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French-American Periodicals at the Library of Congress

This guide is a starting point for study of the French-American Press from the late 18th century into the present day. It lists bibliographic information on French-American serials at the Library of Congress organized under the U.S. State of publication.

The French-American Press

French newspaper, La Liberté du Sud-Ouest February 2, 1919. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Reading Room.

By Alec Bennett, Intern, Latin American, Caribbean & European Division, 2024

The Library of Congress holds just over 200 French-American serials from 21 states and one federal district, with publication dates spanning from the 1780s to the present day. The vast majority of these states published only a handful of serials, from one to three per state, whereas two-thirds of French-American serials held by the Library of Congress were published in just two states, Louisiana and New York. Just five states make up 84% of the holdings. The reason for this is clear: most of America’s French-speaking population was historically located in Louisiana and the Northeast. Most states that are included in these holdings but without significant francophone populations, such as Nebraska and Kentucky, had modern academic publications focused on French scholarship rather than, for example, newspapers in service to a French-speaking population.

Looking at the newspapers from Louisiana and New York, the vast majority are from the nineteenth century, with some extending into the twentieth century. The purpose of many of these papers was to report news, foreign, domestic, and local, to francophone populations. These local bulletins, papers, and gazettes were the main way to communicate such information before the advent of radio. In New York, we also see several advertisers and commercial journals which aimed to market French products to Americans or to French people living in the U.S.

Many of the records in this guide include a detailed description of the publication history of the serial, the editors, as well as the context surrounding it, for example the political climate or the publisher’s goal. Certain titles, like Le Monde Libre or Pour la Victoire in New York, came about specifically to boost the Allies’ effort during World War II. Other publications, most notably France-Amérique, started as general interest papers and then focused their attention on the French Resistance or other wartime causes. In Louisiana, there was L’Union, the first Black-owned newspaper in Louisiana, which published news and opinion about the Civil War and spoke out against slavery. The Opelousas Patriot also turned its attention to abolition and the Civil War in the 1860s, and Le Louisianais published on the post–Civil War South and Reconstruction. As mentioned in Jack Patterson’s introductory essay, the very first Franco-American serial printed in the U.S. was a Revolutionary War–era publication, Gazette Française.

We can also observe a pattern of smaller publications dying out due to lack of subscribers after only a few months or years, or being absorbed into larger publications. A case that helps illustrate this phenomenon of continuation or absorption is France-Amérique, which continued Le Courrier des Etas-Unis, which began printing in 1828, and absorbed four others: French American Student, Victoire, Amérique, and Journal Français.

Click on the individual state to see specific titles, view additional bibliographical information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog, view availability, and ask a librarian for more information.

Newspapers in this guide are held in various divisions of the Library of Congress. The following abbreviations have been used:

  • Eur - European Reading Room (LJ-249)
  • N&CPR - Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room (LM-133)
  • MERC - Microform and Electronic Resources Center (LJ-139)
  • RB&SC - Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room (LJ-239)
  • AMED - African and Middle Eastern Reading Room (LJ-229)
  • GenColl - General Collections
  • Stacks - Library of Congress database for digital content (onsite only)