International Greek Ancestry Conference

Jan. 29th-31st, 2021

Virtual – Free – Live-Streamed

Καλωσήρθες! Welcome! This is the official website of the International Greek Ancestry Conference, organized by Greek Ancestry and the Hellenic Genealogy Geek, from Jan. 29th through Jan. 31st, 2021. Download the conference agenda by clicking here!

Friday, Jan. 29th, 2020

8pm – 10pm EST, Session II: 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, at 9:10pm EST

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.

Carol Kostakos Petranek serves as an Assistant Director of the Washington, D.C. Family History Center where she coordinates classes, conferences and community outreach projects. She is an active member of the Greek genealogy community and teaches at local and national conferences. Her ancestors are from Sparta, with three of her four grandparents born in Agios Ioannis and the fourth in Mystras; her great-grandparents are all from neighboring Spartan villages. Her passion for family history has prompted her to volunteer to digitize and preserve historic records in Greece, beginning with work at the Metropolis of Sparta and expanding from there. Carol blogs at, and writes personal and family histories. She is a volunteer at the Maryland Archives and the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Chris Zervas, born in Prosimna, Argolida, came to the U.S. at age 13. He holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington and an MBA in Technology Engineering Management. His 41-year career with the Boeing Company included working with enterprise design groups to incorporate environmental, health, safety and ergonomic aspects in product designs. Chris has been a dedicated family historian and has compiled a tree going back to the late 1700’s with nearly 65,000 people in over 25 villages. Chris is a board member of the “Greeks in Washington” group and supports the Hellenes in the Northwest (U.S.). He is also on the board of the Greater Seattle Soccer League, manages several soccer teams and enjoys traveling, theater, cooking and gardening. 

Dimitri Katsambis, Greek-born and Australian-raised, is a retired school teacher with a keen interest in local history, genealogy, tavli, and gymnastics.  He has researched in depth the history of his birthplace, Karitsa of Lakonia, and is the editor of the blog Karitsiótika Néa, a medium aiming to maintain contact with Karitsa folk the world over. Dimitri is also a longstanding member of the research team of Family Trees of Southern Parnon. To relax, he enjoys nothing more than a game of tavli and is the secretary of the Tavli Association of South Australia. In 2001 Dimitri was awarded an Australian Sporting Medal for his services to Australian gymnastics.

Stelios Hagias was born in Adelaide, South Australia, to a Greek family from Karitsa, Lakonia. He graduated with BSc Hons (polymer chemistry) in 1980 from Adelaide University and worked as a research chemist for many years. His current interests include running a two acre olive grove on the outskirts of the northern suburbs of Adelaide, acting as treasurer for the Pan Lakonian Club “Leonidas” in Adelaide and, since 2002, has been the coordinator for the website “Family Trees of Southern Parnon”. This website is a project that has documented the family history of Greeks from a multitude of villages, mainly from north east Lakonia and southern Kynouria, and their immigration in other countries.

Tom Frangoulis was born in Lefkada, Greece. He holds a BS in Mathematics and a MS in Statistics, and has worked as a teacher and a computer and marketing expert. Since 2010, Tom has been working on his family tree. All these years, he has been collecting stories and information, and has written many relevant books, with the aim to preserve his village’s history and archives, some of which date back to 1775!

[More sessions & speakers to be announced soon]

Saturday, Jan. 30th, 2021

12:15pm – 1pm EST, Session ΙΙΙ: Freedom or Death (Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος) – The 1821 Revolution

Professor Emeritus Roderick Beaton discusses: “The 1821 Revolution as Experienced by Your Ancestors”

Gregory 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.

Roderick Beaton holds a PhD in Modern Greek from the University of Cambridge. After a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Birmingham he embarked on a long career at King’s College London, first as Lecturer in Modern Greek Language and Literature (1981-88), later as Koraes Professor of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature (1988-2018), and since then as Emeritus. From 2012 to 2018 he also served as Director of the Centre for Hellenic Studies at King’s. Roderick is the author of many books and articles about aspects of the Greek-speaking world from the twelfth century to the present day, including An Introduction to Modern Greek Literature (1994); George Seferis: Waiting for the Angel. A Biography (2003); Byron’s War: Romantic Rebellion, Greek Revolution (2013), all three of which won the prestigious Runciman Award for best book on the Hellenic world, and Greece: Biography of a Modern Nation (2019, now a Penguin paperback). His latest book, an overview of Greek history from the Bronze Age to the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution in 2021, is expected to be published in autumn 2021 with the title The Greeks: A Global History. He is a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA, 2013), a Fellow of King’s College (FKC, 2018), Commander of the Order of Honour of the Hellenic Republic (2019) and, from September to December 2021, has been appointed A.G. Leventis Visiting Professor in Greek at the University of Edinburgh.

