Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review: Lucky or Unlucky?

Well, here we are at the end of another year. Time to review what I did (or did not) accomplish with the genealogy and writing goals I set for myself in 2013 in my "Thirteen for 13" post. Below is my "report card" for how I did with those goals, and some of my plans for 2014.

These were the goals I set in 2013. I made a bit of progress on each goal, but fell short of completely accomplishing everything on the list.  Perhaps these goals were a bit ambitious, or I set too many. Nevertheless, here's how I did....

2013 Goals

1. Ramp up my freelance career to achieve a financially profitable business, and keep a successful  balance between writing, speaking, and teaching (including more Webinars). 

I think that I successfully accomplished this goal.  It was my first full year in the world of self-employment, and there were certainly many challenges. Since I hate math, I don't have all of the financial information compiled just yet, but I kept my head above water.  I think I established a good balance between writing, teaching and speaking, including presenting more webinars than I did in 2012.

2. Publish a new book. (Note to Self:  Put fingers to keyboard!!!)  

This did not happen.  I could list a million excuses as to why not, but I won't.  All I can say is I made progress, and I am working on it.

3. Publish Kindle, iPad, and Nook versions of my Baba's Kitchen and Three Slovak Women books.  

Didn't get there...yet.  Huge learning curve with how to convert to the correct formats.  No time to spend on learning the process.  

4. Step out of my comfort zone and branch out into new writing markets (Query at least three non-genealogy publications and get the assignments).  

There's good news and bad news here. I always like to deal with "bad news" first, so here goes. I didn't get three assignments.  The good news:  I did secure one assignment for a non-genealogy magazine that I am working on. And, a bit of more good news is that I had enough genealogy writing assignments that kept me busy throughout the year, including working on a special issue of Internet Genealogy Magazine on Tracing Your Eastern European Ancestors (one of my favorite topics to write about) for which I wrote most of the articles, and assisted the editor with finding other authors.

5. Continue my search for information about my grandmother's brother who stayed in Slovakia. 

I did not have time to work on this research.

6. Find out more about another ancestor who left Slovakia for Argentina. 

I did do some searching and found a couple of "hints." Since most of my research will have to be done offline likely in the Slovak archives, there have been some delays in the process that are not under my control.

7. Find my great-grandfather's death record!  After an unsuccessful search in Slovakia this summer both at the church in his village, and nearby records offices, I have to expand my search to include other geographical locations, and investigate some theories as to what could have happened. 

Still searching! Have some other ideas on places to look.

8. Be a better time manager.  I must eliminate distractions (including social media and others) and focus on what I need to get done.  I also need to prioritize projects and choose those that will provide the maximum benefit.  

I did fairly well with this, but know I can do better in 2014!

9.  Work smarter, not harder. Find ways to streamline my work load.  This includes saying "no" even if it may upset someone, and not obsess so much about my writing in order to curtail my number of drafts and revisions (I will always strive to do my best work, but do not have to be "perfect").   

See comment on #8 above.

10. Continue purging excess clutter. Move more in the direction of paperless systems; organize my home office!  

I made great progress with this task.  Plan to continue doing more in 2014.

11. Be a better Blogger. I hope to be able to write more Blog posts for this Blog and some guest posts on other Blogs.  

Again, good news and bad news.  I haven't posted much to my personal blog (this one) or anything to The Catholic Gene (where I am a contributor). However, I did write plenty of posts for the Reel Genie Blog and the Legacy Family Tree Blog.

12. Schedule time for me. I want to eat healthier, exercise more, and get plenty of rest, as well as schedule "down" time for activities I enjoy. 

I tried with the healthy diet and exercise but can do better.  I had a bit of "down time" getting to visit with old friends during a Finger Lakes wine tour, and attended two great concerts--Train (with The Script and Gavin DeGraw) and Matchbox Twenty and Goo Goo Dolls--with my friend, Donna.

13. Eliminate any negative thoughts, energies, and activities that serve as obstacles or block me from achieving my goals.  

This goal was "easier said than done" and I must do better!

Well there, you have it.  2013 was an interesting year.  But, it's time to move on.

2014 Goals

I could easily do a list of 14 goals for 2014, but I have decided not to do this. While I do have some specific things I would like to accomplish, instead I am going to try and just let things happen too.  I feel that 2014 will be a year that brings some changes, new opportunities, and new ventures.  Many of my colleagues are choosing a word to follow/embrace as sort of a theme for 2014.  I actually have two: Focus and Selectivity. I want to focus more on my writing, focus more on spending time with the people I love, and focus more on the good things in life.  I also want to be more selective.  Selective with my time and my talent. Seeking out work that is profitable, but also fulfilling and being more selective about those people I interact with on a regular basis both online and offline.

