Greek Microfilms at FamilySearch Now Digitized

Background
FamilySearch.org is the only genealogical website that has records from Greece. During the mid-1980’s, permission was received from the General Archives of Greece to microfilm some records. During that time, Lica Catsakis was working as a volunteer at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. She reviewed the microfilms as they arrived and compiled a comprehensive list which can be downloaded as a pdf file here.

Until recently, to access a microfilm of interest, one had to pay a small fee to order the film. It would be sent to the Family History Center (FHC) requested by the patron, where it could be viewed on a microfilm reader for about six weeks before it had to be returned. Alternately, one could travel to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. As digital technology advanced, FamilySearch embarked on an ambitious project to convert all of its microfilm (2.5 million rolls!) to digital images. This enables a researcher to easily access images online and with mobile devices, free of charge. To accomplish this, FamilySearch has renegotiated every contract with every repository which had previously given permission to microfilm its documents.

New Policy
As of today, the legal review of the new contracts for Greek microfilms has been completed. Permission has been granted for 75% of the films for Greece to be viewed in a digital format. The contractual arrangement made with Greek authorities states that the images are to be viewed at Family History Centers and affiliate libraries only; they are not available for viewing on personal computers or mobile devices. There are 4,900 Family History Centers worldwide; to find one close to you, click here.

The remaining 25% of the films are categorized as “restricted” because of privacy constraints; meaning that there is information on them for people who may still be living. The privacy rule is that records are not made public if they contain information from the current date back 100 years for birth, 75 years for marriages and 0 for death. For example, if a record has information about a person who was born in 1920, that record cannot be made public until 2020–100 years after the person’s birth. Restricted films must remain in microfilm format, and they can be viewed only at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

The good news is that researchers no long have to pay to order a microfilm nor is the viewing period limited. The 75% of Greek films digitized are now free of charge and available online permanently.

Yes, one does have to go to a local FHC or affiliate library to access the digital images, but that had to be done previously to view a microfilm that had been ordered.

Does FamilySearch have images for your area of research in Greece and if so, how can they be accessed?

As mentioned in the first paragraph, Lica Catsakis has compiled a comprehensive list: GREEK MICROFILMS, A List of Microfilms by Counties. This 157-page document enumerates and describes every microfilm in the Greek collection, and it is arranged in alphabetical order by Nomos (County). Please download this document here.

The first four pages are the Table of Contents. Scan this to find your county or collection of interest, then go to the page indicated.

Important note: When records were microfilmed in the 1980’s, only limited records in some areas in Greece were captured. If you do not see records from the Nomos you are researching, look at the category, “Greece, All Counties” which are on pages 6-11.

Greek Microfilms, Table of Contents

Let’s look at the collections found in “Greece, all counties” on pages 6-11. On page 8, I see a collection, “Jurors List,” film #1038847. I want to see if this is available in digital format.

  1. Click on this link to go to the FamilySearch catalog
  2. Click on “Search for Film/Fiche”, then type in: 1038847 (the film number)
  3. Click on the blue button, Search.
    1. This is the page that you will see. We will look at Items 6-8, Juror’s Lists.
      This page gives us a more detailed description of the film. Notice the camera icon on the lower right. There is a key above it. The camera indicates that this microfilm is in digital format; and the key indicates that it is only available at a Family History Center or affiliate library.
    2. When you click on the camera image, you will get this message:
    3. Clicking on either of those links will produce a worldwide map where you can search for a Center or Library near you. There are 4,900 Family History Centers worldwide, and many affiliate libraries.
    4. Click on the green tree icon for a pop-up message with location name, address, hours, and contact information.

FamilySearch has a Help Desk which is manned 24/7. Call 1-866-406-1830 to speak with a representative, or you can live chat or send a message from the Contact Page.

Let’s hope that in coming months, Greek authorities will allow genealogy companies to digitize more records, ensuring that they are preserved and made available to the worldwide diaspora. Digitization by large genealogy companies is done at no cost to the repository; the contract expressly states that the work will be done free of charge and the repository receives a hard disk with the digital images. In exchange, the repository gives the company permission to make the digital images available.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

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Village History Books in the Library of Sparta

The paper record trail has stopped, and you are stumped. Where to go now? You’ve obtained any and all documents available from the Archives (local and online), the Town Hall (Dimarheion), the village churches and the Greek Orthodox Mitropolis. You’ve taken a DNA test and are wading through the results, but you and your matches can’t go back far enough to find your common ancestor.

