Julio Duran

For some, the American Dream is the pursuit of opportunity. They believe that, with enough heart, ingenuity, and the right niche, success could be attained in the United States. One man that embodied the American Dream was Julio Duran. Duran, native to Tarija, Bolivia, migrated to the United States in 1971 in response to Hugo Banzer’s successful coup.[1] Duran had migrated  from his home country in order to escape repression and to find opportunity in the US. Once in Virginia, Duran recognized that Latin American news in American newspapers had been largely ignored. Duran knew that the Latino community–along with the country’s their families had come from–had many positives beyond earthquakes, political coups, and cocaine trafficking.[2] In response, Duran created Impacto during the fall of 1986. The newspaper was a Spanish-language monthly that provided services to more than 250,000 Latin Americans in the Washington, D.C. area.[3]

Duran put in 15-hour days so that Impacto could thriveThe paper talked about regional news, such as minority business opportunities, immigration laws, substance abuse, the Cold War arms race, and culture.[4] Duran had to overcome prevailing stereotypes while finding investors for the newspaper. He talked about having to bring his diploma around with him as he attempted to finance Impacto.[5] Like with many migrants, family was what kept the dream alive for Julio Duran. His wife, Beatriz, and daughters, Claudia and Cecilia, never let him quit even in the face of racism.[6]


Fig. 1. David Távara, 44 años después: un viaje de ida y vuelta. 2015, Colored Photograph, 2.04 X 2.33 inches.  El Tiempo Latino, http://eltiempolatino.com/news/2015/apr/20/veterano-periodista-retorna-su-patria-querida/ (accessed November 11, 2016).

In the pursuit for economic success, Julio Duran embraced the opportunity to create a newspaper that focused on issues that the Latino community wanted to read about. Duran had to face racism in his pursuits, as investors could not believe that a Hispanic man could be a writer, or a good one at that. Family has always been the support system for migrants in the United States, and Duran’s situation was no different. Hard work and determination led to Duran’s successful printing of the newspaper Impacto.

[1] Dianna Saenz, “Fledgling Va. Publisher Puts Out a Paper with Latin American Beat,” The Washington Post, December 11, 1986, accessed November 10, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1986/12/11/fledgling-va-publisher-puts-out-a-paper-with-latin-american-beat/6344a7f8-c047-4758-a935-769d7924046a/; Heather Benno, “Documents prove U.S. government involvement in 1971 Bolivia coup,” Liberation, July 10, 2010, accessed November 20, 2016, https://www.liberationnews.org/10-07-10-documents-prove-us-government-html/.

[2]Saenz, “Fledgling Va. Publisher Puts Out a Paper with Latin American Beat.”

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.


Migrants decide to move to a new country for a plethora of reasons. Some migrate in order to take advantage of new opportunities that are not provided in their home countries, and others move to avoid adverse conditions back home. Coming from a different culture, the United States can feel strange as migrants adjust, and learn the social norms within the United States. Many believe that migrants simply “assimilate” into American culture, but that is rarely the case. Migrants learn to blend their old customs with the American ones. They adapt to their new home.

For Afomia Wendemagegn, she migrated to the U.S. at the age of seven. Her family had made the move while she was young in order for Wendemagegn to adapt more quickly and with ease, especially to the American educational system. A better education was the opportunity that the Wendemagegn family was seeking in the U.S.[i] Traveling from Ethiopia, the Wendemagegn family reached out to relatives for support. At first, the family lived with an aunt in Fairfax County, Virginia. Soon thereafter, they moved to an apartment on King Street in Alexandria, Virginia.[ii]

For decades, immigrants, such as the Wendemagegn family, chose the United States as their final destination.[iii] Wendemagegn never forgot where she came from. Her family lived in a neighborhood filled with other African families, from Ethiopia and elsewhere.[iv] For Wendemagegn, food was key to maintaining a connection to her own heritage and her family. While in America, the Wendemagegn family continued to celebrate Ethiopian holidays, like  Genna, or Christmas. Instead of gifts, Ethiopians emphasize family time and food during the holiday.[v] Family elders also continue to speak Amharic, Wendemagegn’s native language, in order to keep their heritage alive.


Migrants move to countries like the United States in order to access educational and economic opportunities. The Wendemagegn family moved to the US to advance their children’s education in hopes that they would have a brighter future. While in the US the family maintained their traditions and culture, they believe in the “American Dream.”

[i] Afomia Wendemagegn, In terviews by Krystyn Moon, Interview with the Afomia Wendemagegn, Immigrant Alexandria: Past, Present, zfuture, June 4, 2015.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Elizabeth Chacko, “Identity and Assimliation among Young Ethiopian immigtants in Metro Washington,” Geographical Review, Vol. 93, n0. 4 (Oct. 2003), Accessed Oct. 26, 2016.

