Fort Kent, Maine — In celebration of the many contributions of the Acadian people to the State of Maine, Governor Janet Mills and the Maine State Library announced today two new initiatives to digitize historical records pertaining to people of French heritage in Maine.
The first initiative is a new partnership between the Acadian Archives and Maine State Library to support ongoing efforts to digitize and provide access to special collections and information concerning the history, folklore and folklife of the St. John Valley. The Maine State Library is providing the Acadian Archives with a book scanner and software to make their digitized collections available online.
The second initiative is a digitization project involving approximately 100,000 pages of historical French language newspapers from communities around the state. A collection of historical newspapers at the Acadian Archives will also be included in this initiative.
Governor Mills made the announcement during a tour of The Acadian Archives at the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK) with Archives Director Patrick Lacroix and Adam Fisher of the Maine State Library.
“People of Franco-American, including Acadian, ancestry are at the heart of Maine. I am proud to join the Maine State Library in announcing these projects, which will preserve their history for future generations,” said Governor Mills. “Going forward, anyone will be able to easily access these historical records online, protecting the original documents and supporting public education at the same time.”
“Digitization is an important tool in terms of both access and preservation,” said Adam Fisher, director of collections development and digital initiatives at the Maine State Library. “When historical materials are scanned and made available online, they can easily be viewed by anyone with access to the internet and searched by keyword. By making the information available in digital form, it also spares the print originals from some of the wear that comes from repeated use.”
Located on the campus of the University of Maine at Fort Kent, the Acadian Archives serves as New England's premier center for the study of Acadian history and culture. In addition to serving as a repository and research center, the organization has become a cultural hub for the St. John Valley's French-heritage community.
Funding for the historic newspaper digitization project was awarded by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC), aimed at improving access to historical newspapers from throughout the United States. Over 300,000 pages of historical newspapers from Maine were previously digitized with project funds from NDNP, where they are being made accessible online through the project’s historical newspaper portal, Chronicling America (https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov).