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French Institute: Founders of the French Institute



Dr. Claire Quintal

Former professor emerita of French and French Civilization at Assumption College, now University, where she also served as Dean of the Graduate School, Dr. Claire Quintal was the founding director emerita of the French Institute. She wrote, edited, or translated multiple books, including works on Joan of Arc, the Franco-American experience, and two prominent 19th-century Assumptionists. A chevalier of France’s Legion of Honor, she was also an officier in its National Order of Merit. She was among the first group of Americans to be awarded the congressionally sponsored Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1986. She assiduously worked on the creation of the Monument de l’Amitié (Friendship Monument) in Quebec City, erected on the 400th anniversary of the city’s founding in 2008. The monument celebrates the strong cultural and economic ties between Quebec and New England. Dr. Quintal held honorary doctorates from Assumption College, Anna Maria College, and St. Michael’s College. Dr. Quintal passed away in 2020 after a long and successful life. 


Rev. Wilfrid J. Dufault, A.A.

Father Wilfrid was born and grew up in Spencer, Massachusetts and graduated from Assumption Prep and Assumption College. He entered the Assumptionist order in 1929, pronounced his perpetual vows in 1933, and was ordained a priest in 1934. He received a licentiate in theology from the Pontifical Institute of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome and honorary doctorates from Rivier College, Anna Maria College, and Assumption College. He was awarded the French Legion of Honor, named officier then commandeur in France’s National Order of Merit, and recognized with the Lafayette Award from Worcester’s Harmony Club, the Assumption Prep School Alumni Hall of Fame Award, and the President’s Medal and Outstanding Achievement Award from Assumption College. With Dr. Claire Quintal, Father Wilfrid founded the French Institute at Assumption College, now University, in 1979.

At the time of his death in 2004, Father Wilfrid was Chancellor Emeritus of Assumption College. Previously, he had served the College as president, acting president, and professor. For seventeen years, he was Superior General of the Assumptionist congregation, the first Franco-American to hold that post. As Superior General, he was a father of the Second Vatican Council in Rome. In later years, Father Wilfrid was Postulator for the Beatification of Rev. Emmanuel d’Alzon, the founder of the Assumptionists. He also served for many years as a member of Assumption’s Board of Trustees. His devotion and service to Assumption College and its French Institute are without parallel. Dufault Hall, a University residence, bears his name.

Hours and Contact

8:30 am 4:30 pm

Appointments recommended.

The French Institute follows the academic calendar of Assumption University. Exceptions to our regular hours may be found here.



The Institute is located on the 3rd floor of La Maison Française.



Leslie Choquette
Director of the French Institute
Professor of History

Kate Bradley

Librarian/Archivist of the French Institute

508-767-7000 ext. 7495

Usage Policy

For reasons of preservation, French Institute collection materials do not circulate; however, non-rare materials are allowed to circulate through the d’Alzon Library or inter-library loan with the director’s permission.

It should be noted that the Institute’s collection includes a number of Franco-American newspapers from the New England region. Most consist of bound copies and nearly all have been microfilmed. To preserve the bound volumes, the Institute encourages scholars to consult the microfilm copies whenever they are available, for example, at the American Antiquarian Society or the Boston Public Library.