Italian Sons and Daughters of America began in 1930 as a small community of Italian immigrants in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. These new Americans, who had rejected the oppressions of the Old World to embrace New World democracy, truly valued their newfound freedom and right to vote.
They became active in politics, proudly sharing the opinions and policies voiced by many American state and federal governing agencies. And yet, they also felt a need to preserve a cultural link with the Italian life they had left behind. They attended church regularly, upheld their traditions, and, in the mid 1920s, they began supporting fraternal societies that celebrated their heritage, regarding members of such groups as extended family.
The largest of these national groups was based out of Philadelphia and prevalent in Pittsburgh: The Order Sons of Italy in America. By the late 1920s, however, it became evident that the edicts issued from the OSI’s “Grand Lodge” in Philadelphia ran counter to the democratic beliefs of the Italian Americans of Pittsburgh. So, by 1930, an official split by the Pittsburgh members of the OSI took place, and a new fraternal order was born: the Order Italian Sons and Daughters of America.
An official registration certificate was issued on April 12th, 1930 with the organization’s motto reading “Liberia, Unita, Dovere” (Liberty, Unity, Duty). Thus, the governing principles of ISDA were cemented, leading straight into the first of what would come to be known as our biennial conventions in 1931. Representatives from 20 of 22 lodges gathered in Pittsburgh to engage in an open discussion of common problems Italian Americans faced and how they might be able to serve and protect one another during times of struggle.
By the mid 1930s, it became apparent to the leaders of ISDA that, although democratic-minded practices that offered meager settings for fraternal bonding might appeal to the alienated immigrants of the day, it wasn’t very exciting or attractive to their youth. And so, they set out to reconceive a “new look.” As a result, the organization began to grow, drawing in new members and folding in existing organizations in the spirit of “banding together.”
By the end of World War II, ISDA had undergone significant expansion with new lodges in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, West Virginia and Florida. And, by the 1950s, the organization was thriving, with children and grandchildren of its founding members uniting regularly to preserve and celebrate their families’ heritage and culture.
In 1960, ISDA leaders decided to create the ISDA Fraternal Association, an arm of the Order ISDA aimed at helping members achieve financial security. In the same manner our founders sought to protect one another during difficult times, the Fraternal Association’s offering of annuities, IRAs and life insurance policies was geared towards giving members opportunity for financial growth and investment (as a preemptive measure to protect their loved ones).
Today, we are proud to say that the ISDA Fraternal Association has grown to become the largest Italian American annuity/IRA/insurance provider in the United States with over $105 million in assets and highly competitive rates. The Order ISDA is one of the largest Italian American organizations in the country, having merged with several other significant organizations such as The Italo American National Union. Together, we unite members within communities and unite communities across states to celebrate, preserve and promote the Italian heritage.
We are Italian America. Join us.
The above account was partially taken from “Birth of the Order: A Tribute to Ruggero J. Aldisert” which first appeared in ISDA’s publication “Unione” in 1995 and was edited by Michael A. Acquaviva.