An Immigrant Story - Joseph Cottini

A man poses for a studio portrait.
Joseph Cottini ca. 1910.

Keweenaw NHP Archives Cottini Collection--Joseph Cottini Studio Portrait--ca 1910

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.
People sit around a table and have a discussion
Modern-day family members meet with the park's Museum Curator for a facility tour.

NPS Photo

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.
A boy dressed in an "Uncle Sam" outfit.
Patriotic photograph of a boy from the Cottini famiy of Hancock, ca. 1907.

NPS, Keweenaw NHP, Cottini family papers

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

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