Thanks to Dominic Candeloro, Curator of the Casa Italia Library in Chicago, for the invitation to share the story of the Cherry Mine disaster at the 2022 IA Literati Day. Special thanks to fellow writer and descendant of Italian immigrant coal miners, Terry Quilico, for the best introduction I have ever received.
The United States' worst coal mine fire for loss of life took place less than 90 miles from Chicago, yet remains a little known but important piece of U.S.A., mining, and labor history. My book, Trapped: The 1909 Cherry Mine Disaster, is an extensive account of that tragedy and its aftermath.
I am proud to share Terry's introduction and my presentation.
Many thanks to Stephanie Longo and Ovunque Siamo for the generous praise in her review of Unto The Daughters, which reads, in part:
"This book should be required reading in any Italian-American History class, as well as anyone wishing to study the female’s role in the Italian family. This book, while not an exercise in journalism, could also prove beneficial to students of the craft as Ms. Tintori’s prior training in the field served her well while untangling her great-aunt’s mystery."
"Unto the Daughters proves that all stories of our ancestors deserve to be told, the good, the bad and the ugly…and perhaps that is Francesca Costa’s legacy to us all."
You can read Longo's entire review here.
If you are an educator using Unto the Daughters in your curriculum, I would love to know. I have visited several classrooms both in person and via Skype. Grazie tanto.
Scholastic Magazine brought the 1090 Cherry Mine disaster to the attention of middle grade students in the United States with a full-color cover story in its November, 2019, issue. Highlighting the prevalence of child labor in 1909, Scholastic painted the grim picture of children's daily lives early in the last century via the story of the United State's worst coal mine disaster. School was not an option for children born into poor families, nor from immigrant families who crossed the ocean to work in U.S. coal mines. Every nickel and dime earned by these young boys was desperately needed for daily survival. So parents falsified ages on job applications while mine company bosses looked the other way, and children sat for hours in complete darkness -- tasked with the boring duty of waiting to open and close tunnel doors to permit mule teams to pull full coal cars to the elevator shaft and then rush the empties back to the miners to refill.
Among the major legal changes resulting from the Cherry Mine disaster was the adoption of stricter national child labor laws.
Seven months after the disaster, the St. Paul Coal Company, which operated the mine at Cherry, pled guilty to nine counts of child labor law violations -- and was fined a total of $630.
If you are a teacher who discussed the Cherry Mine disaster with your students as a result of Scholastic's feature coverage, I would love to hear the children's feedback.
Backstory's examination of honor throughout history includes an interview segment about my great-aunt Frances's story, told in Unto The Daughters: The Legacy of an Honor Killing in a Sicilian-American Family.
While much has been written about male honor -- as settled in duels, on the battlefield, etc. -- not much has been written about female honor. Typically, a female's honor is intrinsically bound up in the honor of her father, husband, brothers, and still is the impetus for honor killings in many corners of the world.
Listen in as I discuss the many facets of honor at play in the story of my great-aunt's murder with Joanne Freeman, Yale professor of history and American studies.
Backstory is a weekly podcast that uses current events in the United States to take a deep dive into the American past. Hosted by noted U.S. historians, BackStory is made possible through the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and has ranked in the Top 10 of the iTunes Society and Culture list and as high as #10 among all iTunes podcasts.
The full podcast can be accessed at the Backstory website here.
Something Borrowed, Something Blue, the staggeringly successful first collaboration between Jill Gregory and me is finally an Ebook available at Amazon Kindle, iTunes, Barnes & Noble Nook and Smashwords
Four glamoruous women. Four perfect brides. Four deadly secrets. When Perfect Bride magazine editor Monique D'Arcy decides to showcase three celebrity brides--including herself--plus one lucky Cinderella bride picked from the audience of the Oprah Winfrey Show, none of them can fathom the danger Monique's plan will pose to their upcoming marriages--or to their lives.
For these four stunning and happy brides--all ready to say "I Do"--are all hiding secrets that could destroy their hopes and dreams for the future. As their fairy tale weddings draw near, will all four brides make it down the aisle to their happily ever afters?
