Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Central Public Library of Rethymnon, Crete, Greece



LIBRARY:  Central Public Library of Rethymnon, Crete, Greece

The Central Public Library of Rethymnon is one of the largest in Greece and the only public library in Crete.  The library is equipped with two mobile libraries which bring books to even the most remote and isolated villages in Crete.  In the 60 years of operation, the Public Library of Rethymnon has flourished.  Today the collection reaches 200,000 volumes of books, 10,000 volumes of periodicals, as well as a rich archive of local and Athenian newspapers.

Website:  http://www.libret.mysch.gr/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/dimbibl.rethimno

Contact information:  
Address: St. Biris 6 Rethymno 741 00 
Phone: 2,831,029,215 
Email: libret@sch.gr



Photograph - Pupils of village school in Omvriaki Domokos (Greece) in 1967




"Pupils of village school in Omvriaki Domokos (Greece) in 1967"

This photograph was brought to my attention by a post made by 
Alexandros La"i"nas on the Facebook Group - 
"Old Photographs from Greece"




Monday, July 17, 2017

Photograph - Primary School in Chios in the mid 30s


"Primary School in Chios in the mid 30s"

This photograph was brought to my attention by a post made by 
Alexia Kardasilari on the Facebook Group - 
"Old Photographs from Greece"

Teacher:  Theofanis Papamichalakis
Student Names Unknown

Posting was linked to 
Η Κοινη της Χιου
https://koinivillage.wordpress.com/




Saturday, July 15, 2017

A New Museum Without Walls Opens in Washington - Update from The National Herald


A NEW MUSEUM WITHOUT WALLS OPENS IN WASHINGTON
Published in The National Herald, July 8-14, 2017 Issue
Authored by Steve Frangos
TNH Staff Writer
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I am excited to announce that The National Herald has given Hellenic Genealogy Geek the right to reprint articles that may be of interest to our group. 

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The announcement has been made. The Greek-American Historical Museum of Washington State has just launched its latest effort at preservation. This is its “museum without walls” initiative.

The concept is simple: “For the past year the items in the Greeks in Washington collection have been photographed and included in a searchable database. The photos and descriptions of these items are divided into ten categories (textiles, costumes and clothing, photos/slides, documents, audio recordings, film/video/DVD, bound volumes/printed materials, newspapers, art work and other artifacts).”

This museum site did not just spring up overnight. As the Washington Greeks report “since 2009, the Museum has received over 600 items that serve to help share the stories of the Greek experience in Washington State. These items have been donated or loaned to the Museum and are cataloged and preserved in the Museum archive.” All this is all now accessible from their home page greeksinwashington.org.

Since its inception, the Washington Greeks rightly decided to showcase their own. “The primary activity of the Museum is to conduct video interviews which become online exhibits with text, photos and video segments. By the end of 2015, there were over 200 video interviews conducted and 150 exhibits posted on the site.” These online exhibits are divided into the categories of Making a Living, Making a Home, and Keeping Community.” The museum personnel consciously chose the Internet as their forum fully aware that “the internet provides a means of reaching the entire world and viewer responses have been received from far corners of the globe.”

Well aware of the complexities of their overall preservation project, the Washington Greeks have also “established an archive to house donated or loaned items which include textiles, film, video, DVDs, costumes, clothing, bound volumes, printed materials, photos, slides, newspapers, documents, art work, audio recordings and other artifacts. These materials are available for inspection and research purposes.”  

To complement the oral history collections, online exhibitions and the archive the Museum has also sponsored a number of public programs, lectures and other presentations including their most recent public lecture on Alexander Pantages, the Greek theater mogul.

The Greek Museum of Washington collections also include “a special section dedicated to AHEPA family.” The direct involvement of AHEPA as well as the Museum staff's sustained efforts to involve the community's youth in the collection process is simultaneously so obvious as to slip one's notice but in point of fact is not just totally logical but really brilliant. This can be seen in the 2013 and 2015 when the Museum “sponsored a history competition in which young descendants of Greek immigrants were invited to submit essays, videos, electronic presentations or other media to tell the stories of their families’ immigration and experience in Washington.”

