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Culture

International Greek Ancestry Conference Jan. 29-31

January 15, 2021

Gregory Kontos knew at the age of 14 that he wanted to become a historian. Kontos, who was born in Belgium and raised in Athens and Patras, studied history at the University of Athens, and completed a ResMA at Leiden University in the Netherlands, with a specialization in migration and nationalism.

An innate love for history inspired him to launch GreekAncestry.net in early 2020 – the first Greek genealogy website offering access to searchable databases of indexed Greek records, a self-funded project he describes as an idea that came to him suddenly in his cozy student room in The Hague.

“Greek Ancestry was born out of the realization of the interdependence of two needs: for family records on the one hand, and education and culture on the other,” he said.

Throughout 2020, Greek Ancestry released over 600,000 records searchable in both Greek and English, including business directories, voter lists, and church and census records.

“To me, exploring family history, exploring history in general, is about understanding people, their mentalities and cultures,” Kontos said.

This month, Kontos has joined forces with founder of the Hellenic Genealogy Geek blog, Georgia Stryker Keilman, and Assistant Director of the Washington, D.C. Family History Center, Carol Kostakos Petranek, to host the International Greek Ancestry Conference.

Scheduled for January 29th through the 31st, the International Greek Ancestry Conference will address a variety of topics including family trees, family history research, DNA, the 1821 Revolution, village life in the 19th century, migration and religion, Greece’s borderlands, Asia Minor, and more.

The incomplete schedule includes:

Friday, Jan. 29th, 2020

8:00PM – 10:00PM EST: Under the Village Tree

‘Reconstructing a Village Using Family Trees You Can Do It, Too!” – a panel discussion with Carol Kostakos Petranek, Chris Zervas, Dimitris Katsampis, Stelios Chagias, and Tom Frangoulis.

Countless Greek villages have no written history books, but there are discoverable records for their families. Learn how ordinary people are doing extraordinary things as they build their family trees and, consequently, reconstruct their ancestral villages. Each of the panelists have created family trees that encompass their ancestral village and beyond! They will discuss why they did it, how they did it and what they have learned along the way.

Saturday, Jan. 30th, 2021

12:15PM – 1:00PM EST: Freedom or Death (Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος) – The 1821 Revolution

Professor Emeritus Roderick Beaton discusses: ‘The 1821 Revolution as Experienced by Your Ancestors’

Kontos of Greek Ancestry will interview Professor Beaton and discuss his recent book Greece: A Biography of a Nation with special focus on the 1821 Revolution and its impact on our ancestors’ lives.

1:15PM – 2PM EST: 19TH-CENTURY VILLAGE LIFE

How was life like for your ancestors? Ioannis Michalakakos presents: ‘Family Life, Customs and Economy.’

Ioannis Michalakakos will talk about everyday life in 19th-century Greece: the traditional Greek family, the role of women, traditional occupations and economy, religion, customs, and domestic migration.

Sunday, Jan. 31st, 2021

2:00PM – 3:30PM EST: Greeks on and Across the Border

Participants will learn about the Greeks of the Sea of Marmara as Dr. Ioannis Papachristou presents: ‘Insular Genealogy: The Marmara Islands Case.’

The presentation focuses on the genealogical traces of the Rum (Orthodox Greeks) of Marmara Islands (Marmara, Koutali, Aloni, Afisia) located in between the straits of Hellespont and the Bosporus. Dr. Papachristou will address the issue of Rum insularity and identity based on the history of the islands.

Another fascinating project will be discussed by George Topalidis in a presentation titled ‘The Ottoman Greeks of the United States Project (OGUS).’

The presentation focuses on an overview of the project which includes oral histories, immigration maps, and over 50,000 images that include photographs, documents, and objects brought by immigrants from the Ottoman Empire to the United States between 1900-1930.

3:45PM – 4:45PM EST: New Research Methodologies

Sam Williams presents: ‘Applying DNA to Greek Genealogy.’ Williams asks, “have you taken a DNA test only to be shocked by your ethnicity results?” Participants will discover common ethnicity estimates for Greeks from different regions, why they’re different, and why your results are perfectly normal.

The three-day conference will be virtual and live streamed free on Greek Ancestry's YouTube channel: youtube.com/channel/UCVLnzIQ6foxaJq0cpvqLgaQ

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