Unique Documents from the Italian Unification Now Online

Posted on November 08, 2016

We are thrilled to announce the tenth and final collection to be digitized as part of the Culture in Transit project is now on DCMNY, METRO’s collection hosting platform.

The collection, The Catholic Church during the Italian Unification comes from Fordham University and features 93 pamphlets and broadsides that detail the activities of the Catholic Church in Italy during the period of Italian unification and the Church’s responses to the many social, political, and theological controversies which arose during this time. Documents in the collection include institutional circulars, broadsides, by-laws, and annual reports from charitable organizations, especially church-run hospitals and shelters.

Italian unification was the social and political movement that consolidated different states of the Italian peninsula into a the single state of the Kingdom of Italy in the 19th century. Beginning in 1815, it was completed in 1871, with Rome becoming the Italian capital.

The collection, although being focused on the Catholic Church’s response to the unification, is extremely diverse in subject matter on issues and events that occurred during this period. Many of the documents relate to acts of charity for the poor from the church, during the turbulent unification period, including a letter from the archbishop of Modena, appealing to his congregation to engage in charitable acts to benefit the poor and a pamphlet Invito ai fedeli di Roma which describes a mission to provide shelter and moral guidance to homeless youths.

Also included in the collection is a pamphlet offering a Catholic response to the growing popular discourse surrounding American Spiritualism and animal magnetism, with the pamphlet discussing the case of New York’s Fox sisters, who played an important role in Spiritualism in the nineteenth century.

The digitized items are part of a larger collection of 1600 items but this subset contains a large amount of unpublished printed matter, which made it an excellent candidate for digitization, to enable us to make available this previously unpublished information to new and wider audiences. The collection will soon also be live in the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

Culture in Transit was made possible by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Culture in Transit Toolkit is now online and can be found at