Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International

Since I serve on the Board of Directors for the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International, I would like to take a minute to give a plug for this group here on my Blog. If you have ancestry in the Czechoslovak region as it was in 1918, including families of Czech, Bohemian, Moravian, Slovak, German, Hungarian, Jewish, Rusyn, and Silesian origin, why not consider joining? The society strives to promote genealogical research and cultural interest. There are over 3,000 current CGSI members. New CGSI members receive a welcome packet of research information including: Information on how to locate living relatives in the Czech and Slovak Republics; Procedures to obtain Birth, Marriage or Death Certificates before 1900 and after the year 1900; Listings in the United States and Canada of organizations that have historical records. Members also receive the Nase Rodina quarterly newsletter which promotes genealogy of the ethnic groups that comprise Czechoslovakia as it was formed in 1918, and Rocenka society journal comprised of articles of lasting value, independently selected and not duplicated from the quarterly newsletter (Nase Rodina), along with research assistance from society members and much more! All this for just $25.00 per year for an individual membership; $30.00 family or $45.00 sponsor. A membership form is available on the CGSI web site:

Monday, October 30, 2006

Virtual Cemeteries

Genealogists love cemeteries. And, thanks to technology, there are plenty of Internet sites out there that enable you to locate the graves of famous folks or your ancestors, create virtual memorials, add 'virtual flowers'and more.

In the "spirit" of Halloween, check out my article on "Virtual Cemeteries" in the current issue of Internet Genealogy Magazine.

A copy can be found on my Web site.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Book Recommendation: For One More Day

What if you had one more day to spend with someone you'd lost?

This is the premise of For One More Day, the recent release by Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven). I actually purchased the CD-ROM version to listen to in my car while on the road driving to speaking engagements. I found it to be a heartwarming story.

The book is described on Albom's Web site: "Albom’s tribute to family and particularly motherhood is his second novel and the first to feature a female protagonist. It explores questions of regret, divorce, and how we would spend one special day with the ghost of someone we loved." The site also goes into more detail about the plot.

Who wouldn't want to spend one more day with a loved one who has passed away? I know I have a long list of folks I would want to spend a day with, including my parents, and even more especially, my paternal grandfather, John Alzo, whom I never met (he died before I was born). I regret that I never knew him. I would love to just sit on the porch and listen to him tell stories and ask him questions about his homeland (Slovakia), his immigration to America, his family among others.

I highly recommend this book. It is an easy read (or listen), and although not a genealogical book in the "pure" sense, it does have some elements of family history and makes you think about your own life choices as well as those who have gone before you.

If you could spend one more day with someone, who would it be and why?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost!"

I know this is not directly related to genealogy, but if you like ghost stories and live near Bedford, Pennsylvania, why not spend this Halloween night with Bedford Ghost Tours?

The tours are being conducted by two dear friends of mine, and I just thought I would give their new business venture a plug!

Here are the details:

Halloween Night
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
6:30 pm until 9:30 pm

This Halloween night, Bedford Ghost Tours will celebrate its grand opening in Bedford with our candle light walking tours at Old Bedford Village.

Beginning at 6:30 PM, groups will leave for a lantern lit stroll of the village every 15 minutes. As your guide leads you along the paths and buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries, you’ll hear the tales of those spirits who are maybe not-so-dearly departed.

Discounted admission is
$7.00 per person.
Tickets are available at the door only; no advanced reservations required.
Tours will last approximately 1 hour.

The tours are appropriate for all members of the family, handicapped accessible and are conducted rain or shine.

It promises to be a ghoulish good time!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hidden Genealogical Gems - Part 3

This is part three in a series of postings I haved dubbed, "Hidden Genealogical Gems," - items belonging to family members that I discovered while cleaning out my parents' house.

Mom's Autograph Book

My mother's autograph book showed up in a tin box that contained a few of her other personal effects. I found this little treasure to be both entertaining and informative - it provided a glimpse into my mother's life during her teenage years and long before she was my mother.

The inside page shows a date of April 22, 1940 and is in my mother's handwriting. It also contains her signature, and address at the time. She was in Jr. High School. Mom always had such nice handwriting - wish I could say the same about mine.