You are tempted to give up, but it’s not yet time to close the books on your research — in fact, it’s time to open them. The library awaits.

Central Library of Sparta

If you are researching in the Sparta region, there is a resource you have not yet tapped. The Central Library of Sparta has an impressive collection of village history books. These have been researched and written by schoolteachers, historians, or simply people with a deep love of their ancestral home. They have labored for years to document stories and compile family trees. Their goal is to preserve the history and pass on the legacy of their village, whether large or small, historically relevant or not. They do not want the past to be lost to time.

In July 2014, Gregory Kontos and I met such a dedicated historian. His name was Nikolaos Ath. Bagiokos, a schoolteacher in Anavryti who dedicated twenty years to researching and writing the history of Anavryti and its families.  During summers when school was out, he painstakingly located any and all extant records as well as previously written histories of Anavryti. He compiled this information into his life’s work, Anavryti Taygetos. As we visited with him in his home, he expressed joy that a woman from America would travel across the ocean to learn about her roots and seek out those who could teach her. I asked him, “Why did you spend 20 years to research and write this book?” His response was simple but firmly spoken:  “I wanted to write the book so people in future can know about their families.”

When I was in Sparta this past July, I learned that Mr. Bagiokos, lovingly referred to as Ο Δάσκαλος (the teacher), passed away shortly after I met him in 2014. However, he will be remembered and honored by all who read his book and learn the stories of their families which will not be found in vital records.

Nikolaos Ath. Bagiokos with his book, Anavryti Taygetos

These village history books are priceless. They provide a glimpse into everyday life in the village as well as customs, folklore, songs, poetry. Some contain biographical sketches of prominent families or earliest settlers. All shed new light on the world of our ancestors.

I know personally of their worth:  in July 2016, my research into my Christakos family of Xirokambi skyrocketed to a new level when a friend introduced me to the book, Koumousta of Lacedaimonos. It was through this book that I learned the genesis of the family — information that the authors gleaned through oral histories and painstaking research, not to be duplicated anywhere else.

Because these books are so valuable to a researcher, I made an inventory of the ones kept at Library of Sparta during my visit there in July 2017. I took a photo of every book cover, its title page and index (if there was one). Unfortunately, only a few books included indexes, which makes it necessary to review every page to see if specific surnames are mentioned. As I perused each volume, I found that all have names of families. Thus, if there is a book from your village, it is worth the effort to obtain a copy. If the book cannot be purchased, you can view it and digitize it at the Library.

My inventory captures the books on the shelves, but it is not the entire collection. There is a catalog, somewhat outdated (2007) which lists additional books kept elsewhere in the library.

Laconia History Section, Central Library of Sparta

Below is a list of titles and authors of books kept on the shelves as shown in the photo above. Most of these books are out of print. However, you may be able to contact the author or publisher to obtain a copy.

If you would like to see the title page and publishing information on any of these books, click this link to open a Dropbox folder. The books are in alphabetical order by title; most books will have 2-3 images; e.g., there is one book on the village of Agoriani but it has three images of its cover and title pages:  Agoriani (1), Agoriari (2), Agoriari (3).

Remember — having names and dates will fill a pedigree chart, but having stories of your ancestors will fill your heart.

