Franco-American Collection

Denis Blais

"To the older people, especially the old French Catholic people...CIO was communist.  I mean, that wasn't the majority, but you had that undercurrent; they looked at you with suspicion."

Denis Blais was a long-time leader of the Textile Workers of America in Lewiston.  He began as manager of the local area office and ended up as regional vice-president.

Denis' father moved from Armargh, QC to Rhode Island, since the Quebec winters were too demanding on his health. When his father died in 1937, Denis went to work in a textile mill, where he was exposed to the conditions of workers, and convinced to join the local union.  He went on to be a union recruiter and organizer in Rhode Island.

Employed by the Union (TWUA-CIO), he was sent to Lewiston, Maine because of his bilingualism.  In total, he spent 34 years working for the union.


Listen to the interview.

Read the transcript.

July Hours

The Collection will be open the first three weeks of July on Tues., Wed., and Thurs. from 10 until 4.  It will be closed for vacation the last week of July.  The Collection will re-open on August 1 with its regular Mon.-Thurs. schedule.

Call 207-753-6545 or email janet.roberts@maine.edu if you wish to arrange some other time to visit.

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