A lot of historical terrain

This week we are doing a sweeping overview of histories of forced migration and displacement from Biblical stories of exile to the 17th century persecution of French Protestant Huguenots. The idea behind this vast undertaking? To get at a sense of how entwined stories of forced migration are with the history of humankind and also to move beyond our contemporary understandings of refugee and refugeehood. The challenge may come later this week when we delve into Stephanie Pettigrew’s fascinating research on the Huguenots in New France (where they weren’t supposed to be!) following the 1685 Edict of Fontainebleu, which led to the renewed persecution of Protestants in France and the flight of thousands to England, the Netherlands and French Colonial America. As you read Pettigrew’s piece, think about what her main argument is and what she uses as evidence. In other words:

  1. Identify her thesis statement.
  2. Identify the evidence she uses to prove her point.
  3. What larger argument is she making about researching the history of refuge?

Have fun! We’ll explore some of her ideas, methods and data sources in class.

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14 Comments

  1. In the article, the writer explores the history of the Huguenot’s, their exile, and persecution. in particular she explores their escape and tactics to protect themselves. The writer has started her research to explore in particular the hidden stories from lower-status refugees. Pettigrew believes that the way they hid themselves and their stories can reveal a lot more about the social makeup of New France and the life that refugees of that period had to lead.

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  2. I had a few difficulties with the first comment so I wanted to add a little bit more.
    I found the article really interesting, even though I wasn’t able to define a real thesis I think the author captured the reader interests with the story of hidden refugees. She particularly made a point in showing her research as a starting point to rediscover the community of Huguenots in New France.

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  3. After examining this article, it can be made clear that the thesis Stephanie Pettigrew conveys is; “But thanks to digitization and the more widely available access of such resources, we can learn more about those who successfully emigrated to New France to escape persecution for their religious beliefs in France by living in subterfuge.” The focus of this article is to identify Huguenots, and the hardships they encountered when they emigrated to New France. Essentially because the Huguenots were not so easily researchable, due to their hidden identities, these types of resources make understanding their way of life, and who they are more clear.
    In the article, the author describes how it is often difficult to identify who Huguenots are, because for long periods of time many people believed they did not even exist in New France. That simply being because of the government refusing to let them in due to their religious beliefs; (anyone who was not a catholic follower). Resources such as merchant records, and letters from missionaries prove that there definitely were Hugenots in New France. With the use of digital technology, Stephanie Pettigrew was able to identify these families and citizens much easier. For example PRDH, which allowed for researchers to figure out important aspects such as colonization, and their baptism records, therefore making the people to understand.
    The larger argument Pettigrew is making about the history of refuge is that by using all these sources to gain a better comprehension of people who are considered foregin in New France. By accessing different resources, she was able to draw conclusions of not only who the Huguenots were and why they hide their identities, but also the people who had influence on them, and why they left France to escape persecution.

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  4. Stephanie Pettigrew’s apparent goal for the essay is to prove that Huguenots were present in New France despite not being allowed to be there. She believes that they used various ways to deceive French authorities by lying and covering up their religious roots. evidence of this is sourced from records made accessible through the Project do recherche démographique en histoire (PRDH) that show discontinuities between what some people told authorities about their place of baptism as opposed to what the records show as facts.
    Her argument for the essay is proving Huguenots made it into New France under cover and settled into a Catholic lifestyle in order to avoid being persecuted and having to face civil war. It could be interpreted from Pettigrew, as a larger point, that refugees in history have had to hide or change aspects about themselves and their lives. They did this in order to escape persecution or to avoid being turned away due to their religion, place of origin, or other such characteristics. Pettigrew focuses specifically on the example of the Huguenots and never explicitly says that there is a bigger picture to look at, but the underlying message of what the Huguenots went through according to these records can be compared to other refugee experiences. There are countless examples of when the Jewish had to hide their identity, or literally hide, for that matter, in order to escape persecution. The Huguenots are perhaps one of the earliest traceable examples of clandestine refugees.

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  5. The Hidden Narratives of Clandestine Communities explores the connection between Digital history and the means of gathering research using the said digitalized resource to be able to gather information that is hidden or hard to recognize. Pettigrew states this in her thesis in relation to the context of the Huguenots in New France saying “But thanks to digitization and the more widely available access of such resources, we can learn more about those who successfully emigrated to New France to escape persecution for their religious beliefs in France by living in subterfuge.”
    The history of the Huguenots immigrating in secret to New France is certainly an interesting one, the author reveals through many arguments a variety of ways the refugees hid their identities, the hardships they endured prior to and during the journey to New France such as re-baptizing themselves and their children and through marriage. Pettigrew also brings to light how the technological advances of our digital time allows us to more easily reveal those hidden identities that were so carefully hidden many years ago.
    The appearance of Huguenots in New France is a relatively new finding because people never believed that they ever settled in New France, their religion not only turned them into refugees but also turned them stateless as New France also held the religious views of the French motherland creating a Barrier for the Huguenots. The un-identifiable quality of a lot of refugees is consistent and reflective of the entire history of refugees itself. Many refugees do not carry identification, have their identification taken away or purposefully hide it in order to survive, making their history difficult to trace, but as the article states this can change with the use of technology and detailed research. Pettigrew was able to make a solid argument that we can gain a better understanding of the Huguenots like who they really were, what happened to them and why their identities are important to recognize today by using the now accessible resources.

