This Country is Big Enough and Rich Enough for Everyone:” A Plea for Tolerance from Lewiston-Auburn’s Jews

On April 29 1892, Solomon Robitscheck wrote to Lewiston’s Le Messager objecting to the newspaper’s characterization of the city’s small population of Jewish peddlers. Two weeks earlier, Le Messager had published an editorial reprimanding Franco Americans who purchased items from the peddlers. Le Msssager’s argument was primarily economic – Franco Americans should patronize Franco owned […]

A Rough First Week of School for Lewiston’s Dominican Sisters

In 1903, Father Alexandre-Lousi Mothon, the curé of the Dominican monastery in Lewiston, wrote to the community of Dominican Sisters of Nancy, in France, asking them to send a some of their members to Maine to teach the Franco-American children of Lewiston. Initially, the children of the city’s French Canadian immigrants were educated by lay […]

Your Immigrant Ancestors Needed Public Assistance, Too

Poor Farm, Biddeford, 1910

A common refrain of those complaining about immigrants is that they are “takers” or “gaming the system.” Among Americans with their own immigrant histories, the complaint sometimes becomes “my ancestors didn’t need welfare. They worked for everything they had.” This kind of rhetoric is not only exclusionary and prejudiced, it’s also factually inaccurate. There are […]