Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
August 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Bibliographical Note


[This text was written by Arthur G. DOUGHTY and published in 1916. For the precise citation, see the end of the document.]

THE story of Acadia and the Acadians has been told many times, but most of the treatises on the subject are unsatisfactory from the historical point of view, either because of the biased attitude taken by the authors or because of their inadequate use of original sources. The present writer has deliberately avoided consulting second­ary works. The following titles, however, are here suggested for the benefit of the reader who wishes to become acquainted with the literature of the subject.


Thomas Chandler Haliburton, An Historical and Statistical Account of Nova Scotia (2 vols., Halifax, 1829), the earliest general history of the province, based on but slight knowledge of the sources. Beamish Murdoch, A History of Nova Scotia (3 vols., Halifax, 1865-1867), fuller and more accurate than Haliburton, but having less charm of style. Francis Parkman, France and England in North America (9 vols., Boston, 1865-1892, and later editions). The chapters on Acadia are scattered through several volumes of this valuable series : see the volumes entitled Pioneers of France, The Old Régime, A Half-Century of Conflict, and Montcalm and Wolfe. Célestin Moreau, Histoire de l'Acadie Françoise (Paris, 1873). James Hannay, History of Acadia (St John, 1879). P. H. Smith, Acadia: A Lost Chapter in American History (Pawling, N.Y., 1884). Justin Winsor, Narrative and Critical History of America: see vols. iv and v (Boston, 1884., 1887), containing scholarly bibliographical notes. Abbé H. R. Casgrain, Un Pélerinage au pays d'Evangéline (Quebec, 1887). Rameau de Saint-Père, Une Colonie Féodale en Amérique, l'Acadie (2 vols., Paris and Montreal, 1889) : the appendix contains some interesting documents. Edouard Richard, Acadia : Missing Links of a Lost Chapter in American History (2 vols., New York and Montreal, 1895). Rev. Wm. O. Raymond, The River St John (2nd ed., St John, 1910).


Some older works which incidentally contain interesting or valuable references to Acadia may be mentioned. F. X. Charlevoix, Histoire et Description Générale de la Nouvelle France (3 vols., Paris, 1744; and translation by J. G. Shea, 6 vols., New York, 1866-1872). Abbé Guillaume Thomas Raynal, Histoire philosophique et politique des Etablissemens dans les deux Indes (5 vols., Paris, 1770), which first painted a picture of an idyllic Iife of simplicity and happiness among the Acadians. Thomas Hutchinson, History of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay (3 vols., London, 1765-1828). G. R. Minot, Continuation of the History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay (2 vols., Boston, 1798-1803). Jeremy Belknap, History of New Hampshire (3 vols., Boston, 1791-1792). W. D. Williamson, History of the State of Maine (2 vols., Hallowell, 1832). The last four works are of much value for the relations between Acadia and the New England colonies.


Among special studies of note are : J. G. Kohl, Discovery of Maine (Documentary History of the State of Maine, vol. i, 1869). H. P. Biggar, Early Trading Companies of New France (Toronto, 1901). Henry Kirke, The First English Conquest of Canada (London, 1871; 2nd ed., 1908), a work which devotes much space to the early establish­ments in Nova Scotia. Rev. Edmund F. Slafter, Sir William Alexander and American Colonization (Boston, 1873), which contains a valuable selection of documents. Abbé J. A. Maurault, Histoire des Abenakis (Sorel, 1866). Pascal Poirier, Origine des Acadiens (Montreal, 1874) and Des Acadiens déportés à Boston en 1755 (Trans. Roy. Soc. of Can., 3rd series, vol. ii, 1908).


Several local histories contain information regarding the Acadian exiles in the American colonies. William Lincoln, History of Worcester, Massachusetts (Worcester, 1862). Bernard C. Steiner, History of the Plantation of Menunkatuck and of the Original Town of Guilford, Connecticut (Baltimore, 1897). Rev. D. P. O'Neill, History of St Raymond's Church, Westchester, New York. J. T. Scharf, Chronicles of Baltimore ( Baltimore, 1874). Edward M’Crady, History of South Carolina under the Royal Government, 1719-1776 (New York, 1899).


