Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ontario Genealogical Society Seminar 2007

The Ontario Genealogical Society's 2007 seminar is being held this weekend at Algonquin College, Ottawa, Canada. Hope to meet many of you there! It should be a great conference!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

June at GenClass

Yes, the summer months are almost here, but there are still some great genealogy class offerings at GenClass for those who don't mind "summer school." The classes are $29.95 each for four weeks - lessons and class chats with an expert instructor. Here are the June course offerings:

JUNE 2007
Classes start Friday June 1, 2007
Adoption Investigative Class:Detailed search advice and assistance for successfully locating andreuniting adoptees and birth families.Register for this class NOW!
Lost Friends and Family Investigative Class:Detailed search advice and assistance on the methods to use forsuccessfully tracing "lost" relatives and friends.Register for this class NOW!
Northeastern United States Genealogy:Research in the NE states is fundamental to the trees of many Americans.Register NOW for this class!

Click here to register now!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Connecting with Cousins

It seems that everywhere I go these days I meet a newly found cousin! In the past few months I've connected with cousins from three branches of my family tree. In April, cousins from my Alzo and Figlar sides attended the PanSlavic seminar in Bridgeport, CT where I was a speaker. This past weekend, while at the Pittsburgh International Folk Festival, I reconnected with a cousin on my Straka side (the son of one of my grandmother's sisters) whom I have not seen in over 20 years. He had heard of my book Three Slovak Women, and found out I had a table at the festival so came over to meet me. I gave him a copy of my book. He told his sons and the next day they came over to introduce themselves. (I am sure I met them when I was a young girl but it has been a long time so I really did not remember them). My two newly found cousins are terrific performers--I listened to them play some great Slovak tunes and perform ethnic dances at the Folk festival. They even played a special Slovak music serenade (thanks Ilarion and Steve) for me at the book table I was sharing with my two writing colleagues! I am hoping that since we have reconnected we will be able to stay in touch.

I think that making connections is one of the greatest rewards of doing genealogical research. Living tangible results. That moment when you realize, "We're related. We have a connection."
For me, it truly makes all of the time and hard work worthwhile.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Blogging Break

I'll be taking a break from blogging over the holiday weekend.

I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

51st Annual Pittsburgh Folk Festival

If you live in or near Pittsburgh, PA (recently voted "America's Most Livable City" by Rand McNally), why not stop by the 51st Annual Pittsburgh Folk Festival this weekend - Friday - Sunday May 25, 26 and 27 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. A Memorial Day weekend multicultural celebration of more than 30 nationalities featuring traditional ethnic entertainment, food and refreshments. Shop in the international bazaar, learn a dance, see traditional crafts or visit the cultural exhibits to learn more about a country and its people. There is something for everyone to enjoy!

And be sure to stop by to see me at the Blue Collar Book Tour table - where I will have all five of my books for sale and will be glad to sign copies!

Monday, May 21, 2007


-Revolutionary War Pension Files Will Be Available For Free at All Family History Centers Worldwide-

This announcement was made last Thursday by


Lindon, Utah – May 15, 2007 –Today, announced an agreement with FamilySearch, historically known as the Genealogical Society of Utah, a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch is the world’s largest repository of genealogical information.

This new partnership brings together two organizations that will utilize their combined resources to digitize and make available many large historical collections. The first project will be the three million U.S. Revolutionary War Pension files which will be published for the first time online in their entirety.

Click here to read the full press release announcement.

This is truly an exciting time to be a genealogist!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

More Than 4,500 Family History Centers Worldwide to have Free Access to

The following announcement was made at the annual conference of the National Genealogical Society in Richmond, VA.

Genealogists and family historians to benefit from global collaboration

Provo, UT, May 16, 2007 --- More than 4,500 FamilySearch Family History Centers throughout the world will now have free access to's genealogical records and resources, as a result of an agreement signed between FamilySearch (TM) and

"We are looking for a new breed of genealogy websites that are willing to work with FamilySearch to meet the needs and interests of record custodians and our patrons. was uniquely positioned because of its rapid growth in the industry and potential for success, along with additional genealogical providers to fill this void. We are certain this agreement with will greatly benefit a worldwide audience of genealogists with this free service," said Paul Nauta, Manager of Public Affairs, FamilySearch (TM). will provide a vast collection of genealogical materials including vital, land, immigration, and military records; newspapers, international databases, and a collection of reference material. also partnered with Everton Publishers last year to provide the Everton Genealogical Library containing numerous databases, as well as 60 years of the Everton Genealogical Helper and 150,000 Everton Pedigree Files and Family Group Sheets.

