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.
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!
To the Blog
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
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
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
Voyageur Heritage, a community journal focusing on French Canadian culture on both sides of the border in the Great Lakes region
The Franco-American Women’s Institute, a repository for the stories, histories and writings of Franco-American women across North America.