May 19, 2016
Tuesday night, May 17, the Franco-American Collection, located at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College, held the kickoff for its project “Franco-Americans During Wartime: A Heritage of Service.” The project was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of its Common Heritage Grant Program, an effort to help preserve historical materials by making digital copies of items held by the community.
The Collection is focusing on the wartime experiences of Franco-Americans, whether in military service or on the homefront. At Tuesday’s talk, Mary Rice-DeFosse, Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Bates College, spoke of the experiences of several participants in WWI, including Albert Béliveau and Irenée Marcotte. The first served with the Judge Advocate’s Office in France and the second in the Canadian Air Force. Although fighting for different countries, service in the military allowed both men the opportunity to use their bilingualism and to experience the wider world. Both went on to successful professional careers in this country after the war.
The project will continue with two more talks in the fall, culminating in a Digitization Day in late fall. “We are hoping that people will bring in wartime letters, diaries, photographs, and other materials to be scanned or photographed,” said Janet Roberts, Coordinator of the Franco-American Collection. “Then they can keep the materials in the family, but if they wish, we will keep a digital copy so the information can be used by researchers or for exhibits. We are interested in Franco-American-related materials from all wars, whether it is a letter from your Civil-War ancestor or a photograph you took in Afghanistan last year.”
If you have materials that you might be interested in bringing to the Digitization Day, if you are willing to be interviewed about your wartime experience, or if you want to be notified of “Franco-Americans During Wartime” events or find out more about the project, please contact the Franco-American Collection at 207-753-6545 or firstname.lastname@example.org.