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America's First Ally

The Boivin Center for French Language and Culture at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth proudly announces its first program of the 2019-2020 season featuring Norman Desmarais, author of the newly released, America’s First Ally. The event will take place on Monday, September 9th at 4 PM in the Grand Reading Room of the Claire T. Carney Library.  A Q&A and book signing will follow the talk. The program is free and open to the public with parking available on campus in lot 13.

Norman Desmarais, a Professor Emeritus of Providence College, is a board member of the Boivin Center.  He has written extensively on the American Revolutionary War including his six-volume, The Guide to the American Revolutionary War, and The Guide to the American Revolutionary War at Sea and Overseas.  He is a member of the Regiment Bourbonnais which portrays one of the French Infantry regiments sent to assist General George Washington's army during the American War for Independence.  He is editor-in-chief of the Brigade Dispatch, the journal of the Brigade of the American Revolution and has participated in regimental re-enactments and parades. 

Desmarais has held leadership positions in French organizations including repeated terms as president of Club Richelieu and serving on the board of directors of Club Lefoyer. In 2015, Norman was inducted into the American French Genealogical Society French Canadian Hall of Fame. He has been involved with traditional French dance and music and has been highly sought for his vocal talents. Since his retirement, Norman has recorded the French voice for a GPS company and is a docent at the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket.

David Vermette Lecture, May 7, 2019

The Boivin Center for French Language and Culture at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is proud to announce its spring program featuring David Vermette, author of A Distinct Alien Race.  The program will take place in the University Club in the Campus Center at UMass Dartmouth on Tuesday, May 7th, 2019 at 4 PM.  The lecture, Q&A and book signing are free and open to the public.  Parking is available on campus in lot 5.

David Vermette, a researcher, writer and speaker on French-Canadian, Franco-American identity, is a descendent of Franco-Americans from Massachusetts.  His book, A Distinct Alien Race, tells the story of the French-Canadians who crossed the border between Canada and the U.S. between 1840 and 1930 and settled and toiled in the textile mills in the New England states.  His heavily researched book relates the horrific conditions this group suffered at the hands of ruthless mill owners.  From unsafe conditions in the mills to the poor sanitary conditions in the company-owned housing, Mr. Vermette guides us through the trials and tribulations of a group who steadfastly strove to maintain its language, religion and culture in a new found land.  He reveals the work of the Ku Klux Klan in New England who intimidated Catholics and in particular, French-Canadians, and who burned a French school in Leominster, Massachusetts.

The topic of Mr. Vermette’s talk will be “Couldn’t Have Done It Without Us:  How Franco-Americans Saved the U.S. Economy.”   In the 19th century, textiles were the U.S.’s largest 19th century industry. He will address the importance of the influx of French Canadians from Quebec in making this group the largest cohort of employees in the textile industry in New England.  He will also discuss how they maintained a special relationship with the cotton industry until the 1920’s and how their contribution saved not only the region but the nation’s economy.


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