2023 CGSI Conference Schedule
Below are the 48 presentations scheduled for the 2023 CGSI Conference. Each of the three days has four sessions, and each session has four concurrent presentations.
Thursday Session #1
Curious about your Slovak roots but don’t know where to begin? This session will discuss how to begin the research process using both traditional and online sources and provide an overview of how to organize your information. Learn how to build a family tree and identify your ancestral town or village, how to locate and interpret vital records, and discover key strategies for overcoming the most common pitfalls and problems specific to researching Slovak ancestors.
Understanding the administrative division of one's ancestral homeland and its development over time is crucial for a genealogist, because such information can hint at a whole set of facts: help identity the modern location; find out who or which institution was responsible; determine where written records could be found today. In this presentation I will provide an overview of how the administrative divisions of the Czech lands developed throughout history. Using maps to illustrate, I will provide names for each type of division in all applicable languages as well as recommend reference works.
Family stories can be well-intentioned, but sometimes very misleading. Dr. Steiner tells how her beliefs about her family’s origins were incorrect and how she discovered their true origins. Steiner was not the only person born and raised in Calumet County who believed that her family originated from Germany. Other German Bohemian descendants have a similar story. While it is true that these families spoke German, descendants now have evidence to prove that their families originated from today’s Czech Republic. Steiner has gathered descendants’ reactions to what it means to originate from today’s Czech Republic.
Understanding the digital nature of DNA is the key to unlocking the value in our DNA results. This course teaches the basics of DNA inheritance and how to apply a set of core genetics principles to solving frequently encountered genetic genealogy problems. Specifically, we will focus on applying three principles: 1) Each chromosome has a paternal and maternal copy; 2) DNA is inherited in blocks and segments; and 3) The cM as a statistical unit of measurement enables us to draw various conclusions useful for genealogy. We will also debunk some common misperceptions and learn to avoid beginner DNA pitfalls.
Thursday Session #2
Our ancestors’ lives revolved around the seasons with rituals and celebrations that brightened their work-a-day lives. Celebrations involved traditional verses, music, food, song, and dance. My visual presentation begins with New Year's customs, spinning bees and courting parties, Fasank, spring planting rituals, christenings, Easter events, raising the Maypole, birth & wedding celebrations, harvest festivals, hody, wakes, All Soul's Day, death customs, Advent and Christmas. The church was the heart of the village and life events were celebrated from christenings, weddings & funerals. Yet some Pagan customs still remain. The presentation features images from the past 50 years.
From 1848 through the end of the nineteenth century, the city of Racine and the adjacent township of Caledonia were the destination of so many Czech immigrants that the area was known as "the Czech Bethlehem." Racine Czechs became successful in politics and commerce, created a thriving ethnic community, and started the first Czech language newspaper in the United States. Their influence was strongly felt in other Czech communities throughout the country. This presentation discusses the history of the Racine Czech settlement and the lives of its most prominent members and a few typical immigrant families.
Jakob Sternberger (1822-1889) was one of many disillusioned emigrants who left Europe after the failed revolutions of 1848/49 and settled in Wisconsin. He grew up in Kaaden (Kadaň)/ Bohemia, where his grandfather had been the city’s first mayor. Sternberger had studied Law at the University of Prague as well as Mining Engineering, but in Wisconsin he fulfilled his dream to own land, trying his hand at farming. This presentation draws on the Jakob Sternberger Collection of letters and other documents housed at the Max Kade Institute which provide unique insights into life in America and Bohemia in the nineteenth century.
This presentation provides foundational skills to conduct Jewish genealogical research. Attendees will walk away with strategies to identify ancestral origins, recognize naming conventions, locate records overseas, and understand specific nuances found in Jewish genealogy. Popular databases and repositories for Jewish genealogical research, including specific databases in the present-day Czech Republic and Slovakia, will also be discussed.
Thursday Session #3
The recent global pandemic brough to the surface the dilemma that humankind has been trying to resolve since time the dawn of civilization. Where does safety and security end and unfreedom begin? The failed communist experiment with totalitarianism in Czechoslovakia gives us a glimpse into how power operates when it goes unchecked, and how freedom was eroded under the guise of safety and security. This contribution outlines the strategies implemented in Czechoslovakia that contributed to the establishment of totalitarianism that was in place for 41 years. It shows us that exceptional measures implemented during ‘a crisis’ have the tendency to linger on.