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  6. In this article, Stephanie Pettigrew highlights the significance of hidden Huguenot records, such as marriage certificates, and baptism records. She also mentions the methods in which they used to maintain their clandestine communities. Pettigrew provides evidence on the presence of Huguenots in New France by analyzing baptism records which provide information on an individual’s birth place, place of origin and church without too much difficulty. This information gives researchers insight on both the refugee’s and their community. She elaborates on the various ways in which they hide their true identities and the tactics they used to remain discreet.

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  7. Most people will spend time trying to find the authors thesis statement. Some might come up with something related to what the author is trying to convey, however in my opinion, the authors thesis statement is not clearly defined in words but rather in the authors tone and by asking yourself the question: “Why is the author writing this?” Should you ask yourself that question, you will quickly realize the author is not trying to convey the information regarding the Huguenots. Instead, the authors argument is focused on trying to prove why her research method is effective. This article is not actually about educating us on Huguenots, but rather educating us on her research method using primary sources to pave way for her dissertation. Her brief list of findings (within this article) only facilitates and provides a context for her to try and make that point. Its quite an effective strategy by the author to help establish credibility for her dissertation before it is published. Would be an interesting discussion point in class.

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  8. As far as I can point out her thesis is” However, research by scholars such as, Marc André Bédard, J.F. Bosher, and Leslie Choquette, has shown that there were small communities of Huguenots scattered across the French colonies of the New World.[3]”. I think this statement is a thesis as it outlines her main argument that she then spends the rest of the essay proving. However, it does not show two-three arguments that a average thesis statement would possess. The evidence Stephanie Pettigrew provides to prove that there were French Huguenots living in New France were detailed marriage, baptism and birth records that she found through the Project de recherche démographique en histoire (PRDH). Although there were other records such as merchant and abjurant records that proved that there were Huguenots living in the colonies, Stephanie decided to use other forms of evidence to try and answer her question of, how did they stay hidden? She was able to answer this by discovering, for example, how some people had multiple baptisms, one as a protestant and the other as a catholic. Perhaps her larger argument is that today the people with the title of a refugee are not looked at as people by everyone else as they have this complicated title. Her stress on the importance of research on the Huguenots could be reminding us that refugees are people and that it is not right that some have to hide their identity because of fear of discrimination or worse. We should be looking at them as people who like the Huguenot refugees were born somewhere, married somewhere, and lived somewhere. Their history matters.

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  9. In The Hidden Narratives of Clandestine Communities: Digital History and the Religious Minorities of New France, the author Stephanie Pettigrew, uses her thesis “[with] digitization and the more widely available access of such resources, we can learn more about those who successfully emigrated to New France to escape persecution for their religious beliefs in France by living in subterfuge.” to convey the hidden identities of Huguenots during their emigration to New France. Pettigrew brings up evidence from digital databases focusing specifically on the Project de recherche démographique en histoire (PRDH). Using her knowledge of this site and its resources surrounding original baptism records in France, Pettigrew assesses multiple documents to explain how Huguenots would hide their identities coming to New France. She applies examples such as marriage documents which were self reported at the time making it easy to change the information. Pettigrew also brought up an example of parents baptizing their children in multiple different churches to allow them to appear Catholic. In both of these examples Pettigrew uses evidence from the PRDH website that provides information such as place of birth, place of origin and where they were baptized. Although Pettigrew is focusing on Huguenots and the ways in which we can access information about clandestine individuals she makes a valid point as to why historians need to focus on stories of individuals. In many parts of history we are only able to study the lives of wealthy, educated, well-known people largely because the lives of the majority are hidden. In searching for these stories on a more human level allow us to know how the rest of the world existed and survived during times of displacement and migration.

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  10. In Stephanie Pettigrew’s essay The Hidden Narratives of Clandestine Communities: Digital History and the Religious Minorities of New France she proves that despite not legally being allowed many Huguenot refugees were living in New France. Within her article, her thesis statement is “However, research by scholars such as Marc André Bédard, J.F. Bosher, and Leslie Choquette, has shown that there were small communities of Huguenots scattered across the French colonies of the New World”. She proves this statement by using two examples of Huguenot refugees as evidence. The first example of a Huguenot refugee is Anne Javelot. She is able to prove that Javelot is a Huguenot by looking through primary sources. Whenever uncovering a Huguenot she first looks at the baptismal records and if the subject was baptized in a Calvinist temple, which is a strong indicator for a Huguenot. After looking through Javelot’s documents she was able to discover that Javelot was baptized in a Calvinist Temple and that she was from La Rochelle, France, which was a very protestant religion. Pettigrew’s also discovered that Javelot lied on her marriage certificate saying she was from a very catholic area to cover up her identity. Similarly her second example Jean-Baptiste Soulard was also baptized in a Calvinist temple but was also baptized in a catholic church by his parents. Pettigrew’s suspects this was to hide his Huguenot identity. Overall, through her research Pettigrew is also making an argument about all research about refugees. She is showing that it is very difficult to identify refugees in history since in many places they had to hide their identities, so to research refugees in many areas it requires a lot of good research through primary resources and a lot of investigating individuals apart of refugee communities.

