The Life of Alfred Caporaletti

When Italians came to the United States in the early twentieth-century, they were looking for jobs and a chance to improve their lot in life. Many of the Italians, especially the men, took jobs working as laborers, generally in awful conditions. However, in some cases, these immigrants were able to obtain better jobs, which afforded them and their families a better life. One such immigrant was Alfredo (later referred to as the Americanized Alfred) Caporaletti, who was born April 26, 1886 in Montepangano Teramo, Italy.[1] On April 17, 1903, Alfredo arrived in New York City after taking the Italian ship the S.S. Lboenicia from Naples. The passenger manifesto has him listed as a single farm laborer, whose final destination was Philadelphia where his brother lived.[2] This practice of moving to an area with family already settled was typical for immigrants. It was an way to find housing, often staying with family, and gave them access to a support system to help find a job and to stay connected to their home country. His initial job appeared to be a farm laborer and by 1910, Alfredo had made enough money to visit to Cologna, Italy before returning to Philadelphia on June 10, 1910 on the S.S. Taormina.[3]

[Figure 1 – New York, Passenger Lists, 1820 – 1957– Courtesy of ancestry.com]

Figure 1 – New York, Passenger Lists, 1820 – 1957– Courtesy of ancestry.com

It was after moving to Alexandria, Virginia that Alfred and his family’s shifted away from the agriculture to industrial work. By 1912, Alfredo moved to Alexandria and was working as a car repairman, probably for one of the local railroad companies.[4] In 1918, he filled out a draft card for World War I, but was disqualified from service due to a hernia.[5] It is hard to know exactly when, but by 1928 Alfred had married Mary Braclo.[6] They would had three children–Louis, Laura, and Julius.[7] Sadly, on November 6, 1935 Mary died of an appendiceal abscess after being admitted to the hospital two days prior.[8]

[Figure 2: 1928 City Directory of Alexandria – Courtesy of ancestry.com]

Figure 2: 1928 City Directory of Alexandria – Courtesy of ancestry.com

Even with all the information about Alfred, it is hard to pin down exactly what job he held during the 1920s and 1930s. In the 1928 city directory, his job is listed as a cook, but in the 1930 U.S. Census, his occupation is listed as car repairer again, working for Fruit Growers Express, a company affiliated with the rail industry. By 1940, Alfred was again working as a cook in a hotel.[9] He remained a cook until his death on April 20, 1956, where his death certificate has listed his employment as chef at the Mayflower Hotel, in Washington D.C.[10]  It is unclear why he switched between two very different occupations during his life.

[Figure 3 – Alfred’s Death Certificate , listing his last occupation – Courtesy of ancestry.com]

Figure 3 – Alfred’s Death Certificate , listing his last occupation – Courtesy of ancestry.com

These job changes most likely led to an increase in money for the Caporaletti family. In 1930, Alfred’s address is listed as 312 Queen Street and he was renting for $100 a month.[11] However, by 1940 he owned his own house at 414 Queen Street, and the house was valued at $1,700.[12]

Alfred Caporaletti’s life represents one aspect of the Italian immigrant experience. He initially settled in Philadelphia with his brother, before moving to Alexandria along with his entire family. Besides remaining close to his family, Alfred also represents upward mobility. He came as a laborer, then worked alternatively as a car repairman and a cook. Each new career brought money, which he appeared to use to eventually buy a home.

[Figure 4 – 1930 U.S. Census showing Alfred Caporaletti – Courtesy of ancestry.com]

[Figure 4 – 1930 U.S. Census showing Alfred Caporaletti – Courtesy of ancestry.com]

[Figure 5 - Map Created by Helen Salita Using Google Maps]

Figure 5 – Map Created by Helen Salita Using Google Maps

Bibliography

[1]. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942, “Alfred Caporaletti,” accessed October   6, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com/.

[2]. New York, Passenger Lists, 1820 – 1957, “Alfredo Caporaletti,” accessed October 6, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com/.

[3]. Pennsylvania, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1800 – 1926, “Alfredo Caporaletti,” accessed  October 7, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com/.

[4]. 1912 Alexandria City Directory, “Alfredo Caporaletti,” accessed October 8, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com/.

[5]. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards , 1917 – 1918, “Alfred Caporaletti,” accessed October 8, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com/.

[6]. 1928 Alexandria City Directory, Alfred Caporaletti,” accessed October 9, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com/.

[7]. 1940 U.S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Virginia, Enumerated District 101-7, sheet no. 20 – A, lines 2 -5, “Alfred, Louis, Laura, and Julius Caporaletti,” digital image, accessed October 8, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com/.

[8]. Virginia, Death Records, 1912 – 2014 for Mary Caporaletti, “Mary Caporaletti,” accessed October 9, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com/.

[9]. 1940 U.S. Census. Alexandria, Virginia. “Alfred Caporaletti.”

[10]. Virginia, Death Records, 1912 – 2014 for Alfred Caporaletti, “Alfred Caporaletti,” accessed October 9, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com/.

[11]. 1930 U.S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Virginia, Enumerated District 101 – 12, sheet no. 8B, Alfred Caporaletti, line 97, digital image, accessed October 6, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com/.

[12]. 1940 U.S. Census. Alexandria, Virginia. “Alfred Caporaletti.”

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