"At Everton's we are excited about the fact that for the first time, genealogists have easy access to tens of thousands of queries, family group sheets, pedigree charts, and more from the past 60 years of the Genealogical Helper," said Leland Meitzler, Managing Editor, Everton Publishers.
In addition to making all content free, each family history centers will have access to, a new social genealogical Web site that enables individuals to connect with genealogists from more than 1,600 cities.

" is a fantastic idea. My sister has hinted of a genealogical resource of this nature, and I have been chomping at the bit, waiting for this site to go live. will be great as I am looking for resources to help me find my family members throughout the world. This site is going to work wonders in the field of genealogy," said Beth Gawthrop, Washington, DC.
Currently, a free service, has several thousands users from more than 34 countries who are connecting with individuals to further their genealogical research.
"For the first time ever, if I'm looking for an ancestor in a particular part of the world, I'll be a click away from the expert researchers who live there, and from others who have done research there," said Paul Allen, CEO, "We are very optimistic that will continue to grow and will have hundreds of thousands of people who can communicate with each other, and work together in finding data and information about their loved ones."'s agreement with FamilySearch will benefit a broader audience and help thousands of people find connections to their loved ones.

"Our mission at and is to make high value resources and tools available to genealogists and family historians throughout the world. We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to fill the void left by Ancestry in the FamilySearch operated Family History Centers," said David Lifferth, President,

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Family Web Sites

If you don't already have a family web site to help your family stay in touch, check out this article "All in the Family," I found on MSN. The article discusses the trend of family blogs and web sites.

Because families are so scattered these days, a family web site is a great way to keep in touch with your relatives and friends. I am an administrator for two family web sites and one village-based web site. The sites are private and password-protected. I am a member of several other group sites as well. It is a great way to stay informed about family news, see who has a birthday or anniversary coming up, share family photos and more! I recently used one of my family sites to post the invitation to our 40th annual reunion and also the most recent issue of our family newsletter. It saves postage (especially now since the rates have gone up again) and provides quick and easy reference for family members.

Most members visit the site every day, some once a week or when they get a chance. But the site is an integral tool for our communication.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Beatles Revival Band from Slovakia: "The Backwards"
2007 U.S. Tour

Two-time "New York Beatlefest" award winners 1998 and 2003!

Relive the British Invasion of the 1960s with "The Backwards," a Beatles tribute band from Kosice, Slovakia.

I may be a bit biased because they hail from my ancestral homeland, but I think they are quite good!

Their 2007 U.S. tour includes Abbey Road on the River plus two stops in Southwestern PA.

May 20 - The Wayne County Arts Council; Goldsboro, NC
May 23-29 Abbey Road on the River; Louisville,KY
May 30-31 Cleveland, OH
June 1-2 Scranton, PA
June 3 Pittsburgh, PA
June 5 Johnstown, PA

For a video preview of the band, click here: <>

Here's the official press release for the Pittsburgh and Johnstown dates:

May 12, 2007

Beatles Revival Band from Slovakia to Play Pittsburgh and Johnstown

PITTSBURGH, PA: “The Backwards,” a Beatles impersonator band from Kosice, Slovakia will make two stops in Pennsylvania during their 2007 tour.

The “Western Pennsylvania Slovak Cultural Association” (WPSCA) will host the band in Pittsburgh Sunday, June 3 at 7:30 PM, at the Slovak Catholic Sokol Center on the South Side located at 2912 E. Carson Steet, Pittsburgh, PA 15203. Plenty of free parking is available.

The second PA show will be hosted by Aces Banquet Hall at 316 Chestnut Street, (Cambria City) in Johnstown, PA , Tuesday, June 5 with doors opening at 6:30 PM for social hour to meet and greet the band and showtime beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The Backwards began their career in Kosice, Slovakia in 1996. They started to interpret the music made famous by the Beatles with a complete sound and sense of detail. Their performances are guaranteed, note for note, to be the best live performance on stage. To back this claim, The Backwards are two time winners of the International NY Beatlefest in 1998 and again in 2003 defeating 36 bands for the title.

