Skip to main content

American Studies: Acadians / Cajuns: Introduction

Their History, Culture and Language



Acadian Flag      The Acadians / Cajuns: Part of the American Story       Cajun flag  


The presence of the French in America began in the 16th century with the arrival of French explorers, and by the early 17th century, settlers populated the French colony known as L'Acadie, or Acadia, a large area of what is now three Canadian provinces (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick) and part of the State of Maine.

The British obtained control of Acadia by treaty 1713 with little impact on the French population until 1755. During the period of the French and Indian War (aka Seven Years War) the Governor of Nova Scotia ordered the complete expulsion of the Acadians from the only homeland most of them had ever known. Over the next several years, approximately 15,000 Acadians were deported with thousands more killed.  The first deportees were relocated to a number of the 13 colonies. Some returned to France, other relocated to the Caribbean, and by 1765 approximately 3000 relocated in Louisiana, at the time, under the control of the Spain. 

The word L'acadine, perhaps due to the influence of creole became cadien then 'canjun'.  Over several decades many Acadians returned to their homeland but the influence in Louisiana would remain. 

The publication of the poem Évangéline: A Tale of Acadie initiated a resurgence of the Acadian identity and many citizens across North America proudly recognize Acadian ancestors.  In the United States the largest populations is found in New England.  Still, nowhere in the U.S. has "Cajun" influence been more indelible or longer lasting than in Louisiana where remains one of the State's core identies and one it its cultural pillars.



Books, Articles, & More



Library of Congress Classifications

F366-380 - Louisiana

F1030,  F1038  - New France Acadia

F1170 - French America 

PS 2263.A1 -  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Suggested search terms for Acadian / Cajun research.

Consider a comination of the following terms when searching the Libraries databases:

1755   |   1765   |    18th Century   |   Acadia   |   Acadian diaspora  |    Adadian expulsion   |    Acadian festival   |    Acadiana   |   Acadians   |   Acadians -- History   |    Acadians in  ...Baton Rouge / ...Boston / ...Georgia /  ...Louisiana /  ...Maryland / ...Mobile, AL / ...New Orleans  /  ...Philadelphia   |  Acadians in literature   |    Acadians - migrations   |    Acadians - Relocation   |   Americanization   |   Cadien   |   Cajun   |   Cajuns    |   Cajuns - Cultural assimilation   |   Cajuns - Ethnic identity   |   Cajuns - History   |   Cajuns in literature   |   Cape Breton Island   |   Chignecto   |   Grand Dérangement   |   Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie   |   France   |   French   |   French Louisiana   |   Gabriel   |   Heart of Acadiana   |   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow    |   Lafayette, LA   |   Louisbourg   |   Louisiana   |   Louisiana -- Ethnic relations   | Louisiana settlement   |   Maine   |   New Brunswick   |   New Brunswick -- History   |   Nova Scotia|   |   Nova Scotia -- History   |   Petition to settle   |  Prince Edward Island   | Port Royal   |   Saint Dominique   |   Saint John River   |   Saint Malo, FR   |  Samuel de Champlain   |   Seven Years War United States -- Ethnic relations   |   Zydeco



Loading ...

Web resources








Related Websites





Film & Video Databases



Music Databases



Below you will find a Selection of YouTube Videos




A picture of the Header of the Maine Historical Society Website of H. W. Longfellow

There are perhaps a few instances in history where the work of one person, indeed, one literary work, would play a significant role in the reawakening of a cultural identity and the resurgence of a national image. Such an example is this poem published in 1847 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  This page links to the Web version of the Maine Historical Society. It is beautifully presented. 

Select to view the Maine Historical Society website and the poem

« Evangeline A Tale of Acadie »





English Translation


Marie-Jo Theriot

Based on the Epic Poem by
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

performed by Annie Blanchard

The stars were in the sky,
Back in the arms of Gabriel
It was fine, it was Sunday
The bells were ringing
And you were going to get married
In your first white dress
Autumn had begun well
The crowds had all returned
And departed full of mockery
And at night the sound of a violin
the girls and boys especially
Would have told you, you were beautiful

Evangeline Evangeline

But the English arrived
In the church, they locked
All the men in your village
And women had to go
With the children crying
All night on the shore
In the morning they embarked
with Gabriel on a Tall Ship
Without saying goodbye, without a smile
And all alone on the dock You tried to pray
But you had nothing more to say

Evangeline Evangeline

So for over twenty years
You have searched for your lover
Throughout America
In the plains and valleys
Each wind whispered his name
Like the most beautiful music
Even if your heart was dead
Your love grew stronger
In memory and absence
He filled your thoughts
And every day he flourished
In the garden of silence

Evangeline Evangeline

You lived alone with the desire
To relieve and cure
Those who suffer more than yourself
You learned that at the end of sorrows
Fate always finds the way
to lead us toward those we love
So one Sunday morning
You heard in the distance
The chimes of your village
And then suddenly you understood
That your trials were over
Like a long journey
Before you lay
A stranger on a pallet
An old man dying of weakness In the morning light
His face seemed suddenly
To take on the features of his youth
Gabriel died in your arms You planted on his mouth
A kiss as long as your life
He must have wanted
To find the strength to say thank you

Evangeline Evangeline

There still exist today
People who live in your country
Who will remember your name
Because the ocean is talking about you
Southeast winds carry your voice
From the forest to the plain
Your name is more than Acadia
More than hope for a homeland
Your name transcends borders
Your name is the name of all those who
Despite their unhappiness
Still believe in love and hope

Evangeline Evangeline

Evangeline Evangeline

Guide Info

This Library Research Guide is posted on the Rowan University Libraries' Research Guides site to provide an introduction for those interested in Acadian and Cajun history, culture, and language.   

Rowan University Libraries' Research Guides are provided for educational and research purposes.  Guides are hosted on the Springshare LibGuides portal, to which Rowan University Libraries subscribes. 

Rowan University makes no claim to freely available websites nor does it accept responsibility for the information, views, or opinions expressed by those who have authored or compiled the content or by those who are quoted on the sites.  The inclusion of links to any of the websites on this or any other Library Research Guide should not be considered an endorsement of any product or service offered on the linked sites or by the website service providers.