Cultural programs such as this museum without walls initiative cannot exist without the widest possible community support. As a case in point, for nearly three generations dance troupes across the nation have brought churches and a wide variety of young adults together in totally unexpected ways. While clergy are very careful to insist that the parishes are first and fundamentally religious it is also widely held that such auxiliary social aspects aid in developing long-term attachments to the Church. The establishment of the Eastern Orthodox Church aside, I can think of no more organic and wide-ranging a social organization than AHEPA.

Now for those of you who closely follow the ongoing national efforts to preserve our history, culture, and memories will recognize that this is not the first Greek-American community to host a history-based computer site. In the past, GreekAmerican collectives in both Dayton, OH and Lowell, MA have sponsored such sites. The Preservation of American Hellenic History (PAHH) website, spearheaded by the late Mary Mousalimos, remains the core of efforts to employ the Internet as the location for what can only be called an electronic GreekAmerican Commons.

All these sustained efforts in historical preservation have not gone unnoticed. The Museum “has received the Charles Payton Heritage Advocacy Award from the Association of King County Historical Organizations (AKCHO). This award is for innovation, initiation, development, or presentation of a plan by an organization or individual which has led to the advancement of funding for heritage projects, protection of heritage resources, or development of advocacy tools such as posters, videos, newsletters or websites.

The Museum has also been recognized by the Washington Museum Association (WMA) for its “museum without walls” because it serves as a significant model of achievement for Washington Museums. This Award of Project excellence is for a project such as education, collections management, public programming or a website.”

As part of this wider cycle of events there was a sizable celebration recently at Seattle's Church of the Assumption. “On Saturday, May 6, 2017, 125 Greek-Americans gathered at Seattle’s Church of the Assumption community hall to honor those who appear in the online exhibits at Greeks in Washington and members of Juan de Fuca chapter of AHEPA with over 35 years of service. This was the latest of several events that have been co-sponsored by both organizations.

“Museum Treasurer Nick Diafos chaired the event and as part of his duties represented “the museum board in recognizing founders John and Joann Nicon, along with editor Helen Georges. Recognition was also given by the Hellenes of the Northwest, the funding body of the Hellenic Studies program at the University of Washington. In addition, 14 members of the Juan de Fuca Chapter with over 35 years of service were recognized and received certificates for their service.”

The establishment of a museum without walls is but the latest form employed by Greeks in the United States to preserve their heritage and history for future generations. The creation of community archives, museums, genealogy programs, the publishing of church histories and other such activities are just the latest versions of what has come before. First, the formation of individual fraternal organizations based on regional affiliations in Greece. Next, the community-by-community legal process of forming state corporations to build churches. Then, the gradual development of auxiliary organizations such as AHEPA, the Daughters of Penelope, the Sons of Pericles, and so on. The nationwide establishment in one Greek Orthodox parish after another of Greek school programs, dance groups, cultural groups, gymnasiums, church libraries and the Hellenic Festivals were/are all aimed, again on the local community level, to retain our culture across generations

Given that literally a host of communities all across the country are independently establishing such organizations speaks to the common sociological need, felt across Greek America, to preserve local history with an aim to past it on to future generations. Coupled with the establishment of such organizations are also a raft of Greek-American written local histories, autobiographies, biographies, and community histories. These published accounts are but another venue for documenting and so preserving the collective past.






SCULPTURE OF THE GREEK IMMIGRANTS UNVEILED IN MONTREAL

Greek-Canadians gifted the bronze sculpture honoring Hellenism by artist and professor at the School of Fine Arts Athens, Giorgos Houliaras, for the 375th anniversary of Montreal.

This story has been covered by TheNationalHerald.com , TheGreekReporter.com , among others.



Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tripoli Greece Central Public Library



TRIPOLI CENTRAL PUBLIC LIBRARY

Contact info
Address: Doliana 1 Tripoli 22100 
Phone: 2710224238 

Website:  http://www.vivltri.gr/?page_id=23 - Allows you to download an Excel spreadsheet that lets you search or browse through all the books in their collection.

Facebook link under the following name:    Φίλοι Δημόσιας Βιβλιοθήκης Τρίπολης


PARISH PROFILE: A Tale of Two Very, Very Tiny Greek Orthodox Communities



This profile was published in the February 2008 Orthodox Observer, and can be read in full online - Page 17 - https://www.goarch.org/-/february-2008-orthodox-observer


PARISH PROFILES:

St. Alexios Chapel, Ely, Nevada - founded 1941 - 6 or 7 members
St. Barbary Chapel, McGill, Nevada - founded 1907 - 7 or 8 members

Noteworthy:  Tiniest Greek Orthodox "communities" just about anywhere.  McGill is where Greek Orthodox presence in Nevada began.

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Excerpts from this article:

"Perhaps the word "communities" might be stretching it quite a bit, considering that the entire Greek Orthodox population of this remote area in east-central Nevada could fit in one long pew of a typical church.

"Many years ago, however, the communities of Ely and McGill were vibrant parishes with several hundred members. . . . 

"The two communities are the easternmost of the San Francisco Metropolis.

"The town is at the eastern end of the segment of the route that crosses Nevada from Carson City and was dubbed by Life magazine several decades ago as "The Loneliest Road in America."

"What possessed so many Greeks to come here"  Copper.

"For most of the 20th century, Ely was home to several copper mining companies, with the Kennecott mine being the most famous and the Liberty Pit the largest open pit mine in the world until the crash of the copper market in the mid-1970s.

"McGill was the site of the smelter, where the copper was extracted from the ore through a chemical and heating process after it's trucked in from the mines. . . 

"According to George Chachas of Ely, St. Alexios parish council president and a former mayor, labor brokers representing the mining companies traveled to Greece and other countries in the early 1900s to recruit workers. . . 

"After the miners had settled in the area, several became entrepreneurs and opened businesses.  Some opened bakeries and bars. ...

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE - Page 17 - https://www.goarch.org/-/february-2008-orthodox-observer





931 Greece Born - Montana, County Naturalization Records, 1867-1970



May 22, 2017 Ancestry.com added a new database titled Montana, County Naturalization Records, 1867-1970 that contains 931 people recorded as having been born in Greece. 

If you do not have a subscription to Ancestry.com, remember that you can access the program at most of your local libraries for FREE.

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Introduction to Naturalization Records:
The act and procedure of becoming a citizen of a country is called naturalization. In the U.S., naturalization is a judicial procedure that flows from Congressional legislation. However, from the time the first naturalization act was passed in 1790 until 1906, there were no uniform standards. As a consequence, before September 1906, various federal, state, county, and local courts generated a wide variety of citizenship records that are stored in sundry courts, archives, warehouses, libraries, and private collections. After 1906 the vast majority of naturalizations took place in federal courts.
Naturalization laws have changed over the years. These acts are important to understand as they would have greatly impacted when your ancestor was able to become naturalized, as well as the exact process he or she had to go through to become a citizen. For example, some naturalization acts required residency in the U.S. for a certain number of years, some excluded certain ethnicities from being able to become citizens, and others granted citizenship status in exchange for military service.
The Naturalization Process:
The first responsibility for an immigrant wishing to become an official U.S. citizen was to complete a Declaration of Intention. These papers are sometimes called First Papers since they are the first forms to be completed in the naturalization process. Generally these papers were filled out fairly soon after an immigrant's arrival in America. Due to some laws, there were times when certain groups of individuals were exempt from this step.
After the immigrant had completed these papers and met the residency requirement (which was usually five years), the individual was able to submit his Petition for Naturalization. Petitions are also known as Second or Final Papers because they are the second and final set of papers completed in the naturalization process.
Immigrants also took a naturalization oath or oath of allegiance. A copy of this oath is often filed with the immigrant's first or second papers. After an immigrant had completed all citizenship requirements he was issued a certificate of naturalization. Many of these documents can be found in the records of the court in which they were created.
Other naturalization records include naturalization certificate stubs and certificates of arrival.
Many immigrants took out their First Papers as soon as they arrived in America, in whatever county and state that may have been. Later they would file their Second Papers in the location in which they took up residence.
What’s Included in this Database:
This collection includes images of naturalization records from Montana courts in various counties for the years 1867 to 1970.
The naturalization records may contain:
  • Name of individual
  • Native country
  • Date of naturalization
  • Age
  • Birth date
  • Date and place of arrival






Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Greeks in Michigan: No Average Argonauts


Ann Rapanos Harris with Sam Harris (Haralambopoulos) in front of Alex Rapanos' home
on Rapanos Drive in Midland, Michigan

GREEKS IN MICHIGAN:
NO AVERAGE ARGONAUTS

Published in The National Herald, May 13, 2006 Issue
Authored by Steve Frangos
Special to The National Herald

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I am excited to announce that The National Herald has given Hellenic Genealogy Geek the right to reprint articles that may be of interest to our group. 

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Vasilios Anagnostopoulos was born on January 11, 1888 in the small village of Steno, located near Tripoli in the Peloponnese. He was the eldest of six children, followed by Charalambos, Christiana, Andriana, Georgia and Nicoletta. Like many of his generation, he was destined to travel far. While he was still a teenager, he was to change the economic and even cultural circumstances of northeastern Michigan.

Sad to say, however, much too much of Greek American history is lost forever.

No one from the family Anagnostopoulos established in North America is now alive. The recollections of grandchildren, nephews, family friends and scattered public records are all which is left to report on this one man's life and actions.

As anyone within the Greek American community can well attest, all too many platitudes are endlessly voiced by members of our community concerning the early Greek immigrant businessmen. But collective aggrandizement is one thing, history is another.

EQUALLY SCATTERED

What few Greek Americans recall today is that, by 1910, Greek immigrants were equally scattered in small towns and major metropolitan areas all across North America. This demographic dispersal did not go unnoticed. In his book, “Greeks in America: An Account of Their Coming, Progress, Customs, Living and Aspirations (Sherman, French & Company, Boston: 1913),” the Rev. Thomas Burgess took special care to stress the following:

“Let us remind the reader of that by other large and important classes of Greek colonies - or rather, of groups of individuals - we mean those thousands of Greek men scattered everywhere throughout every state in the Union by ones, twos, tens or even a few more. Such isolated Greeks, though ever remaining devoted sons of Hellas, become - because of their very isolation from their fellow countrymen - quickly assimilated into American life, and are everywhere respected as enterprising businessmen and good fellows (pg. 175).”

By reviewing what is recalled of Vasilios Anagnostopoulos' various accomplishments, even these often-fragmented bits of information depict a man of considerable daring who was unafraid of demanding work habits. His life can well represent an entire generation of small town Greek American businessmen.

Vasilios arrived in Chicago in 1900 and was immediately put to work in a confectionary. By 1901, he moved from Chicago to Bay City, Michigan where he opened a candy store. Recollections are unclear whether or not the 12-year old Anagnostopoulos opened this business on this own (family members debate extensively on this point). Still, given the amount of time he had spent in America, it seems unlikely he would have been able to raise the necessary funds in such a (relatively) short period of time.

Given what we know about his life, however, we can note that Anagnostopoulos was never shy about having partners. At this moment it seems likely that, once he arrived in northeast Michigan, he did so with some now forgotten partners.

Between 1901 and 1915, the energetic and enterprising Anagnostopoulos opened two more confectionaries, one in Saginaw the other in Flint. Today, unfortunately, family photographs exist only for the Flint confectionary. There seem to be a number of reasons why this is the case. To begin with, it was in Flint where Vasilios met and married Ida, who is recalled not by her maiden name, but that she was of German extraction.

