Hostos Associate History Professor Marcella Bencivenni recently lent her vast knowledge of Italian history and immigration to the television show “Who Do You Think You Are.” Professor Bencivenni assisted actress Valerie Anne Bertinelli, who was searching for the story of her family who emigrated from Italy in 1915.

“Who Do You Think You Are” airs on the TLC network and follows celebrities seeking insight into their family histories. The episode featuring Prof. Bencivenni aired in August, and it can be watched here.

Professor Bencivenni helped Bertinelli trace her family’s path, including that of her grandmother, who immigrated to the United States in 1915.

“What was interesting about her family is that they landed in Virginia, not New York or New Jersey. What a lot of people do not realize is that Virginia also attracted a large number of Italian immigrants at that time. Another interesting thing was that her grandmother came over in the midst of World War I. This was a very brave thing to do,” Professor Bencivenni said, adding that later members of the Bertinelli clan moved to Pennsylvania to work in mines.

Professor Bencivenni has been teaching history at Hostos since 2004 and is considered an expert on Italian immigration.  She is the author of the book Italian Immigrant Radical Culture: The Idealism of the Sovversivi in the United States, 1890-1940 (New York University Press, 2011, repr. 2014) and co-editor, with Ron Hayduk (a professor at Queens College), of Radical Perspectives on Immigration (2008). She has also published over a dozen articles and is currently working on a new book project focusing on the infamous Triangle fire of 1911. This latest project is being partially supported by a CUNY Community College Chancellor’s Research Fellowship that Professor Bencivenni was awarded in July.

You can learn more about her and her work on her website.

About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. It serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College’s unique "Student Success Coaching Unit" provides students with individualized guidance and exemplifies its emphasis on student support services.  

Recently named one of the top 10 finalists for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, Hostos offers 27 associate degree programs and two certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to The City University of New York’s (CUNY) four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of CUNY, the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 480,000 students at 24 colleges.