The University of Southern Maine’s Franco-American Collection is one of the largest repositories of Franco-American archival material in the State of Maine. Items in the Collection relate to local history, government, religion, language, education, industry, sports and the arts.
The mission of the Franco-American Collection is to preserve and promote the culture and heritage of Maine’s Franco-American population.
The Collection focuses on Lewiston-Auburn and other areas of Maine, with additional regional materials providing a link to the wider contexts of French North America.
You may want to begin by exploring the Collection. Or learn more about the Collection and Maine's Franco-Americans below:
For generations Franco-Americans have been the largest ethnic group in Maine. As the second largest metropolitan area in the state, Lewiston has a population of sixty percent French-Canadian ancestry and Auburn over thirty percent. The primary workers in Lewiston’s textile mills after 1890 were French Canadians from Quebec or Acadians from New Brunswick and the Maritimes who came by the hundreds to seek a better life. Those who came from Canada sought employment in the mills, and it is their diligent labor and skill that formed the backbone of the Franco-American community.
The French Canadians brought a cultural identity to Lewiston that is characterized by: a strong connection to the Catholic Church, a distinct language identity, close family and community ties, a strong work ethic, a rich musical heritage, and a dedicated interest in education. To reflect this community identity, the Franco-American Collection at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College promotes interest and study of local culture and history for students, faculty, and the community. This archive is an important resource for the University of Southern Maine and the Franco-American community. Doctoral dissertations, oral history projects, French songs and fables, recipes for tourtieres, and more can be found in the Collection. The Collection not only preserves the history of the Franco-American community, but also connects via events and exhibits to the Franco-American and immigrant experience in Maine today. This is evident in materials in the Collection relating to sociological studies of Franco-American culture on a state-wide and regional level and covering ethnicity, community demographics, and work and labor issues.
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