There were pages and pages of autographs from my mother's friends and classmates. The above is a sample page from a fellow classmate, John Petrisko, who actually was my father's best friend. My mother and father were in the same class at the same high school but did not date then--they only knew each other as fellow classmates. It wasn't until many years later that they would meet again and begin dating, and eventually marry. Many of the entries in my mother's authograph book contained common sayings or poems popular during that time.

I love finding these genealogical gems that help me to know my parents as young adults. It gives me a more well-rounded perspective of their life stories.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Lecture by Steve Morse

If you live in or near the Syracuse, NY area, you may be interested in an upcoming lecture on Tuesday, October 24, 2006 by Stephen Morse, creator of the One Step Web Pages.

Dr. Morse has been dubbed one of the "unsung heroes" of the genealogical world. Below is the information for the talk:

One-Step Webpages: A Potpourri of Genealogical Search Tools"
October 24, 2006 7-9 p. m.
@ Most Holy Rosary Church lll Roberts Ave, Syracuse, NY
Sponsored by Irish American Cultural Institute of CNYIACI members--$7.00, general public--$l0.00
For questions, e-mail Anne Ruggeri at (

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Call for Photographs

I am in search of photographs to be included in a forthcoming book I am working for Arcadia Publishing, Sports Memories of Western Pennsylvania .

Sports Memories of Western Pennsylvania will celebrate the best of both professional and amateur sports—highlighting the hometown heroes and famous faces, as well as those who played for the love of the game. The book is a salute to the athletes, coaches, announcers and fans who created a rich sports history for Western Pennsylvania.

If you have any photographs you would like to share, I would love to include them in this book.

The publisher is unable to pay for images, but a full credit line will be given to the owner or copyright holder. Hard copy images (clear, high quality photocopies) are preferred. Should you wish to send digital images they must be scanned at 300 d.p.i. and saved in TIFF (.tif) format and placed on a CD-ROM.

DEADLINE: On or before January 5, 2007

Please provide the following information with the photographs:

Your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address
Date of the photograph (if known, or at least the time period, e.g. early 20 th century, late 18 th century, etc.
Who is in the photograph (if known) and the occasion or a brief description
Name of the copyright owner.
Due to space limitations, not all photographs submitted can be chosen or used. The publisher will be selecting all photographs to be included - the author assumes no responsibility for use or for loss or damage to any materials provided.

If your photograph is selected you will be notified prior to publication of the book(s).

Please e-mail me at: if you are interested in sending along images.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Celebrate Family History Month

Since October is officially designated as "Family History Month" why not use this month to explore new ways for discovering your family history. For suggestions, read my article "365 Ways to Discover Your Family History," which appeared in the February 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine. The article is available (by kind permission) on my Web site. Go to "Read Articles" click on the article and then once you download it, go to p. 12 under October to read 31 great suggestions to make family history fun for the whole family.

Happy Hunting!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Upcoming Events

I've got a few upcoming speaking engagements in October and November. If you are in any of these cities, I would enjoy meeting you!

October 28, 2006 Annual Meeting, Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International, 1:00 p.m. Faith Presbyterian Church, 12007 Excelsior Boulevard, Minnetonka. MN "Slovak Genealogy"

November 4, 2006 BLUE COLLAR BOOK TOUR Book signing The Riverfront Shoppes, Speers, PA (with fellow Arcadia author, Daniel J. Burns "Duquesne," "Pittsburgh's Rivers")

November 5, 2006 Talk at University of Pittsburgh Slovak Festival Cathedral of Learning, Pitt Campus 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM "Slovaks Settled Here: Identifying Cluster Communities in Pittsburgh"

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Getting Some Fresh Air

Yes, I haven't posted any entries for about a week. I took a few days for some R&R but then I admit I also got a bit lazy. I just couldn't find anything I wanted to blog about so I did not bother to log on.