Wishing all of my readers a safe, healthy, and happy 2014!

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Genealogy Writing Boot Camp: Reserve Your Spot Now for Unique Learning Opportunity

I'm pleased to share the following announcement about a unique learning opportunity for genealogists and family historians--Genealogy Writing Boot Camp, Saturday, November 23, 12013. The official press release from Hack Genealogy follows:


For Immediate Release
14 November 2013
Genealogy Writing Boot Camp – November 23, 2013

Lisa Alzo and Thomas MacEntee Pool Their Talents
In Offering a Unique Online Educational Event

14 November 2013 – Chicago, IL. Do you want to write your family history in a compelling format to share with family and friends, but having trouble getting started? Perhaps you need inspiration as to format or you just want to build your writing skills. And what’s up with Microsoft Word? Are you frustrated with getting Word to work with you instead of against you? You’ll learn tips, tricks, ideas as well as Word survival skills in the upcoming Genealogy Writing Boot Camp.

What Is Genealogy Writing Boot Camp?
Genealogy authors and educators Lisa A. Alzo and Thomas MacEntee team up to offer this unique online educational event on Saturday 23 November 2013. Classes include:
  • Back to Basics: Craft a Compelling Family History Narrative from Start to Finish presented by Lisa A. Alzo, a well-known genealogy educator and author with an M.F.A. in Nonfiction Writing.
  • 10 Secrets You Should Know to Survive Microsoft Word presented by Thomas MacEntee, who taught Microsoft Office classes in the corporate world for over 10 years before bringing his teaching and technical skills to the genealogy industry.
Hack Genealogy Boot Camp – A Different Kind of Learning Experience
What will you find at a typical Hack Genealogy Boot Camp event?
  • Live webinars with extended Q&A periods.
  • Lunch period “online chats” where participants can exchange ideas about what they’ve learned.
  • Easy-to-read handouts that are ready for you to use at home.
  • Freebies from presenters including cheat sheets and hand out extras!
  • Access to recordings for up to one (1) year!
Genealogy Education at a Great Price
There are many options when it comes to online genealogy and family history education. Free webinars are great, but some can have limitations when it comes to accessing recordings afterwards and require you to purchase a subscription or membership. Paid options exist but their pricing may be out of your reach.

Hack Genealogy Boot Camp events will always be reasonably priced: from $6.95 for a single webinar up to $29.95 for a full day online event. And there are often early bird coupons and discounts! Offerings are priced to secure the best instructors for the topic and allow them to be fairly compensated and you still get access to great content.

Get More Information about Hack Genealogy Boot Camp
The best way to stay in touch is to add the Hack Genealogy Blog to your RSS feed reader or save the link to your favorites. Also sign up for our periodical emails listing upcoming Boot Camp events as well as the latest tech news in the genealogy world! Click here to sign up now and you can unsubscribe at any time!
Also visit Hack Genealogy at for more information or email with your questions.

About Hack Genealogy
Hack Genealogy ( is a technology resource for the genealogy community with a focus on “repurposing today's technology for tomorrow's genealogy.” Thomas MacEntee is the driving force between Hack Genealogy whose goal is to provide information on emerging technology inside and outside the genealogy industry.

About Lisa A. Alzo
Lisa A. Alzo is a freelance writer, instructor, and lecturer with over 20 years’ experience in the field of genealogy. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Pittsburgh, and is the author of nine books, including: Finding Your Slovak Ancestors, Writing Your Family History Book, and the award-winning Three Slovak Women. Lisa has written hundreds of articles and her work has appeared in Family Tree Magazine, Family Chronicle, Internet Genealogy, APG Quarterly, among others. An internationally recognized speaker, Lisa blogs as “The Accidental Genealogist” blog For more information see

About Thomas MacEntee
Thomas MacEntee is a genealogy professional specializing in the use of technology and social media to improve genealogy research and as a way to connect with others in the family history community. When he’s not busy writing blog posts, organizing the 3,000+ members of GeneaBloggers, teaching online genealogy webinars and more, Thomas MacEntee is busy in his role as “genealogy ninja.” Stealth is not easy, but he manages to get the inside track on emerging technologies and vendors as they relate to the genealogy industry. After being laid off from a 25-year career in the tech industry in 2008, Thomas has been able to “repurpose” his skill set for the genealogy community and loves to see other genealogists succeed, whether it is with their own research or building their own careers in the field.