The store's interior, as seen in a number of photographs, reveals that, at some point between 1901 and 1915, young Anagnostopoulos had changed his name to William Poulos. While the exact date of this transformation is lost to history, we can still see it. In a 1915 photograph of the Flint store's interior, the center of the back mirror is clearly seen. “Wm. Poulos,” spelled out in leaded glass, is visible at the mirror's peak.

What many young Greek Americans fail to realize is that “old-fashioned small-town Greek candy kitchens” are as American as apple pie.

COMMANDING FORCE

Greek immigrants were a commanding force in the ice cream and soda fountain business from the early 1900's until just after World War II. The fact that nostalgic reminisces of small-town America very often feature a Greek-owned candy store is little remembered today. In Sinclair Lewis' 1920 novel, “Main Street (Harcourt & Brace, New York),” the panorama of stores along this archetypical American small-town street includes “the Greek candystore, the whine of a peanut-roaster and the oily smell of nuts (pg. 34).” Or in the WPA-produced “New York: A Guide to the Empire State (1940, reprinted 1976),” we hear this association even more clearly stated: “No town of any size would be complete without a Greek candy kitchen.”

The Poulos couple was to have four children: Louis, William Jr., George and Helen (later Mrs. A.F. Fuhlbrugge). The two oldest boys are seen as very small children in family photographs of the Flint store.

William Poulos arrived in Midland, Michigan on December 12, 1916. There, he opened a confectionary store/restaurant, which he operated with great success until 1923. Regrettably, the name of this store is lost to family memory, and strikingly, public directories of Midland no longer extend that far back in time. Family documents suggest Poulos also kept his Flint store until 1923, for it was in that year when Poulos purchased the Reardon Building on Midland's Main Street (between Rodd and Ashman Streets), renaming it the Poulos Block. Not long after this acquisition, Poulos purchased yet another confectionary store and restaurant in the town of Mt. Pleasant, which is some 28 miles north and west of Midland.

It is recalled that, when Poulos and his family arrived in Midland, other Greeks already resided in this small city. Exactly how many Greek Americans were there when Poulos arrived is unclear.

By 1929, we know that Tom Pantzopulus, who is remembered as a cook, lived in Midland with his wife Catherine and their son Pantzis. During this same period, Nick Pappas owned Coney Island Lunch at 230 East Main Street and, along with his wife Fannie, had four children: Charles, Helen, George and James. Stephen Stevenson, a Greek despite his Anglicized name, first owned the LaSalle Restaurant at 134 East Main. Stevenson was married to Esther, and they had one daughter: Katherine. Gus Sarantos and his family were also residents.

In 1929, William Poulos, aside from these rental properties in the Poulos Building, also let rooms at 246 East Main. Poulos never relinquished a piece of property in Midland during the 1920's, but rather rented out his various stores while simultaneously working in Mt. Pleasant. In 1930, Poulos sold his Mt. Pleasant business and opened the highly successful Busy Bee Restaurant on Midland's Main Street.

The history of Midland is forever tied to the Dow Chemical Company. On May 18, 1897 Dow was incorporated, based on Herbert H. Dow's plan to manufacture and sell bleach on a commercial scale. In time, Dow Chemical became the largest chemical company in the world, and for decades, Midland remained the site of its largest plant complex.

With company headquarters still located in Midland today, Dow Chemical remains a global giant, ranking among the largest corporations on the planet. Yet when the Greeks first arrived in Midland, they could not work for Dow.

At that moment in time, Dow Chemical Company did not hire Catholics, African Americans or any ethnic groups, either. But times have certainly changed. As one local Midland Greek American puts it, “It went from Dow never hiring Greeks to Greeks running Dow.” In 2000, Dow elected William S. Stavropoulos, president and chief executive officer. Andrew N. Liveris, is Dow's current president and CEO.

Alex Rapanos in his grocery store in Chicago during the early 1930's. His family has settled in Michigan.