Advance tickets for the Pittsburgh June 3 show can be purchased by calling the WPSCA at (412) 531-2990 or sending a check and self-addressed envelope to WPSCA, Manor Oak Two, Suite 500, 1910 Cochran Road, Pittsburgh PA 15220.

Tickets for the June 5 show in Johnstown can be purchased by calling (814) 536-4176 or stop by Aces Banquet Hall, Cambria City in Johnstown.Admission for both shows are $9 for adults, $7 for students, ages 10 and under admitted free. Anyone under 21 must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets will also be available at the door but reservations are suggested.

For more details about the band and show updates as they become available, please see or email to

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Virtual Surname Wall Submissions

The following is an announcement from the Southern California Genealogical Society:

The Southern California Genealogical Society announces a new service to help families connect with their cousins from around the world. The SCGS Virtual Surname Wall will be unveiled at the 38th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, June 8-10 in Burbank, CA.

"The Surname Wall, complete with index cards and Post-It notes, has been a tradition at Jamborees of the past," said Paula Hinkel, society president."This new digital format will expand the service far beyond the walls of the Convention Center.

"We invite you to write your surnames on our Virtual Surname Wall. We all talk about how our brick walls get in our way. This is one Wall that could help for a change," Hinkel continued.
There is no charge for this service, and the offer is open to the public.E ntries submitted by May 22 will be included in the 2007 Virtual Surname Wall at Jamboree. Later submissions will be included in a free-accessonline database that will be available on the SCGS website this summer.

Complete details are listed under "Breaking News" at

I just went on and added some surnames! It took only a few minutes! What a great idea!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Missing NGS?

Am I the only genealogist out there NOT at the National Genealogical Society Conference in Richmond, VA this week? My guess is probably not. If, like me, you did not make the trip to Richmond, you can still keep up with some of the breaking news from the conference. Dick Eastman has posted information on some major announcements made at NGS involving the Family History Library, World Vital Records, and more! Click here to read all about it on his blog.

There is also a conference blog on the NGS Web site, but right now it only has conference logistical details on it (info on hotel rooms, tours, etc.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Don't Forget to Register for the 2007 FEEFHS Workshop

The 2007 Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies Annual Conference/Workshop is less than a month away. This year, FEEFHS will be held July 12-14th in Salt Lake City, UT. In addition to great seminars with some of the most experienced Eastern European Genealogy experts, many workshops will involve "hands on" research at the Family History Library.

Click here to register for this workshop, or to find out more details.

If you have Eastern European roots you don't want to miss this opportunity!

Monday, May 14, 2007

It's Never Too Late

When I first heard this story last Friday, it made me feel guilty for all the times I have said, "I can't..." or "I'll never reach my goal." This 95-year-old graduate's story is a true inspiration, and proof that you're never too old and that you should always keep striving to make the most out of life. Click here to access the entire story.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Remembering Mom

Mom and me... July 1999

I couldn't let Mother's Day pass by without a tribute to my mother.

One of my favorite pictures of my mother as a young woman

Here is a copy of the eulogy I wrote for her funeral. It's been nearly seven years, but I can remember those moments before she died like they happened yesterday. My mother was my best friend and I miss her presence in my life every single day. Love you, Mom.


Words of Remembrance for Anna (Figlar) Alzo

written by Lisa Alzo and read by Rev. Edward Bunchek, at funeral mass on September 16, 2000, Holy Trinity Church, West Mifflin, PA

Thank you for coming today to show your love and respect for Anna Figlar Alzo. This is a testimony to how many lives she touched—family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. Each of you present today—as well as those who wanted to come but were unable—will have your own special memories of Anna. She had a deep love for her family, and she had a tender way of making all who knew her feel special. She always listened to what was going on in your life and she worried about you—your well-being and safety, whether you had to travel across town or around the world.

It’s difficult to fully express what a wonderful woman, daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt and friend Anna was. She was a beautiful woman, inside and out. She was generous and kind—always giving to those around her without expectation of anything in return.

