An interdisciplinary study of French people,language, and culture in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

~An entertaining, educational, interactive lecture for libraries, museums and schools.

~ “La Foi, La Langue , La Culture” brings the robust Franco-American culture of the early 20th Century to life, using traditional folk songs from Quebec, Acadia and Louisiana performed live; with period photographs and interactivity.

Prof. Phoebe Legere

Author of "French Daughters of the Industrial Revolution" ( March 2016), and popular childrens book titled "The Magic Accordion"

Prof. Legere enters playing accordion and singing "Un Canadian Errant" (Traditional Folk Song)

“Un Canadien errant,
Banni de ses foyers,
Parcourait en pleurant
Des pays étrangers.”

Farmers left Quebec and took jobs in New England Textile Mills.

Phoebe's great-grandparents lived in Shediac, New Brunswick. They were Acadians.  They moved to Leonminster, Massachusetts to make a better life for their family.  They worked hard. Their son became the Foreman of the Plastic Factory. One of their great-grandchildren is now one of the top executives in America. His name is John Legere, CEO of TMobile.

The Blackstone River

Photo: Barry Bainton, PhD

Prof.Legere describes the brilliant technology that drove the New England Textile boom. She explains Samuel Slater’s Arkwright system of carding and spinning.

Water Falls, canals, and a system of "power trenches" powered the Mills in the early years.   

Professor Legere sings her beautiful arrangement of a voyageur song about WATER that has been called the "French-Canadian National Anthem."
À La Claire Fontaine
m'en allant promener.
J'ai trouvé l'eau si belle
que je m'y suis baigné.

Mill Workers

Legere tells about the Protestant Mill owners who exploited the natural resources of New England and made fortunes on the backs of French-Catholic workers.

"Triple Decker" Apartment

The Professor shows photographs of the French in “Triple Decker” rented apartment houses. She describes their working conditions, hours and work-related health problems. She talks about French Canadian cuisine; and the kitchen parties where the French kept music, language and family connections alive.

"La Survivance"

Legere explains the concept of “La Survivance” - the "perceived need to preserve Catholic religion, family, French language and French Culture.

Professor Legere will sing Ave Maris Stella in French and Latin. She speaks about the distinct Marianism that characterizes French Canadian Catholicism.

Father Legere was a priest and fiddler whose parish was in Waltham where Francis Cabot Lowell II built his first mill. Legere learned Father Legere’s March #1 and #2 from the Robichaud brothers. They recorded  "Father Legere’s March" for Rounder Records.

The Professor recounts the sad story of the Sentinellists, and the Peck Act that ended French parochial schooling in Rhode Island in 1922.

She talks about “Americanization”, a propaganda effort to homogenize and standardize American culture.

This lecture places the New England mills and their operatives at the heart of the Industrial Revolution.

Child Labor

New England had a large number of very young children doing tedious, repetitive, dangerous jobs in an infernal atmosphere of lint, dust, heat and noise.
Professor Legere talks about Child Labor and sings “Ou Vas Tu Mon P’tit Garcon?” (traditional French Canadian folk song)

Poor Southern children, worked all day, gathering the cotton that was the raw material for northern Textile Mill production.

There’s even a fashion element to this Heritage talk. The lecture include  photos of stylish Boston Brahmins... rich young girls wearing the luxurious worsteds, lace and silk that were produced by French Canadian workers who toiled 12 hours a day in the mills.

Child Slaves

The Professor shows photographs of child slaves in India and Bangladesh producing textiles in factories today.