The Material Culture of Folk Religion in French North America, 1600-1763

Author(s): Nina Schreiner

Year: 2018


By law, permanent residents of French settlements were Catholic. Systematic Catholicizing of French North America was nominally successful, but lay religion retained unorthodox elements, including belief in powerful supernatural beings and the effectiveness of magic in daily life. This study briefly surveys folklore and ethnohistory from New France and Louisiana to shed light on such folk religious beliefs and practices, then moves to consideration of diverse forms of material culture associated with folk religion, and culminates in analysis of two artifact collections: devotional medallions from Ft. Michilimackinac and ex-voto paintings at St.-Anne-de-Beaupre outside Quebec City. This analysis results in a nuanced view of French colonial religion, and highlights the function of objects in defining roles within it. It demonstrates the applicability of an updated, decolonized definition of folk religion to the study of settler-colonial societies, particularly for archaeologists working in French North America. 

Cite this Record

The Material Culture of Folk Religion in French North America, 1600-1763. Nina Schreiner. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441603)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 937