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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 […]

The Loup-Garou

  Part werewolf, part vampire, he goes by many names. The most common is the Loup-Garou, but others call him rougarou; in the Caribbean, a cousin – the Loogaroo – is a blood-sucking, shape-shifting old woman. A recurring character in French and Francophone folklore, the Loup-Garou story has been passed through many French-Canadian generations in […]

For French Scientist-Priests, Eclipses Were Teachable Moments

In 1616, one of the most famous conflicts between science and faith occurred in Rome. The Italian scientist Galileo, who had built on the work of Dutch astronomer Nicholas Copernicus, was being challenged by the Inquisition of the Catholic Church. An inquisitorial commission found unanimously that the theory of heliocentrism was not only “foolish and […]

“The Hour is Critical” – Franco-Americans in the Great War

Our element, like all others, maybe even more than all others – bound by tradition and character – must get involved, and cooperate. Such was the firm pronouncement of La Justice of Biddeford, Maine, on its front page for April 12, 1917, just a few days after the US Congress had declared war on Germany. The prominent column, entitled […]