Tom Poulos and his son, Tom Jr., are pictured left behind the counter, while Helen Poulos sits at the counter holding a menu at the Busy Bee Restaurant in Midland, Michigan in this 1930's photo

Tom Poulos stands in front of the Loreili Gardens in Bay City, Michigan in this 1940's photo.



Public Central Library of Pyrgos in Regional Unit of Elis, West Greece



The PUBLIC CENTRAL LIBRARY OF PYRGOS is located in the Regional Unit of Elis, West Greece.

Website - http://vivliothiki-pirgou.gr/

Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/DemosiaKentrikeBibliothekePyrgou

Contact info

Address: German and Myrtilos Tower 27131 

Phone: 2621022762 

Email: mail@vivl-pyrgou.ilei.sch.gr



Monday, July 10, 2017

1871 - Village of MAROULIA, Municipality of Gythiou, Region of Gythio, Greece - FREE Translation of 1871 General Election List



The digital collections of the Greek State Archives offer a wealth of information to those of us interested in Greek genealogy.  As part of their online collection is the "Election Material From the Collection of Vlachoyiannis" .  This includes "General Election Lists" for each Municipality; recorded by community (city, village, settlement, etc.).

You can view a scanned copy of each list, printed in the Greek language.  This is a GREAT resource, but very difficult to navigate for those who do not read Greek.  Each row includes:  Line # -  Given Name, Surname - Father's Name -  Age - Occupation.

I have translated these pages and made them available in both Greek and English, doing my best to transcribe the information accurately.  I would always recommend viewing the original scanned copies (link below).  

- To the best of my knowledge, these lists include all Males who were eligible to vote in the elections.  

- Names are in alphabetical order by Given name (First name), many times recorded as an abbreviaton.  Example:  Panag = Panagiotis.

- Since the names are in order by Given name you will have to look at the entire community to find multiple members of the family in the same village.  Many times a father is still alive and you will be able to find him in these electoral lists.  This can help advance you family history research back to the early 1800's.  Example:  Year of Election List is 1872.  Father's age is 65.  Birth year would be calculated as 1807.

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If you wish to share any of the translated information, please give appropriate credit and reference Hellenic Genealogy Geek at http://www.hellenicgenealogygeek.com along with my name (Georgia Stryker Keilman).  Thanks so much.
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VILLAGE OF MAROULIA
in the
Municipality of Gythiou

For your further reference, 
below is the Greek link to the online copies of the 
1871 Greek Electoral Rolls for this community

Line # - Given Name - Surname - Father's Name - Age - Occupation

923 – Βασιλ. Ανδρεακος η Μπουζακος – Ανδρεας – 34 – γεωργος

923 – Vasil. Andreakos or Bouzakos – Andreas – 34 - farmer

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924 – Αντων. Μενεγας – Νικολαος – 25 – γεωργος

924 – Anton. Menegas – Nikolaos – 25 - farmer

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925 – Βασιλ. Μπουτερακος – Παναγιωτης – 40 – γεωργος

925 – Vasil. Bouterakos – Panagiotis – 40 - farmer

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926 – Γεωρ. Κουμανης – Πετρος – 26 – κτηματιας

926 – Geor. Koumanis – Petros – 26 - landowner

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927 – Γεωρ. Τζινακος – γρηγοριος – 25 – γεωργος

927 – Geor. Tzinakos – Grigorios – 25 - farmer

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928 – Γεωα. Μπουτηρακος – Ιωαννης – 25 – γεωργος

928 – Geoa. Boutirakos – Ioannis – 25 - farmer

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929 – Δημητρ. Χριστακος – Ευσταθιος – 29 – γεωργος

929 – Dimitr. Christakos – Efstathios – 29 - farmer

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930 – Δημ. Κρητικος – Εμμανουηλ – 25 – γεωργος

930 – Dim. Kritikos – Emmanouil – 25 - farmer

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931 – Ευσταθ. Χριστακος – Σπυρος – 39 – γεωργος

931 – Efstath. Christakos – Spyros – 39 - farmer

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932 – Ηλιας Μπουτηρακος – Παναγιωτης – 43 – γεωργος

