The Franco-American Collections of Geisel Library at Saint Anselm College contain over 3,500 monographs and periodicals as well as manuscripts collected by Franco-Americans in New Hampshire and across New England. Materials collected and created by Franco-Americans are in French and English and cover the culture, language, and history of the Franco-American communities of New England.
The purpose of the Franco-American Collections of Geisel Library 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 by collecting, processing, preserving, and making accessible materials relevant to the Franco-American experience. The Franco-American Collections focus on Manchester and other areas of New Hampshire and New England, with additional materials representing the history and culture of French North America.
The Library of Congress defines Franco-Americans as people of French-Canadian birth or ancestry who are living in the United States. By contrast, those people who are of French birth or ancestry living in the United States are called French Americans.
In the past, researchers interested in this ethnic group would have encountered problems with searching repositories for Franco-American subjects. It was not until 2005 that the Library of Congress finally adopted a subject heading that differentiated those persons who trace their ancestry directly to Québec (Franco-Americans) from those who trace directly to France (French Americans). For researchers this cataloguing change makes searching for relevant primary and secondary resources more effective.
The Archives & Special Collections department of the Geisel Library at Saint Anselm College holds two Franco-American collections:
- a book collection called the ACA/Lambert Franco-American Collection, and
- a manuscript collection of unprocessed archival material documenting Franco-Americans in New England.
The ACA/Lambert Franco-American Collection has been catalogued and is open to researchers at the Geisel Library. These books document the discovery and colonization of ‘New France’ and the immigration of French-Canadians to New England. There are histories of local communities and literature produced by Franco-Americans and Franco-American presses. Not catalogued for this collection are off-subject books in the genres of French literature, history, and the Catholic Church collected by Franco-Americans and donated to the ACA lending library.
The manuscript collection includes personal papers, films, and photographs of local, national and international interest. This collection was first assembled by l’Association Canado-Américaine (ACA) and later by the Franco-American Centre in Manchester, New Hampshire. This is an unprocessed collection and is not accessible at this time.
Together, these collections contain primary and secondary resources about Franco-Americans. In general, the subjects present in the collections include: 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.
One of the first scholars to recognize the scholarly potential of the ACA library was Edward B. Ham of Yale University in the November 1937 issue of Modern Language Notes. 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.
Access and Use
Access to the ACA/Lambert Franco-American Collection is by appointment. The books have been catalogued and are available to search using our online catalog. Research is facilitated in the Msgr. Wilfrid Paradis Archives & Special Collections in the Geisel Library. For the near future, the manuscript collection is not accessible.
History of the Franco-American Collections
ACA/Lambert Franco-American Collection
The books that became “la Collection 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 autobiography Journal d’un Bibliophile, Lambert witnessed a French-speaking client in 1899 about to toss a book into her kitchen stove. Lambert rescued the book and 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. The collection grew to over 8,000 volumes, thanks to generous donors including Monsignor Adrien Verrette and others.
La Collection Lambert was managed by the ACA until the materials were donated to the Franco-American Centre in Manchester. In 2008 the ACA Library Preservation Consortium, LLC, purchased and donated the collection to the Geisel Library at Saint Anselm College. Members of the consortium include Richard Lavalliere, George Lavalliere (SAC ’87), and Raymond E. Pinard.
This collection of books and periodicals was renamed the ACA/Lambert Franco-American Collection to reflect the collectors of these materials. The books and periodicals have now been catalogued and added to WorldCat.
Franco-American Manuscript Collection
This collection was originally collected by the Association Canado-Américaine (ACA) under the direction of Monsignor Adrien Verrette and la Commission des Archives.
Currently the collection is not processed or catalogued and thus not accessible. We are working on developing a strategy to begin the work to make this material available to researchers.