The oldest of seven children, Anna was the “mother hen” to her brothers, John, Joseph and Michael and her sisters, Helen, Geraldine and Margaret. She carried out her responsibilities fully, lovingly, and without complaint all the way through to her final days on this earth. As a wife, she was devoted to her husband Johnny—cooking him homemade meals and caring for him during his own times of illness. As Lisa’s mother, she taught her daughter many things: to have respect for her elders, to trust in God during difficult times or times of important decision, and how to love without condition. As a friend, she was loyal and devoted – always ready to lend a helping hand.Most of you know that Anna was given many crosses to bear during her lifetime. At a young age, she had a risky operation to correct high blood pressure. Having lost her first baby, Anna didn’t know whether she could have children, but eventually Lisa came along. Anna suffered great loss when her parents died as well as her brother, John.

During the past 3 years Anna faced her own declining health—surviving triple bypass heart surgery in 1997, followed by a grueling regimen of kidney dialysis treatments. More recently, several other medical complications slowly took away Anna’s quality of life and kept her from feeling well most days. Yet, through it all, Anna was a fighter. Determined to keep her independence, she fought her illness until it became too much for her to bear. For nearly a year, Lisa was fortunate to have her mother staying with her at her home in Ithaca, NY, a place she grew to love.

Always her confidante and her friend, Lisa became her mother’s primary caregiver. Lisa prayed constantly for her mother’s comfort, safety and happiness. Anna was so strong in facing her illness. Determined and stubborn, she always wanted things on her own terms, and even knew how she wanted to die.Not having Anna present will leave a huge void in our lives, but we should all take comfort in the knowledge that physically, emotionally and spiritually she is finally at peace.

A recent popular song includes the words, “In the arms of the angel, may you find some comfort here.” Now Anna has been taken by the angel to receive her comfort from the Lord who has put an end to her suffering and pain. Anna will be sadly missed, but she would want all of you to leave here today not mourning her death, but knowing how happy she was to have all of you in her life.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Thanks to the CNYGS

Just wanted to send out a big "thank you" to the Central New York Genealogical Society who hosted me today as the speaker for their May meeting. I enjoyed meeting everyone and talking about Eastern European Research and Immigrant Cluster Communities.

A special thanks to the nice lady who paid me a compliment. During my second talk, I showed a photo I posted on this blog before taken when I was nine when my grandmother made me wear a cloth with sauerkraut around my neck - a Slovak home remedy for the mumps! I don't want to name names, but this lady said, "You haven't changed a bit since that photograph - you still look the same!" I replied, "Bless You." That made my day!

My presentations and handouts will be available on the CNYGS web site in about 2 weeks.

Thanks again!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Listen to Your Mother...Visit Storycorps

In celebration of Mother's Day, this Sunday, why not take a few minutes to visit StoryCorps? You can listen to some of the great conversations between children and their moms, adult siblings remembering their mothers, and mothers themselves recounting their experience of motherhood captured at StoryCorps facilities around the country.

Click here to listen to the clips. You can also honor your mother or grandmother with a donation to Storycorps that will help them to keep doing their work documenting great stories of everyday people.

And, while your at it, if your mother or grandmother is still alive, sit down and interview her and don't forget your camcorder or at the very least a tape or digital voice recorder! Mother's Day provides the perfect opportunity. Having lost my mother almost seven years ago, the interviews I recorded with her and preserved on tape are among my most cherihed family treasures!

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers, godmothers, stepmothers, aunts, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Birthday Tribute to Dad

Today is my father's birthday. This is the second year he has not been here for us to celebrate. Dad never fussed much over his birthday. He always scolded me for "wasting my money" on cards or presents, but I believe that secretly it meant the world to him that I remembered. The one thing I know Dad did like on his birthday is ice cream cake. So, every year we would enjoy the cold tasty treat of ice cream.

I wish we could be having ice cream together today. But since we can't, I will just say I am thinking of you, Dad, and I miss you. Happy Birthday!

Here's a pciture of me dancing with my father at my high school graduation party (many years ago!) One of my favorite pictures.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Blue Collar Book Tour Back on Track

The Blue Collar Book Tour is gearing up for more appearances in the upcoming months. The first will be at the 51st Annual Pittsburgh International Folk Festival May 25-27th at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, PA. Come meet the authors of the following Arcadia Publishing books: Slovak Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh's Immigrants; Pittsburgh's Rivers, Duquesne, and Bedford and Its Neighbors; and Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

We look forward to meeting you!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Talk at Central New York Genealogical Society

I will be giving two talks to the Central New York Genealogical Society in Syracuse, NY on Saturday, May 12, 2007. My topics:

"Crossing the Pond: Techniques for Finding Your Elusive Eastern European Ancestors" and "Identifying Immigrant Cluster Communities"

Click here for more details about the meeting.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Two Special Stories about Mother's Day and Father's Day

This in from Tom Kemp over at Genealogy Bank.

