Hyattsville During Wartime

Source: Library of Congress.

Source: Library of Congress.

Members of Hyattsville’s Italian-American community faced discrimination during World War II, but not everyone treated them poorly.

If they wanted to travel just a few miles south into Washington, D.C., they had to have fingerprints taken for bright pink enemy alien passbooks.

Here’s the story, from the Fall 1986 edition of the Journal of American Ethnic History:

Some jurisdictions required Italians without American citizenship to be fingerprinted and prohibited them from crossing state boundaries. For members of the Angelo Petrini family, especially Mrs. Petrini, moving back and forth across the District line from the family’s home in Hyattsville, Maryland seemed an insurmountable problem. However, the mayor of Hyattsville, ill-at-ease at having to trouble a member of a highly regarded Italian family, did not enforce those regulations that would inconvenience Mrs. Petrini. When aliens were required to be fingerprinted, the mayor refused to allow Mrs. Petrini to come to the Post Office. He had a clerk go to her home.

The authors cite a 1984 interview with Aldo Paul Petrini they conducted as a source.

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