Magazine editor Monique D'Arcy has built both her career and her relationship with her fiance on a lie--lovely fashion model Eve is being menaced by a relentless stalker-- gorgeous actress Ana Cates, engaged to a handsome U.S. Senator, is desperate to keep her shameful past from catching up to her--and sweet, hardworking manicurist, Teri, engaged to the nicest guy in the world, must outrun a heartbreaking truth that could destroy all her dreams of happiness.
Excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine, adapted by CBS for a TV Movie of the Week starring Connie Sellecca, Twiggy, Dina Merrill, Brett Cullen, Ron Howard, Paull Goldin and Shawnee Smith, and nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, Something Borrowed, Something Blue was originally published in hardcover by Doubleday and in softcover by Bantam Books.
Foreign rights sold in hardcover and softcover to the U.K., and in softcover to Korea, Russia and France. Also published in large print edition.
As research for their actress character Ana, we spent five days in wintry Toronto, Canada, working as extras in the movie Used People starring Shirley MacLaine, Marcello Mastroianni, Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy and Marcia Gay Harden, and edited by Karen's brother, John Tintori. You can catch them in the wedding reception scene, wearing poufy '60s hair and white eye shadow rimmed with thick black eyeliner--if you don't blink.
Check back for a report on what it's like to be in the movies from the other end of the camera! Meantime, happy reading.
When Dominic Candeloro asked me to contribute a study of an Italian woman from Chicago to Casa Italia's new anthology, Italian Women in Chicago, my immediate thought was "Frances Cabrini." Just as quickly, I dismissed the Italian-born saint from consideration, certain that another contributor had surely claimed her. I began searching the internet for a little-known Italian woman with a Chicago connection and stumbled upon the mystery of the ghost bride, Julia Buccola Petta, who died in childbirth and who haunts Chicago's Mt. Carmel Cemetery. With a little genealogical research and a bit of sleuthing, I was able to resolve the mystery of her stillborn child. Later, to my surprise, Dominic Candeloro invited me to contribute a second piece to the anthology--one about Mother Frances Cabrini.
Mega congratulations to Clark Burch-Woodard, who took his eighth-grade Illinois History Fair project on the 1909 Cherry Mine disaster from the fair at St. Walter School in Chicago, on up the ranks to City, and then on to State level, where Clark won a superior ribbon and a top exhibit award. His outstanding project was later displayed at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, IL. It is currently on display until the beginning of August, 2015, at The Newberry -- Chicago's independent research library, located at 60 W. Walton.
Clark interviewed me about the disaster early in 2015, and we remained in close contact as he expanded his research, amping up his exhibit with each pass to the next level of competition. He was so thoroughly invested in his project that Clark even made a trip to Cherry with his mother and grandmother, visiting the library, the miners' cemetery, and the monument dedicated to the 259 men and boys who perished in the worst coal mine fire in US history. Once Clark advanced to State level, I connected him with Springfield's Jack Rooney, who grew up in Cherry, and who also heard the stories of an Italian immigrant grandfather who survived the disaster and, like I did, became hooked. I couldn't be in Springfield to cheer Clark on, but Jack was a fine stand-in, even loaning Clark a miner's lamp, Cherry memorial ribbon and several other items from his own extensive collection of Cherry Mine artifacts to enhance his winning display.
"So many people said that this should be a movie!" Clark emphasized -- and I couldn't agree more. Screenwriter Martin Garner has written a brilliant script based on my book Trapped: The 1909 Cherry Mine Disaster, and I'm convinced that this riveting and historically-significant story will one day reach a wider audience, coming to life on the big screen.
I’m a proud member of Novelists Inc., the only writers organization devoted exclusively to the needs of multi-published novelists. In April, 2012, we published our first-ever fiction anthology, Cast of Characters. More than a year in development, Cast of Characters is a huge volume of original fiction. Nearly five hundred pages long, it includes twenty-eight original stories, eleven of which are from New York Times bestselling authors. You can read more about it here.
I'm thrilled that my first-ever short story, Down Under, is included in the anthology, and I can't wait to hear what you think about it.