Contact: Thomas MacEntee
High-Definition Genealogy
1416 W. Carmen Ave., #3
Chicago, IL 60640
+1 (773) 661-3080

Press Release Copyright, Hack Genealogy, 2013
Image courtesy of Hack Genealogy
Blog Content Copyright, Lisa A. Alzo, 2013
All Rights Reserved

[Disclaimer:  For my participation in Genealogy Boot Camp, I will be compensated for my work as an instructor]]

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Eastern European Family History Course to be Offered at SLIG 2014

A special course on Eastern European research will be offered as part of the 2014 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy January 13-17 at the Radisson hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you are interested in learning from some of the top experts in the field of Eastern European research, be sure to sign up soon at  Early Bird Registration ends on November 11, 2013

Below is the official press release.  Please direct all questions to 


For immediate release 28 October 2013 Salt Lake City, Utah

Eastern European Family History Course to be Offered in January 2014!

The Utah Genealogical Association is pleased to announce that a bold, new course is being offered at their popular Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy in January 2014. Since 1996 the Institute has been a national leader in innovative education for family historians and 2014 will be no different.

New this coming year will be the first course to specifically focus on the complexities of researching in Eastern Europe. Also new will be some changes in the structure of the course that makes it more responsive to the specific needs of the students who are attending. This innovative approach was conceived by the course coordinator, Kory L. Meyerink, AG, FUGA, who is also the original founder of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy.

Millions of people immigrated to North America from the lands between the Baltic Sea on the north to the Adriatic, Aegean and Black seas to the south, leaving family and generations of ancestors behind in Eastern Europe. Three to five generations later, their descendants are finding it very hard to trace their origins due to foreign languages, difficult records and multiple changes in the political landscape. But, now there is hope! This course brings together several of the most successful Eastern Europe genealogists to teach you the important information you need to succeed in such complex research.

Meyerink explained that “In addition to classroom lectures, this course includes hands-on help at the Family History Library as well as break-out sessions tailored to the specific needs of the registered students and their ancestry.” Now, for the first time ever, a major institute is creating specific classes based on a survey the students fill out after they register.

Key foundational classes are planned, which will be followed by several hours of country-specific classes, focusing on what the students have asked to learn about. Currently registered students are already submitting their requests. In addition, there will also be several hours of personal, hands-on help for research at the famous Family History Library.

Director of the 2014 Institute, Christy Fillerup noted that “The instructor list reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of Eastern Europe research and includes Daniel Schlyter, Kyle Betit, Wade Hone and author Lisa Alzo, among others.”

The Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy will be held at the Radisson Hotel in Salt Lake City from 13 to 17 January 2014. For more details, including the foundational classes, see the description for course 7 at the Institute’s website at Early bird registration, for this course only has been extended to 11 November 2013.

20 countries, 6 teachers and consultants + the Family History Library = One fantastic week for you and your Eastern European ancestors! Don’t miss it!

Copyright, 2013, SLIG
Shared by Lisa A. Alzo with permission

[Disclaimer: As an invited instructor for SLIG 2014, I will receive compensation for teaching/consulting].

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

New Resource Available: Tracing Your Eastern European Ancestors

If you are trying to track down your elusive Eastern European ancestors, there is a new publication available to help.

Family Chronicle and Internet Genealogy (Moorshead Magazines, LTD) have published a special issue in their continuing Tracing Your Ancestors series. If you are researching your ancestors in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Russian and Ukraine, this issue, written by a number of expert authors, provides up-to-date and information on resources that will assist you in your research.

Tracing Your Eastern European Ancestors

The issue is 84 pages in magazine format and includes the following articles: 

  • Ten Ways to Jumpstart Your Research
  • Top Sites for Polish Research
  • Eastern European Maps
  • Getting Started on Your Czech Research
  • Online Sources for Slovak Genealogy
  • JRI-Poland Indexing Project
  • Hungarian Research (including online resources, censuses and directories), 
  • Russian Research
  • Ukrainian research
There is additional material covering topics such as Eastern European Genealogical Societies, Preserving East European Recipes and Traditions,, and more!   

The issue costs $9.95 + $4.50 shipping. Click here to order your copy and begin tracing your Eastern European roots today!

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

[Disclaimer: I am the author of  articles appearing in this issue for which I received payment as a freelance writer].

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Remembering Mom: A Mother's Day Tribute

Today is Mother's Day and I am missing my mother, Anna.  It is the 12th Mother's Day since she passed away.  She may not be physically present, but she definitely lives on in my heart and in so many wonderful memories.  I wrote a special tribute post for her, "Mother's Day Reflections from a Daughter's Heart" on the ReelGenie Blog.

