Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The Maria SS.ma del Soccorso di Sciacca Lodge was a beneficial society founded in 1904 by a group of Sicilian Americans in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Their purpose was to create “funds for the collection of initiation fees, dues, fines, and voluntary contributions of its membership and from which funds benefits are to be paid to infirm, sick, or disabled members, and also to the families of deceased members.” They also offered material and moral support to its members and their families. Members had to be of the Roman Catholic faith and of good conscience, and only people of Sicilian descent could become members.
Calling themselves the “Committee,” several of the founding members, among whom were Fillipo Catagnano, Matteo Baldassano, Michele Marinello, and Severio Santangelo, met on the first Sunday of April 1904 and unanimously voted to create a fraternal benefit society, naming it Maria SS. Del Soccorso Di Sciacca (Most Holy Mary of Succor of Sciacca). The society is still active in Norristown.
The collection of the Maria SS. Ma del Soccorso di Sciacca of Norristown Lodge records contains thirteen volumes and one folder that date from 1904 to 1983. Included are sick benefits records, financial records, and minutes of both the Executive Council and the general meetings. The collection does not included biographical information about members or information on the society associations in Norristown.
Volumes 1 to 4 contain records of sick benefits and usually list the member's names and how much money they received weekly for either a funeral or care of any ailments. There is a total amount of how much they received, and in some cases there is a date of death. Some records lists the names of members, when they got sick and with what ailment, their doctor, recovery date, their place of residence, whether their payments were finished, and if they recovered.
Volumes 5 to 7 are financial records dating from 1952 to 1960. The records show that the society made money from members’ dues, fundraising for the feast of Maria SS. del Soccorso and penalties if members were not present, funds taken for children, for subsidies, and death funds. The books also show money they received from sales to benefit the society, donations, and member loans. All volumes are in Italian except for Volume 7, which is in Italian and English.
Volume 8, titled "Executive Council," contains the secretary’s notes from meetings of the Executive Council from 1943 to 1944. The meetings generally discussed society-wide decisions or money. Specific examples include the purchase of flowers to be used in church, the organizing of the feast and the procession of Maria SS. del Soccorso, and the approval of members' wives for the mortuary fund. Other issues that concerned the Executive Council were the proposed salaries of some of the council’s members, appointing an assistant to the secretary of finance, and creating a committee for the social interests of the club.
Volumes 9 to 13 are the lodge's general meeting minutes. They include details on the lodge's administration such as raising member fees, motions to help pay children of deceased members, and discussions on institutional donations. Disputes between members were also occasionally settled during these meetings. On one occasion, a member was suspended six months for not attending meetings and using inappropriate language. The lodge's finances were also discussed at each meeting. In addition, new potential members were either voted in or denied. Volumes 10 and 12 are completely in English, and Volumes 9 and 11 are completely in Italian. None of these volumes contain both English and Italian minutes simultaneously.
Gift of the Societa di M.S. Maria SS.ma del Soccorso di Sciacca Lodge of Norristown, Pennsylvania.
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Gabrielle Varano
- Finding Aid Date
- ; 2012
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.