The Lavalliere Franco-American Collections at Saint Anselm College contain a collection of books and periodicals as well as a collection of manuscripts and archival materials collected by Franco-Americans in New Hampshire and across New England. Our collections include unique items from organizations and personal papers of Franco-Americans documenting the culture, language, and history of the Franco-American communities of New England and the United States. While some materials are in English, the majority of the collections are in the French language.
The purpose of the Lavalliere Franco-American Collections is to develop and promote interest in and study of Franco-American culture and history for the college and the community—both locally and globally. This is accomplished through a program of collecting, processing, preserving, and making accessible both primary and secondary source materials of Franco-Americans in New Hampshire and beyond with additional materials representing the history and culture of French North America.
The Lavalliere Franco-American Collections are part of the Msgr. Wilfrid H. Paradis Archives and Special Collections in the Geisel Library at Saint Anselm College.
In the past, researchers interested in this ethnic group would have encountered problems with finding relevant materials in the catalogs and finding aids of libraries and archives. This was due to inconsistent application and use of the phrase Franco-Americans, a term often applied to materials about France and the United States diplomacy.
It was not until 2008 that the Library of Congress created a subject heading to differentiate Franco-Americans (people of French-Canadian birth or ancestry who are living in the United States) from French Americans (French birth or ancestry living in the United States). For researchers this cataloguing change (when consistently applied by bibliographers and catalogers) allows for a more effective search across primary and secondary resources. Here is an interesting blog post ‘Hidden Franco American holdings’ about the process of getting this subject heading approved.
The Lavalliere Franco-American Collections are comprised of two collections:
The ACA-Lambert Franco-American Collection of more than 4,000 monographs and periodicals, and
The Franco-American Archives of over 600 cubic feet of manuscripts and archival materials.
Together, these collections contain primary and secondary resources about Franco-Americans that have been and are continuing to be collected by Franco-Americans in New Hampshire and beyond. In general, these collections contain materials that document the: history of French North America; Franco-Americans in New England; Franco-American literature; sociological issues for French-Canadian immigrants; family histories/genealogies; New England church histories; and Catholic New England.
These collections are accessible by appointment in the Wilfrid H. Paradis Archives and Special Collections in the Geisel Library.
ACA-Lambert Franco-American Collection
The books and periodicals in the ACA-Lambert Franco-American Collection are catalogued and open to researchers by appointment. These materials document the discovery and foundation of New France and the immigration of French-Canadians to the United States. There are histories of Franco-American communities, literature produced by Franco-Americans, and French language newspapers showing the breadth and scope of the Franco-American press. This collection contains some materials that circulate along with periodicals and rare books that do not circulate.
The Franco-American Archives
The Franco-American Archives includes materials of local, national, and international interest in the study of Franco-Americans. This collection was first assembled by l’Association Canado-Américaine (ACA) with later additions by the Franco-American Centre in Manchester, New Hampshire. The Franco-American Archives contains archives of Franco-American organizations (including the ACA) along with personal papers, manuscripts, photographs, architectural drawings, clippings, and audio-visual materials. The materials are primarily unprocessed.
Access to the Lavalliere Franco-American Collections is by appointment and facilitated in the Msgr. Wilfrid Paradis Archives and Special Collections reading room in the Geisel Library.
The books and periodicals in the ACA-Lambert Franco-American Collection are catalogued and available to search using the Geisel Library online catalog or WorldCat.
Since the manuscripts and archival materials in the Franco-American Archives are primarily unprocessed, please contact us to discuss your research. To see what collections are available for consultation, view the available collection finding aids.
The books that became la Collection Lambert (Bibliothèque Lambert) were collected by Adélard Lambert. Originally from Drummondville (Québec), Lambert worked in Manchester, New Hampshire, as a door-to-door salesman for the E.M. Chase Tea Company in the late 19th century. As documented in his 1927 memoir Journal d’un Bibliophile, Lambert witnessed a French-speaking client in 1899 about to toss a book into her kitchen stove. In rescuing this and other books, Lambert began amassing a collection of thousands of volumes. On his return to Québec, these books were sold in 1918 to the Association Canado-Américaine (ACA), a Franco-American fraternal benefits association in Manchester.
One of the first scholars to share the scholarly potential of the ACA’s collection was Edward B. Ham of Yale University who wrote about “The Library of the Association Canado-Américaine” in the November 1937 issue of Modern Language Notes.
The collections were originally collected by the ACA under the auspices of l’Institut Canado-Américain. In 1944 the Commission des archives was founded. Its aims were for the safety, conservation, augmentation and development of the Bibliothèque Canado-Américaine and all of its printed materials, manuscripts and historical objects entrusted to them.
Over time, the collections grew thanks to generous donors and the ACA. When the ACA Assurance moved from their Concord Street headquarters to Elm Street in Manchester, the Franco-American Centre took over the building. The Centre provided stewardship over the collections until the assets of ACA Assurance were sold in 2008 to the ACA Library Preservation Consortium, LLC, which consisted of Richard Lavalliere, George Lavalliere (SAC ’87), and Raymond E. Pinard. Under Richard Lavalliere’s leadership, the consortium found a home for the collections at Saint Anselm College.
In 2019, Richard and Lorraine Lavalliere set up the Lavalliere Fund for Franco-American Culture to support the efforts of the Msgr. Wilfrid H. Paradis Archives and Special Collections to actively preserve and provide access to the Franco-American Collections; to acquire new books and archival material; to conserve items through repair and digitization; and to collaborate with local and regional partners in highlighting the impact of the Franco-American experience.
In recognition of his work in saving these collections, Saint Anselm College chose to honor Richard Lavalliere by naming the book and archival collections the Lavalliere Franco-American Collections.
Further reading about the collections:
Ham, Edward B. “The Library of the Association Canado-Américaine.” Modern Language Notes, vol. 52, no. 7, 1937, pp. 542–44.
Perreault, Robert B. “Revisiting 8,000 Friends: Perusing Geisel Library’s Franco-American Collection.” Portraits Magazine (Manchester, N.H.), Fall 2009, pp. 25–27.
Saint Anselm College: Demonstrate the value of your special collections (English) (French), GreenGlass, OCLC, 2018.
Chevalier, Keith P. “The Franco-American Collections: Special and Distinctive.” Portraits Magazine (Manchester, N.H.), Fall-Winter 2024, pp. 30–37.
Our interest is in building and developing collections about Franco-American life, culture, language, and history from diverse voices across Franco-Americana. The collections have been used by a variety of researchers in the past and our hope is to continue to grow the collections to meet the needs of future researchers.
We actively collect materials from individuals, families, and organizations with local, regional, and national Franco-American connections in all formats:
Contact us to make an appointment to visit, share your Franco-American story, or discuss a donation.
These collections continue to grow through the support of the Richard and Lorraine Lavalliere Fund for Franco-American Culture and various donors who are interested in preserving and sharing the Franco-American experience.
The Franco American Digital Archives/Portail franco-américain (FADA/PFA) is a bilingual collections portal providing culturally conscientious access to Franco-American materials in archives and history collections of the French-Canadian, Québécois(e), and Acadian diaspora communities of the U.S. Northeast at institutions across North America.
FADA/PFA is a creation of the Franco American Collections Consortium, a multi-university collaborative that works together to make accessible the history and culture of Franco Americans of the Northeast and beyond. The Lavalliere Franco-American Collections at Saint Anselm College is a founding member of the Franco American Collections Consortium along with the University of Maine, University of Maine at Fort Kent, University of Southern Maine, and Assumption University.