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Emigration to the United States

While Italians have emigrated to the United States since its founding, the vast majority arrived during the "Great Migration" of the years 1880-1920. Prior to the Great Migration only about 12,000 Italians made the journey, a group consisting primarily of artists, artisans, musicians, teachers, and political refugees. As Italy was (rightly) viewed as the artistic center of Europe, Italians were in great demand by well-off early Americans to tutor their children in art, music, and the Italian language, and to design, build, and decorate their residences and public buildings. Even the modern U.S. Marine Corps Band evolved from a group of fourteen Italian musicians recruited by Thomas Jefferson in 1805 and brought to the U.S. to form the first "American" military band.

During the years 1880-1930, 4.6 million Italians emigrated to the United States, the single largest ethnic group among all U.S. immigrants and nearly one third of the population of Italy. In contrast to the previous Italian immigrants, some 80% of those arriving during the Great Migration were illiterate peasant farmers from "il Mezzogiorno," or southern Italy and Sicily. Many came solely to earn money with which to better establish themselves in their home villages, and some 50-60% of them did eventually return to Italy.

While records indicate that a small number of Canevas emigrated to the U.S. before the Great Migration, the vast majority arrived during the early 20th century. Today "Caneva" is the 74,385th most common surname in the United States; the frequency of its occurance is 0.00%; its percentile ranking among surnames in the United States is 89.088. So relatively speaking, there aren't a lot of us in the U.S. Based on Ellis Island records and the current distribution of phone records with the Caneva surname in the United States, the Canevas who emigrated here can be grouped into three broad groups roughly corresponding to family lines: those who descend from brothers Gio Batta Carlo and Pietro Caneva of Recoaro and who settled primarily in the Western portion of the U.S. (including the states of Colorado and Wyoming); those descending from Gio Batta Caneva of Recoaro, then Asiago, and who migrated to the Midwestern region (including Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin); and those who remained near the U.S. East Coast (including New York, Pennsylvania, and Conneticut).

As this website was created by Midwestern Canevas, the family members contained in the site database are currently of only that line. However, it is likely that at least the Western branch is directly related to the Midwestern branch, as both trace their lineage to Recoaro and the same given names occur within the two branches. These, and other, Canevas will be added to the database when/if a definate link to the Midwest Giovanni Battista line is established.

The map below shows the current geographical distribution of Caneva family members in the United States. For more information on emigration to the United States and emigration data for each branch, use the following links:

US distribution of Caneva family members

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