UMass Dartmouth Archives Receives Videotapes That Preserve French-Canadian Heritage

DARTMOUTH, MASSACHUSETTS - In an effort to preserve some of the cultural heritage of the French-Canadian community in New England, UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Professor Mel Yoken recently donated a collection of videotaped interviews to the University Archives. The collection is comprised of (22) separate video tape recordings produced by Matt Leavitt and Dawn Lyons, two students working under Prof. Yoken?s supervision in an upper-level independent study French course.

DARTMOUTH, MASSACHUSETTS - In an effort to preserve some of the cultural heritage of the French-Canadian community in New England, UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Professor Mel Yoken recently donated a collection of videotaped interviews to the University Archives. The collection is comprised of (22) separate video tape recordings produced by Matt Leavitt and Dawn Lyons, two students working under Prof. Yoken’s supervision in an upper-level independent study French course. 

The video tapes capture the reminiscences of more than two-dozen older adults of French-Canadian heritage who moved from Canada to various parts of southeastern New England as youngsters, or who had immigrant parents. 

“I have always had a strong commitment to oral history as an extremely important element in preserving the legacy of our elders, whether they be Franco-Americans, Québécois or French,” said Yoken. 

Subjects for the interviews were chosen for their significant life stories and for their contributions to their communities. It included teachers, business people, artists and world travelers. The two students identified their subjects, familiarized them with the interview process, and then conducted the interviews on tape. 

The interviews range in length from fifteen minutes to over an hour. A number of the interviews were conducted in French, and each interviewee was encouraged to answer in French as much as he or she felt comfortable doing so. 

According to Dr. Yoken, “The views, opinions and recollections of these senior citizens are invaluable and must be recorded and preserved for posterity alongside equally important archival collections and historical research. We must hear their stories not only to preserve the past but also to inspire and encourage younger people to continue and strive for a better world.” 

Dr. Yoken added that, “this project is the most recent in a series of oral history projects he has supervised. He plans to donate more tapes to the University Archives over the next few months.” 


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