Friday September 27, 2013 | 04:42 PM

James Myall coordinator of The Collection at USM LAC

James Myall preparing for grand re-opening of the Franco-American Collection at USM LAC

 A Grand Opening celebration of the University of Southern Maine /Lewiston Auburn College (USM LAC) Franco-American Collection is planned on Saturday October 5, from 2-4 PM in newly expanded space inside the main building on campus.  The Collection is a historic and cultural archive, packed with fascinating resources, made available for students and the public. It’s also a tribute to the memory of Madeleine Dinora Giguere (1925-2004), a Lewiston native, a Franco-American sociologist and USM professor.  The reading room is named in her honor.

Giguere was an internationally recognized champion for Franco-Americans. Her legacy was a gift to the University that has ensured the continued operation and expansion of the Franco-American Collection, which is now part of the academic program. James Myall, coordinator of the Franco-American Collection at USM LAC, says Giguere was regionally knows as “la marraine” or the godmother of Franco-Americans.  She wrote extensively about the culture and supported survival of her Franco-American family’s heritage in all sorts of ways. As a matter of fact, she was internationally recognized for her authority on the analysis of US Census data and, as such, was instrumental in having ethnic heritage questions included in national surveys. Giguere eventually left much of her lifetime of work in a bequest to the USM LAC, where others could learn about Franco-Americans. This collection has grown considerably since Giguere started archiving resources in a small office.  The upcoming grand re-opening on Saturday October 5th will be unveiled in newly expanded space. The Franco-American Collection space will be open to students and the public from Tuesday thru Friday from 9 AM- 4PM, or by appointment. 

Links to some of The Collection's on line resources are listed at the end of this blog.

Giguere once told me she advocated with the University’s administration for The Collection (which she voluntarily directed) to be located near the cafeteria, so everyone would eventually pass by and observe the attractive window displays she rotated with the seasons. Giguere’s vision for The Collection grew over the years, from its kiosk location adjacent to the cafeteria, to the new and spacious first floor corner room re-opening, on October 5th. The re-opening will be located where the University’s book store was once located. 

The expanded space provides a conference area where groups and small classes can meet. A media center will display more of The Collection’s books and records for researchers to browse through. A micro-fiche machine and computer are also available.

Among the many artifacts on display is a Franco-American flag with a fleur-de-lis icon pictured within a white star. This flag (drapeau) was adopted in 1983 for the Assemblee des francophones des Nord-Est (Assembly of the Francophones of the North East), says Myall. It was designed by Robert Couturier, an influential local Franco-American and former Lewiston mayor. The flag, and the staff it hangs on, symbolizes the Franco-American pride Couturier displayed for all to see, when it was visible in his office. Myall describes the blue and white as representative of the flags of the United States, Quebec, Acadia and France. A white star represents the United States and, of course, the fleur-de-lis is symbolic of Franco-Americans and the French culture.

Drapeau created by Clouturier with James Myall

Franco-American flag in The Collection with James Myall, coordinator

The Collection’s ribbon cutting will be hosted by the Honorable Michael H. Michaud, US Congressman and a Franco-American.

A reception follows the ribbon cutting and will include live music, food and a book sale. At 3 PM, a public lecture by Professor Kristin Langellier from the University of Maine will be presented on the topic “Memere’s Stories”, about the importance of family narratives in the Franco-American community.

Links to resources available in The Collection follow here:

Press Release for the open house:

            General information on The Collection:

            A link to the history of The Collection:

About this Blog

Juliana L’Heureux is a freelance writer whose articles about Maine’s Franco-American history and culture have appeared in Portland newspapers for 25 years. She serves on the Maine Franco-American Leadership Council.

Juliana and her husband Richard live in Topsham ME. Feel free to contact her at

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