Stephanie Longo turned her childhood hobby into a career for herself with passion and dedication through the art of writing.
She is not just a Dunmore native but holds a dual U.S. and Italian citizenship. She is an entrepreneur and the author of three Italian American books — “Italians of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” “Dunmore,” and “Italians of Lackawanna County.” Although Longo never really planned to become a writer at first, she has always had a passion for writing. Her inspiration commenced when she attended a session at the American Italian Historical Association where she met a few well-respected historians who study their communities. From networking and research, she was able to compose her first book and it started her entrepreneurial career.
Longo graduated from the University of Scranton in 2003 with a bachelor of arts degree in Italian and French. She went on to receive a master’s degree in history from the university in 2006 and a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University in 2009. She recalled how she first became fascinated in Italian American Culture:
“When I was 5 years old, my mother and I went to Dino and Francesco’s in Clarks Summit. On the placemat was a map of Italy, so she took my hand and began tracing the boot, explaining that my grandfather — her father — was born there. This remained with me my whole life — I’ve always been fascinated by Italy and by Italian American culture. It’s where I’ve always felt most at home. When I enrolled at the University of Scranton as a French major, the rule was that you had to take a second language. Italian was one of the languages offered and it was a natural fit for me. I fell even more in love with my heritage and cannot imagine my life without it.”
Her first book, “Italians of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” was sparked from a session she attended at the American Italian Historical Association’s annual conference where she met the well-respected historians Dominic Candeloro and Jerry Krase. Their studies of their communities’ Italian diaspora led to a strong connection with Longo. Through their relationship and discussion, Longo’s first book was born when Candeloro introduced her to the editorial team of Arcadia Publishing. She spent around three years going through research to get precise and accurate information for her book. Longo noted that she always makes sure to back up her sources in her books so that readers can follow up on and learn more if interested.
Longo’s books touch on the lives of Italian immigrants who came to Northeast Pennsylvania specifically to make a better life for themselves and their descendants. Longo’s goal in writing her books is to celebrate our area’s Italian history and to provide a better understanding of what the Italian American community lived through when immigrating to the United States. “Italians of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” encompasses a general overview of the region’s Italian American history up to about the 1960s. Her second book, “Dunmore,” emphasizes the 12th-most Italian town in the United States. Longo’s latest book, “Italians of Lackawanna County,” concentrates on modern representations and manifestations of Italian and American culture in the county towns such as Dunmore, Jessup, Carbondale, Old Forge and Scranton. She wants her books to encourage people to celebrate Pennsylvania’s Italian history.
She hopes her audience learns that history is not only composed of stories taught in school but of stories passed down through oral tradition from our ancestors. Longo’s favorite part of being a writer of history is that she gets the opportunity to tell real stories about real people.