Agoriani Papadogiannis, Dimitrios Ath.
Agoriani and Voreia Vergadou, Georgios Ath.
Amykles Antonakos, Sarantos
Amykles Anagnostopoulos, Georgios D.
Anavryti Pikoula, G.
Anavryti, Taygetos Bagiokos, Nikolaos Ath.
Ano Glykovrvrysi, The Roots of Our Village Papapostolos, Chysafo
Anogeia Lambrakos, Ilias G.
Apidea Kalodimas, Nikolaos E.
Arcadia Zaharopoulos, Ioan. Z.
Ardouvista, Androuvista of Exo Mani Vagiakos, Dikaios V.
Arna Prokopidis, Harilaos Ant.
Asimi Georgouli, Polychroni B.
Barsinikos Moutoulas, Pantelis
Chrysafa Lambrinakos, Giannis
Dafni Milonakos, Stavros L.
Dimitsanas Giannaropoulos, Ioannas K.
Elafonisi Mentis, Konstandinos S.
Falanthou, Villages of Gritsopoulos, Tasos Ath.
Georgitsi and Georgitsiani, A Village, A History Koutsis, Giannis A.
Georgitsi, the Beautiful Koutsis, Giannis A.
Geraki Moutsopoulos, N.K. and Dimitrokallis, G.
Geraki, Album none
Geraki, Byzantine LaFontaine, Jacqueline
Geraki, Excursion Palaiologos, Pavlos et al
Geraki, History Gritsopoulos, Tasos Ath.
Geraki, History and Memories Poulitsa, Panagiotis I.
Geraki, The Oils of Poulitsa, Panagiotis Il.
Geraki, Woven in none
Gkiotsali and Agios Dimitrios Batsakis, Kon. S. and Pragalos, Dim. A.
Goranus Plagianni, Kosta Styl.
Haraka Skagkos, Nektarios I.
Kalamata Anaplioti, Gianni
Karyes Machairas, Panos Styl.
Karyes – Arachova Pitsiou, Kosta M.
Kastania Konroa, IoNNIA f.
Kavo Malia Arvanitis, Takis
Kerasias, Arcadia Stafanos, Anast. G.
Kokkinorrachi Athanasoulis, Dimitrios C.
Krokees Rozakos, Nikos I.
Krokees, Carnival Women’s Syllogos of Krokees
Krokees, Levetsova Liakakos, Petros
Kynouria Geronta, Rania
Kythira Kalligeros, Emmanouel P.
Leukoma of Molaois Moschovakos, Ioannis Sot.
Logkanikos by Georgakaki Georgakaki, Stavros Pan.
Logkanikos by Souchleris Souchleris, Leonidas
Lukia Avloulos, Stavros
Megali Vrysi of the Past Grigori, Chari Ath.
Melitinis Mihalou, Georgios
Metamorfosi Koutsogiannopoulos, G. D.
Molaoi Moschovakos, Ioannis Sot.
Palaiopanagia, Anogeia & Xirokambi Katsafanas, Dimitris G.
Paliomonastiro Stathaki, Stathi D.
Patrida Kountouri, Petros G.
Pellana, Ancient Smyrios, Athanasios G.
Pellana, In the Footsteps of Menelaous and Helen
Petrina Poulimenakos, Aris
Plytra & Karavvostasi Vlahaki-Proia, Matina
Sellasias, Administrative, Population Kapetanakis-Stathopoulos, Dimitra
Sellasias, Emigrants to Ellis Island Kapetanakis-Stathopoulos, Dimitra
Stemnitsa Theofili, Georgios Ant.
Tainaro Koutsilieri, Anargyros
Trapezontis, Kabourakiou History and Folklore Vasilakos, Vasileios et al
Tripolitsas Gritsopoulos, Tasos Ath.
Tsakona Tsakona, Stratis G.
Tsintzina (2 versions) Moutoulas, Pantelis
Tsouni Grigoris, Charis Ath.
Vardonia & the Turko-Vardouniotes Kapsali, Gerasimos
Varvitsa and Skoura Poumelioti, Poth. Georg.
Varvitsa and surrounding villages Mathaios, Nikos L.
Varvitsa by Bortsos Bortsos, Dimitrios Petros
Vassara Theofilis, Giagkos
Vatika Arvanitis, Takis
Vatika, My Homeland Kasouli-Simeonoglou, Aspasia
Vatika, The Fossil Forest Alevizou, Stavroula
Veroia Koufos, Nikolaos I.
Voia Arvanitis, Takis Chr.
Voutiani Trikilis, Takis
Voutiani, Sparta Tzannetos, Ioannis Konstantinos
Vresthena Spiliakou, Spiliou P.
Vrontamas Drepania, Manolis
Vrontamas, The Holocaust of Drepania, Manolis
When I Was a Child, 1939-1945 Diamantakos, Nikos
Xirokambi Laskaris, Dimitrios G.
Zaraka, Folklore Poumeliotis, Panagiotis Georg.
Zarax Petroleka, Konst.
Zarnatas, Messinia Tsilivi, Nikos Ath.