Today, I enjoyed a long walk around my neighborhood, and it was one of those times when I felt really blessed to live where I do. Fall in the Fingerlakes can be absolutely breathtaking with all of the beautiful trees with their orange, red, and yellow leaves. The houses in our neigborhood are completely surrounded with these trees and I passed many during my walk this afternoon. The air was crisp, and cool. It's hard to believe that about 3 hrs. away at the other end of the state, the folks in Buffalo were digging out from an early blast of winter and over a foot of snow!

I like to take these long walks to clear my head, especially when I am having trouble writing or meet an impasse in my familyhistory research.

When I returned today, I sat down at my computer and worked on two articles that I have been struggling to finish for a couple of weeks. I also thought of some fresh ideas for future projects.

So, it's good to take a break once in awhile whether it's from genealogy or writing. Take a walk, see a movie, go shopping, or whatever else you enjoy. You'll return with a new perspective and it will make you a better researcher and/or writer.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Taking a Break

I haven't posted for a couple of days. I've been on the road for some talks and also a much needed break (my husband and I wanted to go away for a few days to celebrate our upcoming anniversary).

I tried to disconnect from my laptop, but I think I would have suffered withdrawal so I am only checking e-mail in short sessions.

I will be back to the blog in a couple of days.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

First Bi-Annual Ethnic Heritage Festival of the North Tonawanda History Museum

This weekend I will be participating in the the following event, as announced by North Tonawanda History Museum, Tonawanda, NY.

“North Tonawanda: A Celebration of our Ethnic Diversity!” set for Saturday, October 7, 2006, will be the first bi-annual ethnic heritage festival of the North Tonawanda History Museum. It will be held in the Sportsplex Family Entertainment Complex at 90 Ridge Road from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Intended as an all day family event, the festival will include entertainment, educational programming, displays and exhibits, and ethnic foods.

I will be giving a talk: "Identifying Immigrant Cluster Communities and Their Role in Preserving Ethnic Customs and Traditions," at 2 p.m. and signing and selling my books. If you are in the area, stop by. I would love to meet you!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Talk at Ontario County Genealogical Society

I will be speaking at the Ontario County Genealogical Society in Canandaigua, New York on Wednesday, October 4, 2006 on "Researching Eastern European Ancestors." The talk will begin at approximately 7 p.m. at The Ontario County Historical Society, 55 North Main Street.

Below is a summary of my talk:

"A vast number of immigrants came to America from Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Border changes, language differences, political considerations, and exotic-sounding surnames often complicate the search for Austrian, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Rusyn, Slovak, Ukrainian, and other Eastern European ancestors. This talk discusses traditional methods and online resources for tracking ancestors both in the U.S. and the old country, as well as techniques for overcoming some of the most common obstacles and problems faced during the research process."

If you live in or Canandaigua, why not come out for this event? I would enjoy meeting you!

Monday, October 02, 2006

A New Genealogy Channel

For those of you who can't get enough of genealogy and like to keep up with what's new, check out the new Internet channel for genealogy: RootsTelevision.

This site is off to a great start with free video clips (shows) in several categories, including "How To" and "DNA" among others, blogs, vlogs, and a shop for purchasing books, DVDs/Videos and other RootsGear.

Family history research has just entered a new dimension. If you like computers and love genealogy, then I know you will enjoy RootsTelevision!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

With Genealogy, You're Never Done

Whenever I give genealogical lectures or teach beginner's classes in how to perform family history research, I typically talk about how no matter how long you work on your family tree, with genealogy, you're never done. There will always be a new ancestor who turns up, a new piece of information to discover, or an unsolved mystery to tackle. I also stress the importance of "never giving up" no matter how long it takes to find an elusive ancestor or bust through that one seemingly impossible brick wall. I know this first hand. I spent 15 years thinking I would never locate any information about one of my ancestors, my grandfather's brother, Sam Figlar.

But thanks to persistence, the Internet, and a bit of luck, last year I cracked the case. You can read about the steps I took to find Sam in the current issue of Internet Genealogy Magazine, available now on newsstands. The case study I wrote talks about how I started with very little information (only a family story about him), the failed attempts to find information on him 11 years ago, and then how last year I resumed the search, and following several online leads, finally locating the missing details to find the answers about what really happened to Sam.