MyHeritage Releases Three Greek Record Collections

I am thrilled to announce that today, MyHeritage has published three Greek genealogical collections which will be of inestimable value to researchers. Descriptive information about the collections below is taken from the official press release which can be found here.

These collections are name indexed and searchable in both Greek and English. MyHeritage employs automatic translation, which means you can type a name in English and the Greek record will be found.

Click on the record title below to go directly to that collection.

Sparta Marriages, 1835-1935

This consists of 179,411 records which include images of the couple’s marriage license and their listing in the marriage register. The records in this collection list the full names of the bride and groom, the date of marriage, their fathers’ names, the birthplace of the bride and groom, and occasionally the names of witnesses to the marriage. The images in this collection were photographed, digitized, and indexed by MyHeritage from the original paper documents, in cooperation with the Metropolis of Monemvasia and Sparta.

Example:  A search in English for Panagiotis Iliopoulos, marriage to Maria Minakaki:

Marriage Sep 13 1925
Sparta, Greece (Σπάρτα, Ελλάδα)
Groom Name: Παναγιώτης Ηλιόπουλος (Panagiotis Iliopoulos)
Birth: Μαχμούμπεϊ (Machmoumpei)
Father: Ηλίας Ηλιόπουλος (Ilias Iliopoulos)
Bride Name: Μαρία Μηνακάκη (Maria Minakaki)
Birth: Σοχά (Socha)
Father: Ευστράτιος Μηνακάκη (Eystratios Minakaki)
Ordinal Number 436
Church Εισόδια της Θεοτόκου (Eisodia Tis Theotokou)

Iliopoulos-Minakaki marriage, 1925

Corfu Vital Records, 1841-1932

This consist of 646,807 birth, marriage, and death records. The records were collected by the civil authorities in Corfu and document the life events of all residents of the island regardless of their ethnicity or religion. Birth records from this collection may contain the child’s given name and surname, birthdate and place of birth, name and age of both parents, and the given names of the child’s grandfathers. A marriage record from this collection may include the date of marriage, groom’s given name and surname, age, place of birth, residence, and his father’s name. Similar information is recorded about the bride and her father. Death records in this collection may include the name of the deceased, date of death, age at death, place of birth, residence, and parents’ names. The indexed collection of Corfu Vital Records includes scans of the original documents and is available exclusively on MyHeritage.

Example:  A search in English for a death record for Georgios Milou:

Name Γεώργιος Μήλου (Georgios Milou)
Record type Death
Birth Κέρκυρα (Kerkyra)
Death Jan 13 1921
Κέρκυρα, Ελλάδα (Corfu, Greece)
Residence Ορφανοτροφείο, Ελλάδα (Orfanotrofeio, Greece)
Father άγνωστος (Agnostos)
Mother άγνωστη (Agnosti)

Civil death record for Γεώργιος Μήλου (Georgios Milou)

Election Registers from the Vlachogiannis collection, 1863-1924

This consists of 1,006,594 records and provide nationwide coverage of males ages 21 and up who were eligible to vote. They list the voter’s given name, surname, father’s name, age, and occupation. Each record includes the individual’s name in Greek, and a Latinized transliteration of the name that follows the standard adopted by the Greek government. MyHeritage translated many of the occupations from Greek to English and expanded many given names, which are often abbreviated in the original records. This new collection includes scans of the original documents and is the most extensive index of Greek electoral rolls currently available anywhere.

Example:  A search in English for Georgios Gritis:

Name Γεώργιος Γρίτης (Georgios Gritis)
Age 47
Birth (implied) Circa 1825
Occupation Κτηματίας (Landowner)
Voter registration
Year: 1872
Residence: Άγιος Ιωάννης, Σπάρτης, Λακεδαίμονος, Ελλάδα (Agios Ioannis, Spartis, Lakedaimonos, Greece)
Serial #: 1733

Georgios Gritis, line 1733

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the past five summers, I have worked at the Metropolis of Sparta to digitize these Sparta marriage index books and marriage documents, as well as the village church books of Lakonia. Now that these records are beginning to come online, I am thrilled beyond words, knowing that they will help countless people in years to come. Finding one’s ancestors and learning more about our family history brings joy and meaning to us and our families. I wish you success in your research!

Videos: Using U.S. Records to Find Your Immigrant Ancestor’s Original Surname and Village of Origin

As descendants of immigrant ancestors, it is simply a matter of time before our U.S. research ends and we must continue our quest in our ancestral homeland. For people of Greek descent, it is impossible to research successfully in “the old country” if you do not know your original ancestral surname and village of origin. This information is absolutely necessary as records are kept by locality and of course, names are written with the original Greek spelling. There are a plethora of U.S. documents which will give the researcher this information.

Of my most frequently requested lectures is How to Use U.S. Records to Find Your Immigrant Ancestor’s Original Surname and Village of Origin.  This lecture is a general overview of many record collections, and there are several additional lectures which discuss specific record groups.  At the request of my colleague, Gregory Kontos, I am dividing this topic into three “mini-segments” which I will share in this post, and on YouTube at GreekAncestry  and Spartan Roots.

This first presentation will explore using Immigration, Naturalization, and Alien Registration files. Please note that each of these topics is a one-hour lecture, but I have condensed these into a 24-minute overview in the following video. Additional videos will be added soon and will also appear in this post below this one.

