Posted by: SSU Lingua Franca | December 11, 2017

What’s in a name? French-Canadian Thériault Family Association to Visit Salem

What’s in a name? French-Canadian Thériault Family Association to Visit Salem

by Elizabeth Blood

Many of us have taken advantage of new technologies to explore our ancestry through DNA tests or genealogical research online, but genealogical research has been a passion for many for quite some time and it is a particular fascination for those of French-Canadian descent. Most French-Canadians and many Franco-Americans (U.S. descendants of French-Canadian immigrants) can trace their ancestry to a short list of founding families, or “familles souches,” who established the French colonies in Canada in the 17th century. Each of these families today is represented by an association or organization that unites descendants of their surname to celebrate and explore their shared heritage.

Dr. Blood and Dr. Duclos-Orsello with Guy Thériault

In August 2018, Salem State will host the annual meeting of members of the Association des Familles Thériault d’Amérique (, an organization based in Québec and dedicated to bringing together Canadian and American descendants of the first Thériaults to immigrate to North America from France. Members all trace their ancestry to these 17th century French colonists, though the spelling of their names may vary, as spelling was inconsistent and often altered as the Thériault descendants spread from Acadia through Québec, across Canada, and into the United States. The Thériault association also includes those named Therriault, Theriot, Thériot, Thério, Therrio, Therriot, Terrio, Terriot and other spellings, as well as their descendants who may have married into other family names. The Association publishes a newsletter containing historical and genealogical information about famous Thériaults and organizes social gatherings and trips for members interested in exploring their ancestry.

This summer, hundreds of Thériaults will descend upon the North Shore to visit Franco-American heritage sites in Salem and Lawrence, two cities that were home to many French-Canadian immigrants in the early 20th century, including a good number of Thériaults! The group will be based at Salem State, staying in the dorms and holding a number of events on campus, including a reception in the SSU Library Archives, a talk by Dr. Blood and Dr. Duclos-Orsello (Interdisciplinary Studies) on French-Canadian immigration to Salem, and a trolley tour highlighting Franco-American sites in Salem, as well a several group dinners and a special Catholic mass to celebrate the group’s French and Acadian heritage.

As the majority of the association members are Francophones, the group will also need students to volunteer to help translate at check-in and during some of the activities. If you speak French and are interested in volunteering the weekend of August 10-12, 2018, please contact Dr. Blood (

Are you of French-Canadian ancestry? Find your family association at

To learn more about French-speaking Canada, consider our French Summer Program in Québec or register for FRE 362 “Québec: Culture and Literature” to be offered in Fall 2018!


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