LEWISTON — Longtime Maine archivist Janet Roberts has been named coordinator of the Franco-American Collection, a vast archive of books, photographs, recipes and records at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College.

The goal of the collection and the work of its coordinator is to preserve the relics of Maine’s Franco culture, said Roberts, who spent more than 20 years working for the Maine State Archives.

“It’s about the lives that Francos lived, the music that they sang or played, the schools that they went to and the churches where they prayed,” said Roberts, a Maine native.

During her tenure at the Maine State Archives, Roberts oversaw the preservation of the Lewiston-based French language newspaper Le Messager. The project saved decades of the newspaper, from 1917 to the 1960s.

“I’ve always been interested in ethnic groups and migration,” she said.

Roberts has a master’s degree in historic preservation from the University of Vermont. As an undergraduate at Williams College in Massachusetts, she studied both French and history.


“The opportunity to combine those things that I have been interested in from the beginning has been great,” she said.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Janet Roberts as the new coordinator as she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position,” said Roger Philippon, chairman of the collection’s board of directors. “In a very strong applicant pool, Janet stood out with her extensive background in archival work and historic preservation. Janet can read, write and speak French, and she truly understands and appreciates the important mission of the collection. We look forward to working with her.”

Roberts, who begins her full schedule in August, plans to begin by familiarizing herself with the collection. She hopes to make the collection more accessible to researchers, both online and in person.

“Ms. Roberts brings a depth of knowledge and experiences in the language and culture of Franco-Americans, and in private and public archives and museums that will enhance and strengthen our rich collection,” Dr. Joyce Gibson, the dean of USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College, said. “We are particularly excited about her background in historic preservation, and welcome her to the USM-LAC community.”

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