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Books & stories of Franco history at the Franco Center

LEWISTON, ME (September 15, 2023)—The Franco Center’s free Books and Stories Series at noon Wednesday, Sept. 27, will feature author David Vermette. He will read from his book, “A Distinct Alien Race: The Untold Story of Franco-Americans: Industrialization, Immigration, Religious Strife,” have books available for purchase and signing, and follow up with questions and answers after the presentation.   

“Our patrons have told us that they are very interested in the authors we have scheduled in the Books and Stories Series,” said Denise Scammon, marketing and development director at the Franco Center. “We are fortunate to have this program funded by the Maine Humanities Council and Maine Arts Commission.”   

On Wednesday, Sept. 27 Vermette will discuss his book’s French Canadian immigrant theme. According to Vermette, in the later-19th century, French-Canadian Roman Catholic immigrants from Quebec were deemed a threat to the United States, potential terrorists in service of the Pope. Books and newspapers floated the conspiracy theory that the immigrants seeking work in New England’s burgeoning textile industry were plotting to annex parts of the United States to a newly independent Quebec.   

Vermette’s groundbreaking study sets this neglected and poignant tale in the broader context of North American history. He traces individuals and families, from the textile barons who created a new industry to the poor farmers and laborers of Quebec who crowded into the mills in the post-Civil War period. Vermette is a writer, researcher, editor, and a speaker on Franco-American history and identity. He is originally from Massachusetts. 

“Attendees at our Sept. 13 Books and Stories program, which featured local Franco-American author Suzanne Roy, stated that the Ku Klux Klan’s negative reflection of Franco Americans and Catholics was not something they remember hearing about,” said Scammon. “David will share information about how the Ku Klux Klan’s local activities stirred up animosity against Franco Americans.” 

Later in the Books and Stories series, local author Paul Dionne will talk about his books on Oct. 4. It is suggested that attendees buy the featured books ahead of the book talk. “The authors in this series have all been suggested by our patrons to be included,” said Scammon. “All the books are of interest to residents and local historians.”  

The Franco Center is at 46 Cedar St., Lewiston. Parking is available in the mill lot. The building is handicap accessible on the Lincoln St. Alley side.  

Author David Vermette will discuss his French Canadian immigrant-themed book at the next free Books and Stories program at noon Wednesday, Sept. 27, at the Franco Center, 46 Cedar St., Lewiston.    

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