2024 CGSI Symposium


2024 CGSI Genealogy & Cultural Symposium
April 20-21, 2024, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCMSL)

Forgotten Czech, Slovak, & Carpatho-Rusyn Heroes

                      concurrent with

Research Presentations & Workshops

This Symposium setting allows participants to experience the NCSML exhibits and enjoy a day of presentations.

2024 CGSI Symposium Program | Speakers

Saturday, April 20

Extended museum hours until 5:30pm  Pre-event networking & cash bar
A Night at the Museum with the Czech Plus Band at 6pm

Sunday, April 21

8:30 AM - Mitvalsky Room

Welcome Remarks
Dr. Cecilia Rokusek
President and CEO, National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML)

Keynote Address
Dr. Martin Javor
Director, Kasigarda - Museum of Emigration from Slovakia to North America, Ťahyňa, Slovakia

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Forgotten Czech, Slovak, & Carpatho-Rusyn Heroes

Rediscovering the Homelands & Genealogy Research Techniques

9:45 AM - Mitvalsky Room

Czech and Slovak Pilots in the Battle of Britain and World War II

Dr. Megan Kelleher Historian and Academic Access Manager Royal Air Force Museum

Stephanie Abrams President & CEO New England Air Museum

British singer Katy Carr's Motylek


9:45 AM - Hruska Room

CGSI's Czech and Slovak Cemetery Mapping Project
Kathryn Palmquist and Jason Cadek

The Value of Obituaries For Finding Family Connections
Iveta Blahútová

11:15 AM - Mitvalsky Room

Heroism in the Worst of Times
Dr. Anna Hájková
Czech-British historian at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom

Dr. Hájková is the author of The Last Ghetto: An Everyday History of Theresienstadt which provides an in-depth analytical history of a prison society during the Holocaust.

11:15 AM - Alliant Energy Classroom

Developing a Genealogy Search Strategy for Your Family
Bill Tarkulich

12:00 Noon Buffet Luncheon - Hruska Room
Czech-style pork loin with dumplings & Czech salad

2025 CGSI Kansas City Conference Update
Conference Chair Paul Makousky

Breakout Sessions

1:00 PM - Mitvalsky Room
A Bishop Who Spoke Out
Karen Varian
President, Rusin Association of Minnesota

Greek Catholic Bishop of Prešov, Pavel Peter Gojdič, opposed the chauvinistic stance of Czechoslovak authorities towards Carpatho-Rusyns, protested the antisemitic regime of Josef Tiso, writing to the Vatican to demand Tiso’s resignation, and was imprisoned for speaking out against communist intolerance after World War II.

1:45 PM - Mitvalsky Room
A Courageous Envoy Honored by Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Serbia
Anna Cooková
Owner & Founder, CzechTalk LLC

Brewer turned diplomat Czech-American Charles J. Vopička served as United States Minister to Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia from 1913 to 1920. He helped several emerging nations grapple with the outbreak of World War I and its violent aftermath. His career began in Chicago as co-founder of Bohemian Brewing Co., later Atlas Brewing.

2:30 PM - Mitvalsky Room
How I Did It

Stories from CGSI members who have journeyed overseas to discover family history, a sharing of genealogy learnings, and their life impacts.

My Carpatho-Rusyn Heritage, My Inspiration in Presov, Slovakia
Alexandra Bodnarchuk, Founder of Doma Dance Theater, Minneapolis

How research on my Bohemian ancestors led to a project at Palacky University in Olomouc and talks at Masaryk University and the University of Hradec Kralove
Dr. Edward R. Canda, Professor Emeritus, School of Social Welfare, University of Kansas.

Reflections on My Visits to Czech Lands since 1986 
Annette Gathright, President, Czechoslovak Area Genealogy Club of Southern. California

How I Helped My Husband Discover His Czech Roots After Finding My Polish Roots
Jill Johnson Founder, Johnson Consulting of Minnesota

My Grandfather's Escape Flight from Bratislava 
Mike Sacha, Descendant of a RAF military and Czechoslovak commercial navigator


4 PM - Mitvalsky Room

Toast to NCSML’s 50th anniversary!
Brief networking meeting and announcements.


  CGSI appreciates and thanks our valued sponsors.

MAJOR SPONSORS - 2024 CGSI Symposium

  CGSI appreciates and thanks our valued sponsors.

National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library