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Livre de Chanson

Ms. Codex 1849

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Cowette, Demerise, 1877-1953
Livre de Chanson
circa 1920-1930
Call Number:
Ms. Codex 1849
1 volume (+ 11 leaves)
Language Note:
In French. One song in French and English is laid in the volume.
A volume of eighteenth-century French songs from the Acadian region of Kennebec, Maine compiled by Demerise Cowette between the years 1920 to 1930.
Cite as:
Livre de Chanson composé pas Demerise Cowette, circa 1920-1930, Ms. Codex 1849, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania
PDF Version:

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Born Demerise Vaillancourt in Van Buren, Aroostook County, Maine to Damase and Anastasie Duplessis dit Sirois Vaillancourt. She was one of thirteen children. While working as cook at logging camps on the Maine-Canada border, Demerise met Godfrey Cowette. Godfrey, a widower and mill worker, was born in Québec, Canada about 1850, he died in 1935. The couple married on September 23, 1901. They had eight children, five of whom survived. Various spellings appear for the surname of Godfrey Cowette. He was born with the name Godefroi Kaouet. Variants of the name include Cowette, Caouette, Cowett, and Cayouette.

Scope and Contents

A marble paper, covered ruled notebook comprising collection of eighteenth century French songs. The song lyrics were transcribed and compiled by Demerise Cowette probably between the years from 1920 to 1930. These early songs date prior to 1759 and were originally brought to the Acadia region by French settlers. In 1759 Acadians were forcibly transported by the English to Louisiana. Some of the Acadians settled in the Kennebec region of Maine. Cowette's knowledge of the lyrics of the songs was probably passed down through her husband, parents, and grandparents. Songs portraying Canadians, love, relationships, and history are included in the volume. There is a table of contents listing the titles or first lines of 109 songs on 139 numbered pages. Laid in the volume are three leaves listing the names and birth dates of twenty-six Vaillancourt family members; two leaves affixed together on the left edge consist of two songs; one typed leaf has a short poem in French and English by Wilfred O. Lajoie. Cowette's name and title of the volume is written on a label affixed to the front cover. R.F.D. 49, North Vassalboro, Maine is written on the inside front cover. There are four leaves of correspondence and one envelope dated 2007 discussing the song book. Two leaves from plants have been laid in the notebook.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts,  August 2017

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Donna Brandolisio

Access Restrictions

This codex is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Source of Acquisition

Gift of Caroline F. Schimmel, 2016.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)
  • Caroline F. Schimmel Fiction Collection of Women in the American West (University of Pennsylvania).
  • Codices (bound manuscripts)
  • Manuscripts, French--18th century
  • Musical texts
  • Songs (documents)
  • Acadians--18th century--Songs and music--Texts
  • Folk music
  • Folk songs
  • French-Canadians--18th century--Songs and music--Texts
  • Music
  • Songs, French--18th century--Texts

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Collection Inventory

Volume Folder

Livre de Chanson composé pas Demerise Cowette, circa 1920-1930.