About Our Region

aerial photo of East Main Street in Fort Kent showing the local Catholic church and several business and residential buildings

The Acadian Archives are located in the Upper St. John Valley, the ancestral territory of the Wəlastəkwewiyik (Maliseet). Permanent settlement by people of European descent began in the late eighteenth century as Acadians and French Canadians sought new lands and a more secure future. A first Catholic parish, Saint-Basile, in present-day Edmundston, New Brunswick, was established in 1792. With growing opportunities in agriculture and the lumber industry, a new influx of French Canadians from the St. Lawrence began in the 1820s. Britain and the United States agreed on the exact outline of the international boundary in 1842 after a brief and bloodless conflict. The region nevertheless remained a borderland where people and goods moved relatively unimpeded until recently.

Despite state prohibitions on French-language education during the twentieth century, northern Maine remains the most francophone region of the United States. Aside from the Archives, it is home to Madawaska’s annual Acadian Festival and Van Buren’s Acadian Village. Communities in Maine, New Brunswick, and Quebec jointly hosted the World Acadian Congress in 2014. The Upper St. John Valley is also a year-round hub of outdoor recreation.

The Acadian Archives are housed on the campus of the University of Maine at Fort Kent, a small, public institution with a diverse student body and a long record of service and scholarship.

Archives Mission Statement

The Acadian Archives at the University of Maine at Fort Kent are the leading center for the ongoing study, preservation, celebration, and dissemination of the rich cultural history of Acadians of the Upper St. John River Valley. In pursuing this mission, the Archives provide research opportunities and promote learning through their unique materials focusing on the Greater Madawaska Territory comprised of Acadians, French Canadians, Franco-Americans, Maliseet, and all cultural influences in this rural region of Acadia of the Lands and Forests.

acadian flag flying in the wind as the sun shines through the fabric

Acquisitions Policy

The Acadian Archives are a repository for audiovisual documentation and manuscript materials relevant to the folklore and folklife of the Upper St. John Valley and archival materials about the region’s history. The collection includes textual records; maps, plans, and drawings; photographs, films and other recordings, paintings, pictorial and graphic works; microfilms; machine-readable records; and virtual documents.

The Archives will only acquire material on a permanent basis, except when borrowing materials for short-term loans to reproduce or to include in displays or exhibits.

Books, published materials, and artifacts are generally not acquired by the Archives unless there are unique or compelling reasons for them to accompany or supplement obtained archival records, particularly concerning their unique or rare character. The Archives maintain a small library of relevant reference publications, i.e., rare or out-of-print works and reference tools that are required daily.

Notwithstanding the intrinsic or informational value of collections, the acquisition of collections will take into account the Archives’ authorized acquisition mandate, resources required to make the material available for research purposes in a reasonable amount of time, the extent and terms of any restrictions, the legal rights of the donor to place the records in the Archives, their relationship to the strengths and weaknesses in the existing holdings, the availability of storage facilities, and the physical condition of the collection in relation to the probability of being able to conserve them for a reasonable period of time.