Are you considering a trip to the Czech Republic or Slovakia? Do you want to get off the beaten path and visit your ancestral villages? This lecture will tell you what to expect and how to get ready for it: What should you consider when planning your trip? What should you not forget to pack in your suitcase? Are small towns different from Prague or Bratislava? In which respect? How to relate to locals? How to survive Czech and Slovak hospitality? How to keep relationship with your relatives after having returned back home?
The Allgemeines bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (AGBG) or the Civil Code of Austria was enacted in 1811 and in use all the way through 1950. This code of law is based on principles from Roman law, which is quite different from the law systems in the United States which are largely based on British Common law. This presentation will briefly discuss the history of the AGBG and where it can be found (in German and in English translation), but the majority of the time will be spent discussing principles in this civil code that are of greatest significance to genealogists because they deal with matters of birth, marriage, death, and inheritance. The AGBG defines the age of majority, what parents owe their children, who is allowed to inherit, and how the inheritance must be recorded.
Carpatho-Rusyns may not be a well-known ethnic group, but we have quite a presence if you know where to look. In 2020, I created a collaborative Google Map to which people could add Rusyn places all around the US. It now contains more than 520 Rusyn places in 28 states and Washington DC, and more than 150 formerly Rusyn places. This talk will discuss the purpose of the project, information sources, how to use the resulting map, and will include an interactive demo.
Thursday Session #4
Czech Republic has all kinds of tourist sights, except the sea. This presentation introduces both the world-famous ones and those not listed in every guidebook. The narration certainly includes basic data on the objects, but to make the presentation more vivid and attractive, it presents their remarkable stories – both actual historical events and interesting legends and lore. They are accompanied by pictures of those sights, showing their magnificence, beauty, and interesting aspects. The location of each of them is shown on a map so you can see its proximity to your ancestral area and include it in travel plans.
A description of the life and times of people in two small villages that are literally “at the end of the road.” The villages are remote, difficult to get to, and often primitive in their lifestyle. Source material includes oral history, newly uncovered memoirs, and regional history. The presentation focuses on the pre-1914 period, but also describes how war and socialism fundamentally rocked the social fabric of the villages. Topics include agriculture, landowners, military conscription, religion, government, nearby villages, superstitions, and emigration.
More than 40 million people worldwide have already taken an (autosomal) genealogical DNA test. I will explain how autosomal inheritance works and how it reflects on the list of DNA matches, which is the most important part of your test results. You will learn which databases are popular among Czech researchers, how to enter them and how they could be used to validate one's traditional research or search for living genetic cousins. I will also showcase some tools (e.g. chromosome browsers, raw data export, chromosome mapping) and warn about the overestimated “ethnicity estimates”.
Often the most difficult part of writing a family history is getting started. If you feel stuck due to information overload, lack of time, or writer’s block, you are not alone. In this session, you will get ten simple tips to stop procrastinating and start writing! Learn how to organize your project with outlines and storyboards and discover methods for starting your story and sticking to a writing schedule. A brief overview of tools and apps to help keep you on track will also be provided.
Friday Session #1
The rich tapestry of annual customs in Slovakia is anchored in the folk rural culture that stems from pre-Christian history. The majority of folk customs performed during important holidays bear symbolisms and meaning that long precede Christianity. In the context of Europe and beyond, Slovakia is exceptional because it keeps the ancient customs alive in everyday family and community life. This contribution traces the origins and spotlights living traditions throughout the year to bring a new understanding to practices passed down through generations and performed not only by Slovaks in Slovakia, but also the Slovak diaspora in North America and beyond.
The key question is location. The presentation will show: How to determine the village/town, parish, and archive where the needed records are available; Strategies to access the records in particular archives (7 State Regional/Provincial Archives and City of Prague); Tools to make the search easier; and Overcoming obstacles, including Non-standard handwriting, Gothic script (kurent), Ancient Czech, Latin and German, Local dialects, and Occasional mistakes. Will demonstrate the individual steps in researching a specific family, deciphering the script, and understanding the data.
World War 2 wreaked havoc not only on the lands of Eastern Europe, but also on its people. This presentation delves into how the larger geo-political events from 1938 to 1945 impacted the daily lives of rural villagers in Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, and Hungary. The destiny of men, women, the weak, the poor, Jews and Gypsies took many paths: Refugee, draftee, resistance fighter, slave laborer, arrest, gulag prisoner, deportee. The impact of puppet governments, German and Soviet occupation, as well as battles within the villages are explored.
