Franco-American archives at USM LAC celebrates 40 years of existence
It was four decades ago that the Franco-American Collection, a trove of local French history and heritage, got its start, and the public is invited to celebrate its 40th anniversary at a festive event set for this Saturday, Nov. 3, from 2 to 4 p.m. at USM's Lewiston-Auburn College.
In the spirit of down-home Franco hospitality, attendees will be treated to crêpes and coffee while being entertained by traditional French Canadian “jigs & reels” music performed by a multi-age ensemble of local fiddlers and other folk musicians.
Special guest speaker for the occasion will be Doug Protsik, co-founder and director of the Maine Fiddle Camp, located on True's Pond in Montville. Protsik will share his perspectives on what gives French Canadian music its unique infectious appeal and how this music came to be an important part of the Maine contra dance repertoire which is taught to students of all ages and backgrounds at the fiddle camp each summer. He will also demonstrate samples of tunes of both Quebecois and Acadian origin.
This will be followed by a brief presentation by James Myall, coordinator of the Franco-American Collection, on the Collection's 40-year history, its significance to Maine's Franco-American community, and what the next 40 years may hold for the Collection and the community.
According to Myall, the collection began in 1971 as a history project undertaken by students at St. Dominic's High School under the direction of teacher JoAnne Lapointe. The assemblage of photographs, newspaper clippings, family recipes, etc., soon outgrew Madame Lapointe's classroom, and, after being housed temporarily at several locations throughout the Twin Cities, it finally found a permanent home in 1988 at USM's newly established Lewiston-Auburn College campus. Today, with over 6,000 books and 3,000 photographs in addition to a vast assortment of musical recordings, sheet music, newspapers, scrapbooks, journals, artifacts and other items, the Collection serves as a valuable resource for scholars, genealogists, and anyone of Franco heritage or with an interest in local history.
The Franco-American Collection reading room is open to the public, free of charge, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday and Friday.
The Collection's anniversary celebration will take place in room 170 of USM LAC, with doors scheduled to open at 1:30 p.m. The campus is located at 51 Westminster St. in Lewiston, and attendees are encouraged to use the Westminster Street entrance. The event is free, with no reservations necessary. For more information, contact USM’s Franco-American Collection at 753-6545 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Collection's website at www.usm.maine.edu/franco.