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They Spoke French Paperback – June 28, 2016
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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In the 1980 census - the last to ask the question - 8% of Minnesotans identified their heritage to be French-Canadian. Even then, this would translate to several hundred thousand people.
Back then, I was one of those persons. My Dad was 100% French-Canadian, but I really didn't realize it. At 40 years old, I had not identified with a major part of my ethnic heritage.
They Spoke French can, I would say, be called a "primer" for those who are interested in the French aspect of Minnesota: over 360 pages of short articles, lists, photographs of French-Canadian churches, and on and on. While the book has only been in circulation for a short time, it attracts interest the moment people have an opportunity to see it, and it is the kind of book that a casual reader would love. You can open to any page, at any time, and learn something you didn't know before. I did just that, this moment, and page 75 is headed "Saltpeter Caves", and is part of a six page short essay by Greg Brick, PhD. I've heard Dr. Brick talk in person about the topic, and he is very knowledgeable. The six pages summarize his academic expertise in the area.
In the fall of 1980, I began my quest into my genealogy, my roots. It was a class assignment, and I remember quite vividly the first bits of information, later the errors of some of that information, and on and on.
Chapter Sixteen of They Spoke French, you'll find 13 pages of lists of genealogy resources, many books, many websites.
Wherever one is on their journey to their roots, their culture, their heritage, this book is helpful.
At page 91, another flip open the book, is a section on "The British Trade Era" part of an Essay by Jerry Foley, French-Canadian, who has published a book on his own very interesting ancestral line.
French Huguenots? Chapter 15.
Anoka? page 115-116. There are many pages of places whose early history has a distinctly French-Canadian presence in what was to be Minnesota.
The best feature of this book, in my opinion, is that it provides snippets, jumping off points, for further research.
It would be interesting for anyone even a little interested in Minnesota history, since the French and French-Canadians were in what is now Minnesota long before the more traditionally accepted dates of settlement, starting about the mid-1850s.
Readers will find a great deal of food for thought, regardless of nationality.
historian and writer