Evangeline is the touching
story of young lovers separated during the deportation of Acadians
from their homeland in 1755. It is, as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
said, "...the best illustration of faithfulness and the constancy
of women..." as Evangeline spends her life searching for Gabriel
who has remained faithful to her. Her travels take her from her
beloved home in Grand Pré to New England, Louisiana, the
West, and finally Philadelphia where she gives up her search and
devotes her life to serving others as a Sister of Mercy. It is there
she and Gabriel are reunited in a poorhouse where they share a glorious
moment of healing - a moment of spiritual transcendence - before
he dies in her arms.
Evangeline is a story
of survival - the survival of a people who, after being exiled from
their homeland, faced rejection, homelessness, and other adversities
wherever they were disembarked along the Eastern seaboard of the
United States, England, and France. Over many generations, the Acadians'
effort to live in harmony with their environment and each other
was carried forward to their new American and Canadian lands. Some
tried to assimilate with the English and other ethnic groups so
they could become a part of the community. Others formed their own
separate Acadian communities and retained their French language.
Evangeline was a mirror
for Acadians to recognize themselves. The poem became the gateway
for the displaced Acadians to reunite as a nation. The poem's success
put it in the hands of readers all over the world, and soon the
story of Evangeline and
the historical facts of the Acadian Diaspora were known all over
the world. The Acadians could no longer hide. Grand Pré became
the symbol of the deportation and a pilgrimage site for Acadians.
Evangeline became the symbol of the innocence, loyalty, and endurance
of the Acadian people. Many endearing words have been used to describe
her character: "pure, innocent, sweet, demure, kind, selfless,
saintly, loyal, faithful, patient, courageous, constant, steadfast
These are the same words that have been used to describe the Acadians
of the 17th and 18th century.
Evangeline has been
immortalized not only by the poem, but by the works of other writers,
artists, playwrights, composers, businesses, newspapers, schools,
and others. One can find the name, Evangeline, or her image, on
company logos; community organizations; a 1939 postage stamp commemorating
the 175 year anniversary of the deportation; various products such
as soda pop, vinegar, chocolate, coffee, apples, yams, sardines,
silk stockings, pottery, silverware, shoe shine; and various souvenirs
throughout Canada, Louisiana, and New England, where the largest
enclaves of Acadians settled.
The Spirit of Evangeline
exhibition is a compilation of images, memorabilia, and other products
that show the depth and breadth of her spirit as it has been incarnated
in the Acadian culture. The images are from various editions of
Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie,
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; postcards; photographs; product labels;
and memorabilia. The Spirit of Evangeline that was born in Longfellow's
poem lives in the hearts of the Acadian people, their culture, and
their communities in spite of efforts to dethrone her from the position
of national icon to be replaced by more realistic Acadian characters.
It is not only her character traits, but more importantly her spirit,
that has prevailed as a guiding light for Acadians to come home.
She is the metaphor for the Acadians' quest to rebirth themselves
and the immortal symbol of a nation reborn without boundaries. Evangeline
brought hope, a sense of identity, and purpose to the renaissance
of the Acadian nation nearly a century after its demise, and her
spirit has continued to inspire Acadians young and old.
of Evangeline is said to roam the dikes in
Grand Pré at night and has been witnessed as a women dressed
in a flowing white dress searching for her lover. It is also said
to inhabit Acadian country in Louisiana where there is the second
largest settlement of Acadians. The Acadians of Louisiana, better
known as Cajuns, have their own legend of Evangeline with its own
Spirit of Evangeline
is a mirror for today's Acadians to recognize themselves in their
own quest for personal identity and spiritual transcendence. Evangeline's
journey is what Joseph Campbell called "the hero's journey,"
or the quest for inner truth and spiritual evolution. Universally,
the story of Evangeline is a metaphor for our own lives as we search
for pieces of our fragmented souls in our quest for wholeness. It
is when we end the search, as did Evangeline, that we find inner
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In 1845, as he was starting to write Evangeline,
A Tale of Acadie, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow handpicked
Hammett Billings, a popular contemporary artist, to illustrate his
epic poem. Billings procrastinated and ultimately lost the job.
Billings found his success years later with his highly sentimental
illustrations for Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.
And Evangeline was published without illustrations on November 2,
1847. After its tremendous success, Longfellow imagined illustrated
editions of Evangeline's story. In 1850, the first illustrated edition
of Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie
was published in Boston by Ticknor, Reed, and Fields. It included
forty-five engravings on wood from designs by Jane E. Benham, Birket
Foster, and John Gilbert. As Evangeline became an icon that represented
the tragic story of Acadians, over 160 successful and popular artists,
illustrators, sculptors, photographers, and printmakers have given
us their rendition of the characters, places, and events to add
to our understanding of the poem and the odyssey of the Acadian
people over the past 250 years since their deportation from L'Acadie,
their beloved homeland.
