Friday, February 6, 2015

Wanted: Greek Research Guidance

Irish United Nations Veterans Association house and
 memorial garden (Arbour Hill), 
William Murphy, 2011, Creative Commons,
This is the story of how one resource can open the door to many research tools. It all started because of my Greek ancestors. My husband and I will be headed to Athens in the fall of 2015 for our next family history trip.

Athens. Panorama from Acropolis towards
 northeast and Mount Lycabettus,
2011, Wikimedia.
After traveling to the Czech Republic and Switzerland in 2013, I have some experience in getting prepared to make the most of my time in Europe. In my blog post of Oct 30, 2013, I discussed how I found my wonderful Czech heritage guide, Marie Zahn. The unforgettable trip with Marie to my grandfather’s ancestral village coupled with the genealogical information that she located before we arrived resulted in a very successful visit. This experience lead me to look for a guide in Greece.
But this quest proved much harder than I thought. I explored the subject of heritage guides in Greece in different google searches (trying to use just the right combination of words,) but nothing solid turned up. I e-mailed Rick Steves’ travel advisory site staffers, (a great site for travel information) but they had no leads either. 

Used by permission of publisher
On one of my google searches, I put “Greek genealogy resources” and a listing for a “Greek Family Research Toolkit” from Family Tree Magazine popped up. A copy of this issue is available at Family Tree Magazine's online store.

As I looked down the list of web sites in the tool kit, I saw this intriguing entry: Hellenic Genealogy Resources Facebook Group.

Facebook logo, 2013,
 Facebook, Inc., Wikimedia.

Now I had already searched Facebook groups under “Greek,” but I had not thought to look under “Hellenic.” The link in the Family Tree list (from 2012) was no longer active but now I had the name. I excitedly opened Facebook and entered the name I hoped to fine.

And there it was – the Hellenic Genealogy Resources Group!  (You must be in Facebook to see the group.) I saw that it was a closed group, so I clicked on “join” and the next time I checked, I saw a  welcome message from the administrator of the group, Dawna Stevens.

Listen, Ky, 2008, Creative Commons,
Having found the group, I could hardly wait to make contact.  In my “hello and thank you for letting me join message,” I asked if anyone knew of a Greek heritage guide. By the next day, Dawna Stevens had given me two possible candidates. This kind of treatment, of being heard, is something so wonderful to encounter when you are searching for information.
 I will write another post as I explore a research partnership with these new Greek contacts.

Another Facebook group I found in the Family Tree Magazine “Greek Family Research Toolkit” is Hellenic Genealogy Geek. I was intrigued by the term “Geek” – these must be very determined, focused researchers. Only a few weeks after joining this group, I received an e-mail announcing the “First NationalHellenic American Genealogy Conference” to be held in New York on Saturday April 25, 2015. This isn’t the first time that I have wished to live closer to New York City! The conference is co-sponsored by the Hellenic American Chamber ofCommerce and The conference syllabus promises an exciting, information-packed day. Not only are there some intriguing presentations, but the conference is free!

The conference opens with Peter C. Moskos speaking on “Greek Americans: Struggle and Success” which is the title of a book by the same title he co-authored with Charles C. Moskos.

A presentation by Dr. Louis Katsos, titled the “History of Hellenic Lands,” focuses on how research in Greek records is impacted by “geography, boundary changes and village name changes.” Herein lie the sand traps that befuddle many a genealogist!

Bunker, Michael Coghlan, 2009,
Creative Commons,

In the afternoon, Peter W. Dickson, a contributor to Greek Americans, will be speaking on “Using DNA in Greek Family History Research.” How DNA can help in family history research is one of my favorite topics!

I found another lead in the Greek Family Research Toolkit -- a link to Lica Catsakis’ website, Greek Genealogy - FamilyHistory, How to find Your Greek Ancestors. Dr. Catsakis is the author of Family History Research in Greece. This is a description of the book that appears on her website:

“Eleven Chapters: Beginning your Research, Sources for Genealogical Research, Greek History, More about Greece, Greek Migration, Locating Places in Greece (with details about various gazetteers – geographical dictionaries), Churches and Religious Denominations (with addresses of dioceses, and Patriarchate), Research by Mail (with form letters for civil and church archives in Greek and their English translation, and Family questionnaire for relatives to fill in information about common ancestors), Learn about Names, The Language (with basics about grammar and a list of words you will see in Greek records), Numbers and Units of Time. 
Two Appendices: Glossary (of Greek and English words); and Greek Given Names their Variations, their English Equivalents, and Name-days.
Pictures of ancestors and of the land, Maps, and photocopies of samples of Greek Records andCertificates.”

Isn’t it amazing how one resource, in this case Family History Magazine’s "Greek Family Research Toolkit," can lead one to discover all this:

  • Two Facebook groups on Greek Genealogy Research
  • Referrals to Greek Heritage guides
  • The Hellenic America Chamber of Commerce
  • The First National Hellenic American Genealogy Conference
  • A manual on how to do Greek Family Research by L. Catsakis
categories: genealogy tools, genealogy professional, genealogy groups

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