Letters and Prints from the Campanella Collection Giuseppe Garibaldi

Irvin Department of Special Collections


Giuseppe Maria Garibaldi (4 July 1807 – 2 June 1882) was an Italian general, patriot, and political provocateur who was famous for his freedom fighting exploits in South America and for his efforts to establish a unified, democratic Italy. Born into humble circumstances in Nice, then under Napoleonic rule, Garibaldi went on to become among the most popular and influential heroes of the nineteenth century. Though he first gained notoriety during his time spent in Brazil and Uruguay, where he defended Montevideo from the interference of Buenos Aires, it was his efforts in the Italian revolutions of 1848-1849 and his valiant, all-be-it doomed, defense of the Roman Republic that gained him international fame. In 1859 & 1860, he helped to unify Italy under the Piedmontese government, and in 1860 he led a volunteer guerrilla army, known as “The Thousand,” which succeeded in overthrowing Bourbon rule in Sicily. In 1870, Garibaldi again organized a volunteer army, this time with the purpose of aiding France in the Franco-Prussian war. A legend in his own lifetime, after his death on the island of Caprera in 1882, Garibaldi become the object of a semiofficial national cult whose influence is still felt in Italy today.

The Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections’ Anthony P. Campanella Collection contains over 2,500 titles, 410 original letters to and from Garibaldi, 350 nineteenth-century newspapers, a major collection of medals honoring and relating to Garibaldi, and a variety of prints, realia, and memorabilia. In addition to the core research library, which contains the principal published works of the Risorgimento period (the ‘national resurgence’, ca. 1792-1870) and numerous contemporary memoirs of Garibaldi’s fellow soldiers and political allies, the Campanella Collection also contains many items from Garibaldi’s personal library and the library of his son Ricciotti (1847-1924), thus making it one of the premier research collections on Garibaldi and Italian revolutionary material in the United States.

This digital collection focuses on some of the more rare and unique material in the collection, with a special emphasis on satirical political periodicals, letters and correspondence, and iconography.  The digital collection is also comprised of several hundred manuscript letters, many of which are from the period of Garibaldi’s visit to England in 1864. While some of these letters are from celebrities, heads of state, members of parliament, and other radical political actors, the vast majority of them are from people of humble backgrounds throughout England and across Europe. Garibaldi’s visit to England was a politically fraught cultural sensation, and these letters offer an intimate look at the growing cult of Garibaldi that was born of an overall mania for hero-worship in the period. Garibaldi’s growing international fame, and his importance to a nascent Italian national identity, were the driving force behind much of the iconography, memorabilia, and realia that was produced in his life time and in support of the posthumous memorialization of his exploits. Many of the Irvin Department’s prints and images of Garibaldi have been digitized to represent this aspect of the collection.

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