 

Greek Genealogy Live Webinars begin this Saturday, April 25

The first in a series of live, free Greek genealogy webinars, hosted by Gregory Kontos, founder of GreekAncestry.net, will be held this Saturday, April 25, at at noon (PST), 1pm (MST), 2pm (CST) 3pm (EST). The live will be done through Greek Ancestry Facebook page, so don’t forget to follow it here.  The topic of discussion will be Greek voter lists.

The presentation will last 15minutes with a question and answer period. More webinars and educational videos will follow.

Gregory has prepared a brief video explaining what is needed to begin your Greek research:

 

 

Beyond the Basics: 1831 Shepherds’ Tax Registration

In Spartan villages of the 1800’s, the predominant occupations were shepherds, landowners and farmers. A quick look at the Voter Lists of 1872corroborate that the majority of men spent their days planting and harvesting fields, and tending sheep and goats. This is certainly true for my great-grandparents.

One of my favorite genealogy treasures is a contract between my 2nd great grandfather, Ioannis Eftaxias of Mystras, and Panagiotis Sampatis. Dated December 23, 1863, it documents this transaction:

Panagiotis Sampatis declared that from this day he gives Ioannis Eftaxias 30 valued and already given to him sheep worth of 240 drachmas. They all have the following age: a sheep, two sheep 10 months old, four sheep 8 months old, four sheep 6 months old, three sheep 4 months old, four sheep, seven female sheep,  and a big ram: in total thirty (30). Ioannis Eftaxias will have them and will be taking care of them and will be protecting and using them as of his own from today until three years later, when the agreement will be annulled.  Ioannis Eftaxias has to give Panagiotis Sampatis fifty (50) okas from the cheese producted, ten (10) okas of wool and two (2) sheep from his pasture until year 1864. In the other two following years, 1865 and 1866, [Ioannis Eftaxias has to give Panagiotis] sixty (60) okas of cheese, ten (10) okas of wool and three (3) sheep per year. Also, if Ioannis Eftaxias fails to give Panagiotis the above mentioned in time, he will have to reimburse Panagiotis for the current pasture at the marketplace of Sparta. At the end of the agreement, in December 1866, he (Ioannis) has to return the mentioned sheep in the same quality and at the same age he was given them unless a great godsend catastrophe happens. And if Ioannis Eftaxias fails to return all the sheep he was given, he’ll have to pay eight (8) drachmas for each one of them, in total 240 drachmas; also, at the same time, he’ll pay Panagiotis for the deficit created by the sheep’s delayed return. Ioannis Eftaxias stated that he accepts the agreement above, after getting the mentioned sheep today, and promises to give Panagiotis Sampatis his share[ in time and to fully satisfy his obligations without any excuses.2

Contract, page one:  Panagiotis Sampatis and Ioannis Eftaxias of Mystras, 12/23/1863. Source: General State Archives of Greece, Sparta Office, accessed and translated by Gregory Kontos, July 2014.

(The full contract and translation can be accessed here.)

Knowing that my ancestors were shepherds, I was especially interested in exploring the Shepherd’s Registration dated 1831. I learned of this collection through researcher Konstandinos Koutsodontis, Greek Genealogist, who described the purpose of this census:
Shepherds’ registrations were conducted by the Kapodistrian government for tax purposes and for the boundary delimitation of animal grazing lands. After liberation from Ottoman rule, one of the major concerns of the new government was the reconstruction of finance (Greece had taken huge loans to conduct the War of Independence and had to repay Britain, France and Russia). Taxes were a great source especially when the majority (~80%) of the Greek citizens were farmers and shepherds. Similar shepherd tax censuses were conducted some years later (1834-1840) by the king Othon.
Konstandinos conducted a search for me in 1831 Shepherd’s Registration. Although not all of my villages had these records, they did exist for three, and my ancestral family owned:
  • Theologos:  Georgakis, Nikolis and Giannis Zaharakis each owned one horse
  • Sklavohori:  Lambros Zarafonitis owned three cows
  • Machmoutbei:  Dimitrios Zarafonitis owned five cows

Zaharakis in 1831 Shepherd’s Registration: Georgakis, Nikolis, Giannis. Source: General State Archives of Greece, Archive of the Financial Committee; accessed and translated by Konstandinos Koutsodontis, March 2020

Konstandinos explained that having a horse or a large number of goats or sheep was an indication of relative financial status. This helps me further understand and respect the standing of my family within their communities.

Because I had assembled the Zaharakis family tree (see post here), I knew exactly who these three men were in 1831. Understanding that most 1800’s villages were small in size, it is not difficult to construct family trees if you have the basic resources:  Voter Lists, Male Registers (Mitroon Arrenon), Town Registers (Dimotologion), Church birth, marriage, death records, school records.

Finding additional “beyond the basics” records entails hiring a professional who can locate and translate the documents. (Even if I knew where to find these documents, there’s no way I could have ever read the Zaharakis names above!) To me, it is well worth the small expense. These additional records add more details to my people and make these long-ago ancestors more “real” to me.
__________

1My sincere gratitude to Georgia Stryker Keilman for translating many 1872 voter lists and posting them on her blog, Hellenic Genealogy Geek.  Lists for Sparta and other villages of Lakedaimona can be found by scrolling to File #25 here.

2My deepest appreciation to Gregory Kontos of GreekAncestry.net for finding this document at the Sparta GAK in 2014, and translating it for me.

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.