Frequently Asked Questions

What are CGSI Individual, Household and Sponsor Memberships?

Individual Membership — A membership for one person. The annual benefits include four quarterly issues of the Nase rodina, a new member welcome packet, and admission to CGSI events at the member rate. Members who visit the CGSI library collection at the Minnesota Genealogical Society library are entitled to free admission (otherwise $10 per visit). Members are allowed access to the “Member Home” section of the CGSI website and may add queries or post research questions. An individual member is entitled to one vote at CGSI’s Annual Elections.

Household Membership — A membership defined as a maximum of two named adults residing at the same address. The benefits include four quarterly issues of the Nase rodina, a new member welcome packet, and admission for two to CGSI events at the reduced member rate. Members who visit the CGSI library collection at the Minnesota Genealogical Society library are entitled to free admission (otherwise $10 per visit). Members are allowed access to the members-only Section of the CGSI website and may add queries or post research questions. A Household Membership entitles each of the two members to one vote at CGSI’s Annual Elections.

Sponsor Membership — A membership for either an individual or household that pays a higher Sponsor Level fee, with the incremental fee currently used to help support our expanded education efforts. The applicant needs to make clear whether the membership is for an individual only or a household. The individual Sponsor benefits then follow the Individual Member benefits above and the household Sponsor benefits follow the Household Membership benefits above. The Sponsor Member(s) are recognized by having their name(s) published in an issue of CGSI’s quarterly, Nase rodina.

Nase rodina’s Membership benefit changes in 2015 — Members can view or download the latest and past issues of Nase rodina from our website. All of the past issues of Nase rodina and Rocenka (was discontinued after 2006) have been put in the member’s only area of the website and are available to download and read on your computer or electronic device! They are searchable so you can check to see if the names and villages you are interested in have been written about in articles over the past twenty five years. To access Nase rodina archives just log into your member account and on the Member Home page you will see it listed in the menu on the right side of the screen.
International members: Because of the increasing costs of international postage, we regret that we are unable to continue mailing the Nase rodina to International members after May 1, 2015. You will have access to it right away on the website and will not have to wait for it to come in the mail.

How do I use the Message Board and Queries functions?

Below is a 7 1/2 minute video that defines the purpose of each of these functions and the best way to use them.

How do I best search the CGSI databases?

This 12 minute video reviews how to search the three CGSI proprietary databases: Baca Records, Member Surname Index, and St Paul MN Archdiocese birth, marriage and death records.

What is found in the Digital Library area in the Members part of this website?

Here is a 7 minute video that discusses the contents of the CGSI “Digital Library”/Education and Webinars section.

What is a Webinar?

A Webinar is short for Web-based Seminar—simply it’s a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the Web. Webinars have been offered for some time now by companies such as , Family Tree University , and Legacy Family Tree but lately, a number of other genealogy vendors, societies, and independent professionals have started offering Webinars as well. It used to be that people traversed long distances to attend an event that provided genealogical education on any number of topics. Now, using a computer or laptop, speakers or headset, and an internet connection, an individual can learn remotely from the comfort of his or her home or office. Webinars are a cost-effective way to reach a worldwide audience. For additional information on online educational opportunities (including webinars), see the article The Art of Teaching Genealogy by Lisa A. Alzo, Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, September 2011, Volume XXXIII – Number 3

What is a Surname Index?

A Surname Index is a book of surnames being researched by CGSI members. The information listed in these books was furnished by our members on their membership forms and ancestor charts. Nine indexes have been published to date. Each volume’s surnames are independent of the surnames in the other volumes. Each Surname Index contains over 1,000 member surnames.

An index includes:

  1. an alphabetical listing of names being researched by our members, and the member number of the person who submitted the surname(s)
  2. the City/village where the ancestor came from in the former Czechoslovakia
  3. the city, county, state(s) or province where the family immigrated to in the United States, Canada, etc.
  4. the name and address of the members who submitted the surname(s) is listed in the back of book

The reasons for listing your surnames and using the indexes is to create a process for networking among members and to establish family ties. These indexes are available for purchase in our store and are also now available to search in the Members Only section of our website. They are searchable online by Surname, City/village of origin, and Immigration area. In addition to the information in the published indexes, the online searchable surname database includes postings and updates by members directly to our website since the time this capability was added.

What are Family Certificates?

Pioneer and Century Family Certificates may be applied for by descendants of immigrants from the region known as Czechoslovakia that entered the North American continent prior to 1871 (Pioneer) or 100 years prior to the date of application (Century). Learn more about Family Certificates. To apply, print out our application form. (PDF)

How do I begin my Genealogical Research?

Begin your genealogical research by gathering facts on your immediate family. Ask your parents and grandparents for birth dates, marriage dates, death dates and copies of family certificates and documents, including entries in Bibles. Use the church, local, state, and historical society records from where your family settled in this country to do your preliminary research. Your male ancestors very likely filed a declaration of intention and later, a petition to become a naturalized citizen. The key piece of information in your genealogical research is the birthplace(s) and birthdate(s) of your immigrant ancestor(s).

Tombstone inscriptions often give clues about the birthplace of the deceased as well as age at death and possible relationships. Valuable information can be obtained from the US census records. Since 1790, the US has taken a census every ten years. As of 1850, the census lists the names and birthplaces from all members of the household.

