The Salvatore LaGumina Collection documents Dr. LaGumina’s career as an educator and his research on Italian Americans, in particular those who settled on Long Island, New York, with an emphasis on Nassau County. Comprised of 68 boxes of primary and secondary source materials, totaling 44 linear ft., the collection is now accessible for research use by appointment in Special Collections and University Archives.
Salvatore J. LaGumina, the son of Italian immigrants, was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1928. Professor Emeritus of History at Nassau Community College, Dr. LaGumina completed his Bachelor’s degree at Duquesne University and earned a M.A. and Ph.D. from St. John’s University. His dissertation, Vito Marcantonio, Labor and the New Deal, 1935-1940, was revised and published in 1969.
In 1966, he was one of a small group of scholars who met at the LaGuardia Memorial House in New York City to found the American Italian Historical Association (AIHA), an organization which helped lay the groundwork for the interdisciplinary field of Italian American Studies. He has served the association in many capacities, including as president, vice-president, member of the executive council, editor of the proceedings of the annual conference, and founder of the local Long Island Regional Chapter of the AIHA. Additionally, he has worked closely with several national organizations, including the National Italian American Foundation, and the Commission for Social Justice of the Order Sons of Italy in America, for which he held the position of college liaison.
As a scholar, Dr. LaGumina has written, edited and co-edited several books and articles on the Italian American experience. Years of research and involvement with the Italian community on Long Island have contributed to his reputation as a leading authority on this field of scholarship. His has been an invited speaker at local events and at professional conferences for diverse audiences, ranging from community members to academic groups, on the topics of Italians on Long Island, the Italian American experience, as well as more general presentations on immigration. Among the books that he has authored or edited are: From Steerage to Suburb: Long Island Italians: WOP: a Documentary History of Anti-Italian Discrimination in the United States: The Italian American Experience: an Encyclopedia: and The Immigrants Speak: Italian Americans Tell Their Story. He has also authored numerous book reviews and “letters to the editor” in popular newspapers and the Italian American press.
Dr. LaGumina received Nassau Community College’s Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award in 1992. The Consortium of Long Island Italian American Organizations awarded him the “Man of the Year in Education” in 1989. In 2002, the Association of Italian American Educators honored him with their “Educator of the Year Award for Lifetime Achievement.” His work, The Humble and the Heroic: Wartime Italian Americans was recognized when he received the “Pietro di Donato, John Fante Literary Award” in 2007. Upon his retirement from Nassau Community College in 1994, he assumed the position of director of the college’s newly created “Center for Italian American Studies.”