What does it mean to be an American? About this blog

What does it mean to be an American? Can become one while maintaining the traditions and culture of your ancestors?  Parlez-Vous American? aims to answer those questions through the intersection of history and current affairs.  Between 1860 and 1920, approximately one million French Canadians left Canada and made a new life in the United States.  They called themselves Franco-Americans.  Today, 11 million Americans are descendants of these immigrants – in addition to those of Acadian, Cajun, Creole, and French Huguenot descent – and many are representatives of a culture that has existed on this continent for 400 years.  Across the United States, these people have made a significant impact on our history – but that story largely goes untold.  This blog is a project to help to fix that – by telling stories of Franco-America and drawing connections between the past and present.

James Myall

James Myall

The story of Franco-Americans has a real relevance to the modern discussion of American identity and immigration.  And what’s more, Franco-American culture is unique, fascinating and alive and well, especially here in Maine and the Northeastern United States.

James Myall is a local historian and, by day, a Maine-based public policy analyst.  Having moved to Maine from Great Britain in 2009, he now lives in Topsham with his family, and has been studying Maine’s Franco-American community and its history since 2010, when he became coordinator of the Franco-American Collection at the University of Southern Maine.

He has a Master’s degree in Ancient History and Archeology from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, and a Master’s of Public Policy from the University of Southern Maine.  In 2015 he co-authored The Franco-Americans of Lewiston-Auburn (History Press:2015).  His previous public work on Franco-Americans includes research on contemporary Franco-Americans in New England for the Maine State Legislature.  He has taught college-level classes on Franco-American history at the University of Southern Maine.

This is intended to be a collaborative project; one that contains many voices.  Please share your comments, concerns, questions and insights!  Bonne lecture!

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Further reading:

Blogs:

Rendezvous & Tourtière, by James LaForest

The Red Cedar, by James LaForest

French North America, by David Vermette

The Franco-American Blog, by Juliana L’Heureux

 

Archives/Museums

Franco-American Collection at the University of Southern Maine, Lewiston, Maine

Franco-American Center at University of Maine, Orono, Maine

Acadian Archives at the University of Maine at Fort Kent

Museum of Work and Culture, Woonsocket, Rhode Island

Biddeford Mills Museum, Biddeford, Maine

Museum L-A, Lewiston, Maine

Acadian Village, Van Buren, Maine

French Institute, Assumption College, Worcester, Massachusetts

 

Social Media

French-Canadian Descendants (Facebook group)

Great Lakes French Canadians (Facebook group)

 

On the Web

Habitant Heritage, the website of the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan

Encyclopédie du patrimonie culturel de l’Amérique française/Encyclopedia of French Cultural Heritage in North America (bilingual site)

Voyageur Heritage, a community journal focusing on French Canadian culture on both sides of the border in the Great Lakes region

James Myall

About James Myall

While I currently work for an Augusta-based non-profit, I spent four years as the Coordinator of the Franco-American Collection at the University of Southern Maine. In 2015, I co-authored "The Franco-Americans of Lewiston-Auburn," a general history of that population from 1850 to the present. I was also a consultant for the State Legislative Task Force on Franco-Americans in 2012. I live in Topsham with my wife and two young daughters.