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.