1:15pm – 2pm EST, Session IV: 19th-Century Village Life

How was life like for your ancestors? Ioannis Michalakakos presents: “Family Life, Customs and Economy” at 1:15pm EST

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.

Ioannis Michalakakos was born in Athens in 1985 to a Maniot family. He holds a BA in House Economy and Ecology from Charokopeio University (Athens) and a MSc in Cultural Management from the Hellenic Open University. He studies the history of Mani and Lakonia and has published various articles. He is an active member of the Greek genealogical community and has participated in major intiatives. Ioannis also administrates Maniatika, a blog dedicated to Maniot history and genealogy.

[More sessions & speakers to be announced soon]

Sunday, Jan. 31st, 2021

2pm – 3.30pm EST, Session VI: Greeks on and across the border

Discover the Greeks of the Marmara Sea! Dr. Ioannis Papachristou presents: “Insular Genealogy: The Marmara Islands Case” at 2pm EST

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

Ioannis Papachristou was born in Athens in 1980 to families hailing from Eastern Thrace and Marmara Island. He studied Philosophy at the University of Patras (BA) and the University of Athens (MPhil) and received his PhD in Ancient Philosophy from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. He has been a postdoctoral researcher with teaching duties at various universities (Humboldt, Paris IV-Sorbonne, Genève and Athens). Currently he is working on the research program ‘Sourcebook of Byzantine Philosophy’ (University of Athens). He studies the history of the area of ​​Propontis and published various articles on Marmara islands. In 2015 he edited the Anagraphē tēs Kyzikou (A Description of Cyzicus, 1825), a 19th-century historical treatise on Artakē and the Peninsula of Cyzicus (Kyzikos Publications — awarded by the Hestia of Nea Smyrnē). In 2019 he published the traveler’s book The Marble Island: Travels in Marmara Island (Baltas Publications, 2019). In 2019-2020 he participated in the Research Project ‘The Islands of Marmara: Documentation and Risk Assessment of Architectural Heritage’ (Association for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, Turkey) publishing a bilingual volume on the cultural heritage at risk of the Marmara islands. He co-administrates the page ‘Marmara Island (History and Genealogy)’ in Facebook and runs the website a page presenting his travels in Greece and Turkey.

A fascinating project! PhD (c) George Topalidis presents: “The Ottoman Greeks of the United States Project (OGUS)” at 2:20pm EST

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.

George Topalidis holds degrees from Southern Connecticut State University in History and from the University of Connecticut in Microbiology. His research interests are framed within the field of Historical Sociology and include contested racial identities, U.S. immigration law, and social memory. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law at the University of Florida and is the founder and project coordinator of the Ottoman Greeks of the US Project at the University of Florida’s Samuel Proctor Oral History Program. 

One place study – The island of Ikaria! Anastasia (Topsy) Douris presents: “Insights into Ikarian genealogy” at 2:40pm EST

This presentation includes information about the Ikarian family tree project and corresponding DNA testing initiatives. Ms. Douris has authored the book, Ikarian Tales, and she will discuss stories and folklore passed down from previous generations.

Anastasia (Topsy) Douris was born in the U.K. of Greek parents and is passionate about history and genealogy. Her interests have led her to compile her family tree with branches in Ikaria, the U.K. and the U.S. She enjoys assisting others, and she was the driving force behind the Ikarian DNA and family tree initiatives, as well as an Ikarian Genealogy Conference planned for May 2020 and now rescheduled. 

3:45pm – 4.45pm EST, Session V: New Research Methodologies

It’s DNA time! Sam Williams presents: “Applying DNA to Greek Genealogy” at 4pm EST

Have you taken a DNA test only to be shocked by your ethnicity results? Discover common ethnicity estimates for Greeks from different regions, why they’re different, and why your results are perfectly normal!

Sam Williams is a professional genealogist with a focus on Central Virginia, African American, and Greek American research. He received a BA in International Affairs and Spanish from James Madison University, and a Master of Divinity from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Sam works as the Pastoral Assistant at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

[More sessions & speakers to be announced soon]