The University of Southern Maine’s Franco-American Collection
The University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College is home to the Franco-American Collection, one of the premier collections of archival material relating to Maine’s Franco-American population. Resources available online include oral histories, digitized documents, virtual exhibitions, and audio-visual materials.
The stories of these 8 Mainers highlight the long history of immigration to the state
Bangor Daily News, January 30, 2016. “From the floor of Congress to the sidewalks of Congress Street, immigration issues have been debated a lot in recent years. But in Maine, like America as a whole, it’s nothing new. People “from away” have been joining the native Wabanakis here for at least 400 years. That’s the premise of a new exhibition of photos and artifacts at the Maine Historical Society in Portland, which seeks to tell some of the stories of people who have come to the state from other countries.
Portland exhibit reflects 400 years of immigration in Maine
Portland Press Herald, February 9, 2016. “Some state and local leaders see immigrants as an answer to the state’s slowing growth and aging population… Others, however, see immigrants, especially from war-torn countries like Syria, as a security threat… Now a new exhibit called “400 Years of New Mainers,” at the Maine Historical Society on Congress Street, attempts to deconstruct the issue with a series of photographs, original documents, and historical writing on the legacy of immigration in Maine.
When the Irish Refugees Came to Maine
Poverty, Discrimination & Bitter Struggle,” The Free Press, March 12, 2015. “But it’s the Irish who made up the largest mass migration of refugees the state has ever seen. Escaping famine and oppression by a tyrannical colonial power, the Irish arrived weak from hunger and often with disease. They were seen as ‘clannish,’ ‘superstitious,’ and beyond hope of assimilation. They endured backbreaking labor as well as political and religious persecution on the streets of many Maine towns…
Maine’s Franco-American History Offers Lessons for Today’s Immigrants and Their Neighbors
Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, 2018. Ask the average person on the street about diversity in Maine, and they’ll likely tell you two things – that Maine is “mostly white,” and that any racial or ethnic diversity the state does have comes from the recent arrival of New Mainers from Africa. Views like this ignore Maine’s rich immigration history. At the height of America’s immigration boom, in 1910, one in eight Mainers was born overseas (today it’s less than one in thirty). These immigrants powered Maine’s industrial economy. In 1910, half of all workers in the state’s largest industries – textiles and paper – were immigrants.
Maine History Online, “Peopling Maine.”
The largest numbers of 19th century immigrants came from Canada and came at a time when industry provided job opportunities in the United States and farms and small communities in Quebec and New Brunswick offered lives of struggle to many residents. In addition, a fluctuating border along the St. John and St. Croix Rivers had stranded relatives on both sides for decades; many French Canadians came to join their American kin.