A new online bibliography library about French history and culture is
the result of an effort between the Franco-American Center  at the
University of Maine in Orono and Quebec’s Centre de la Francophonie des
Ameriques.

“This is an interesting international effort between Quebec and the
University to finally place the Franco-American, French-Acadian, French
histories and the Francophone cultures found throughout the world into
one bibliography where anyone with Internet access can find
information,” says Jacob Albert, a research assistant who created the
website.

Albert, an Augusta native, is a Franco-American who graduated in 2004
from of St. Dominic’s High School in Lewiston and Auburn. He graduated
from New York University (NYU) with a major in religious studies and
history in 2009.

College friends told him about the Franco-American studies program at
the University of Maine in Orono and classes offered in Franco-American
studies.

He said he got the idea for the online site when he had difficulty doing
research for his NYU senior thesis: “Ordinary Voices: Franco-American
Folklore in 20th Century New England.”

The information he needed wasn’t readily available in one place, he
said, and he became interested in helping the Franco-American Center
design the site.

Momentum for the project came when the U.S. Library of Congress provided
a special designation for Franco-American writings and literature, a
category considered to be overdue by historians and cultural advocates.

Albert was hired to help create the website after funding for the
project became available from Quebec’s Centre de la Francophonie des
Ameriques. He worked with the Franco-American team of Lisa Michaud, Yvon
Labbe, Susan Pinette and Anthony Brinkley to find information and design
the website.

A special feature of the website is the ability for people to add to the
bibliography.

“It’s a growing collection,” he said. “Contributions to the collection
are welcomed on the site and recommendations are given a professional
review.”

There are already 1,150 references listed on the site with a few hundred
more currently being reviewed, he said.

Albert said he was surprised by the large volume of information he was
able to collect for posting.

“I began the project not knowing what I would find because my experience
was to find only a few resources about Franco-Americans when I needed
information for my article. But, I’m surprised by how many resources
really are available now that we can locate them in one online
location,” he said.

The site is www.francolib.francoamerican.org, with information and
references to biographies, historical stories, poetry, newspaper
articles, book reviews and accounts of local interest. One newspaper
feature is a series written about the Franco-American “Sand Hill” area
of Augusta, the historically Franco-American neighborhood where Albert
grew up. One of the biographies, published in 1988 by Jeanne Savard
Bonin, is about a Franco-American religious woman in Rhode Island known
as the “Little Rose.” The site also has links to the Maine State Library
in Augusta and the Folger Library at the University of Maine in Orono.

“This is an expanding project,” Albert said. “I intend to be involved
while it continues developing.”