Greek Genealogy Conference, Saturday, October 19, 2019

Please join us in Virginia Beach for an informative and lively conference! See the flier below the agenda.
This conference will be broadcast via FB live. You can watch either the entire conference or segments of your choice at:

Sam Williams
Carol Kostakos Petranek
Matt Ellsworth

9:00 Arrival

9:30-10:00 Introduction to Hellenic Genealogy

Why Orthodox Christians Should Do Their Genealogy – Sam
Greek Genealogy Toolbox – Carol
Making connections: Internet resources – Carol

10:00-10:30  Using U. S. Records to Prepare for Research in Greece – Carol

10:30-11:00 Using DNA in Hellenic Research  – Sam

Break:  10 minutes

11:10-12:10 Research in Cyprus – Matt Ellsworth (via Skype)

12:10-1:00 Lunch Break

1:00-2:00 Greek Civil Records in Archives and Town Halls

Male Registers
Town Registers
Election Lists
Contracts and Dowries

2:00-2:45 Orthodox Church Records in Greece

Village Church Records  – Carol
Metropolis Records – Carol
U.S. Orthodox Church Records – Sam Williams

2:45-3:00 Q&A  – Conclusion


A Greek at RootsTech 2019

After four days of classes and meetings at the largest genealogy conference in the world, I am both energized and exhausted. RootsTech, held every year in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a sensory as well as intellectual experience. The vacant hallways of the Salt Palace before opening day give no hint of the pandemonium about to hit.

Before and after

Choosing from the myriad of classes was tough, but I was drawn to sessions focusing on records preservation (both archival and personal), what’s new and upcoming at MyHeritage and FamilySearch, resolving conflicting evidence, alien registrations, military research, and DNA. I enjoy and learn from Mary Tedesco’s Italian genealogy classes, as research strategies in Italy and Greece are similar.

But the most rewarding part of this RootsTech was connecting with several friends of Greek descent. One is a volunteer at the Family History Library on Wednesday mornings and helps people with their Greek research. For the past ten years, she has guided patrons in their quest to get started. She related that most people do not know the original surname and village of origin of their ancestral family, and with no centralized online database in Greece, research must be done at the local level by mail or in person. Thus, much of her assistance centers on teaching patrons how to use U.S. records to find needed information.

My Greek friends at the Family History Library.

There is a feature on the FamilySearch Family Tree app which calculates how many people, within 100 yards, are related to you. Twenty thousand people attend RootsTech, with thousands in the Expo Hall at any given moment. Every year, I pull up this app and every year, my matches are ZERO! The real-time board which displays the numbers of related attendees irritates my Greek friend, Georgia, and me. It is so annoying to hear people say, “I have 300 cousins in this hall right now” when we have none.

We have zero cousins in the expo hall!

But I do have many blogger friends in the genealogy community known as GeneaBloggers. We write about our research and our ancestral families; our backgrounds are multi-cultural and our blogs reflect our areas of expertise. Our goals are to assist others in learning how to research, and to support each other in our own efforts. We are a tight group but never exclusive, and invite any and all who write about family history to join us.

The Family History Library (FHL) is one block away from the Salt Palace and most genealogists split their time between the two venues. The FHL provides access to digitized materials which, due to contractual restrictions, must be viewed either there or in one of the 4,500 Family History Centers worldwide. Its collection of 2.5 million microfilms is almost entirely digitized, but some have not yet been converted; thus, it is the place to go to view these films. The FHL has 3,000 microfilms of records from Greece, predominantly the region around Athens and some islands. This list, compiled by Lica Catsakis, can be found here. While most Greek films have been digitized, some remain on microfilm and can be viewed and downloaded at a scanner such as the one below.

Microfilm scanner at the Family History Library.

Microfilm image of a page from a death index book, Thessaloniki, 1918.

The FHL has a few reference books for Greek research. Of particular value are the gazetteers, or geographical dictionaries. Since the Revolution of 1821, many villages underwent name changes, consolidations, or even extinction. This image shows a list of villages in the Dimos Lakedaimonos in 1836.

Join me at RootsTech next year! The dates are February 26-29, 2020. I can promise you an extraordinary experience of inspiration and education. And great fun!

Upcoming Webinar

October is conference month! I have presented at Greek genealogy conferences in Baltimore and Philadelphia the last two Saturdays.

My next presentation will be a one-hour webinar on Friday, October 19 at 9:00 p.m. eastern time:  “It’s All Greek to Me: Genealogy Research in Greece.” This will be an abbreviated overview of civil and church records available in Greece.  You will see examples of records and the information they contain, and how to access them. Handouts will be available upon registration. I hope you can attend!

Information and registration is here:

Mitroon Arrenon, Agios Ioannis, Sparta: 1844-1847

Conference Time!

Hellenic Genealogy Conferences are fabulous events. Participants have the opportunity to learn how to begin or progress in their research skills, and to network with each other.