Of original sources, many of the more important narratives are available in print. Champlain's Voyages, a work which appeared in its first form in 1604: recent editions are by Laverdière (6 vols., Quebec, 1870) ; translation by Slafter (3 vols., The Prince Society, Boston, 1880-1882) ; and translations of portions by W. L. Grant in Jameson's Original Narratives of Early American History (New York, 1907). Marc Lescarbot, Histoire de la Nouvelle France (1st ed., Paris, 1609): a new edition with translation has been edited by W. L. Grant (The Champlain Society, 3 vols., Toronto, 1907-1914). Nicolas Denys, Des­cription Géographique et Historique des Costes de l'Amérique Septentrionale (Paris, 1672) : new edition and translation by William F. Ganong (The Champlain Society, Toronto, 1908). Denys tells of De Monts, Poutrincourt, Biencourt, and the La Tours.


Supplementary information can be obtained from The Jesuit Relations (the first number, by Father Biard, was published at Lyons, 1616) ; see edition with translation, by R. G. Thwaites (Cleveland, 1896). See also Purchas, His Pilgrimes, vol. iv (1625) ; and John Winthrop, History of New England, edited by James Savage (2 vols., Boston, 1825-1826), and by J. K. Hosmer in Original Narratives of Early American History (New York, 1908). Gaston du Boscq de Beaumont, Les Derniers Jours de l'Acadie, 1748-1758 (Paris, 1899) contains many interesting letters and memoirs from the French side at the time of the expulsion.


There are several important collections of documentary sources available in print. The Memorials of the English and French Commissaries concerning the Limits of Nova Scotia or Acadia (London and Paris, 1755) contains the arguments and documents produced on both sides in the dispute regarding the Acadian boundaries. Many documents of general interest are to be found in the Collection de Documents relatifs à l'Histoire de la Nouvelle France (4 vols., Quebec, 1885); in Documents relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, edited by O'Callaghan and Fernow (15 vols., Albany, 1856-1887), particu­larly vol. ix ; and in the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (Boston, 1792-). The Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society (Halifax, 1879-), besides modern studies, contain many valuable contemporary documents, including Journal of Colonel Nicholson at the Capture of Annapolis, Diary of John Thomas, and Journal of Colonel John Winslow. Thomas and Winslow are among the most important sources for the expulsion.


The Report on Canadian Archives for 1912 prints several interesting documents bearing on the early history of Acadia, and the Report for 1905 (vol. ii) contains documents relating to the expulsion, edited by Placide Gaudet. The calendars contained in various Reports to which references are made below may also be consulted. The British Government publications, the Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, America and West Indies, which has been brought down only to 1702, and the Acts of the Privy Council, Colonial Series, are also useful. But perhaps the most valuable of all is the volume entitled Selections from the Public Documents of the Province of Nova Scotia, edited by Thomas B. Akins (Halifax, 1869), though the editor has taken many liberties with his texts. A volume entitled Nova Scotia Archives II, edited by Archibald MacMechan (Halifax, 1900), contains calendars of Governors' Letter Books and a Commission Book, 1713-1741.


The principal manuscript collections of material for Acadian history are in Paris, London, Boston, Halifax, and Ottawa. In Paris are the official records of French rule in America. Of the Archives des Colonies, deposited at the Archives Nationales, the following series are most important :


Series B : Letter Books of Orders of the King and Dispatches from 1663 onward (partially calendared in Canadian Archives Reports for 1899 ; Supplement, 1904 and 1905).


Series C : correspondence received from the colonies, which is subdivided geographically. All the American colonies have letters relating to the refugee Acadians, but the most important section for general Acadian history is C11 which relates to Canada and its dependencies, including Acadia itself, Ile Royale, now Cape Breton, and Ile St Jean, now Prince Edward Island.


