence with Thomas Dewey, Fiorello La Guardia, President Taft and President Eisenhower (f. 160-162). As editor of the paper that exclusively published Enrico Caruso’s caricatures, Marziale Sisca was also a personal friend of his family. Folder 163 contains material relating to Caruso, followed by clippings (f. 164), miscellaneous (f. 165), and published materials (f.166-169).

Selected items from the collection have been digitized and are available in the University of Minnesota's U Media Archive and on the Digitizing Immigrant Letters project website (see "Digital material" below).


Through the efforts of Professor Rudolph J. Vecoli, Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, University of Minnesota, the Sisca collection was deposited in the Immigrant Archives in October 1968 by Mr. Michael Sisca, Publisher of La Follia di New York. Several letters were also donated by Mr. Frank Spadola. Predominantly in Italian, this collection consists of 9 linear feet of papers and correspondence. It was processed during 1973-1974 by Lynn Ann Schweitzer.

Inventory of the Alessandro Sisca 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