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Memento : Issue 23
13 may 2003 memento In 1996, drawing on the wealth of information on migration in our Adelaide office, he published No Need to be Afraid: Italian Settlers in South Australia between 1839 and the Second World War (Wakefield Press). He is now writing a book on post-World War II Italian migration. His first book tells the story of Italian migrants' struggle to be accepted in an Anglo-Saxon Australian society, where they were often viewed as a threat to jobs, national security and a way of life. Professor O'Connor used personal files and migrant arrival data to build up a profile of pre-World War II Italian migrants. From detailed passenger statements completed by aliens on arrival in Australia dating back to April 1927, he compiled a database of 2,500 individuals. It includes their birthplace, arrival details and initial residence. He also used files prepared by Australian security agencies dating from the late 1930s and 1940s. When war was declared against Italy, security officers raided the Italian consulate in Adelaide, which was also the headquarters of the local fascist branch. They found boxes of documents, photographs, and branch membership details. 'In the climate of fear of the time, all Italians were considered suspect. The evidence collected was used at subsequent court hearings to persuade judges to intern Italians who had been arrested, most of whom were naturalised British subjects and a few even Australian born,' comments Professor O'Connor. His current research on postwar Italian migrants to South Australia will lead to a volume on Italian migration from the 1950s to the 1970s. His wife Bianca O'Connor is a dedicated partner in this project. From our Adelaide office, she has been compiling a database on more than 30,000 Italian postwar migrants to South Australia. This database will provide them with an elaborate picture of the origins, arrival details and settlement patterns of Italians in that state. It will also be a valuable resource to researchers tracing their Italian ancestry. 'A number of files tell of the difficulty experienced by some Southern Italians seeking to migrate to Australia', says Professor O'Connor. Although the White Australia Policy was not meant to apply to Italians, Australian migration officials in Rome could use their discretion to exclude anyone who had dark features, even when the applicant was a close relative of an Italian already settled in Australia. The files tell of Southern Italians also being rejected on account of their poor communication skills, untidy dress or strong body odour. 'As researchers well know, amongst the seemingly bureaucratic documents in the Archives' files you often get a glimpse of the hardship, hopes and disappointments of everyday people who are now part of our collective history,' Professor O'Connor concludes. We are interested in hearing from other researchers who have used our records in their research for a book, film or other published work. Please contact the Memento editor by phoning (02) 6212 3923 or emailing email@example.com. Inauguration of the banner of the Adelaide branch of the Fascist Party, 21 April 1928. Associate Professor Desmond O'Connor, Head of the Department of Languages and lecturer in Italian at Flinders University, has been studying Italian migration to South Australia for well over a decade. Professor Desmond O'Connor and Bianca O'Connor examining the files on Italian migrants in our Adelaide office. South Australia NAA: AP501, 12 Bound for