After planning visits to my ancestral villages throughout Slovakia, I began to think of their journey in an entirely different way. I required a smartphone, translator, GPS, and rental car; so how did they undertake theirs? Instead of thinking of their journey beginning with a boat ride, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “How did they get to the boat?” This talk will examine the structures and systems that made it feasible for so many Slovak immigrants to leave their remote villages for America mainly looking at ticket agents, train routes, emigrant halls, and changes in the shipping industry.
Friday Session #2
Artificial Intelligence (AI), Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and the Metaverse. You may have heard these terms on the news, but what do they have to do with genealogy? This session will demonstrate how these emerging technologies will shape a new frontier in family history including how we research our ancestors and share their stories. Learn how AI is being used for record indexing, translation, working with images, and writing family narratives. A brief overview of using avatars in the metaverse for genealogy education will be discussed, along with possibilities for creating NFTs to show provenance for photographs, heirlooms, DNA, and more.
Would you be keen on doing a “phone book lookup” for your Moravian ancestors of the 17th century? Well, obviously, they had no phones back then yet, but looking up your ancestral surname in the Moravian field register (1669–1679) feels almost like that. I will explain the history, the organization, the recorded information and the accessibility of this unique resource for Moravian genealogy, which was recently (2015) fully indexed, the total of 189,102 personal records ordered alphabetically and published in two volumes having the size and the feel of an actual phone book.
Lanškroun Manor is located in Northeast Bohemia about 100 miles east of Prague. Prior to settlement, the area was a largely unsettled forested land crossed by trades routes. This history begins prior to settlement, through the initial settlement by Franconian settlers in the 13th century and ending with World War I including emigration to the United States (Wisconsin and Texas) and life in the United States for those emigrants.
This lecture will take you 150 years back. What was like the everyday life of your ancestors in 1800s? What would it be like to visit them and see first-hand their marriages, families, food, work, school, and free time? This lecture will offer you a fun introduction to the social history of Habsburg monarchy in 1800s with a special focus on the Czech Lands and Slovakia. We will especially zoom in on the everyday life of those social groups, which most frequently migrated to the USA.
Friday Session #3
Folk dress, or kroj, was a village person's glory. Young girls learned to sew and embroider at their mother's knee to fill their dower chests. What's fascinating about village folk dress is how it changed like fashions do today. Your kroj told so much about you... whether you were young or old, married or single, rich or poor, a young recruit off to war or a nursing mother, a widow or widower. This presentation showcases folk dress with images from the past fifty years showing how kroj reflected the region lived in, their work in the village, and their place in society.
Knowledge of an individual’s occupation can provide valuable insights for the family historian. However, the lives of 19th century working women are too often hidden under the rubric of “wives, widows, or daughters” of the male head of household. In this talk we will explore 19th century parish records that reveal the real stories of wives, widows, and midwives; maid servants and farmworkers; spinners and factory girls; and the unwed mothers and beggars of rural Bohemia when both political and economic revolutions were changing the very nature of female work and life.
Czech Land Records are genealogically rich, digitally accessible, and linguistically challenging. If your ancestors possessed land in Bohemia, Moravia, or Silesia before 1885, these records can be useful for bridging gaps in matriky records which exist due to record loss. This presentation will be geared toward the intermediate/advanced Czech genealogist who is already comfortable and familiar with matriky records, old Czech handwriting, and jurisdictions in the Czech lands. We will start by discussing what land records are, how they are organized, and where to find them today, with a special emphasis on online collections which are increasingly being made available. Finally, we will explore several interesting case studies that illustrate the value of these records.
This lecture will help you to understand the importance of beer in the Czech and Slovak societies throughout their history. Where did beer originate? Why beer became so important in Central Europe? Was the church prohibiting beer or was it the biggest brewer? How come that beer was virtually present in every household? What did beer mean for Czech and Slovak cultures? What was the position of beer in family lives?
Friday Session #4
A microscopic study of Sokol in Milwaukee will be presented to illustrate the evolution of attitudes and perceptions towards events in the motherland and also to the activity of the Czech elite, 1880-1918. One of the issues the presentation will focus on will be the unexpected indicators of localism: The Czechs in Milwaukee coexisted and aligned themselves with Germans which was an alliance that the Czech-American elite organization supporting T. G. Masaryk’s goals would be deemed impermissible.
