Maine’s Franco-Americans are the focus of a new book by Dyke Hendrickson.

“Images of America: Franco-Americans of Maine” is a photographic essay with historic narrative describing the Franco-American experience during the 20th century, published by Arcadia Press.

Many of the book’s 1,000 photographs have never before been published.

For Hendrickson, the book is a logical extension of his interest in the Franco-American culture. In 1980, he wrote a descriptive history with first-person interviews of Maine’s Francos, “Quiet Presence: The True Stories of Franco-Americans in New England,” published by Guy Gannett Publishing Co. of Portland.

“Franco-Americans of Maine” is an informative and sometimes bittersweet pictorial history. Each black-and-white photograph is a quality reprint, with captions including the names of those depicted and the dates and places where the photographs were taken. Photographs are from nearly every town in Maine where Franco-Americans lived and worked.

Franco-Americans love parades. Among the many parades pictured is one with Le Club Passe-Temps Drum and Bugle Corps, photographed marching in the snow in a 1948 parade in Lewiston’s Kennedy Park. (Of course, the vintage cars photographed in the parades were not antiques when the pictures were taken.)

Photographs are plentiful of hard-working Franco-American men and women in the mills where they provided badly needed labor during Maine’s 20th-century industrial expansion.

A rare look at the oppressed immigrant experience is included. Two pictures commissioned by the U.S. Congressional Committee on Child Labor and Farm Labor reflect the dark side of the Franco-American working experience, says Hendrickson.

Hendrickson sections the book into Franco-American family life, work history and culture. Franco-Americans and Acadians in the St. John Valley are showcased.

“I wanted to produce a record that shows varied dimensions, such as joy and pride,” says Hendrickson. “I hope the book depicts numerous dimensions of Franco-American life, and demonstrates how many educated and prosperous Franco-Americans live in Maine communities.”

Two large Maine Franco families are pictured on the book’s cover in a church steps portrait of the Dufour and Gosselin wedding. This portrait is a panoramic photograph of the beaming bride and groom surrounded by their multigenerational family members.

The Dufour-Gosselin wedding photo is a reproduction of a perfectly preserved photograph taken in 1957,on the steps of Lewiston’s Sts. Peter and Paul Church.

Wedding fashion is an interesting focus in the cover photograph. Each of the bride’s attendants and the adorable flower girl are wearing classic ruffled gowns flowing to the ground over stylish hoops. Each gown complements the style of the bride’s formal wedding dress.

This wedding was obviously a grand opportunity for the Dufour and Gosselin families to enjoy a magnificent reunion as well as attend a joyous nuptial ceremony.

Franco-American family photographs often include relatives who were members of religious vocations such as brothers, priests and nuns. Indeed, the various pictures of the religious nuns dressed in their old veiled habits are precious.

One fascinating action picture was once published in Life magazine. It was taken in 1948 and depicts two Franco-American boys named Norman Goulet and Raymond Cote while they were jumping into the Barker Mill Dam in Auburn. Raymond Philbrick was the photographer.

Another photograph, taken in 1935, pictures the construction of Sts. Peter and Paul Church, surrounded by scaffolding.

Hendrickson’s work collecting these vintage photographs and the detailed documentation of each picture create a cultural archive that is certain to become more precious over time.

 

Juliana L’Heureux can be contacted at: [email protected]