Catholics across Borders

Canadian Immigrants in the North Country, Plattsburgh, New York, 1850–1950

By Mark Paul Richard

Subjects: New York/regional, American History, Religion, Immigration, Ethnic History, Gender Studies
Hardcover : 9781438496214, 354 pages, February 2024
Paperback : 9781438496221, 354 pages, August 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-08-02

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations


1. The Collaboration of the Irish and the French Canadians: Creating a Catholic Community, 1850–1870

2. Oblate Priests, Grey Nuns, and Ethnic Institutions: Forging a French-Canadian Community, 1870–1900

3. An Execution in Canada, a Murder in Plattsburgh, and Le National: Shaping Francophones' Political Consciousness, 1870–1900

4. Religious Habits, Catholic Institutions, and the Champlain Tercentenary: Ringing in the Twentieth Century, 1900–1910

5. The Contest between the Grey Nuns and Local Physicians: Founding Nonsectarian Community Hospitals, 1900–1920

6. The Visibility of the Canada–US Border: Separating Nuns and Nations, 1910–1920

7. The Era of the Second Ku Klux Klan: Pursuing Interfaith Collaboration while Expanding Catholic Institutions, 1920–1930

8. The Depression Years: Collecting Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters, 1930–1940

9. Plattsburgh during World War II and the Early Cold War: Retaining a Catholic Heritage, 1940–1950



Illuminates the cross-border migration and settlement of Catholics from Canada to northern New York.


Catholics across Borders examines the evolution of a French-speaking population in Plattsburgh over a century. Contrasting with New England's francophone textile mill centers, Plattsburgh featured interethnic cooperation instead of conflict. The book explores how international events affected French Catholic identity at the local level, drawing from French-language newspapers and Catholic archives. Transnational Catholic migrants from Canada and France played a significant role in shaping local, regional, national, and international history in Plattsburgh and beyond, contributing to the larger narrative of the U.S. immigrant experience. This study provides a historic perspective for understanding the present.

Mark Paul Richard is Professor of History and Canadian Studies, State University of New York at Plattsburgh. He is the author of Loyal but French: The Negotiation of Identity by French-Canadian Descendants in the United States and Not a Catholic Nation: The Ku Klux Klan Confronts New England in the 1920s.


"Catholics across Borders fills an existing hole in the historiography of immigration and ethnicity in the United States. French Canadians are an understudied group, even though they are one of the largest immigrant groups of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries … Beyond making a significant contribution to immigration, borderlands, and ethnic history, Richard's book also enhances our understanding of American religious history and women's history." — Leslie Choquette, Assumption University

"Despite the massive immigration of French Canadians to the United States from approximately 1860 to 1930 and the contributions of this sizeable ethnic group to the development of towns and cities throughout the northeastern United States, Franco-American history and heritage are largely overlooked … Thankfully, this work addresses this gap. Dr. Richard's … scholarship is extraordinarily sound and thorough." — Janet L. Shideler, Siena College