I have been studying my mother’s French-Canadian ancestry for some time.  , This paper will not discuss the long, rich data on immigrants to New France and their descendants but is primarily concerned with learning more of their history and life as farmers in rural Quebec and later as New England mill workers.  Since my mother and her mother were deceased before I got interested in genealogy, I have relied on other family history sources.  Because I do not now live in New England, did not attend the French school or church as a youngster, and do not now speak or read French I have had some difficulties learning more about ordinary people’s lives.
A major source of knowledge was my family.  French cousins have been an important source for me.  One cousin, did complete work on his ancestry at the ACGS and unsolicited sent me his results which I stuck in a drawer until I later had time and interest.  Another cousin, fluent in French, helped me to locate relatives in the town that my grandmother and grandfather left for New Hampshire in the late 1890’s, and then was my translater and companion while we visited the places that my research indicated my Dubois and Binet ancestors lived.  While on that trip, I was also able to find repertoires and parish histories for some of these locations (counties of Megantic, Beauce, Levis,Lotbiniere, Isle of Orleans, and Quebec City area) including one history from my newly found Canadian relative – a mother of 13, town official and historian. Since creating a family history website, I have been linked up with other relatives who have helped me complete, expand, and confirm my research.  Finally in an effort to completely fill a 9 generation family tree, I have successfully used the research services of ACGS to extend my knowledge. ( I wish there were such capabilities for my Irish relatives).
A short bibliography on French-Canadian and Franco-American lives
Most of my knowledge comes from books: I discovered these books by reading everything I found, devouring their footnotes, references and bibliographies, and by asking authors and professors to tell me what books I should be interested in.  Thanks to Amazon and Barnes and Noble used books, I now have over 100 books dealing with Quebec and New England Franco-American history.  Here’s a sample of English language books.
I was blown away when I discovered the Laforest books on Our French-Canadian Ancestors and found short (8-12 page) chapters on each of my immigrant ancestors Francois Dubois dit LaFrance and Rene Binet.  These books translated the work (Nos Ancetres) of Fr. Gerald Lebel and grew to 30 or more volumes covering more than 200 original settlers to New France. Here you can also find if your immigrant grandmother was a King’s Daughter (Fille du Roi).
Thomas J. Laforest,  Our French-Canadian Ancestors Vol IX, Lisi Press, Palm Harbor, Florida, 1989
To get a sense of why France explored and settled New France, the recent book Champlain’s Dream by Pulitzer Prize winner David Hacker Fischer which explores Champlain’s 30 year work of fighting for this colony in the royal court, administering the colony, and keeping peace with the Indians.(first families)
David Hacker Fischer, Champlain’s Dream: The European Founding of North America, Simon & Shuster, New York, 2008
Leslie Choquette, current head of the French Institute at Assumption College, wrote an important book dealing with the origins of French emigrants to America.  She explored both Canadian and French sources and created an integrated study telling where the settlers came from (primarily NW France, CW France and Paris) and that they were not primarily farmers.
Leslie Choquette, Frenchmen into Peasants: Modernity & Tradition in the Peopling of French Canada, Harvard University Press, 1997
I next present four  historians who write about New France.  Marcel Trudel wrote over 40 books; Eccles born in England and educated at McGill was more of a social historian, Greer explains the parish register system, and Moogk gives another perspective. None of these men gave a solely French or pro-clerical view.
Trudel, Marcel, Introduction to New France, Quinton Publications, Pawtucket, 1997
W.J. Eccles, Essays on New France, Oxford University Press, Toronto, 1987
Allan Greer, The People of New France, U. of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1997
Peter N. Moogk, La Nouvelle France: The Making of French Canada – A Cultural History, Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, 2000
Marcel Rioux and Yves Martin present a series of essays on French Canadian Society from the founding to WWII.  I especially like the first essay which explains the Rang (i.e.  row) – the pattern of rural settlement; other good essays deal with the parish, the family --there are 25 contributors.
Marcel Rioux and Yves Martin (Eds), French-Canadian Society, McClellan & Stewart Ltd.,Toronto, 1964
The next historians take Quebec History up to modern times.  Jacques LaCoursiere and Robin Philpot talk about early French cod fishing off Canada (there were then 140 days of abstinence in the Catholic calendar), and present the population facts thru time.  In talking of politics they mention the “Viva le Quebec” remarks of Charles DeGaulle in 1967 that got him to leave Canada quickly.  Dickinson and Young’s book is a 4th edition and gets us up to date on political issues and causes.
Jacques LaCoursiere and Robin Philpot, A People’s History of Quebec, Baraka Books, Montreal, 2009
John Dickinson and Brian Young, A Short History of Quebec, 4th Edition, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 2008
The last two Canadian studies talk of Pre-WWII Quebec.  Miner a University of Michigan sociologist spent nearly a year in St. Denis, near Montreal doing a cultural study.  Hughes, an American Sociologist talks about the indusrial transition in Quebec which eventually moved half of the province’s population to Montreal and made it the 2nd largest French speaking city in the world. The province of Quebec was undergoing the same industrialization with new industry in Montreal that had occurred in New England 50 years before when Canadian farmers became mill workers.
Horace Miner, St. Denis: A French-Canadian Parish, The University of Chicago Press, 1939
Everett C. Hughes, French Canada in Transition, Oxford University Press, Ontario, 2009 (originally published in 1943)
The lives of Quebec immigrants in New England mill towns was difficult but better than their outlook in Canada.  Two readings illustrate that life.  Amoskeag, the classic study of Manchester, NH talks of work, strikes, and eventual shutdown as the mills (moved to the south for cheaper labor).  The Kerouac story of Gerard, a sickly child who died at 9, highlights life in the tenements.
Tamara K. Hareven and Randolph Langenbach, Amoskeag: Life and Work in an American Factory City, University Press of New England, Hanover, 1978
Jack Kerouac, Vision of Gerard, Penquin Books, 1991 (originally published in 1965)
Bruno Ramirez puts the French-Canadian emigration to New England into perspective.
Bruno Ramirez, Crossing the 49th Parallel: Migration from Canada to the United States 1900-1930,Cornell University Press, New York, 2001
The next three books by US university professors tell the story of Franco-American communities in New England.  They highlight the migration and discuss the communities including the importance of church, parochial schools, and even the fight to preserve the French  language press. 
Gerald J. Brault, The French-Canadian Heritage in New England, University Press of New England, Hanover, 1986
Claire Quintal (Ed)., The Franco-American Experience in New England, Institute francais, Assumption College, Worcester, 1996
Armand Chartier, The Franco-Americans of New England: A History, ACA Assurance and Institute francais, Assumption College, Worcester, 1999  (translated by Robert J. Lemieux and Claire Quintal)
Mark Paul Richard is a native of Lewiston, Me. and writes about the development of that community; much of his research is based on an analysis of local French newspapers as well as census data, etc. Nelson Madore and Barry Rogrique provide modern first-hand accounts about life in the Franco-American community.  Their 75 contributors tell of struggling people who are proud to be Franco-Americans.
Mark Paul Richard, Loyal but French: The Negotiation of Identity By French-Canadian Descendants in the United State, Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, 2008
Nelson Madore and Barry Rodrique, Voyages: A Maine Franco-American Reader, Tilbury House, Gardiner, 2007
This quick summary of these twenty books gives you an idea of the expanding volume of information now available.  I once thought that the only information to be had was in French and hard to find but with the expansion of college programs and Canadian publication and research by English language authors I am glad to come to a new conclusion.
Please give me your comments and suggestions of other books I might study.

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This article was published in Genealogist, journal of Canadian-American Genealogy Society, 2011