Roberta Smith



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Helena Venturino Howell was born on September 19, 1913. She was the first child of her family to be born in the United States. Her father emigrated from Italy to Brooklyn, New York, at the age of 16. He first worked as a pin boy in a bowling alley and then took a job on the railroad. Her mother immigrated to Williamson, WV, with Mrs. Howell’s older sister in 1912. Mrs. Howell’s family lived in neighborhood in Williamson comprised primarily of Italians. Her family moved to New Boston, OH, when she was a young girl. During her interview, Mrs. Howell discusses being an Italian immigrant in the United States. She focuses on the tight-knit Italian communities in which she grew up, as well as, the prejudices, racism, and discrimination she and her family faced. She also discusses her love of school as a child, arranged marriages, and food preparation. In the audio clip provided, Mrs. Howell discusses her mother’s arrival to Williamson, WV, and the Italian community in Williamson.

Publication Date

Summer 7-8-1974




Italian immigration, Williamson, WV, railroads, prejudices, racism, and discrimination, religion


Appalachian Studies | Cultural History | Italian Language and Literature | Labor History | Oral History | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures | Social History

Library of Congress Subjects

Howell, Helena Venturino, 1913- -- Autobiography. Railroads -- Employees -- Oral histories. Family -- Huntington (W. Va.) -- Oral histories. Prejudices -- Huntington (W. Va.) -- Oral histories. Rural churches -- Huntington (W. Va.) -- Oral histories.


Interview is included in the Marshall University Oral History Collection. The index number is OH64-142. This interview was conducted by Roberta Smith. MDS exhibit prepared by Jennifer Gehringer, August, 2014.


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Streaming Media

Oral History Interview: Helena Venturino Howell