Internet Resources on Franco-American History

Although Franco-Americans are a comparatively little-known cultural minority, from the perspective of U.S. ethnic and immigration history, resources on their past and present abound on the web. The list of links below—granted, not an exhaustive one—is intended as a starting point for those undertaking research on Franco-Americans, or those who may not have the time or means to travel to physical archives. If there are glaring oversights, feel free to add other links by posting a comment. Please provide a short description of the website or web page whose link you are providing. Additional information on Acadian descendants in the United States and the French heritage of the Gulf Coast would be especially helpful.

 

Archives, Newspapers, and Older Publications

This section does not include physical manuscript collections with little or no digitized items.

For books and other published materials of a certain age, see Archive.org and HathiTrust.org. In the latter case, certain items are behind a paywall.

A great amount of material pertaining to Franco-Americans is available from the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec through a keyword search, including newspapers, historical items, images, etc.

Primary and secondary documents as well as oral interviews are among the digital resources offered by the University of Southern Maine’s Franco-American Collection.

The Google News Archive is not particularly user-friendly. Navigation is difficult, the search function does not catch all search terms, and issues from different newspapers are lumped together because they share a title. The site is nevertheless useful as it covers materials not available elsewhere—that includes Biddeford’s La Justice.

The Library of Congress’s Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers consists of a wide variety of titles spanning the country, some of which are keyword searchable. French titles include L’Echo de l’Ouest (Minnesota), Le Patriote canadien (Vermont), and three papers from Louisiana.

The Vermont Folklife Center Digital Archives notably include oral interviews with Franco-Americans and French-Canadian songs.

See also Franco-American life stories in the WPA Federal Writers’ Project database and on a website supported by the Franco-American Centre of Maine.

 

Audiovisual

Learn about Franco-Americans in Maine from “Maine Watch” on PBS.

Université Saint-Boniface has a twelve-part lecture series by Yves Frenette that chronicles the North American French diaspora.

Vermont Public Radio’s “Brave Little State” covered the history of French-Canadian migration in an episode released last spring.

 

Bibliographies

My own bibliography, largely focused on scholarly works, appears in full on Archive.org. It is organized by date of publication, but it is keyword searchable by clicking on the “Full Text” option in the left sidebar.

The Franco American Library, supported and hosted by the University of Maine, also provides an extensive list of sources. In some cases, when available, entries include an abstract and the link to a digital version.

 

Blogs

C. C. de Vere writes on California’s French (including French-Canadian) heritage.

On this blog, James LaForest brings a Michigan perspective to French-Canadian history and genealogy. The most recent post dates from 2014. LaForest has since built up a collection of stories and resources on the Great Lakes region on “Voyageur Heritage,” accessible here.

Vicky Lapointe posts varied items from Canada, the United States, and beyond, providing a broad francophone perspective.

On “Laurentiana,” Jean-Louis Lessard writes about French-Canadian literature; a number of works that he has presented pertain to the French-Canadian diaspora or were penned by Franco-American authors.

The website of Jacques L’Heureux is less of a traditional blog than a collection of essays and resources.

Juliana L’Heureux, for her part, writes on Franco-American history and cultural events for the Bangor Daily News.

The blog of the recently deceased Dean Louder, an important figure in Franco-American studies, is still on-line. It includes historical essays and accounts of his travels across North America, with a great number of pictures.

Readers will find a number of articles on French Canadians on “Of a place…,” by Carl B. McCarthy.

James Myall keeps a Franco-American history blog (focused on Maine) as well as a scrapbook of primary sources.

Mary Elizabeth Mylott approaches the subject with emphasis on the Champlain and Hudson valleys in New York on “Franco American Gravy.”

See also work by David Vermette, who suspended his blog while he wrote his book on Franco-American history.

 

Cultural Organizations and Events

Bienvenue New Hampshire, an initiative led by Plymouth State University’s Katharine Harrington, promotes cultural awareness within the state’s business community.

The Centre de la francophonie des Amériques aims to promote the French language and culture through its varied programs.

The Federation of Alliances françaises has numerous chapters across the country.

The website of the Franco-American Women’s Institute contains issues of its digital magazine, featuring an impressive variety of essays, and a repertoire of web links.

Roger Lacerte hosts a weekly French-language radio show (with French music) on WFEA. Lacerte owns the Librairie Populaire located in downtown Manchester, which unfortunately does not have a website.

Issues of Le Forum, published by the Franco-American Centre in Maine, are available from the University of Maine’s Digital Commons.

The recently launched creative journal Résonance will soon carry a wide variety of works relating to Franco-Americans.

Institutions:

 

Essays and Scholarship

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography includes articles on famous French-Canadians who, at one time or other, lived in the United States.

The Encyclopédie du patrimoine français en Amérique features numerous articles that relate to Franco-Americans.

Erudit is a database of scholarly articles, chapters, and books, some of which are freely accessible, like this classic work edited by Dean Louder.

JStor is a similar database of books and articles; exceptionally, some articles are available free of charge.

The Atlas historique du Québec, offered by the Centre interuniversitaire d’études québécoises, features numerous articles, either full-length or excerpted, with maps and images, chronicling the French-Canadian diaspora.

See here for information on a project titled “Déploiements canadiens-français en Amérique du Nord (1760-1914),” hosted by the Université Saint-Boniface.

The French Institute at Assumption College offers digitized materials on its website, including biographies of illustrious Franco-American writers.

Claude Bélanger’s site on Franco-Americans at Marianopolis College includes primary documents (texts and images) and essays. There are numerous web links, but some are broken by virtue of the site’s age.

Midwestern resources appear on a digital exhibit of Chicago’s Newberry Library.

 

Genealogy and Heritage

Mainstream websites like Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org are, naturally, extremely valuable. Also helpful, and more specific, are Sandra Goodwin’s Maple Stars and Stripes on French-Canadian and Franco-American genealogy; this web page that lists resources; and this database of Vermont Civil War soldiers, in which numerous French-Canadian names appear. The following organizations generally have large libraries, hold events, and provide access to additional databases.

 

Government

Documents pertaining to Maine’s State Task Force on Franco-Americans are available here. The Quebec Government Office and the French Consulate in Boston both support cultural events and French education in New England.

 

Historical Sites and Museums

Check out the websites of New England’s state historical societies, some of which contain digital access to publications and archival materials; their staff can also point researchers to other useful materials, provide a glimpse into their own collections, and help them plan a visit. Local historical associations can do the same. These websites and pages on Berlin, N.H., Island Pond, Vt., Lowell, Mass., and the Quebec presence in Florida may provide valuable context. Also see…

 

Images

Consider searching the Library of Congress’s digital resources and John Fisher’s website.

 

Teaching

Maine’s Department of Education proposes a Franco-American Studies Resource Guide.

Along the same lines, the Library of Congress has a lesson plan on French-Canadian migration to New England.

The Encyclopédie du patrimoine français en Amérique holds resources specifically dedicated to teachers.

 

Wikipedia

Content on this website is extremely uneven, ranging from well-balanced, clearly written, and extensively researched articles to incomplete and unsubstantiated entries. Unfortunately, entries pertaining to Franco-Americans tend to be closer to the latter end of the spectrum—this article being exhibit A. See also pieces on French Americans, the Acadian diaspora, and Cajuns.

 

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