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Italian Americans Rally to Recognize Antonio Meucci's Role in Development of the Telephone

Press Contact: Diane E. Crespy, (202) 547-8115 dcrespy@osia.org

Additional Contact: Manny Alfano, UNICO, New Jersey, (973) 429-2818

For Immediate Release:

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2002 – A coalition of 19 Italian American organizations, representing more than three-quarters of a million Americans of Italian descent, is rallying support for a congressional resolution that recognizes Antonio Meucci's contributions to the development of the telephone.

The groups are urging all members and supporters to contact their U.S. senators to support a resolution similar to one passed by the House of Representatives in June.

House Resolution 269 was co-sponsored by Congressmen Vito Fossella, Jr. (R-N.Y.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.). It is the first official government recognition of Meucci's contributions to the development of the telephone.

The resolution notes that in 1857 Meucci finalized plans for an invention he called a teletrofono that would carry the human voice great distances. Unable to pay the patent fees and in poor health, Meucci was forced to abandon the project, which Alexander Graham Bell was given credit for nearly 20 years later in 1876.

A subsequent lawsuit against Bell revealed that he had worked in the same laboratory at Western Union Telegraph Company that had a model of Meucci's invention and its designs. The case was dropped with Meucci's death in 1889 and the expiration of Bell's patent in 1893.

One coalition member is the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the oldest and largest national organization for people of Italian heritage. OSIA owns and operates the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, a free museum and cultural center in the home where the inventor lived on Staten Island, N.Y.

The museum has Meucci memorabilia, including models of his invention, and holds free programs for schools, groups and individuals interested in Italian language and culture. [Telephone: Garibaldi-Meucci Museum: 718/442-1608.]

The coalition members in alphabetical order are:

American Italian Defense Association (Chicago)
Anti Bias Committee of UNICO National (Bloomfield/Fairlawn, N.J.)
Bella Italia Mia (New York City)
Commission for Social Justice® (Washington, D.C.)
Conference of Presidents (Washington, D.C.)
Federation of Italian American Societies of New Jersey (Newark, N.J.)
Fieri International (New York City)
Garibaldi-Meucci Museum (Staten Island, N.Y.)
Italian American One Voice Coalition (Bloomfield, N.J.)
Italian Americans Unite! (New York City)
Italian American Web site of New York
Misericordia Society (St. Louis)
Mobilito Media (Chicago)
National Italian American Foundation (Washington, D.C.)
National Organization of Italian American Women (New York City)
Order Sons of Italy in America® (Washington, D.C.)
Sicilian Cultural Association of St. Louis
St. Louis Columbus Day Corp
UNICO National (Fairlawn, N.J.).

Established in 1905, OSIA has more than 575,000 members and supporters and a network of 700 chapters coast to coast. It is the largest and oldest national organization for people of Italian descent in the country. OSIA works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 24 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. To learn more about OSIA, visit us on the Web at www.osia.org or contact us via e-mail at nationaloffice@osia.org.