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The UVM Libraries’ Center for Digital Initiatives and the Vermont Folklife Center have created the Martha Pellerin Collection of Franco-American Song, an online database of French and English language songs. The collection is drawn from nine song-book manuscripts collected by Martha Pellerin that date to the mid-twentieth century, and a series of six interviews that Martha conducted with Alberta Gagné of Highgate, Vermont in 1998. The songs that make up the collection include traditional French Canadian materials, commercial popular songs from Canada, France and the United States, family songs, personal songs, bawdy songs, and religious songs.
The database is a collaborative project between the UVM Libraries’ Center for Digital Initiatives and the Vermont Folklife Center. The original materials are from the Vermont Folklife Center’s collection.
The fragile, hand written notebooks and audio recordings preserve music vitally important to each of the individuals who took the time to record them on paper or audio tape. These are songs that were shared socially and tied to the identities of the individual performers, their families, neighborhoods, ethnicity and the periods in time in which they were learned and sung. Whether they are songs that traveled from France to Quebec with the earliest Francophone settlers to North America or songs learned from the radio while driving between Highgate, VT and Montreal, these songs and the communal performances were a fundamental aspect of what it meant to be Franco-American in northern New England in the middle part of the twentieth century.