Hellenic Genealogy - "Pass It On"

Originally published on http://HellenicGenealogyGeek.com on September 7, 2008

When I was young I didn’t know that I would regret not talking to my yiayias and papoulis about where they came from in Greece and asking them to tell me their stories.  All four of my grandparents are long gone and this is something I cannot recapture.  As I got older I tried talking to my parents and other relatives about what they knew - to my surprise, they didn’t know much!  They never took the time to talk to their parents about such things.

Share with your children and grandchildren.  Whether they realize it or not – they WILL appreciate it later on in life, and remember the wonderful talks you had and the things you told them about their background.

The following is a list of ideas to help you start:
  • What was your actual family name in Greece?
  • Do you have any documentation (passport, naturalization papers, association membership cards, letters or postcards, etc.) or photographs of the relatives that immigrated or their relatives that remained in Greece?
  • Do you have any old family Icons?  (Names and birth dates were sometimes recorded on the back)
  • What stories does your family know about your grandparents or great-grandparents in Greece?
  • Where did they live?  Be as specific as possible.  
  • What memories, stories, or photographs do you have of the home or village in Greece?
  • Did your family own any property in Greece?
  • Do you have any relatives still living in Greece?  Who are they, where do they live, what is their address?
  • What Greek traditions did you have as a child?  
  • What did they or other members of the family do to make a living in Greece?
  • Why did they decide to leave Greece?
  • When did they come?  Did they go back and forth between Greece and the United States or other countries?
  • Do you know the name of the passenger ship that brought them to the United States?  Who paid for their trip over?  What port did they depart from?  How much money did they bring with them?  What was their voyage like?  Where did they enter the United States or other country (what port)?
  • Where did they settle?  Do you know specific addresses?  Where did they move after that?  Did they stay in ethnic neighborhoods?
  • Were they coming to stay with anyone that was already in the United States?  Who?
  • How hard was it to adjust to life in America?
  • Did they experience any prejudice from other ethnic groups?  Do you have any stories about this?
  • What jobs did they do when they cam here?
  • How did the Turkish occupation, Balkan Wars, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, or other historical events affect your family?  Any stories?
  • How did they meet their spouse?  Are there any stories about their courtship?  Where and when did they get married?  
  • Did they belong to any Greek associations here in the United States?  Which ones?
  • What was their political affiliation?
  • Did your relatives learn to read and write English?  How did they learn?

Thinking about these questions will only lead you to more facts and stories that are special for your family.  PASS IT ON.