Category Archives: Home

The Year Maine Went Mad – the Know Nothingism of 1854-5

A political realignment. Promises to drain the swamp and put Americans first. Attacks, both verbal and physical, on immigrants and minorities. In 1854 and 1855, Maine, like much of the country, was shaken by the rise of the Know-Nothing movement. Its anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic rhetoric overturned state politics and spilled over into mob violence. For […]

Franco Bakers Brought the Tastes of Home to Little Canada

There’s nothing quite like the taste of grandma’s cooking. This holiday season, tens of thousands of Mainers will be enjoying mémère’s tourtière, cretons, or perhaps even pets de soeurs. For immigrants of all backgrounds, food is an important link to home and family, as well as a way of maintaining traditions or future generations. That’s why so […]

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 […]

Enjoying the Long Weekend? Thank Franco-Americans for New Year’s Day

  New Year’s Day (le jour de l’an) is traditionally a special holiday for Franco-Americans, with a history stretching back through Canada and France. Some American observers thought it resembled Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one day that held religious, familial, and social significance. A reporter for the Lewiston (Maine) Evening Journal visited a Franco-American family in […]