Madeleine Giguere

LEWISTON -- Madeleine Giguere, 78, a prominent life-long resident of Lewiston, died peacefully Thursday morning, May 13, 2004 among friends and relatives.

She was born in Lewiston on Oct. 18, 1925, the only child of Dr. Eustache and Dinora (Cailler) Giguere. An internationally recognized sociologist, she was known locally and regionally as “la marraine” (the godmother) of Franco-Americans. Ms. Giguere had a long and distinguished academic career, specializing in ethnic and women’s issues.

After her local education at St. Peter’s grammar school and Lewiston High School, she went on to obtain higher degrees at the Ursulines’ College of New Rochelle, Fordham University, and Columbia University. Professor Giguere taught at St. Joseph’s College and Boston College before accepting a position at the University of Southern Maine in 1967. She served there for more than two decades, establishing Franco-American Studies as a legitimate and important part of her curriculum.

The author and editor of numerous groundbreaking publications about Franco-Americans, she was an internationally recognized authority on the analysis of the U.S. Census since 1970. Professor Giguere was instrumental in having ethnic heritage questions included in these fundamental national surveys, and because of her meticulous examination of his data, the Franco-Americans’ quiet presence in Maine and throughout New England was documented and made more visible.

She was a much sought-after lecturer on her demographic findings about this four century-old branch of the French Republic. Upon her retirement in 1990, she was instrumental in establishing the Franco-American Heritage Collection at Lewiston-Auburn College. She served for seven years as volunteer director of this archive of local and regional history of immigrants from Quebec and Acadia, and contributed her substantial private collection to its holdings. The Reading Room at the Franco-American Collection is named in her honor.

From Governor Curtis to Governor King, Professor Giguere served on state-wide committees defending women’s rights and promoting Franco-American contributions to Maine. Her many awards and affiliations include her appointment to the Advisory Council on the Status of Women (1973), the U.S. Advisory Commission on Civil Rights (1979), and the Commission to study the development of Maine’s Franco-American Resource (1997). In 1992, the Library of Congress recognized her for contributions to Acadian culture.

Locally, Professor Giguere was a long-time member of the Lewiston Public Library Board of Trustees and the Lewiston Historical Commission. In 1986, Mayor Alfred Plourde acknowledged her for lifetime achievements on behalf of Maine’s Franco-Americans.

A life-long parishioner of Ss. Peter and Paul Church, she was also a member of the planning committee, and was actively involved in the church’s restoration efforts. She was a member of the Circle of the Blessed Sacrament. She enjoyed playing cards with her friends, Therese and Marie-Jean Laraundeau, and Don Dutil and also having breakfast each Saturday morning with close friends and family.

She is survived by several friends and numerous cousins.

Madeleine Giguere--1997 Maryann Hartman Award Recipient
Madeleine Giguère, author of census statistics
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