This social history presentation focuses on Czech immigration within the context of the national identity debate in America from 1880 to 1930. Upon arrival, our ancestors stepped into a culture fueled by anti-immigration sentiments, and immigrants faced overwhelming pressure to give up all traces of their ethnic identity and assimilate as quickly as possible. Dr. Funda draws on original sources from popular culture, including political cartoons, a propaganda film, opinion pieces defining the Czech ethnic character, and a Teddy Roosevelt speech about “the problem of hyphenated Americanism.” She also discusses how Czech-American intellectuals addressed stereotypes directly to reframe the conversation about Czech immigrant contributions.
A simple family history research project evolved into a detailed examination of a significant German Bohemian immigration to Calumet County in eastern Wisconsin. The area of western Bohemia in which these families resided saw an end to feudalism at roughly the same time as Wisconsin earned statehood in 1848. Steiner explains the five-parish research project that uncovered this wave of immigration. Steiner will include firsthand experiences while researching rare and invaluable records and stories in the Czech Republic and Germany. Her complete research findings are detailed in her book, A German Bohemian Immigration: The Population Shift from Western Bohemia to Calumet County, Wisconsin.
This presentation will discuss “Schematismus” books (diocesan overview) available online for the Diocese of Munkacs, Hungary, between 1814-1915. The Diocese of Munkacs (today the Eparchy of Mukachevo) historically included Transcarpathia (Ukraine) and parts of eastern Slovakia. I compiled and analyzed data pertaining to my Carpatho-Rusyn ancestral villages for a different perspective on the region’s history. I will discuss how I used the Schematismus books, the two selected villages and my ties to each, my data collection method, and some findings like population changes in the villages over time.
Saturday Session #1
When few could read and write, villagers learned their religion from church walls. It began when Saints Cyril & Methodius brought Christianity to the land. Churches were erected, many wooden ones with materials at hand, some still standing 6 centuries later! Built by Huguenots, Habans, Catholics, Lutherans, Wallachians, Gorals, Rusyns, Greek Catholics & Orthodox, they survived religious persecution and war. Enjoy a visual presentation of wooden churches, bell towers and shrines that remain, protected by the government as national treasures, and view priceless icons, processional banners, incredible altars, statues and shrines.
This lecture will give amateur genealogists information and tools enabling you to perform as much genealogical research on your own as possible. What basic facts do researchers need to know to start genealogical research in the Czech Republic and/or Slovakia on your own? How can you identify the website for the Regional Archive that covers your ancestor’s birthplace? What resources are available on-line? How do you use the 1824-1843 cadastral maps website for the Czech Republic? How do you find current information about towns? When should you hire a professional genealogist?
When searching for immigrant ancestors, most beginning genealogists immediately try to “cross the ocean” to find records in Europe. But before you make that leap too soon, it is important to find your family in all possible North American records first to determine the town or village of origin. This session will present 13 (a Baker’s Dozen) of resources to check beyond passenger arrival manifests. Examples and specific search strategies for locating key records of foreign-born ancestors, and documents of ethnic-based communities and neighborhoods will be provided.
This presentation provides a crash course into the nuts and bolts of DNA testing. Topics will include the different types of DNA tests, how to navigate the major commercial testing companies, third party tools to make sense of DNA results, strategies to locate DNA matches, further educational opportunities, and other resources. A case study will pull together the strategies introduced in this presentation.
Saturday Session #2
Census records are useful not only to build a family tree, but to glean insight into what life was like in those times. This presentation provides a description of 11 census conducted by the Kingdom of Hungary, their purpose, organization and collection methodology. A description of where the original census documents are located, their contents and explanation of how to interpret the information. Pointers to online access for each census will also be provided. This presentation will describe best-practice research strategy and methods. A case-study of the 1869 Census will be included.
This presentation will focus on traditional houses in the Czech Lands. It will discuss the shapes of cities and villages and locations of houses in them down to the description of typical houses (their layouts, building materials, rooms in living sections and functions of farm/business sections, and equipment). Will discuss Differences between cities buildings and country farms and cottages, according to the owners’ social positions, and other kinds of community buildings. Will reflect on the various architectural styles in the country.
This presentation explores the lives of some of the most prolific, early Czech pioneers in Wisconsin including: Vojtěch Náprstek, František Fischer, Isaac Neustadtl, Soloman Adler, Nathan Pereles and his wife, Antonín Kroupa, Matěj Zika, František Korizek, Vojtěch Mašek, Karel Jonas, Jan Posler, František Andrle, Vojtěch Stranský, and Jan Karel. These early Czechs were businessmen, entrepreneurs, politicians, political refugees, activists, philanthropists, soldiers, teachers, husbands, wives, and philosophers. They paved the way for other Czechs to follow in their footsteps, creating a great legacy of freedom and leaving a rich cultural heritage, and they deserve to be remembered.
