ENG 100: Franco-American Snowshoeing Introduction

What you will learn

What is an archive?

An archive is a place (where archival materials are physically stored), as well as an item (or a collection of items) related to a person’s life, the activities of a specific institution (such as a school or a business), a place, or a community. Archival collections are different from library collections, because the items in archives are unique or rare, meaning that there is only one original version (also known as a manuscript), or very few copies in existence. For this reason, preservation and use policies that are different from those used in libraries are necessary in order to allow long-term preservation of archival collections. Archival objects are primary sources, providing information about people, places, events and time periods in the first person--directly from the people who experienced them. For example, a personal letter would be an archival item, because it is a first-person documentation (or narrative) of a specific person’s experience and times. As an example, see the below letter.

Louis Philippe Gagne Letter

  • <p>Letter from Lionel Sylvestre to Louis Philippe Gagné, 12/25/1938</p>

What is in an archive?

The contents of a physical Archive can include many different kinds of items: manuscripts, periodicals, and other paper based items; primary photographic records, audio/visual recordings, scrapbooks, art, clothing, and even what we call “born digital” items such as emails, digital photos or videos, and webpages. Managing many different types of items requires storage (both physical and digital) and preservation policies so that items can be stabilized and accessible to researchers and community members interested in learning more about them.

Snowshoe Ribbon Vest

  • <p>Vest made from snowshoe club and convention ribbons. </p>

What can you use an archive for? What is the Franco-American Collection?

Archival collections are acquired and preserved so that researchers--including students, scholars, authors and members of the community can use them as information resources. Archives can help answer questions you may have about: genealogy; local history, architecture, politics, social and cultural events, specific historical figures, specific time periods, and more. Because archival materials serve as documentation of specific people, places, and time periods, archivists often consider the material to have value as “evidence.” This means that archival materials serve as testaments to the contexts of their creation; the context of the time period, events and people that created and used the materials.

The Franco-American Collection at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College is one of the largest archives of Franco-American archival material in the State of Maine. Our mission is to preserve and promote the culture and heritage of Maine’s Franco-American population. We collect materials related to the Franco-American community in Lewiston-Auburn and other areas of Maine.

Woman in the spinning room

  • <p>Woman in the spinning room</p>

Immigration History

French Canadian immigrants began settling in Maine in the 19th century, coming to work in the bustling textile mills, and brought their language, culture, and families with them. Today, their descendants are known as Franco-Americans, and they have worked hard to preserve the culture and history of their ancestors. At the Franco-American Collection, we have materials that date from the late 19th century to the present day, and represent diverse aspects of Franco-American history and culture.

World War I medal

  • <p>World War I medal belonging to an unknown veteran</p>

Learn More

The manuscripts and objects in the Collection are available for the use of researchers, students, and faculty. If you are interested in learning more about our collections, or working on a research paper in our archive, we can help. Looking on our website, Franco-American Collection, can help you decide what theme, event, or person you are interested in researching, or you can use our primary sources to contribute to a research idea you already had. The librarians at the Collection can help you find more specific information and objects to examine.

We have objects of interest to multiple academic disciplines: history, education, social work, criminology, law, sociology, marketing and more. Examples include the Albert Beliveau Collection, the professional papers of Justice Beliveau, the first Franco-American Justice of the Maine Supreme Court, memorabilia from Lewiston-Auburn snowshoeing clubs, and Lewiston and Auburn City Directories featuring advertisements from the early 20th century. We also have a large collection of oral histories from Franco-Americans, discussing objects as varied as skating, local businesses, and military experience.

Contact Us:

Phone: (207) 753-6545

Email: Anna Faherty, Archivist, anna.faherty@maine.edu