French Azilum Historical Site seeking volunteers

French Azilum is a distinctive historic site located in Towanda, Pennsylvania. It was established in 1793 by and for refugees from the French Revolution. When Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte granted repatriation rights to the French who had fled their country, most of the settlers here either went home to France, or settled in other parts of the United States where French people gathered, e.g. New Orleans and Savannah.

Five major families remained in and near the French settlement – the LaPortes, Homets, Le Fevres, Prevosts and Deutremonts. Louise Shipman Welles who was born at Athens, Pennsylvania, on January 2, 1854, was a descendant of Thomas Welles, first Governor of Connecticut, and also of Bartholomew Laporte, a French emigre at Azilum, Pennsylvania. She became quite the scholar, author and historian about French Azilum, as did her daughters.

We have boxes and boxes of Miss Welles’ materials that have never been inventoried, indexed or cataloged, much less the information assimilated and published. There are materials from other sources that also need to be processed. Further, the full and real story of French Azilum has not been told. Most of the pieces are around, but there are also some elements missing.

I am writing to offer a graduate student/s in your program the opportunity to work with the materials at French Azilum as h/er thesis, dissertation or special study project. As I hold my MLIS (San Jose State University 2007) and have worked with historical libraries since 1992, and we have a board member with a PhD in public history, your student/s would be in good and kindred hands. We offer no remuneration, but the right to co-publish with us, and we would like work to begin within the next six months. It is probable that housing can be arranged. We believe this project will be ideal for a student who wants a defined archival subject of interest and value, and we can certainly assist that student/s.

Please contact me in the matter that is most convenient for you to discuss this matter further. Thank you.

Very truly yours,


Margo Fox Picou, Manager

French Azilum Historic Site


Peter J. Wosh
Director, Archives/Public History Program
History Department
New York University
53 Washington Square South
Room 503
New York NY 10012
Phone: (212) 998-8601
Fax: (212) 995-4017

Peter Wosh

About Peter Wosh

Professor Wosh directs the program in Archives and Public History at NYU. Professor Wosh’s research has focused primarily on American religion, American institutional cultures, and archival management issues. His background includes work as an archivist in a variety of academic and nonprofit institutions, including: Director of Archives and Library Services, American Bible Society (1989-1994); Archivist/Records Manager, American Bible Society (1984-1989); University Archivist, Seton Hall University (1978-1984). He is the author of Privacy and Confidentiality Perspectives: Archivists and Archival Records, with Menzi Behrnd-Klodt (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2005); Covenant House: Journey of a Faith-Based Charity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005); Spreading the Word: The Bible Business in Nineteenth-Century America (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994); The Diocesan Journal of Michael Augustine Corrigan, Bishop of Newark, New Jersey, 1872-1880 (Newark: New Jersey Historical Society, 1987); as well as articles in various archival, historical, and library journals. Professor Wosh’s current research involves editing the published writings of Waldo Gifford Leland, a pioneering archival theoretician, for the Archival Classics series published by the Society of American Archivists.

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