Celebrating Ten Years of Greek Genealogy

This post was written by my colleague, Gregory Kontos, founder of GreekAncestry.net. I am both proud and honored to be part of this 10-year movement in Greek genealogy. It is the capstone of my life to honor my ancestors, participate in Greek record preservation, and to help others.

Gregory Kontos and me, preparing to digitize Lakonia village church books at the Metropolis of Sparta, 2019

Below is a list of some of the events highlighted. Please read the full article here.

Ten years Hellenic Genealogy Geek:
An assessment of last ten-year developments

In a few days, on April 16th, Hellenic Genealogy Geek celebrates its anniversary. When it was created ten years ago, in 2010, no one would have imagined the developments that were to follow in the field of Greek genealogy. Feeling blessed to have participated in some of them, I decided to list those which I consider the most emblematic and add my own testimony. It is a story of people sharing their passion and joining forces to advance Greek genealogy.

  • April 2010 – Foundation of the Hellenic Genealogy Geek
  • 2011 – The Family Trees of Southern Parnon
  • November 2014 – “Ancient Roots”, the Greek episode of “Finding your Roots”
  • April 2015 – The First National Hellenic American Genealogy Conference
  • September 2015 –A Hellenic Genealogy Conference in Salt Lake City
  • December 2016 – MyHeritage gets interested in Greece
  • 2020 is the year of triple success: Greek genealogy session at RootsTech; launch of GreekAncestry; forthcoming release of MyHeritage Greek records collection

In the final paragraph, Gregory invites us all to join in this exciting and groundbreaking movement:  Co-operations are deemed necessary, and, for this reason, as Greek Ancestry’s founder, I would like to make an open call to whoever is interested in the advancement of the field.

You can read the full article here.

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:   https://www.facebook.com/stnicksgoc/

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 harry.maistros@comcast.net

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