Mom teaching me how to Polka at my cousin's wedding in the 1970s at the Slovak Club in Duquesne, PA

On this special day, I am also thankful for my godmother, Helen, my grandmothers, aunts, and all of my other female ancestors.

Happy Mother's Day!

Copyright 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 31: Mini-Profile

March 31 — Pick one female ancestor and write a mini-profile (500 words or less).

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

I decided to write a profile for my grandmother's sister, Anna Fencsak Bavolar.

Anna Fencsak Bavolar was born on May 15, 1893 to Ilona and Mihaly Fencsak in Freeland, PA. She arrived in America in 1911, and was matched for marriage to George Bavolar by her sister, Mary Ceyba. Not long after the birth of her first daughter, Mary, Anna returned to Slovakia to care for her mother, who was ill and now re-married to Mihaly Zelenak. During that time Anna experienced conflict with her step-father who was a possessive person and did not want Anna there looking after her mother. Ilona died in 1917, but World War I delayed Anna’s return home until 1920. Anna and her husband eventually had four more children. Anna’s son George was killed trying to jump on a moving truck.

Anna died in 1959 from “myocardial infarction,” and “congestive heart failure.”

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 30: Words of Wisdom

March 30 — Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?
[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

My mother taught me to believe in myself and that just because someone else had more money, more advantages, or more opportunities that I shouldn't feel they were better than me, or that this made me less of a person. She also taught me not to give up just because something seemed difficult or impossible to accomplish. Mom was a very smart woman and while at the time I couldn't understand the lessons or principles she was trying to teach, I can truly appreciate them now.

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Friday, March 29, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 29: Honoring a Female Ancestor

March 29 — Create a free Fold3 (formerly Footnote) Memorial Page or a Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor. Some of you may have created your own card back in September 2009 following Sheri Fenley’s post over at The Educated Genealogist. This time, the card is for your ancestor.

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

I chose to create a free Fold3 Page for Elizabeth Alzo (my grandmother). I used data from the Footnote database to help build the page - there are links to the 1930 census entry for her and to her naturalization petitions. I also added an image of her obituary, and plan to add some stories, and more information down the line.

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 28: Best Friend

March 28 — Do you remember your mother’s best friend? Your grandmother’s? How and where did they meet? How long were they friends? What activities did they share?

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

My mother's best friend growing up was Dolores. I don't want to infringe on her privacy so I won't post her last name or a photograph or any more details. But I know that my mother was very close with her. While Dolores moved to another state, the two still kept in touch over the years with letters and Christmas cards. Many years ago, when I threw a surprise party for my parents 50th wedding anniversary, I invited Dolores and she came! My mother was so surprised--the two hugged and cried and spent the weekend sharing memories. I know it meant so much to my mom to have her best friend there. It was one of those extra special moments in time that you will always remember.

I'm not sure about my grandmothers. They were close to many of their neighbors and women they knew from church.

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 27: Immigration Story

March 27 — Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors? Do you have any passenger lists, passports, or other documentation? Interesting family stories?

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

The immigration story of my grandmother Verona was what prompted me to begin my genealogical research. She was the last of her siblings to immigrate to America, arriving at age 22 with her niece Mary, who was 16.

She was detained for several days at Ellis Island for medical reasons. I wrote about her experience in my March 19th "Fearless Females" post, "Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? " and posted an image of the ship's manifest that documented she was detained.

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 26: Education

March 26 — What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.

[Note: Portions of this post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

[Note: due to unforeseen circumstances, this entry is being posted one day late].

My mother graduated from high school but did not go to college (her parents could not afford it). Mom was very smart and good at math. But she went to work after high school and after she married my father worked part time. I think she sometimes regretted not being able to go to college, and she worked very hard to make sure I was able to, and was so proud that I went to graduate school to earn my M.F.A. degree.

My grandmothers each had what was likely the equivalent of an 8th grade education, but by no means were they unintelligent women. They were at a disadvantage being immigrants and, but somehow they managed their households, raised their children, were able to hold down jobs speaking very little English.

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 25, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 25: Women and Children

March 25 — Tell how a female ancestor interacted with her children. Was she loving or supportive? A disciplinarian? A bit of both?

My mother was was loving and supportive, but also taught me to have respect for others, especially my elders. My mother was strict but I always knew she loved me and had my best interests at heart. Now that I am adult I can really appreciate my mother's style of parenting. I also thank her for always believing in me and supporting my goals. She was my role model, especially with the way she cared for her own parents. I followed in her footsteps, caring for her and my father during their respective illnesses. My mother taught by example.

