Category Archives: Maine

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 […]

Poetry from the Lewiston Mills of 1909

In the early twentieth century, thousands of children worked in Maine’s manufacturing industries – in textile mills, shoe shops, granite quarries, and sardine canneries. These children faced dangerous working conditions, worked long hours, and missed out on the opportunity for an education. Although the state did pass a series of laws to regulate child labor, these […]