Archives de folklore

Archives de folklore. The name refers, at one and the same time, to actual archives, where the oral traditions of the French-speaking inhabitants of North America are collected and preserved, and to a collection of works specializing in this field, namely the volumes Archives de folkore. On 28 Feb 1944 Laval University entrusted its new chair of folklore to Luc Lacourcière and thus launched a research centre whose findings were to be disseminated later through teaching, publications, and other means of communication. This act gave official recognition to the instruction in folklore and research begun as early as 1939 by Lacourcière in the university's summer program, in which the anthropologist Marius Barbeau and the writer Félix-Antoine Savard subsequently participated.

Following in the footsteps of Barbeau, who had been collecting songs, stories, and legends since 1914, Luc Lacourcière and Mgr Savard conducted research into folklore, gathering the over 5000 sound recordings which formed the archives' basic collection. The number subsequently increased owing to the help of many collectors. All this material was obtained from the French-speaking inhabitants of Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Manitoba, Louisiana, and New England. The accumulation of recorded and manuscript music and printed material led Conrad Laforte (librarian-archivist 1951-75) and his assistants to devise a practical classification system and to establish catalogues for oral-tradition subjects. The principal catalogue - a shelf-list - is complemented by cross-indexes of informants and locations. The 1990 statistics reported 1404 separate archival collections of manuscript or printed music, 8700 magnetic tapes and close to 15,000 photographs and slides. The collection also contains several hundred volumes and an important collection of devotional objects totalling about 50,000 pieces. Of particular interest to musicians and ethnomusicologists are the descriptive catalogue of more than 2000 instrumental pieces and a French-language folksong catalogue containing more than 86,000 card entries. Archive facilities also include an electronic laboratory offering transcription and dubbing facilities from magnetic tapes. Roger Matton collaborated with the archives department 1956-76 as a researcher and ethnomusicologist, specializing in the musical notation of the oral data.

The Archives de folklore were host to the 1961 IFMC convention. That year, the American Association for State and Local History presented the archives with an Award of Merit "for outstanding work in gathering and disseminating much of the folklore and music of French Canada." The archives have received financial assistance from the Quebec government, the National Museums of Canada(Canadian Museum of Civilization), the Canada Council, and private donations.

In 1976 the researcher-teachers who work in this field became part of CELAT (Centre d'études sur la langue, les arts et les traditions populaires des francophones en Amérique du Nord), whereas the Archives de folklore have functioned exclusively and completely as specialized archives. In 1981 they were attached to Laval University Archives, housed in the main library. Since 1975 they have been administered by Carole Saulnier.

The publication Archives de folklore, issued irregularly, began to appear in 1946. The first four volumes deal with articles on songs and the next two, Civilisation traditionnelle des Lavalois, contain over 115 songs with music. Volumes 7 and 16 include a selection of Vieilles chansons de Nouvelle-France from the Russell Scott Young collection and Chansons de Shippagan, from the collection of Dominique Gauthier, transcribed by Roger Matton; volume 17, Poétiques de la chanson traditionnelle française, was followed by volumes 18-23 (1977-87), Le Catalogue de la chanson folklorique française, by Conrad Laforte. In addition to Luc Lacourcière and Marius Barbeau, other collaborators of special interest for ethnomusicology have included François Brassard, Marguerite d'Harcourt, Rosette Renshaw, and Sister Marie-Ursule.


Acadie et Québec: songs of New Brunswick and Quebec prepared by Lacourcière and Matton. RCA LCP-1020/RCA Gala CGP-139

Cible. Radio-Québec RQ-128

Çest dans la Nouvelle-France. Le Tamanoir TAM-27005