It is no secret that Greek genealogy is not easy–there are issues regarding language translation, lack of digital records, and missing/incomplete record collections in Greece.

However, it CAN be done! Our Hellenic Genealogy Geek Facebook page has 19,300 members as of today! That’s a huge group! There are thousands of people who are diligently seeking their Hellenic roots, and we work together to help each other.

In October, there are two all-day conferences which will focus on teaching Greek genealogy research skills:  one in Baltimore, and one in Philadelphia. Details are below. Please join us, and share this post with others who would like to learn more.

Saturday, October 6:  Baltimore
Sponsor: Hellenic Heritage Museum of Maryland
Where: Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, 24 West Preston Street, Baltimore MD 21201
Time:  9:30-5:00
Cost:  $40 which includes lunch
Contact:  Harry Maistros at

Getting Started: Research Strategies, Greek Genealogy Toolkit, Research Help

Using U.S. Records to Prepare for Research in Greece: learn which records can
help you find your original surname and village of origin

Passenger Ship, Naturalization and Alien Registration Records

Civil and Church Records in Greece:  what is available? what information do they
contain? how to access?

Putting It All Together:  Organizing and sharing your research

Carol Kostakos Petranek
Antigoni Ladd

Saturday, October 13:  Philadelphia
Sponsor:  St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Where:  St. George Cathedral, 256 South 8th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Time:  9:00 – 5:00
Cost:  $20
Contact:  Barbara Lyngarkos, Event Coordinator


Website with information and registration:



Introduction to Greek Genealogy

How to Use U.S. Records to Prepare for Research in Greece {Census – Marriage – Passenger Ship-Naturalization (very brief; full discussion in separate section) – Social Security Applications – World War I and II Draft Registration Cards – Death Certificates – Obituaries – Cemetery Records / Tombstones – Personal Letters, Documents – Photographs)

Locating and Using Passenger Ship, Naturalization & Alien Registration Records

Ancestry DNA – Testing

Ancestry DNA – Analysis

Research in Greece – Civil Records (Male Registers – Town Registers – Election Lists – Contracts and Dowries)

Research in Greece – Church Records (Records in local churches – Records in Mitropolis offices)

Planning a Research Trip and Wrap-Up

Carol Kostakos Petranek
Georgia Stryker Keilman
Nicole Zizos Gulledge 


Portland, Oregon Greek Genealogy Conference

On Saturday, April 21, 2018, I was excited to be the speaker at an all-day Greek Genealogy conference in Portland, Oregon. Sponsored by the Hellenic-American Cultural Center and Museum of Portland, this was held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Fr. Elias Stephanopoulos Center. For those in the U.S. who know of the broadcast journalist, George Stephanopoulos, his uncle is the one for whom this Hellenic Center is named. In the early 1900’s, Greeks traveled across the U.S. and settled in Portland to work on the railroad. The present-day community is strong and closely knit. Many are descendants of the early Greek immigrants.

The hall was filled with about 80 enthusiastic people who were ready to dive into the “how-to’s” of research. From 9:00-5:00, we studied five major topics:

Session 1 – Getting Started
Session 2 – Using US Records to Prepare for Research in Greece
Session 3 – Passenger Ship, Naturalization, Alien Registrations
Session 4 – Civil Records in Greece, online
Session 5 – Church and Civil Repositories in Greece; Researching in Greece

The handouts for this conference can be found at the Hellenic Genealogy Conferences website here: Portland.  I uploaded many supplementary documents — please download and use all of these materials, and email me if I can be of help (spartanroots1 at

Portland Greek Genealogy Conference, April 21, 2018

I was so pleased when several people approached me to share what they were doing as researchers. Their stories were fascinating, and I invited them to share with the group.

l-r: Gus Chamales, Carol Kostakos Petranek, Chris Zervas, Portland, April 21 2018

Gus Chamales had become interested in the World War II military service of one of his church parishioners, and has expanded that to research the history not only of this person, but of his entire company. This interest is growing to conducting research on many more Greek-Americans who have served in the military.

Chris Zervas began researching his family in a small village outside of Corinth. He soon found his work expanding to include neighboring villages. Chris is engaged in what professionals call a “one-place study” as his research now includes every resident in his village and neighboring ones. His family tree currently contains 24,000 names and continues to grow!

The Hellenic Museum occupies a large room in the upper level of the Stephanopoulos Center. Its holdings are true treasures of the quality one would see in a museum in Athens. I could have spent several hours reading the inscriptions and examining every artifact, but I had to rush through during a 30-minute lunch break. I was told that the Archbishop said this was the most beautiful Greek museum in America. Here are just a few of the many photos I took.

No Greek event is complete without dinner and Greek dancing! I now have many new friends in Portland.

If your community would like to sponsor a Hellenic genealogy conference, let me know. It is fun to learn together — and, you may meet a new cousin!