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Danilo Dolci Papers

 Collection
Identifier: SCPC-DG-105

Scope and Contents

All material in this document group was collected by Jerre Mangione throughout his long association with Dolci and his work with Friends of Danilo Dolci.

Dates

  • 1947-1987

Creator

Language of Material

Materials are in English and Italian.

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

This collection is stored off-site. Please contact Peace Collection staff at least two weeks in advance of a visit to the Peace Collection to discuss retrieval of off-site materials.

Copyright and Rights Information

None.

Biographical note

Danilo Dolci was born in Sesana on June 28,1924, son of a Slovene mother and an Italian father who was a train station master. Dolci trained as an engineer and architect in Switzerland. He was a devout Catholic, and decided that instead of launching a professional career, he would work for a time with a priest, Don Zeno Saltini, who had opened an orphanage for 3000 abandoned children after World War II; it was housed in a former concentration camp near Modena.

Dolci first visited Sicily because of an interest in Greek building structures, but the wretchedness of the living conditions in that country moved him far more deeply. Most of the population there lived in extreme poverty, in slums without electricity, water or sanitation. Unemployment, hunger and illiteracy abounded, with the Mafia controlling most of civic life. At age 28 Dolci moved to Sicily permanently, settling in Trapetto. He married a women from the neighborhood, a widow with five children. He put his energies into working to overcome the poverty and violence in Sicily. One technique he used was the "strike in reverse," which initiated unauthorized public works projects for the poor. In 1958, after one such strike brought 150 unemployed men to repair a dirt road in Partinico, Dolci was arrested on false charges and spent eight months in jail. In 1967, he bravely accused prominent members of the government with collusion with the Mafia, and as a result he spent another two years in jail for libel. His trial was publicized all over the world and increased public awareness of his work to break the yoke of organized crime in Sicily and to improve the lot of the common people. He became known throughout the world as the "Sicilian Gandhi" because of his efforts to create change nonviolently, and was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The headquarters for Dolci's work was the Centro Studi e Iniziative in Partinicio, Sicily. There were four other centers in other parts of Sicily as well, each providing technical, educational and cultural programs for residents of the region. Besides being an activist and organizer, Dolci wrote books and articles about the problems of Sicily, and his works include interviews with otherwise invisible members of humble trades whose lives he brought into evocative focus. He also became well known as a poet. Support groups were created in the United States and in Europe to provide financial assistance to Dolci so that he could continue his labors for the poor and his various writing projects.

Jerre Mangione received a research fellowship to spend six months in Sicily, where he spent time with Dolci and Dolci's family, neighbors and associates. The book A Passion for Sicilians: The World Around Danilo Dolci, was the result, published in 1968.

Dolci died on December 30, 1997 from heart failure. He was survived by the five children he had with his first wife, Vincenzina, and by two children from his second marriage.

Extent

3.75 Linear Feet (3.75 linear ft.)

Abstract

Danilo Dolci was born in Sesana on June 28,1924. He was a devout Catholic, and decided that instead of launching a professional career, he would work for a time with a priest, who had opened an orphanage for 3000 abandoned children after World War II. At age 28 Dolci moved to Sicily, working to overcome the poverty and violence. One technique he used was the "strike in reverse," which initiated unauthorized public works projects for the poor. Dolci became known throughout the world as the "Sicilian Gandhi" because of his efforts to create change nonviolently, and was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. Dolci died on December 30, 1997 from heart failure.

Arrangement

Series I contains files by and about Danilo Dolci, including biographical material, his writings, speeches, etc. Series II contains reports and circulars from the Centro Studi e Iniziative in Partinicio, Sicily, the headquarters for Dolci's work. Series III contains the files of Dolci's biographer Jerre Mangione. Series IV includes files concerning Dolci support groups around the world. Series V contains miscellaneous reference material found in the Dolci papers.

Other Finding Aids

For the catalog record for this collection and to find materials on similar topics, search thelibrary's online catalog.

Custodial History

The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is the official repository for these papers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Jerre Mangione and R.L. Cope, 1976-1988 [Acc. 76A-118, 83A-081, 88A-111, 87A-096].

Separated Materials

Items removed: Photographs, Posters, Oversized documents, Audiovisual item (reel-to-reel tape). Issues of the newsletter Friends of Danilo Dolci Inc. 1962, 1970-1986 were removed to the Periodicals Collection. See also the Book Collection [Tripod] for books written by Dolci and by Mangione.

Bibliographic References

Guide to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, 2nd ed., p. 24.

Legal Status

Copyright to the records created by Danilo Dolci have been transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. Copyright to all other materials is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Processing Information

Processed by Anne Yoder, February 2004.

Creator

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Find It at the Library

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