Friday September 13, 2013 | 01:10 PM

This week at pressherald.com we're welcoming the new Franco-American blog from Juliana L’Heureux, who plans to write about Maine's Franco-American history and culture.

While we were getting the new blog set up, a couple people in my Twitter feed pointed out a new online mapping tool from the US Census Bureau that plots the neighborhoods where the speakers of various foreign languages live (the Census has been asking citizens about what languages they speak at home since 1890).

The dots are sparser in Maine than they are in much of the nation, but the maps do offer some insights into the state's history of immigration.

Here's a sample:

French (1 dot = approximately 75 people):


Clusters of Francophones hug the Quebec border in the sparsely-populated regions of northern Vermont, New Hampshire and Aroostook County.

French, zoomed in on southern Maine (1 dot = approximately 10 people):


The dense cluster of dots in the middle of this map is downtown Biddeford and Saco — cities which, like Lewiston, welcomed thousands of immigrants from Quebec while their textile mills were still operating in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

 

Spanish (1 dot = approximately 10 people):


The map of Spanish speakers roughly coincides with southern Maine's larger towns and cities — with the notable exception of Biddeford and Saco, which appear to be relatively sparsely populated in this map (especially when compared with the map of French speakers above). 

 

Chinese (1 dot = approximately 10 people):


That cluster of dots southwest of Dover, N.H. is the town of Durham, home to the University of New Hampshire.

 

The next three maps zoom in closer on the greater Portland area, since these languages don't have many speakers in the rest of the state.

Russian (1 dot = approximately 10 people):


Note the significant cluster of Russian speakers in Gorham, possibly due to the presence of the town's Russian Baptist Church.

 

Vietnamese (1 dot = approximately 10 people):

 

Arabic (1 dot = approximately 10 people):

 

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I'm an economics wonk and an online content producer for the Portland Press Herald.

You can get in touch with me by emailing cmilneil [at] mainetoday.com, or by calling 791-6307, or by following @vigorousnorth. Also check out my business and economics list on Twitter.

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