932 – Ilias Boutirakos – Panagiotis – 43 - farmer

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933 – Θω. Σταματακος Κοτουπακος – Σταματης – 35 ? – γεωργος

933 – Tho. Stamatakos Kotourakos – Stamatis – 35 ? - farmer

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934 – Ιωαν. Τζινακος – Ηλιας – 39 – γεωργος

934 – Ioan. Tzinakos – Ilias – 39 - farmer

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935 – Ιωαν. Μενεγας – Νικολαος – 29 – γεωργος

935 – Ioan. Menegas – Nikolaos – 29 - farmer

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936 – Μιχαηλ Κουλουριανος – Παναγιωτης – 52 – κτηματιας

936 – Michail Koulourianos – Panagiotis – 52 - landowner

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937 – Μιχαηλ Σελαιδινος – Παναγιωτης – 30 – γεωργος

937 – Michail Selaidinos – Panagiotis – 30 - farmer

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938 – Νικολ. Μενεγας – Ιωαννης – 49 – γεωργος

938 – Nikol. Menegas – Ioannis – 49 - farmer

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939 – Νικολ. Φιωρετος – Ιωαννης – 50 – κτηματιας

939 – Nikol. Fioretos – Ioannis – 50 - landowner

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940 – παναγ. Σελαινος – Μιχαηλ – 44 – γεωργος

940 – Panag. Selainos – Michail – 44 - farmer

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941 – παναγ. Κουτουπακος – Σταματης – 39 – γεωργος

941 – Panag. Koutourakos – Stamatis – 39 - farmer

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942 – παναγ. Μενεγας – Νικολαος – 25 – γεωργος

942 – Panag. Menegas – Nikolaos – 25 - farmer

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Enduring Image of Greek Americans in Hollywood Cinema



THE ENDURING IMAGE OF GREEK-AMERICANS IN HOLLYWOOD CINEMA

Published in The National Herald, June 24-30, 2017 Issue
Authored by Steve Frangos
TNH Staff Writer

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We are excited to announce that The National Herald has given Hellenic Genealogy Geek the right to reprint articles that may be of interest to our group. 

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The Greek American Image in American Film is the guiding theme throughout the latest Journal of Modern Hellenism (JMH), Volume 32 (2016). It is available online at journals.sfu.ca/jmh

Volume editor and TNH columnist Dan Georgakas has, once again, gathered a series of researchers to produce a common-themed series of eleven articles dealing explicitly with a specific aspect of Greek-American cultural history. As with the other volumes and books instigated and edited under Georgakas' direction, this collection of essays is, now, the “go-to” volume on the theme of GreekAmerican images within American cinema.

The essays are as follows, “An Introduction” by Georgakas; which is a concise historical vignette on the JMH from its beginnings in 1984 as a joint venture sponsored by Harry Psomiades of the Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of Queens College (City University of New York) and Nomikos Michael Vaporis of Hellenic College to this new digital edition format.

Next there is “The Greek American Image in American Film: Creation of a Filmography” by Barbara Saltz. Saltz' opening lines offer the core thesis for this volume: “A central concern of Greek American Studies and Diaspora specialists in Modern Greek Studies is how mainstream Americans viewed Greek immigrants and the communities they created. Although there are numerous specific accounts of incidents, comprehensive statistical data is sparse and is often compromised by not accounting for differing regional, class, religious, and urban-rural factors. One aid in dealing with these compilations that is rarely used in a systematic manner is how Greek immigrants and their offspring are presented in American film.” Saltz also provides a thumbnail sketch on the history of research events that led to this current volume.

With the next essay, “’Other’ to ‘One of Us.’ The Changing Image of Greek Americans in American film: 1943-1963” by Georgakas, we have a film-byfilm presentation with analysis of the evolving image of Greeks in the United States as seen in Hollywood films. Georgakas' survey of films explores the characterizations of GreeksAmericans as they were presented and as they were to transform across the decades.

