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Franco-American Childhood

Wedding party, Lewiston, 1897

Wedding party, Lewiston, 1897

Item 18378 info
Franco-American Collection

The first priority for many new arrivals, especially those with families, was living accommodations. Sometimes the male head of a family traveled ahead alone to find work in a new city, perhaps staying with a friend or relative until he found work and could have his family join him.

The influx of immigrants stretched the capacity of existing housing stock, and priced many mill workers out of the market.

Moreover, many existing residents were reluctant to lease apartments to the new arrivals.

Recognizing the shortage of housing stock, many mills rented apartments directly to workers. After a while, some Francos went into the real estate business to cater to their compatriots.

Nonetheless, accommodations, especially in the 19th century, were often poorly maintained and overcrowded.

This photo illustrates the causes of difficult living conditions for Franco-Americans - a combination of large families and small apartments.

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