The Genealogist’s Dictionary

At some point in the research process, most of us will have to leave the comfort of our native language and enter the new world of a foreign vocabulary. For those whose plunge is into a language which uses non-Roman letters, this can be intimidating and even scary. Because I spoke Greek before English and spent many restless childhood hours in Greek school, I thought my ultra-rudimentary grasp of the language would give me a good base to jump into Greek records. I was right–and I was wrong!

Reading old Greek handwriting and learning more sophisticated genealogical terminology was difficult. I continue to struggle. But, now there is a new and extremely useful booklet, The Genealogist’s Dictionary, which has been developed by my friend and fellow researcher, Gregory Kontos. The description reads:

One of the hardest aspects of Greek genealogy is reading and translating the old Greek records. Based on our team’s research experience, this dictionary was created to help English-speaking researchers translate and understand basic lines of an old Greek document. Using a wide variety of 19th century records, we managed to create a wide database of more than 400 words, which, expanding geographically and socially, wishes to cover the most crucial translational needs of a Hellenic genealogist.

This 24-page guide will help both the new and experienced Hellenic researcher. It is divided into two sections:

Part 1:  The Greek Alphabet, typed and handwritten; Numbers, cardinal and ordinal; Units of Time, days, months

Part 2:  Words and phrases for general records; school records; and professions/occupations

A sample page:


The Genealogist’s Dictionary is priced at $12.00 and is a pdf download from The URL is:

Gregory Kontos can be reached at:, or on Facebook at:

I trust that this guide will be as great a help to researchers as it is to me.


Laconian Studies: Documenting and Preserving Our Heritage

Just imagine that there is an eminent group of academics who gather to write, share, debate and publish scholarly works focused on the region of your ancestral home. Their focus is simple:  to promote continuing scientificresearch about the region with the ultimate goal of creating a written archive that chronicles and preserves the area’s rich history. If you have roots in the southern Peloponnese, you will be enthused to know that the Laconian Studies organization has undertaken this task with dedicated fervor.

Laconia Studies logo

Laconia Studies logo

Formed in Athens in 1966 under the initiative of Δικαίου Β. Βαγιακάκου (Dikaiou V. Vagiakakou), this group of about 130 has met continuously through the years. Members research and write about a myriad of subjects such as: history, archaeology, linguistics, folklore, philosophy, law, art, anthropology, and architecture.  Papers are presented at conferences, where time for debate and dialog is incorporated into the agenda.

This year, a Laconian Studies Conference will be held at the Cultural Hall in the Central Library of Sparta, Greece on November 10, 11, 12. There will be 35 speakers presenting diverse topics such as: The Lighthouse of Gytheio on the isle of Kranai Island; The Perennial Presence of the Komninos family in Xirokambi / Koumasta; Social Welfare in Laconia during the German Occupation; Geraki, Laconia during the Byzantine Period; Information about Mani from a Rare Brochure of the 19th Century.

All of the papers will be published in the Journal of Laconian Studies. There are 21 Volumes and 19 Annex Editions, which contain hundreds of articles about Laconia and Mani. A list of Journal publications is found here. As you browse through the various journal editions, be sure to click on titles of interest. Many titles are linked to pdf files with additional information on the topic.


The Laconian Studies website has downloadable publications in pdf format, which can be found here. Titles are:  Notebooks on the History of Mani; Mani in the Second Turkish Period (1715-1821) and The Mantineies of Mani. Included in the Notebooks on the History of Mani are ten sub-volumes, one of which is transcribed names of Election Lists from the late 1800’s. Of course, all publications are in Greek, but can be deciphered with the help of a good dictionary and Google Translate.

The Journals and Annex Editions can be purchased by contacting the Laconia Studies office as provided on the website here. The Laconian Studies Library and Office is located at Trikoupi 63, 4th floor, 104 81 Athens. Office hours: Monday – Wednesday – Friday 11:30 a.m. – 1.00 pm; telephone: 210-3304422. To visit the library, make an appointment in advance by sending an e-mail to:

Volumes of the Journal of Laconian Studies can also be lakonia-odos-logo-2016purchased through the newly-opened Laconia Odos bookstore in Skala, which can be contacted at The bookstore has a Facebook page which features posts about its publications and other items of interest.

Laconia Odos Bookstore, Skala, Greece

Laconia Odos Bookstore, Skala, Greece

I am very pleased to have these resources to help me study and learn about my heritage.

Addendum: I was delighted to see this Facebook comment from the owners of Laconia Odos:

November 4 at 11:20am ·

·Οι Σπαρτιατικές ρίζες (SPARTAN ROOTS) κοντά μας! Με ιδιαίτερη χαρά και ικανοποίηση είδαμε τη δημοσίευση του Αμερικανικού site που ασχολείται με Λακωνική γενεαλογία. Η ικανότατη και ταλαντούχα υπεύθυνη κυρία Carol Kostakos Petranek, συμπατριώτισσά μας Λάκαινα, βοηθά στο να μεταλαμπαδεύεται το ιλαρό φως της γνώσης στους συμπατριώτες μας στην Αμερική, εκεί όπου ζουν πολλές γενιές Λακώνων, με τη θύμηση της μητέρας Πατρίδας. Carol σ’ ευχαριστούμε πολύ για την όμορφη ανάρτηση και τα πάντα καλά σου λόγια!

The Spartan Roots near us! With great joy and satisfaction we saw the publication of the American site that deals with Laconia genealogy. The very talented and responsible lady Carol Kostakos Petranek, our compatriot Laconian, helps disseminate the cheerful light of knowledge to our compatriots in America, where many generations of Laconians live with the remembrance of the motherland. Carol thank you so much for the beautiful post and all of your good words!

1 the state of knowing :  knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding.
(Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)