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Silent Presence – The French in New England

Tuesday June 16, 2020 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

For over 25 years Jeanne Douillard has probed the history of the French in New England. Her talk brings a unique, fresh look to the story of “un petit people.” It is an approach which combines history and story, attempting in its essence, to get at the heart of a people. It is a tale which is not well-known: a story of a peoples’ struggle to reclaim pride, a story of forgiveness and hope; a story which has not been told in just this way.

Join Jeanne as she takes us to France at the time of immigration when a group of pre-revolution people from the same country (they immigrated about 100 years before the French Revolution), inhabited two different areas of La Nouvelle France: Canada and Acadie. Although they grew up under the same political conditions in the land of their birth and left France around the same time (1600’s), their lives developed in two vastly different directions once they came to the Americas. We will find out how and why. We will look at what happened to the Acadiens when they attempted to stand up to two world powers.  We will also examine what happened when the French became British citizens in Canada and then ventured south to settle in New England. We will end with an exploration of the issue of the “silent presence” of these people in their new homeland.

Jeanne is one of the major contributors to the book Building a Better Life – The French-Canadians in Western Massachusetts published by the Republican newspaper in Springfield, MA. This book can be purchased at Her narrative poem, NOT SO MUCH THE SAME PLACE, is found in a recently published anthology of women writers of French heritage. Entitled Heliotrope, the book is also available at She also covers the topic of the silent presence of the French in New England in episodes 51 and 53 of “Maple Stars and Stripes: Your French-Canadian Genealogy” Podcast at

And finally, Jeanne has published her own book under the auspices of Swamp Press of Northfield, MA.  In her book, I Remember… Je Me Souviens…, she presents in greater detail the story of the French in the Americas. She also shares the story of her travels to France in 2014 and 2015 when she and her husband, Armand Proulx, went off in search of their ancestral villages. The final piece covers the story of the Deerfield raid by the French and the Natives in 1704 in Deerfield, MA.  There will be a book sale/signing after her talk.

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