Lanškroun Manor is located about 100 miles east of Prague near the current Polish Silesian border. Throughout much of it history until the railroads brought industrialization, the manor economy was based on agricultural with a local weaving industry based on locally grown flax. This presentation surveys the designated farms shown in the Lanškroun Manor in the 1830s cadastral maps. The presentation includes survey techniques and a summary of farmers in the maps. The history of agriculture in the Manor prior to the 1830s will also be presented including a summary of the families included in the 1651 Faith Survey.
Saturday Session #3
Knowledge of Czech language is very useful for Czech genealogical research, but few people find the time and talent required to fully master this difficult Slavic language. Fortunately, a lot can be achieved today with the help of computers. In this presentation, I will use my expertise in computational linguistics to introduce a selection of freely available on-line tools useful for English speakers. You will learn how to look up words (including inflections) in a dictionary, use machine translation in the browser, determine the correct pronunciation of Czech words and names, and produce the special Czech characters with diacritics, where appropriate.
The decision of our Czech ancestors to abandon the towns and villages of their birth for uncertain futures in America was often the result of personal economic circumstances that made any future at home seem impossibly bleak. This talk will outline both national and local economic trends and crises that impacted the Lanškroun region of East Bohemia as related to the sustained emigration from that area, from which came many of the Czech settlers to Wisconsin. On the other hand, as will be explained, it was the Austrian educational system that provided highly engaged American citizens among these Czech immigrants.
Clara Dzyban was born 1891 in the Carpathian Mountains in south-eastern Poland near Slovakia. She was a Lemko, a regional ethnic group who speak a dialect related to Ukrainian, and practice Orthodox Christianity. While Clara has been deceased for 32 years, she leaves 4 generations of descendants, including myself. We will discuss how I used Borland Genetics to reconstruct portions of Clara’s genome using the DNA of her living descendants. This course provides a crash-course in the requisite DNA concepts and empowers attendees to reconstruct their ancestors in the same manner I reconstructed Clara.
FamilySearch has digitized the Grundbuchblätter Diverse: Böhmen, Mähren, Schlesien, 1820-1864, which are the military personnel sheets for soldiers of the Austrian army born ~1820-1864 in Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. These records include vital information, a physical description, and a record of the soldier's military service; they often do not include extensive information about family relationships. This presentation will teach you about these records, how to access them, and how to use them for genealogical research.
Saturday Session #4
For nearly two centuries, Slovaks have been leaving the country. The biggest exodus occurred at the turn of the 19th century when one third of the nation emigrated to North America. The Slovak diaspora in the New World maintained contact with their homeland. This was interrupted by WW2 which was followed by the communist coup d’état in Czechoslovakia. The Iron Curtain cut contact between the two worlds for 4 decades. Today, 34 years after the Velvet Revolution, the impact of the era can still be felt. Nevertheless, 2022 brought an important breakthrough and allowed the descendants of Slovak migrants to claim citizenship by descent.
The presentation introduces expressions referring to professions and/or social statuses in the emigration for America period. Since the majority of the population engaged in farming, we start with whole-plot-land farmers down to subtenants, followed by various crafts, and finally, other kinds of jobs and social positions – both historical, from the feudal society structure, and the modern, from the beginnings of the industrial period. Because the records were written in ancient Czech, German, or Latin, all those languages are covered, as well as some regional/dialectical expressions. Examples of handwritten words are shown in pictures.
This presentation will cover the emigration of Germans and Czechs from the district of Landskron/Lanškroun, Bohemia to the American Midwest. It will discuss how social class, ethnicity, and religion affected the process of emigration. It will contrast village and farm organization in Bohemia and Wisconsin. It will discuss the political situation in both Bohemia and Wisconsin in 1848, and how it affected the ability to emigrate and the willingness to accept immigrants. The slides will include church and farm buildings in both Bohemia and Wisconsin.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced genealogist, learn how research logs can help you maximize your research time and increase success. Through examples, learn what exactly a research log is, why you should use one, and how to create and maintain a personalized, easy-to-use system with tools such as Microsoft Excel, AirTable, Evernote, Notion, and more.
2023 CGSI CONFERENCE
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