For Czechs and Slovaks there were three main ports of embarkation from Europe: Bremen, Hamburg, and Antwerp. Some ports maintained lists of departing passengers that contained information on age, place of origin, and occupation. Passenger lists of Bremen have been destroyed. Passenger lists for the Port of Hamburg are preserved in the German State Archives in Hamburg and these have been microfilmed by the LDS Genealogical Library.

One key point is the importance of understanding the term “chain migration” and that when doing research on your own family that parallel information should also be recorded on neighbors of their ancestors here in the US. The best sources to determine the neighbors are the census or tax rolls. People coming from Europe and other parts of the world either traveled with fellow countrymen and women or they were coming to the U.S. because of recommendations given in letters by former neighbors or their relatives who were already living in the US.

Once you have identified and recorded who your ancestor’s neighbors were, then look for items about these neighbors such as family histories, obituaries, or death claims in local newspapers or fraternal journals i.e. ZCBJ (Western Fraternal Life Association of Cedar Rapids, IA), or CSA (Czechoslovak Society of America, but now referred to as CSA Fraternal Life of Oak Brook, IL), naturalization papers, cemetery headstones, cemetery association records, etc., for places of birth in the Czech or Slovak lands. This is the route to take when you have dead ends on searching for your own ancestor’s place of birth.

After you have located the birthplace(s) and birthdate(s) of your ancestors, you can attempt to obtain information on them from the Czech and Slovak archives. The section entitled ‘Archives’ on this website provides guidance on how to do this. As outlined there, a well-defined process for obtaining information by written request from the Slovak archives exists. However, as also noted there, as of early 2003, the Czech archives appear to have stopped responding to written requests. The Archives section will be updated as more information on the Czech archives policy becomes available. Of course, personally visiting the archives is another alternative for obtaining information on your ancestors. The next step in the process may be to write to the Slovak archives providing them all the information you have. You would normally specify a maximum amount of dollars for them to spend and they will work as many hours as the money will allow. Check the archive section of this website for archive addresses.

Another method is to hire one of the professional researchers listed on the CGSI website. These researchers have been used by a number of our members.

We at CGSI can offer minimal assistance. We can answer questions on towns/cities, provide postal codes, and look up surnames in Czech and Slovak telephone books.

One of the basic questions is “How do I get started?” That may be accomplished by taking courses in beginning genealogy. Such courses can be found at genealogical societies, historical societies, community colleges, or through the purchase of books, through our CGSI website, and at CGSI meetings and conferences.

For a beginner, there is a copy of our quarterly Nase rodina issue, Volume 5 Number 3, which includes an article entitled “Basics of Genealogical Research” for $5.00. The CGSI address is:

P.O. Box 16225
St. Paul, MN 55116-0225

CGSI also has maps of the Czech and Slovak Republics and many other books for sale to help with your research. These items can be found in the store section of the CGSI website.

What is SOKOL?

SOKOL is an organization dedicated to the physical, mental and cultural advancement of its members, and the children who attend its gymnasiums. It is based upon the theory that only physically fit, mentally alert and culturally well-developed citizens can form a healthy, strong nation.

The SOKOL symbol is a Falcon.
Sokol is the Czech word for Falcon.

The SOKOL Credo
To build a healthy and beautiful human body, to cultivate a harmonious and total person, to develop firm character, a well-rounded disposition and a love of truth and justice; to produce strong, lovely and honorable people: That is the goal of a Sokol education.

Sokol History

In 1862, a highly educated young intellectual, Dr. Miroslav Tyrs (1832-1884) founded Sokol. His goal was to develop physically strong and mentally alert citizens, and to instill in them a deep love for national freedom from volunteer exercise and discipline.

Tyrs was led to the Sokol concepts through his studies of old Greek gymnastics, and from this, developed the Sokol gymnastics system and method which has stood the test of time.

The first Sokol organization formed in the United States was in St. Louis, Missouri on February 14, 1865. By 1878, there were 13 Sokol units in the United States scattered throughout the major cities from New York to Chicago. They worked independently and with their own interpretation of the Sokol movement.

Sokol New York, being the largest and most progressive with 160 members, saw the need to unite into one national organization. They felt by all working together as one, the Tyrs system could be utilized in their gym classes and one set of rules and by-laws would strengthen the Sokol movement. Delegates from 10 of the 13 units met in Chicago on September 11, 1878 and on September 15 they agreed on a name and officially organized the National Sokol Unity with a set of By-laws and rules to follow. The purpose, to promote the Sokol movement in America through gymnastics. They also kept alive the heritage, customs and culture they were so proud of, but had left behind in the land of their birth.

Gymnastics and calisthenics are the main part of the Sokol physical culture system. Others are volley ball, track and swimming, to name a few. Music, song, dance, drama and literature are also promoted.

Rhythmic Gymnastics

Rhythmic gymnastics makes a strong statement on behalf of woman’s sports combining the elegance, grace and beauty of the dance with the dynamic power, strength and coordination of the athletic. Rhythmic gymnastics was first featured as an Olympic sport in the 1984 Olympic Games.