|American-French Genealogical Society|
AFGS 25th Anniversary
AFGS French Canadian Hall of Fame
|The American-French Genealogical Society during its 25th anniversary introduced the AFGS French-Canadian Hall of Fame.|
|The hall of fame will recognize individuals of French-Canadian ancestry who have made significant contributions to their community, or who have achieved success in their life’s endeavors. Four individuals will be inducted in the Class of 2003.|
|French-Canadian Hall of Fame Inductions and Special Achievement Awards were Presented During April Gala|
|Class of 2003|
Marie Louise Bonier, who researched the early French-Canadian settlers in Woonsocket. Her book, Debuts de la colonie Franco-Americaine de Woonsocket, Rhode Island, was published in 1920. The English translation was released in 1997.
Alphonse Desjardins, who in 1900, created the first credit union in North America, the Caisse populaire, which provided French Canadians in Quebec with loans at fair interest rates. His system was later brought to United States, with the first credit union being formed in Manchester, New Hampshire.
René Jetté, historian, genealogist, and demographer, has written more than 20 repertoires on French-Canadians, including the popular Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Quebec des origins a 1730.
Ben Mondor, Chairman and owner of the Pawtucket Red Sox, is a former Woonsocket mill owner who successfully renovated and operated textile mills in the area for many years. Mr. Mondor purchased the bankrupt baseball team in 1977 and has made it one of the most successful operations in professional baseball. He created the Pawtucket Red Sox Charitable Foundation to assist numerous charitable organizations around New England.
|On December 6, 1900, Alphonse Desjardins, opened the first cooperative loan and savings society (Caisse populaire), or people’s bank, in North America. By the time of his death 20 years later, Desjardins had been personally responsible for the establishment of over 200 Caisses throughout Québec, Ontario, and the United States and was considered a world-leading authority on cooperative financial institutions.|
|As parliamentary stenographer, Desjardins heard a debate that changed forever the orientation of his life. On April 6, 1897, Michael Quinn, M.P. for Montréal-Ste-Anne, submitted a member’s bill that would prohibit usurers from charging outrageous interest rates to desperate people. Quinn cited one recent example whereby a man had to pay $5000 to cover the cost of a $150 loan taken to save his family from destitution. He realized the case was strikingly similar for thousands of French Canadians and he resolved to find a cure for the financial woes besetting the agricultural and labouring classes of Québec.|
Desjardins’ cooperative pooled the resources of the agricultural and labouring communities in each parish into a local “reserve” fund. Membership was open to all members of good moral character, and included women and childrens. Money could be borrowed only for good reason and productive purposes (loans were decided on by the locally elected administration).
In 1911, he was invited by the Governor of Massachusetts to speak at conferences on mutual aid (during this trip he opened up the major caisses in New England). In 1912, he was invited by the White House to address American governors on agricultural credit. Governments and local groups in three Canadian provinces and 22 American states invited him to discuss the principles of cooperation in their jurisdictions.
For many people all across the world today, the name “Desjardins” means compassion and caring in financial matters that concern “ordinary” people. The American-French Genealogical Society is honored to include Alphonse Desjardins as a member of the AFGS French-Canadian Hall of Fame, Class of 2003.
|The American-French Genealogical Society, founded in 1978,
is a non-profit organization devoted to assisting people of
French-Canadian ancestry in the research of their family history.
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