Maria SS.ma del Soccorso di Sciacca of Norristown records


Collection 3508

1904-1983
(1.2 Linear feet , 13 volumes, 1 folder)

Summary Information

Repository
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Creator
Maria SS.ma del Soccorso di Sciacca of Norristown (Pa.).
Title
Maria SS.ma del Soccorso di Sciacca of Norristown records
ID
3508
Date [inclusive]
1904-1983
Extent
1.2 Linear feet , 13 volumes, 1 folder
Author
Finding aid prepared by Gabrielle Varano
Language
Italian
Language of Materials note
Much of the collection is in Italian with some records in English.
Text [Volume]
1-13
Text [Box]
1
Abstract
The Maria SS.ma del Soccorso di Sciacca of Norristown, Pa., founded in 1904, is a beneficial organization that provides sick and death benefits to its members. Membership is open to people belonging to the Roman Catholic Church who are either Italian or of Italian descent. The collection contains thirteen volumes including financial records, sick benefit records, and minutes of the society during the years of 1904 to 1983. There is also one folder of miscellaneous records.

Preferred Citation note

Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series here], Maria SS.ma del Soccorso di Sciacca of Norristown records (Collection 3508), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania

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Biographical/Historical note

The Maria SS.ma del Soccorso di Sciacca of Norristown, Pennsylvania was founded in 1904. At the time there was a dire depression that affected the working class, especially European immigrants. Work was scarce and those who had it received meager wages. Additional hardship came from losing a family member and dealing with the resulting financial burden of providing a funeral for the deceased. As a result, a group of Italian Americans in Norristown took it upon themselves to collect funds that went towards the families for funerary costs. In particular members from the colony of “Sciacchitani,” from Sciacca, Italy, came together to propose solutions and try to overcome the lack of benefits available to them. This group included Fillipo Catagnano, Matteo Baldassano, Michele Marinello, and Severio Santangelo.

Calling themselves the “Committee,” these men met on the first Sunday of April 1904 and unanimously voted to create a fraternal benefit society, naming it Maria SS. Del Soccorso Di Sciacca (Most Holy Mary of Succor of Sciacca). Their purpose was to create “funds for the collection of initiation fees, dues, fines, and voluntary contributions of its membership and from which funds benefits are to be paid to infirm, sick, or disabled members, and also to the families of deceased members.” They also offered material and moral support to its members. Members had to be of the Roman Catholic faith and of good conscience, and only people of Italian descent could become members. The society is still active in Norristown.

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Scope and Contents note

The collection of the Maria SS. Ma del Soccorso di Sciacca of Norristown records contains thirteen volumes and one folder that date from 1904 to 1983. Included are sick benefits records, financial records, and minutes of both the Executive Council and the general meetings. The collection does not included biographical information about members or information on the society associations in Norristown.

Volumes 1 to 4 contain records of sick benefits and usually list the member's names and how much money they received weekly for either a funeral or care of any ailments. There is a total amount of how much they received, and in some cases there is a date of death. Some records lists the names of members, when they got sick and with what ailment, their doctor, recovery date, their place of residence, whether their payments were finished, and if they recovered.

Volumes 5 to 7 are financial records dating from 1952 to 1960. The records show that the society made money from members’ dues, fundraising for the feast of Maria SS. del Soccorso and penalties if members were not present, funds taken for children, for subsidies, and death funds. The books also show money they received from sales to benefit the society, donations, and member loans. All volumes are in Italian except for Volume 7, which is in Italian and English.

Volume 8, titled "Executive Council," contains the secretary’s notes from meetings of the Executive Council from 1943 to 1944. The meetings generally discussed society-wide decisions or money. Specific examples include the purchase of flowers to be used in church, the organizing of the feast and the procession of Maria SS. del Soccorso, and the approval of members' wives for the mortuary fund. Other issues that concerned the Executive Council were the proposed salaries of some of the council’s members, appointing an assistant to the secretary of finance, and creating a committee for the social interests of the club.

Volumes 9 to 13 are the society's general meeting minutes. They include details on the society's administration such as raising member fees, motions to help pay children of deceased members, and discussions on institutional donations. Disputes between members were also occasionally settled during these meetings. On one occasion, a member was suspended six months for not attending meetings and using inappropriate language. The society's finances were also discussed at each meeting. In addition, new potential members were either voted in or denied. Volumes 10 and 12 are completely in English, and Volumes 9 and 11 are completely in Italian. None of these volumes contain both English and Italian minutes simultaneously.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania ; 2012

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107
215-732-6200

Conditions Governing Access note

The collection is open for research.

Provenance

Gift of the Societa di M.S. Maria SS.ma del Soccorso di Sciacca of Norristown, Pa.

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Controlled Access Headings

Subject(s)

  • Friendly societies--Pennsylvania--History.
  • Immigrants--Italian--20th century.
  • Immigrants--Italian--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.
  • Italian Americans--Pennsylvania--Norristown.
  • Italian Americans--Pennsylvania--Societies, etc.

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Collection Inventory

Volume

Sick benefits 1904-1956 

1

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Sick benefits 1914-1922 

2

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Sick benefits 1941-1943 

3

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Sick benefits 1960-1965 

4

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Financial loan data 1928-1938 

5

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Income and expenses 1942-1943 

6

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Income and financial 1952-1960 

7

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Executive council 1943-1946 

8

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General meeting minutes (in Italian) 1940-1942 

9

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General meeting minutes (in English) 1941 

10

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General meeting minutes (in Italian) 1952-1964 

11

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General meeting minutes (in English) 1963-1981 

12

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General meeting minutes 1964-1969 

13

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Box Folder

Historical documents 1906, 1979, 1983 

1 1

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