Series F, which includes in its subdivisions documents relating to commercial companies and religious missions, and the Moreau St Méry Collection of miscellaneous official documents.


Series G : registers, censuses, lists of Acadian refugees, and notarial records.


The Ministère des Affaires Etrangères has, in the ‘Angleterre' section of its Correspondance Politique and the ‘Amérique' section of its Mémoires et Documents, extensive material on the disputes with the English Government over Acadia. The Archives de la Marine (Series B), which is divided into eight sub-series, has a vast collection of documents relating to America, including Acadia. Acadian material is also found scattered through other series of the Archives Nationales and among the manuscripts of the Bibliothèque Nationale. At the town of Vire, in France, among the municipal archives, are to be found the papers of Thomas Pichon, a French officer at Louisbourg and Beauséjour, who after the fall of Beauséjour lived on intimate terms with the British in Nova Scotia.

In London most of the official documents for the period under consideration in this volume are preserved in the Public Record Office. The most useful collections are among the Colonial Office Papers : Series C.O. 5, formerly described as America and West Indies, embraces the papers of the office of the Secretary of State who had charge of the American colonies; and C.O. 217-221, formerly, for the most part, described as Board of Trade Nova Scotia, contains the correspondence of the Board of Trade relating to Nova Scotia. The Admiralty Papers and Treasury Board Papers likewise contain considerable material for the story of British administration in Acadia.


In the British Museum are some manuscripts of interest, the most noteworthy being Lieutenant-Governor Vetch's Letter Book (Sloane MS. 3607), and the Brown Collection (Additional MSS. 19069-19074). These are papers relating to Nova Scotia and the Acadians, 1711-1794, including the correspondence of Paul Mascarene.


In Boston two important collections are to be found : the Massachusetts State Archives, which contain some original documents bearing on the relations between New England and Nova Scotia, and others connected with the disposal of those Acadians who were transported to Massachusetts, and many transcripts made from the French Archives ; and the Parkman Papers, which are now in the possession of the Massachusetts Historical Society.


The Public Records of Nova Scotia at Halifax contain transcripts from the Paris and Massachusetts Archives relating to Acadia, transcripts from the Public Record Office at London and from the British Museum, letter-books of the Governors of Nova Scotia, minutes of the Executive Council, and much miscellaneous correspondence and papers belonging to our period.


In the Public Archives of Canada at Ottawa a very extensive collection of transcripts has been assembled comprising all the more important official documents relating to Acadia. A full description of most of the series can be obtained from David W. Parker's Guide to the Documents in the Manuscript Room at the Public Archives of Canada, vol. i (Ottawa, 1914). The series known as Nova Scotia State Papers is divided into several sub-series : A. Correspondence from 1603 onwards, made up chiefly of transcripts from the Papers of the Secretary of State and of the Board of Trade at the Public Record Office, but including some from the British Museum and elsewhere (a calendar is to be found in the Report on Canadian Archives for 1894) ; B. Minutes of the Executive Council of Nova Scotia, 1720-1785 ; E. Instructions to Governors, 1708 onwards. The Archives also possess transcripts of the French Archives des Colonies, Series B, down to 1746, Series C11 and parts of Series F and G, and of many documents of the Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, of the Archives de la Marine, Series B, and of the Bibliothèque Nationale (among the latter being the Mémoire instructif de la conduite du Sr. de la Tour). Also transcripts of the Pichon Papers, of much of the C.O. 5 Series for this period in the Public Record Office, London ; of Vetch's Letter Book, the Brown Collection and other sources in the British Museum; and of parts of the Parkman Papers, and other records regarding the exiled Acadians in the Massachusetts Archives.


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Source: Arthur G. DOUGHTY, The Acadian Exiles. A Chronicle of the Land of Evangeline, Toronto, Glasgow, Brook & Company, 1916, 178p., pp. 162-171.
© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College