In the early twentieth century, the Copper Country boasted some of the largest communities of Italian immigrants in the state. Among those immigrants were members of the Cottini family, recently arrived from Tuscany. Joseph Cottini, like many other Italian immigrants, started his life in the United States as a trammer working for a copper mine. For Joseph, it was the Quincy Mining Company near Hancock. Opportunities for advancement in the mines came with experience and mastery of the English language.
An Immigrant Story - Joseph Cottini
Many Italians, mining companies, and the State of Michigan promoted assimilation into the larger society in which these immigrants lived. Their children were often the first to assimilate. Taught in English at public schools, they learned about the rights and responsibilities of Americans. When a man was naturalized, his family also gained citizenship.
The Cottinis experienced this assimilation, and were quick to show their American pride. One of their sons posed as "Uncle Sam" for this studio portrait, demonstrating their new American identity. Generations later, family members continue to show their pride, in part through their donation of family photos and memorabilia to Keweenaw National Historical Park. These materials strengthen our ability to share the Keweenaw's immigrant stories with visitors from around the world!
Last updated: April 4, 2018