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French Institute: Worcester Parish Archives

Collection- Worcester Parish Archives

Worcester Parish Archives


Extent: 8 boxes, and 4 volumes bound separately

Linear feet: 14.25 linear feet

Other Storage Formats: 4 volumes bound separately and housed next to the rest of the collection

Language: English and French

Provenance: Father Steven LaBaire, then Pastor of Holy Family Parish at St. Josephs, donated the archives in 2018 with the bishop’s approval. The records were created and kept by the three original Worcester parishes: St. Josephs, Notre Dame des Canadiens (which was the largest for many years), and Holy Name. Eventually all three parishes were combined into one- Holy Family Parish, which is how they came under Father LaBaire’s purview.

Ownership and Literary Rights: The Worcester Parish Archives is the physical property of the French Institute, Assumption University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.

Preferred Citation: Worcester Parish Archives, French Institute, Assumption University

Restrictions on Access: The collection is available to researchers and other interested parties. Permission for use or reproduction can be obtained from the director of the French Institute, and is subject to the Institute's user polices.

Scope & Content: In 2018, the collection was slated for donation, and the French Institute reviewed it with the donor, Father LaBaire, then pastor of Holy Family Parish. Holy Family Parish is an amalgamation of Worcester’s four historic Franco-American parishes: Notre-Dame-des-Canadiens, St. Joseph, Holy Name of Jesus, and St. Anthony of Padua. At this time, a word document was begun of the contents, with an additional selective item and page level inventory. These original documents still exist and can be reviewed upon request. In some cases, Father LaBaire was able to provide further information that is not included in this folder-level finding aid.

With the exception of two ledgers from the early years of Notre-Dame-des-Canadiens Parish, there are few records in this collection regarding the first twenty to thirty years of the four parishes. There is an extensive transcribed list of marriages at Notre-Dames-des-Canadiens Parish, which was taken from the original, inaccessible record.

The parish Notre-Dame-des-Canadiens was the oldest and largest of Worcester’s Franco-American parishes, and as such is best represented in this finding aid. The strengths of the Notre-Dame-des-Canadiens records lie in its later years, particularly a scrapbook/album documenting the history of the parish from foundation through 1986, images, and a sign from the 2017 candlelight vigil protesting the church’s demolition. Additionally, there are the nine volumes of research materials regarding Richard Gagnon’s history of Notre-Dame-des-Canadiens parish.

The series regarding St. Joseph parish, the second oldest of Worcester’s Franco-American parishes, does not include anything before 1928. The strengths of the collection lie in its nearly complete collection Parish Bulletins, 1955-1995; a list of the marriages held in the church; and newspaper clippings and photographs, particularly related to the attempted closing of St. Joseph’s church in 1993. Additionally, there is a 1950 school scrapbook, two VHS tapes, and three volumes of Ken Desautel’s research materials regarding his history of St. Joseph’s parish.

Holy Name of Jesus Parish records are at Worcester Historical Society, so this collection includes only one item from the parish: an album of class photographs from Holy Name Elementary School, 1912-1963.

St. Anthony of Padua, the final parish, is only represented by a few records, notably a booklet from their 40th anniversary, as well as records regarding the sale of the parish buildings in 1976.

The albums and scrapbooks in this collection all have condition issues and have been housed accordingly.

Series Outline: The collection is separated into four series; one pertaining to each of the four historically Franco-American parishes in Worcester. The four series are presented in the order of their founding. During the donation process, Father Steven LaBaire painstakingly went page-by-page identifying items in select scrapbooks. That information is available in spreadsheet form, upon request.

Series 1 : Notre-Dame-des-Canadiens Parish, The bulk of the materials in this series are contained within a large scrapbook, which traces the entire history of the church through original documents and images. It was compiled in 1983 for an exhibit at Worcester Public Library. Also included are: a ledger kept by Fr. Jean-Baptiste Primeau, the first pastor at Notre Dame des Canadiens, of purchases made for the church between 1869 and the late 1880s; a list of marriages, 1869-1930; a second purchase ledger covering the years 1888-1905; and a handmade sign held at the public vigil that occurred on March 28, 2017 in front of the church to protest the imminent demolition of the building.

Series 2 : St. Joseph Parish, This series includes several programs from church dinners and functions; published articles and newspaper clippings about the church; interior and exterior photographs of the church; and a sizeable run of the St. Joseph parish newsletter, 1955-1993. Of particular interest is three volumes of Ken Desautel’s research for his work, St. Joseph’s Parish 100th anniversary history, 1891-1991.

Series 3 : Holy Name of Jesus Parish, The smallest series in this collection, it is comprised of a grey album of class photographs from Holy Name Elementary School, 1912-1963. Most images include a list of the students present in each photograph.

Series 4 : St. Anthony of Padua Parish, This series is largely comprised of photographs, both exterior and interior, of the church and its related buildings. The series also contains financial documents, including a report from 1970 on the state of parish at the time, as well as documents pertaining to the sale of parish properties in the 1970s. A program from the Jubilé paroissiale held on October 22, 1944, is also included.

Full Finding Aid:

Images from the Collection

Certificat d'Admission, Association Universelle de la Ste. Famille

Certificat d'Admission, Association Universelle de la Ste. Famille, 1893

This is a Certificat d'Admission for the Association Universelle de la Ste. Famille. It was made out to Mr. Germain Leblanc and his family at Notre Dame in Worcester, Massachusetts, on March 5, 1893. 

Rules of the Société de la Sainte Famille

Règlement de la Société de la Sainte Famille

Règlement de la Société de la Sainte Famille, érigée dans l'église des Canadiens à Worcester, Mass. This rules booklet was published in Montréal by the the Institution de Sourds-Muets, in 1918.

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 now located on the 3rd floor of La Maison Française.



Leslie Choquette
Director of the French Institute
Professor of History

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.