This exhibition includes original works and reproductions of images
from various editions of Evangeline,
A Tale of Acadie; a sampling of old and recent memorabilia;
product labels; and Company logos that have carried the Spirit
of Evangeline forward and continue to make her an
integral part of the Acadian culture.
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This poem inspired other authors to write stories about Evangeline
and her beloved homeland, Acadie.
Included in the exhibition are novels; an anthology; and two versions
of the poem that have been published in prose form.
Bailey, Carolyn Sherwin, Evangeline: A Romance of Acadia by
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. With Introduction and Prose Version
by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey. Illustrated with scenes from the Moving
Picture produced by William Fox. Springfield, MA.: Milton Bradley
Edward, Clayton, The Story of Evangeline, illustrated by
M. L. Kirk. New York: The Hampton Publishing Co., MCMXIII (1913).
A narrative of the poem "
to give a direct prose rendering
of Longfellow's poem, Evangeline, to awaken interest in the poem
itself, and to preserve, as far as possible, the spirit of the original
poetry for those who prefer their romances in prose
Raymond, Evelyn, Little Miss Evangeline: A Story for Girls.
Philadelphia: The Penn Publishing Co., 1908.
Roberts, Charles G.D., A Sister of Evangeline: The Story of
Yvonne de Lamourie. Being the Story of Yvonne de Lamourie and
how she went into Exile with the Villagers of Grand Pré.
New Edition with Illustrations. New York: Grosset & Dunlap Publishers.
Copyright in 1898 by Lamson, Wolffe and Company, and in 1900 by
Silver, Burdett and Company.
Rogers, Grace McLeod, Stories of the Land of Evangeline,
Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1923.
Tallant, Robert, Evangeline and the Acadians, Illustrated
by Corinne Boyd Dillon, New York: Random House, 1957.
Voorhies, Felix, Acadian Reminiscences: The True Story of Evangeline,
Printed and Distributed by E.P. Rivas, Inc., New Orleans, LA, 1960.
[Original Copyright, 1907 by Felix Voorhies]
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The Spirit of Evangeline
exhibit consists of:
- over 80 16"x22" mounted and laminated images of Evangeline
taken from antique editions of the poem, postcards, and product
- four large canvas hangings
- a life-size garden sculpture
- information boards
- prints and information boards of the deportation of Acadians
- the Queen's proclamation of 2003
- two portraits and memorabilia of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- Evangeline memorabilia that would fill a large exhibit case
- sheet music; comic books; post cards; lps, cds; vhs documentaries
- books: antique editions of Evangeline, related stories, and
historical references to Acadian history and the deportation.
The purpose of the exhibit is to show how the spirit of Evangeline
that was conceived by Longfellow has thrived not only in the hearts
of Acadians but in the mainstream culture. It shows how Evangeline
was interpreted by various artists and artisans, and how she was
used for tourism and commercial gain. Evangeline became the symbol
of the Acadian journey and the icon of their nation building.
Spirit of Evangeline
is a traveling exhibit compiled and curated by Françoise
Paradis. It was launched at Dyer Library in January 2005. It is
available to libraries, museums, and historical societies at a fee
of $1,000 for one month and $500 each additional month to cover
transportation charges, insurance, and set-up costs. If the exhibition
is shipped via mail or UPS, the cost is the responsibility of the
Françoise Paradis, Ed.D.
Hidden Springs, Inc.
P.O. Box 1325
Saco, ME 04072
Tel: (207) 282-6730
Fax: (207) 282-6731
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Schedule for 2007
Schedule for 2006
- January 30 to March 30
The Spirit of Evangeline Exhibition
Franco-American Heritage Center, Lewiston, ME
- February 11 to March 3
An exhibit of Evangeline memorabilia in the Morrell Room, Curtis
Memorial Library in Brunswick, ME
- June 1 to September 30
Spirit of Evangeline Exhibition at the Musée
Culturel du Mont-Carmel in Lille Maine. An exhibition of illustrations
from the poem, postcards, and event posters.
- August 25 to September 30
Spirit of Evangeline Exhibition at Acadian Archives, University
of Maine at Fort Kent, Fort Kent, Maine. An exhibition of
illustrations from the poem, memorabilia, products, sheet music,
and souvenirs. [more]
Schedule for 2005
- January - Dyer Library, Saco, Maine
- February - March Acadian Memorial, St. Martinville, LA
- April 12 - May 10 University of Maine, Presque Isle,
- June 15- Sept 30 Village Acadien, Van Buren, ME
St. Agathe Historical Society
- October - November University of Maine at Orono
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