The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a $10,477 Common Heritage Grant to the Franco-American Collection, located at USM's Lewiston-Auburn College. The focus of the grant will be a one-day digitization event targeted at preserving cultural heritage materials related to military experiences - at war and on the home front - of members of Maine's Franco-American population, the state's largest ethnic group. The grant will also support a speaker series addressing the history of Franco-American military service. The theme of military service will help the public explore questions of identity and loyalty, which attended Maine's Franco-American population from its early days.
The first event takes place in May. On Tuesday, May 17, at 7pm, Mary Rice DeFosse will give an overview of Franco-American participation in the military, focusing on World War I. Ms. DeFosse is a professor of French and Francophone studies at Bates College, and is co-author of the book "The Franco-Americans of Lewiston-Auburn." There will also be a chance for attendees to visit the Collection before the talk, to participate in a group discussion, and to view a digitization demonstration.
After summer break, there will be two more talks in September and October, and a Digitization Day in early November. At the Digitization Day, participants can bring in materials (such as diaries, letters, photographs, artifacts, home movies, and audiotapes) related to wartime activities to be scanned or photographed. People can take their originals and a digital copy home, and will have the option of leaving a digital copy at the Collection for the benefit of future researchers and the community.