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CGSI Surname Resources

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Surnames, and their associated locations, are the backbone of genealogical research. Since its founding CGSI has accumulated surnames and made them available to members. Below is a brief history of those efforts, links to surname lists, and ideas for future work in this area.

Sections
Czechoslovak Surname Index
CGSI Surname Index Binder
Volume 1 of the Czechoslovak Surname Index.

The society started collecting surnames since its founding and in May of 1989 Volume 1 of the "Czechoslovak Surname Index" was compiled. This first effort contained 946 names and was sold for $4.50.

Subsequent volumes included:

  • Volume 2 (February 1990), 1,250 names
  • Volume 3 (June 1992), 1,719 names
  • Volume 4 (February 1993), 1,700 names
  • Volume 5 (May 1994), 1,509 names
  • Volume 6 (March 1995), 1,745 names
  • Volume 7 (January 1999), 1,520 names
  • Volume 8 (September 2002), 1,423 names
  • Volume 9 (March 2006), 1,451 names

The volumes were each an alphabetical listing of surnames, meaning if you wanted to search for "Novak" you needed to look for "Novak" in each of the separate volumes.

There were an additional four volumes unpublished, but the decision was made to convert all these into an electronic database.

Going Digital

The surname database was launched as a digital version in August of 2010. At that time, according to the December 2011 Naše rodina, the database included 18,000 names and was only available to CGSI members who were logged into the site.

CGSI members were encouraged to add surnames directly to the electronic database. The categories of information entered included surname, city/village of origin, and immigration area (i.e. destination place), and any notes.

The surname database was now more easily searchable. Another benefit of the electronic format was that search results included the name of the member who submitted the information. Clicking the member's name then displayed all of that person's entries, making it easier to find people searching similar names or locations.

This database has been continually added to by members and was transferred in whole to the new society website in 2020. As of May 2022, there are over 43,000 entries.

2017 and 2019 Conferences

At both the 2017 CGSI Conference in Pittsburgh and the 2019 CGSI Conference in Lincoln, a wall map was provided to attendees to add their surnames. The idea was to create a visual representation of ancestor areas. Attendees were asked to pin a card with surname to the associated village.

While these efforts were inspiring to see in person, they resulted in a lot of manual work to transcribe the information. Through the efforts of several volunteers, each conference's map information was transcribed and can be accessed via the links below. (Note: only CGSI members currently logged into the site can access the documents).

Surname Map at 2017 Pittsburgh Conference
Surname Map at 2017 Pittsburgh Conference.
2021 Conference

The 2021 Conference was held virtually and provided a chance to experiment with a digital version of the 2017 and 2019 attempts. Now, for the first time, conference attendees could add information themselves to a digital platform. This eliminated the need to transcribe the data and reduces spelling errors.

Over 900 locations were plotted with information from conference attendees. The information submitted is available to CGSI members in the CGSI Digital Library.

What's Next for the CGSI Member Surname Database?

There are several possible improvements for the database.

  1. Load the attendee information from the 2017, 2019, and 2021 Conference surname maps.
  2. Clean up and standardize existing entries in the database. For example, an identical emigration destination can be either "Pennsylvania", "Penn.", or "PA". Standards would be need to created and edits made to reflect those standards.
  3. Add diacritical marks to locations.
  4. Look for additional sources of surname information for the database.
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