"Today would be Anna Marie Jarvis's 143rd birthday so let's honor her andher accomplishments by re-reading her story. "

Here are two sentimental stories that remind us of the love we have for our own parents as we see the love that Anna Marie Jarvis and Sonora Dodd hadfor their own parents that independently drove these two women to createthese national holidays. Mother's Day in 1908 and Father's Day in 1910. Brought tears to my eyes--as both my parents are gone. I miss them and wish that they were still here so I could celebrate these special days with them.

To read these stories, go to:

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Random Act of Genealogical Kindness

Today, I had the opportunity to do a favor for a fellow genealogist. Last fall, I met a gentleman at a conference I was speaking at in Connecticut. He asked me if I would be willing to look up a tombstone in a cemetery near where I live. I agreed. We had a bad winter so I did not get a chance to visit this cemetery until today. The cemetery is no longer an active one and sadly many of the stones are faded, cracked, damaged, etc. and I wasn't optimistic about locating the particular stone. However, as luck would have it, a bit of overgrowth kept the stone from weathering from the elements. I had to brush off a good bit of dirt, but was able to read the stone. I took some digital photographs and sent them to my fellow genealogist.

Grave stone for Prince Duplex. died 1825

In addition, thanks to the Internet, I was able to use the US GenWeb to find out some additional details about the graves in this particular cemetery.

It felt good to help someone else obtain a key piece of information about his ancestor. If you would like to offer your help to another family history researcher, check out the Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness Web site to connect with someone to assist.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Great Time at GOGS!

Just wanted to say a big"thank you" to the Greater Omaha Genealogical Society. I was the speaker at their spring meeting on Saturday, April 28th in Omaha and I had a great time! It was my first visit to Nebraska and these folks were such great hosts! They treated me to some delicious meals, a tour of the Omaha Public Library, the Mormon Trail Center and around key places in downtown Omaha. The conference attendees were enthusiastic and I enjoyed meeting everyone who took the time talk with me one-on-one.

The GOGS has a great group of volunteers who are passionate about genealogy. Thanks again for the invitation to speak and the wonderful visit!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Thanks to the Community Library of Allegheny Valley

I want to thank the folks at the Community Library of Allegheny Valley in Natrona Heights, PA for having me in as a speaker on April 21st and to those who attended my presentation. I enjoyed talking about my book Slovak Pittsburgh (Arcadia Publishing) and the discussion that followed.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Make the Most of Your Genealogy with May Classes at GenClass

There are several great classes being offered at GenClass this month. Only $29.95 for a four-week class (eight lessons and class chats with the expert instructors).

Adoption Investigative Class

Eastern European Genealogy Research Part I

Family Tree Maker 16 - Basic

Lost Friends and Family Investigation

Native American Genealogy

Write Your Family History Step-by-Step

Classes started today, May 3rd but there's still time to register! Click here to sign up now.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

PanSlavic Seminar a Success

Thanks to everyone who came out to the PanSlavic Seminar in Bridgeport, CT on Saturday, April 14th. We had over 140 folks who came to learn how to find their Eastern European roots. Thanks to Jonathan Shea for organizing this event at Housatonic College, Matthew Bielawa for being a wonderful host, and the ladies from the Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast who helped at the conference and baked some wonderful goodies for the refreshments table!

The weather on the day of the seminar was nearly 60 degrees and sunny, but then changed dramatically within 24 hours. A Noreaster drenched most of CT with rain, and dumped 8+ inches of snow back in Central, NY. And it took me a couple of days to finally get home. But, the trip was worth it and I enjoyed meeting all of those who attended.

We're already talking about PanSlavic II for next year - perhaps in a new location so we can reach a wider audience! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Yes, I'm Still Here

I know it has been quite awhile since I've added any new posts. It has been a bit of a chaotic two weeks. I've been to seven states in 14 days, gave six different genealogy/family history talks, and did research for two potential new book projects. I will be providing some details about my various engagements in the coming days. My adventures also included being stuck in Connecticut during the weekend of the April 16th Noreaster, which was kind of fun because I got to hang out with friends, but at the same time a bit stressful because it wreaked havoc on my travel and work schedules.

I will be back to the blog soon.