Modern Greek Family History – Tracing Your Roots
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A country’s history is shaped not only by the actions of the government, but also by those of the people. During times of war, it is the people who fight. In times of economic crisis, it is the people who are left scrambling, wondering from where their next meal is coming.
When times get really tough, many Greeks leave the country. They move themselves and their families elsewhere in the hopes of starting a new life in a place where they can leave behind political and economic turbulence. They want to give themselves a chance to live a better life somewhere else.
As Greek Americans, this is our story. We are here in this country because, for whatever reason, our ancestors decided that settling in another country gives us all a chance to thrive. Unfortunately for us, a lot of these stories are lost. However, they may not be lost forever. There are things we can do to trace our roots and explore our family history.
Interview Family Members
The best place to begin your journey of learning about your family heritage is to interview your family members. Gathering as much information as possible at this stage is something that will help your research in other stages. Find out any names of relatives who have come over; birth dates, marriage dates, military service information, United States citizenship documentation, and where they came from in Greece.
Also, pay close attention to any stories your family may have of the past and of their lives in Greece. Scan copies of any photographs and documentation papers you can find onto your computer and also back them up on an external drive. You may also want to film your family members telling their stories. This kind of information is priceless.
Get Information from Ellis Island
If your family came over before 1954, chances are very good that they had to go through Ellis Island before coming to the United States. These days, you don’t need to physically visit Ellis Island in order to gather information, either. However, it is a great experience. You can search for passenger records at http://libertyellisfoundation.org/passenger. Note that there is a fee if you would like more information beyond the basics.
Visit Greece if Possible
Once you determine where your family came from in Greece (and possibly even Turkey, as there was a large Greek population in Turkey at one time), another way you can gather information is by visiting the area in hopes of finding any records and living family members that are still in Greece. However, this path doesn’t always produce results because a lot of the records have been destroyed.
These days, you can also pay for genetic testing. Depending on the test you may be able to use the test to help you find lost relatives, determine where in Greece they were from, and help fill in any missing pieces in the ancestral line. For example, the test may very well pinpoint ancestry from a certain island or region in Greece.
Even though it is important to understand the overall history of Greece, learning about your family’s history can help personalize these events in a meaningful way. Plus, it is fascinating to know where we all came from.
Categorized in: Modern Greek History
This post was written by GreekBoston.com