The Center for French Colonial Studies was founded in 1983 in response to the renewed interest among historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, genealogists and preservationists in the history of the upper Mississippi Valley during the period of French predominance from 1673 to the early part of the 19th century.

The activities of the Center are recorded in its quarterly publication, Le Journal, that carries news, articles, book reviews and research materials. In addition the Center publishes monographs related to the French presence in the upper Mississippi Valley.

The annual meeting takes place every fall, each year in a different location associated with the French presence in the Mississippi Valley: Prairie du Rocher (Illinois), Ste. Geneviève (Missouri), St. Louis (Missouri), Peoria (Illinois), Prairie du Chien (Wisconsin), Old Mines (Missouri), Natchitoches (Louisiana), Monroe (Michigan), Green Bay (Wisconsin), Pascagoula (Mississippi), Vincennes (Indiana), Windsor (Ontario),etc. The annual meeting is generally organized in cooperation with a local university or historical society. It includes the presentation of papers by academic and non-attached historians and provides an opportunity for socializing.