In December, we interviewed a Siena College French professor who is investigating and preserving the heritage of French-Canadian workers in upstate New York. The “I Remember” project is cataloguing the migration of nearly one million miners, textile and other workers who moved south from Quebec. Janet Shideler had earlier gathered stories and artifacts about immigrant workers in Cohoes and elsewhere in the Capital Region. This month, she is in northern New York. She tells WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley she is fascinated by the breadth of stories they will digitize for the project.
"It’s been very very interesting that we have had folks who’ve talked about a very early arrival. The fact that folks came here seeking agricultural opportunities, fresh fertile land that they could till but that some members of the family moved back or some of them moved over to the New England states. It’s been interesting we suspected that might have been the demographic pattern but in fact people have been confirming that. That one branch of the family might have moved to Chicopee, Massachusetts, might have moved to North Adams, Mass., not terribly far afield but that they would venture. So it’s been an interesting story that they’ve conveyed to us about these patterns."
Siena College Professor Janet Shideler’s “I Remember” research is being funded by a Common Heritage Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.