[iv] Afomia Wendemagegn, In terviews by Krystyn Moon, Interview with the Afomia Wendemagegn, Immigrant Alexandria: Past, Present, zfuture, June 4, 2015.

[v] Ibid.

Dominic Capraletti

By 1920, almost nine million Italians had migrated from Italy to other countries, including the United States.[i] As these migrants began to establish themselves in their new countries, family networks became even more imperative for Italians. Dominic Capraletti, a member of Italy’s proletarian diaspora, migrated to New York City in April 1905.

Dominic Capraletti was born on November 7, 1883 in Montepagono, Italy. This young 22 year old came to the U.S. in search of economic opportunities. Capraletti began his search soon after he arrived in the country, and by 1910 he lived at 822 N Columbus Street in Alexandria Virginia.[ii] Here he lived with his wife, Sophia, who was also an Italian immigrant. Based on the 1920 U.S. Census, Dominic and Sophia had three children: Lucio, Anthony, and Marie. At that time, Dominic was employed by Fruit Grower Express as a car repairman.[iii]

Capraletti’s success in America drew other Italian immigrants. In 1930, Capraletti’s cousin Ernest migrated from Italy.[iv] The Capraletti’s had built a network of support for their extended family to come and join them in America. Ernest moved in with Dominic and his family and followed in his cousin’s footsteps. While living with Dominic, Ernest could search for a job, family, and household to discover similar opportunities as his cousin.

By 1940, Ernest has moved out of the Capraletti’s and into his own house. By 1942, Dominic was drafted to fight for the United States, although it is unclear where he actually did.[v] Dominic passed away at the age of 85 in 1966.[vi] He was survived by his wife Sophia and four children.


[i] Donna R. Gabaccia, Italy’s Many Diasporas (Routledge: 2003), 117.

[ii] 1910 U.S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Viriginia, Enumerated District (ED) 5, Sheet no. 12 B, Dominic Capraletti in household of Dominic Capraletti, lines 33-37, digital image, accessed October 11, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/.

[iii] 1920 U.S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Viriginia, Enumerated District (ED) 819-839, Sheet no. 23B, Dominic Capraletti in household of Dominic Capraletti, lines 60-75, digital image, accessed October 11, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/.

[iv] 1930 U.S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Viriginia, Enumerated District (ED) 0007, Sheet no. 9A, Dominic Capraletti in household of Dominic Capraletti, lines 22-27, digital image, accessed October 11, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/.

[v] U.S. Military Draft Registration Card, 1942, “Dominic Capraletti,” accessed October 11, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/.

[vi] Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.




The Cogan Family

Migrants oftentimes have a difficult job of “assimilating” in the face of a new culture and nativism in their new home. While that is the case with most migrants, the English had an easier time than most. Using primary sources, such as the U.S. Census, historians can learn the forgotten past of people in the United States. With this practice, the Cogan family’s obscure life in Alexandria, Virginia became more pronounced.[1] William Cogan was born in London, England in 1828. Along with his mother and father, William emigrated to America when he was a young child.[2] It is possible that Cogan had no recollection of England, and the United States was all that he had ever known. Like most migrants, William did not remain in one place. Instead, he moved to Philadelphia and then to Alexandria, Virginia. William learned his craft as a gas fitter from his time in Philadelphia.[3]

According to the Alexandria Gazette, Cogan became a gas fitter in 1848.[4] William opened up his own plumbing and gas fittering business called Cogan Wm & Sons on 15 North Royal Street.[5] William married Virginia Barton from Fairfax County, Virginia. Virginia remained in their home until her death in 1912.[6] The couple had eleven children together.

William Cogan, and his business, suffered through the Civil War war. There are no records of William Cogan fighting, even though he was only in his 30s. Due to health problems, his children succeeded William Cogan in his business.[7] At the age of 60, William Cogan died. Cogan created a life for him and his family by learning a trade and creating a business.


[1] 1860 U.S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria Virginia, Enumeration District (ED) 002, William Cogan in household of William Cogan, line 4, digital image, accessed September 22, 2016, http://interactive.ancestrylibrary.com/.

[2] “Local Matters,” Alexandria Gazette, July 09, 1888.

[3] Ibid.

[4] “Local Matters,” Alexandria Gazette, January 05, 1866.

[5] Ibid.

[6] 1900 U.S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria Virginia, Enumeration District (ED) 0094, Virginia Cogan in household of Virginia Cogan, line 4, digital image, accessed September 23, 2016, http://interactive.ancestrylibrary.com/.

[7] “Local Brevities,” Alexandria Gazette, December 12, 1912.