As this volume is structured, we are offered a composite view of these Hollywood Images of Greek-Americans. Aside from individual films the other essays in this volume explore the career arches of specific actors, directors and assorted others as they contribute to this overall body of images, all to telling effect.

As we see in the next account, “The Hollywood Films of Irene Papas” by Gerasimus Kastan. In that essay, the author presents a historical and thematic survey of this fabled actress's roles in American film. “Before and Beyond America America” by Stathis Giallelis is based on a series of interviews conducted by Georgakas. Giallelis offers his perspective as an actor form his first role in Elia Kazan's, America, America until now. Then, with “And the Winner is Olympia Dukakis,” by Elaine Thomopoulos explores the career and cultural hurtles this acclaimed actress overcame in her efforts to engage fully in her art.

From Greek film stereotypes to actors and directors in “Working Through and Against Convention: The Hollywood Career of A.I. Bezzerides” by Yiorgos Kalogeras, we are given a detailed well documented review of this writer's career.

“Creating Images for Hollywood Classics” by Vicki James Ananias provides an unexpected mix of two Greek-American Hollywood notables: Jack Pierce and Hermes Pan. Greek immigrant Pierce was, aside from his early career as a silent screen actor, the first Hollywood makeup artist/special effects legend. Pierce, was the creator of such Hollywood movie characters as Frankenstein, the Wolf Man and other such iconic creations. Hermes Pan was the award winning choreographer who is most recognized for his collaboration with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

“With Forgotten Movie Theater Pioneer: Alexander Pantages and Immigrant Hollywood” by Taso G. Lagos is an extremely detailed account of the extremely important mogul's career. An exhaustively documented account of great worth Lagos offers us as full a survey of Pantages as one could wish. Having said that, Pantages was never alone. Other Greek-American theater owners, all across the country (as well as their theaters in Canada and Mexico) formed a very noticeable collective all across the nation with considerable clout in Hollywood. Pantages was not alone among Greek-American entrepreneurs in his sustained efforts to build upon his vaudeville theaters into what was to become for him a movie palace empire.

In the next two essays we are offered juxtaposing views of Greek-American directors. In “John Cassavetes and the Uneasy Conformism of the American Middle Class” by Vrasidas Keralis the author explores this director's career from a complicated viewpoint of an artist exploring the boundaries of film and the cultural conventions in which he is immersed. Next in “Promises, Trust, Betrayal: The Art of Elia Kazan” by Geoffrey Jacque, we are offered a mixture of film choice/content with a historical presentation of this director's own evolving sense of himself, his politics and how these two forces are dealt with in this man's films. Jacque's survey is clearly one deeply indebted to cinema theory. An erudite study to be sure but one that while it clearly has particular resonance for those also deeply involved in film studies may be a tad too devoted to these broader questions of film studies and analysis for the interests of the average Greek-American.

The single omission to this volume that would, in my view, have completely covered this volume's overall theme would have been an article dealing with Spyros Skouras, his brothers and their joint impact on Hollywood. It is so very strange. At the very moment when Greek-America is collectively attempting to preserve its past and unquestionably concerned about its future – we are also in something of a golden age of research and writing about our collective experience. As such this volume, like the others before it, given Georgakas' pioneering efforts on behalf of Greek-American Studies, is that rarity – a truly unique first time contribution.

I have honestly lost count but this must be the fifth or sixth such collective effort successfully initiated by Georgakas. As such this volume, like the others before it, given Georgakas' pioneering efforts on behalf of GreekAmerican Studies and experience is now the “go-to” collection on the cinema-graphic image of Greeks in the United States as exhibited in American film. Not just for this special volume but for all the others over a thirty year period Greek-American owes Dan Georgakas a debt it may never be able to repay. I can think of no other contemporary scholar involved in Greek-American studies with Georgakas' track record of personal scholarly work coupled with this one-of-a-kind editorial leadership. For this and many, many other reasons Georgakas, while certainly not alone in the ever developing field of contemporary Greek American studies, remains a leading – if not the leading figure in this as yet to be acknowledged field of study.