Patrizia Guarnieri

Intellectuals Displaced from Fascist Italy.

Migrants, Exiles and Refugees Fleeing for Political and Racial Reasons

©2019-Author(s) Published by Firenze University Press
e-ISBN: 978-88-6453-872-3 | DOI: 10.36253/978-88-6453-872-3

Intellectuals Displaced from Fascist Italy

Renata Calabresi (1899-1995)

Ferrara 2 November 1899 - New Haven (Connecticut, USA) 15 December 1995

Lives on the move

Emigrant family members

  • Massimo Calabresi (Ferrara 2 June 1903 - New Haven 28 February 1988), brother: cardiologist and university clinician, emigrated to the US in 1939. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Bianca Maria Finzi Contini Calabresi (Milan 27 May 1902 - Perugia 19 January 1982), sister-in-law: in September 1939, she emigrated with her husband and children to the US. There, she resumed her studies and became a professor of Italian literature. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Paul Calabresi (Milan 5 April 1930 - Providence 25 October 2003), nephew: he emigrated with his parents at nine years old. He became an internationally renowned oncologist. He then became a professor at Yale and Brown University. He married Celia Treadway Gow, and they had three children together. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Guido Calabresi (Milan 18 October 1932-), nephew: he emigrated with his parents when he was nine years old; he was a renowned judge at the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and was thus awarded several honorary degrees. He is considered a founder of Law and Economy, along with Ronald Coase. He married Anne Gordon Audubon Tyler, and together they had three children. He never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Cecilia Calabresi (Ferrara 1 February 1902 - New York 12 March 1985), sister: a literature scholar; after September 1943, she assumed a false identity with her mother and went into hiding; she emigrated to Canada in 1949 and then moved to New York. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Olga Minerbi Calabresi (1876 - New Haven 4 October 1964) mother: in 1949, she joined her children in the United States and lived with Renata in New York. She never returned to Italy permanently.
  • Paolo Contini (Ferrara 14 November 1913 - Alberta, Canada 5 August 1975) second cousin: graduated with a degree in law from the Università di Ferrara; he specialized in international law at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1938 he emigrated to New York, where he found work at The New School. In 1948 he was employed by the United Nations and carried out various activities as an expert in international law. He married Jeanne Elgart. They had three children, one of which died at 19 because of a hiking accident in Canada. He returned to Italy and lived in Rome while working for the United Nations. 

Aid organisations

  • British Federation of University Women (BFUW), Manchester, UK
  • Society for the Protection of Science and Learning (SPSL), London
  • Committee for displaced foreigners psychologists, American Psychological Association
  • Emergency Committee in the Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars (ECADFS), New York
  • Rosenwald Family Association, New York


References received in search of work from 1939 to 1947:

  • Max Ascoli (1898-1978), New School for Social Research, New York;
  • Walter Samuel Hunter (1889-1954), professor of psychology, Brown University;
  • Alvin Johnson (1874-1971), director of the New School for Social Research, New York;
  • Nino Levi (1894-1941), jurist and professor who emigrated in 1939, New School for Social Research, New York;
  • Mario Ponzo (1882 -1960), professor of psychology, Università di Roma;
  • Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), professor of psychology in Frankfurt, escaped to the US, New School for Social Research, New York.

Support network

  • Max Ascoli (1898-1978), a childhood friend from Ferrare and naturalized US citizen in 1939, was a prominent figure: he advised Calabresi whenever she asked, and he made sure that she had been properly ‘Americanized’
  • Paolo Contini (1913-1975), jurist, emigrated to New York: he went to the offices of the ECADFS to present Calabresi’s case before she arrived in the United States; 
  • Paolo Milano (1904-1988), literary critic, journalist and academic: he and his wife hosted Calabresi while she was unemployed in New York. 
  • Amelia Pincherle Rosselli (1870-1954), in 1940 arrived in the US along with her daughter in laws Maria Todesco and Marion Cave, and their children: they hosted Calabresi in Larchmont, N.Y.



Birth and Education

  • Student

University Student

  • Università di Bologna, Faculty of Medicine
  • Student

Graduation and Specialization in Experimental Psychology

  • Università di Firenze
  • Student,Unemployed,Fixed-term employment
  • Teacher

Assistant Professor and Tenured Professor

  • Università La Sapienza, Rome, volunteer teacher's assistant of psychology starting in 1931.She received tenure in 1935. Her teaching contract was not renewed and her tenure was list (October 1938-Feburary 1939).
  • Fixed-term employment
  • Libero docente,Junior lecturer
1939New York

Emigration to the United States

  • New School of Social Research
  • Unemployed,Occasional job,Fixed-term employment
  • Libero docente,Junior lecturer
1942Orangeburg, NY

Temporary Position

  • Rockland State Hospital (now Rockland Psychiatric Center), assistant psychologist
  • Unemployed,Fixed-term employment
  • Psychologist
1945New York

Temporary Position

  • Hunter College, instructor of abnormal psychology
  • Unemployed
  • Untenured professor
1946White Plains, Westchester, NY

Temporary Position

  • Department of Family and Child Welfare
  • Unemployed,Fixed-term employment
  • Psychologist

Trip to Italy

1947New York

Return to New York

  • Unemployed
1947Newark, NJ

Settling Down

  • Veterans Administration, Newark; Manhattan, private psychotherapist.
  • Freelance job,Fixed-term employment,Stable employment
  • Psychologist
1950Tepoztlán, Mexico

Research Position

  • With Theodora Abel Mead in Oscar Lewis' team.
  • Fixed-term employment
  • Researcher
1950New York

Return to New York

  • Clinical and Abnormal Psychology, APA
  • Freelance job,Stable employment
  • Psychologist
1995New Haven, Connecticut