Exploring One’s Roots at the 2nd International Greek Ancestry Conference

January 22, 2022

If you are reading this today, you can thank your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and previous ancestors for your existence. It may not be something most have pondered, but going back in time, each of us has 64 4th great-grandparents, 512 7th great-grandparents, and so on. That’s one big extended family tree. Without a bit of research, the knowledge of ancestral lineage is limited to most, but for those interested in learning more about their heritage, records can help.

A project launched in 2020 by Gregory Kontos, Greek Ancestry seeks to help individuals trace their roots, and currently makes available over 780,000 unique digital family records. “Greek Ancestry was founded with the purpose of expanding and advancing the field of Greek genealogy and family history,” Kontos said in an interview with The National Herald.

In line with this vision, the 2nd International Greek Ancestry Conference (January 29-30th, 2022) will cover various new topics and introduce fresh ideas related to tracing one’s roots. Attendees can expect to gain insight through research tips enabling them to inscribe their family history within broader historical contexts and better understand their Greek heritage.

The conference includes 20 presentations grouped in four sessions covering Greek immigration, the 20th century and WWII, new research methodologies and the Village History Projects Initiative. Access to the online event is free of charge and will be live-streamed on Greek Ancestry’s YouTube Channel. A recording of the event will also be made available.

Genealogy, the study of families, family history, and the tracing of their lineages, combines information from interviews, historical records and genetic analysis to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members.

The 2nd International Greek Ancestry Conference seeks to cover various new topics and introduce fresh ideas related to tracing one’s roots. Photos include family names, dated in the 1930s. (Photo: Courtesy of Gregory Kontos)

“Researching your Greek ancestry is easier when you understand the records available online and in person, and how to access them,” genealogist Carol Kostakos Petranek said.

“Connecting with others in our community enables you to exchange information and find new cousins. Sharing your ancestral history strengthens your family by bringing them a renewed sense of identity and a joyful pride in their heritage,” she said.

Genealogy is not limited to the collection of documents that prove connections to family members, but enables individuals to further connect with their Hellenic roots and culture through the history of their ancestral villages, genealogist Georgia Stryker Keilman of the Hellenic Genealogy Geek said.

“The 2nd International Greek Ancestry conference is a way to learn about projects that other members are currently working on and from professionals that can offer cultural and historical perspectives,” Stryker Keilman said.

2nd International Greek Ancestry Conference Agenda

Session I: Greeks in Foreign Lands

Interview with author and reporter Nicholas Gage.

Presentation about the Greek community of Egypt by historian Alexander Kitroeff.

Research tips on how to find an ancestor’s original surname and village of origin by genealogist Carol Kostakos Petranek.

Presentation on useful resources and tools found on the Hellenic Genealogy Geek website by genealogist Georgia Stryker Keilman.

Session II: Greece in the 20th century

Historian Jason Chandrinos talks about the Nazi occupation of Greece and the Holocaust of Greek Jews.

Historian & Greek Ancestry team member Sofia Pitsineli presents testimonies and stories of Greeks arrested and executed during WWII.

Ioannis Michalakakos sheds light on daily life in Greece at the beginning of the 20th century.

Linda Carol Trotter presents the Eftychia Project of reuniting Greek adoptees with their birth families.

Session III: Research Tips and Developments

Historian and founder of Greek Ancestry, Gregory Kontos, guides you on how to reconstruct your family history using Greek archival records.

Genealogist Nick Santas introduces us to the world of Venetian archives.

Historian-Ottomanist Georgios Liakopoulos discusses the value of Ottoman records for Greek family history.

Archivist Meletis Pouliopoulos και journalist Nancy Agris Savage present the digitization project of the Hellenic Chronicle, a Greek American newspaper.

Daniel Horowitz, genealogy expert at MyHeritage discusses new DNA technologies and tools.

Genealogist Alexandra Kiritsy shows how statistics can be used in genealogy research.

Session IV: Village History Projects Initiative

The Village History Projects Initiative, aka VHPI, is a project run by Greek Ancestry with the aim to encourage and support people interested in the history and genealogy of their Greek villages. The VHPI was announced in 2021 right after the 1st Conference, and its register currently includes over 20 projects. On a quarterly basis a project and its sponsor are chosen by Greek Ancestry’s Board to receive a donation (books, DNA kits etc.).

Ioannis Papachristou presents his project on the village of Peplos in Evros, Greece.

Paula Antonakos-Boswell presents her project on the village of Amykles, Lakonia, Greece.

John Wagner presents his project on the Bavarian colonists of Palaio Irakleio, Greece.

Learn more at: greekancestry.net/conference-2.


PISCATAWAY, NJ – In commemoration of the grim 100th anniversary of the Smyrna Catastrophe, the Modern Greek Studies Program, the Department of Classics at Rutgers University, and the Elytis Chair Fund present a free screening of Smyrna: The Destruction of a Cosmopolitan City 1900-1922, written and directed by Maria Iliou and with historical consultant Professor Alexander Kitroeff on Friday, December 9, 8 PM, at Center Hall at the Busch Student Center, Rutgers University, 604 Bartholomew Road in Piscataway.

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