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  11. In the article written by Stephanie Pettigrew, the writer uses her main point “However, research by scholars such as, Marc André Bédard, J.F. Bosher, and Leslie Choquette, has shown that there were small communities of Huguenots scattered across the French colonies of the New World.” to expand on the digital databases used as evidence to prove her point. With the emergence of digital databases such as PRDH, the process of identifying the existence of Huguenots in New France became feasible. The writer uses the database to have access to important information such as marriage documents, baptism records and more. The data from this resource leads to other branches of knowlege, for example baptismal records indicate the origin of birth. The larger argument Pettigrew is trying to convey simply is that the “well known” Huguenots that had power and influence often conceal individual Huguenots who traveled to New France in order to escape persecution for religious beliefs.

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  12. I had trouble pin-pointing one specific sentence that I felt truly captured the main argument of the essay. I struggled for a while to understand if her main argument was about the fact that there were Huguenots in New France, even though they were not supposed to be there (some people still believe that there was never a Huguenot population in New France) or if she was attempting to focus more on the records and organizations that currently exist that aid in her study of Huguenot migration. I believe that her thesis, although, captured through an idea in a number of her points was not explicitly stated. Her thesis was a more implicit claim that there were most definitely French Huguenots living in New-France and “here” is the evidence to prove it. I also wanted to focus a small amount on her diction. Her word choice at times seemed odd, especially when she was referring to these communities as Clandestine. I felt that the author, especially in the title of the essay, was focusing a lot on the idea that these communities were supplied with citizens that were living as disguised Protestants, when in reality the essay covered no specific examples of these communities and focused more on how to prove that they may have potentially existed. I think that she wanted as well to make the claim that the study of history is limited often to the resources that we have, and until recently many people were convinced that Huguenots were not present in New-France, but thanks to the PRDH, we now know this not to be true. I think that she is implying that the same may be for other examples of refugee history, that we may not have the resources to accurately understand them as they truly happened.

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  13. In Stephanie Pettigrew’s “The Hidden Narratives of Clandestine Communities: Digital History and the Minorities of New France,” we learn that the settlement of Huguenots in New France was legitimate despite this group of people being unwanted in that area due to their religion. Because the Hugueunots were rejected, they had to disguise their identities which made finding substantial evidence very hard for Pettigrew. Throughout the article Pettigrew praises the modern, digitalized resources for aiding her in finding hidden identities of the Huguenots when she states in her thesis statement, “But thanks to digitization and the more widely available access of such resources, we can learn more about those who successfully emigrated to New France to escape persecution for their religious beliefs in France by living in subterfuge.” Pettigrew gathers her digitalized research from online databases such as Project de recherche démographique en histoire and Infrastructure Intégrée des Microdonnées historiques de la Population du Québec. The author provides multiple documents she found and points out the small details to reveal how the Huguenots hid their identities. Stephanie Pettigrew gives the reader a deeper understanding of the displacement and migration people were required to live through during these early points in history. Pettigrew argues that without the help of digitalized resources and online databases, learning the stories and hardships of individuals during the time period of the Huguenots would be close to impossible.

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  14. The thesis that Stephanie Pettigrew is stating is how the history of the Huguenots is more than it seems as there is evidence they were present in places such as France where they were banished from, at risk of persecution and they accomplished this invisibility due to them being able to protect themselves by hiding their true identity.
    Information is not available in large amounts as in other points in history due to them having to hide their past and lie about who they are to avoid persecution, so information is hard to locate. Therefore, to figure out what their life is actually like, they must be able to first identify them then backtrack their past records to find where they came from and who they are as Pettigrew states.
    Some evidence Pettigrew had is that many lie about their origins. This means that locating Huguenots is very difficult. In order to be able to detect the lie they would have to look through records, such as marriage or religion records, in order to find errors that will put light on the lie as shown in the article. Some of these errors are easy to miss by authorities which allows the Huguenots to be able to go undetected.
    Although these are facts that appear to work based on the argument, not all past records can be hidden so I believe there may be more to the story of how they hide than what is being told. How were some actually able to stay away from being discovered? What did they do differently than the Huguenots that were found?
    Pettigrew’s larger argument may be that people should not be forced to hide their identity in fear. Although this article is mainly focused on the Huguenots, it can be related to many issues faced today regarding refugees and them having to lie in order to protect themselves and their family, and that not everyone may be as they say.

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