Searching and finding access to Franco-American archived data

Franco-Americn information will be accessible and finding it will be substantially improved, with the support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to continue to build The Franco-American Portal, led by the University of Maine in Orono.

The Franco-American Portal

A National Endowment for the Humanities grant is supporting The Franco-American Portal.

The Franco American Portal Project is a five-university collaboration to build a primary source discovery tool for Franco American history collections. In other words, a researcher will be able to enter a search subject into the portal and will be directed to the available on line resources. The University of Maine is leading this project, with collaboration partners, University of Southern Maine Lewiston Auburn College Franco-American Collection (USM LAC FAC), the University of Maine at Fort Kent, Assumption College in Worcester, Rhode Island and Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. When the project is complete, the portal will be available to the public without requiring a subscription fee to access the site.

Also, in this blog is information about a public on line presentation about a historic exhibit at the University of Southern Maine Lewiston Auburn College, sponsored by the Franco-American Collection.

In my 30 years experience reporting and participating in Franco-American news and programs, the one single response I continue to hear is about how little is understood about the history, language, heritage and culture. Now, thanks to technology available through the Internet and the University of Maine’s Franco-American Centre, in Orono, a portal is being constructed for the purpose of providing access to researchers, regardless of where in the world they are located. This project has now received important support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Franco-American Portal Project addresses the need for online access to Franco American cultural history by:

  • locating and identifying archival materials that concern French-Canadian, Québécois(e), and the Acadian communities in the Northeast United State, wherever these materials have been collected around the world;
  • bringing together information about these collections and their contents in an organized, searchable, and culturally conscientious way;
  • and making accessible these collections and their contents by directing the public toward their digital presence and the institutions that collect and preserve them.
Doris Bonneau and Denis Ledoux at USM LAC FAC

Doris Bonneau and Denis Ledoux are leaders on the Franco-American Collection board at the University of Southern Maine Lewiston Auburn College.

Doris Bonneau is a leader on the USM LAC FAC board. In fact, she has been involved in developing The Franco-American Portal since 2018, when the project was initiated by the University of Maine in Orono.  Serving on the committee, she represents the USM LAC FAC, along with David Nutty, the director of the USM Libraries. They participate with representatives from the five organizations included in the portal collaboration.

She says working with the collaboration has been enlightening. “I learned about the challenges of inadequate access to Franco American cultural history.”

In fact, the portal will direct researchers, genealogists, students and public queries to a network of resources. This portal will open opportunities for locating, and identifying archival materials created by, and about French-Canadian, Québécois(e), and the Acadian heritage peoples in the US Northeast, wherever these materials have been collected in the USA, Canada and around the world,

Also, the portal will bring together information about these collections and their contents in an organized, searchable, and culturally conscientious way. Making data accessible in the researched collections and offering access to their contents, the public will be able to obtain information via a digital presence, and to learn more about the institutions that are collecting and preserving them.

With the recognition and support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the portal that has been under construction will now have the resources to be completed.  Mrs. Bonneau expects that college academics, genealogist, students, and regular people interested in Franco culture and heritage from all over the world will use the portal. Its presence will also be a draw for individual scholars who want to work with the primary sources and may increase the number of interns and post doctorate students at the different site.  Moreover, the project supports a strategy, not only for preserving and cataloguing Franco American treasures, but will encourage access to current acquisitions. Continued support will assure the protection for the Franco-American culture, heritage and legacy.

Also….Check this opportunity – A presentation about Notre Pain Quotidien: Franco-American Entrepreneurs Sustaining Community:

Join Franco-American Collection board members Doris Bonneau and Mary Rice-Defosse and archivist Anna Faherty on Wednesday, May 6th at 7 pm on Zoom for a virtual talk about our upcoming exhibit, Notre Pain Quotidien: Franco-American Entrepreneurs Sustaining Community. Are you interested in learning more about how to develop an exhibit, how to gather oral histories, or more about the content of the exhibit? Then this is the presentation for you. Thank you to Franco-American Programs at the University of Maine Orono for including the Collection in your virtual talk series!

A press release announcing the NEH grant to support the portal is published by the University of Maine in Orono.

For more information, contact: Marcus Wolf, marcus.wolf@umaine.edu

The National Endowment for the Humanities supports research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities.  https://www.neh.gov/

Juliana L'Heureux

About Juliana L'Heureux

Juliana L’Heureux is a free lance writer who publishes news, blogs and articles about Franco-Americans and the French culture. She has written about the culture in weekly and bi-weekly articles, for the past 27 years.