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 24: Shared Traits

March 24 — Do you share any physical resemblance or personality trait with one of your female ancestors? Who? What is it?

I inherited fine hair and fine eyebrows from my paternal grandmother--this trait appears to run on her side of the family. 

Personality: I tend to take after my mother. She was a generous lady who always tried to see the good in others even if they were not always good to her. I also have inherited her "worry" gene.

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All right reserved

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 23: Create a Timeline

March 23 — Create a timeline for a female ancestor using your favorite software program or an online timeline generator such as OurTimelines.

This is a timeline for Elizabeth Fencsak Alzo (using Our Timelines)

Copyright 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 22: This is "Her" Life

March 22 — If a famous director wanted to make a movie about one of your female ancestors who would it be? What actress would you cast in the role and why?

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

I could only hope for a chance to bring the life stories of my grandmother and mother (from my book, Three Slovak Women) to the big (or even small) screen.

I never really thought about who would play my grandmother in the movie version, but I have thought many times that I would like to see my mother portrayed by Catherine Zeta Jones .

Copyright, 2013, LIsa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 21: Tender Moments

March 21 — Describe a tender moment one of your female ancestors shared with you or another family member.

[Note: Portions of this post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

When I think of tender I think of my Grandma Verona. While Grandma shared kisses and hugs with us, she didn’t overdo it on the affection. But, she had this quiet way of letting you know how much she loved you. Things like letting me have the last slice of lemon pie, baking me my own small paska bread for my Easter basket, or slipping a few dollar bills into my pocket when my mom wasn’t watching when she knew there was a toy or treat I wanted. Whenever we would all gather at her house on Friday evenings, or on holidays, sometimes she would sit quietly in her chair and just watch all of us. We were a large, noisy bunch, but she was always delighted to have her children and grandchildren around. When you walked in that door you just knew you were welcome and that Grandma was truly happy to see you.

My grandmother has been gone for nearly 28 years and I still miss her very much.

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 20: Elusive or Brick Wall Ancestor

March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

I've actually been pretty fortunate that my female ancestors have been fairly easy to trace. This is in part due to the excellent collection of microfilmed records available from the Family History Library --church and census records from my ancestral villages in Slovakia. I would like to learn a bit more about my great-grandmothers if possible. In particular, I'm hoping to learn more about my paternal grandfather's mother, Borbala (see my post from March 1).

Copyright, 2013, LIsa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 19: Surprising Fact

March 19 — Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out? 

[Note: Portions of this post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

One of the more interesting facts I uncovered was my grandmother's hospital stay upon arrival at Ellis Island in August 1922. I first learned about this from the story my mother told me over 20 years ago,when I first began researching my family's history--that my grandmother was suspected to have tuberculosis (she did not--she suffered from asthma most of her life). I then saw a notation "hospital discharged" on the passenger list. Then, I found her listed on a "Record of Detained Aliens."

Of course it's a relief to know that my grandmother was eventually released. I can't imagine how she handled that situation, or how she did not catch TB from being in the hospital ward!

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 18: Shining Star

March 18 — Shining star: Did you have a female ancestor who had a special talent? Artist, singer, actress, athlete, seamstress, or other? Describe.

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

Anna Alzo (right) with her cousin Mary, baking cookies for a family wedding.

I always said that my mother should have opened her own bakery. She was a great cook, but she had a real talent for making cakes, cookies, and other desserts. Her specialty: Lady Locks--dainty puffed pastry with creme filling. She made them for every wedding, baptism, graduation, and other special event in our family and they would disappear from the cookie table in a flash! Making these cookies requires patience and precision and I remember watching my mother labor for hours--working to get the dough just right before wrapping it around the special pins, and then after they came out of the oven would carefully fill each one using a pastry bag, and then delicately coat them with powdered sugar from her "magical"powdered sugar can.

They weren't just cookies--they were works of art!

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 17: Social Butterfly?

March 17 — Social Butterfly? What social organizations or groups did your mother or grandmother belong to? Sewing circle, church group, fraternal benefit society or lodge? Describe her role in the group.

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

My mother and grandmothers socialized mostly with their neighbors or friends they knew from church. My mother belonged to the Ladies Penna. Slovak Catholic Union and the Roman Catholic Parochial Beneficial Society of Rosary of the Blessed Virgin.

When our immigrant ancestors arrived in the New World, they often settled in enclaves within cities and towns and tended to cluster in specific regions in the United States. It was common for immigrants, particularly those who did not speak English, to travel together and put down roots among relatives, friends, or neighbors from their native land. These so-called “cluster communities” offered a place where the immigrants could transplant and preserve their culture, lifestyle and traditions as best they could in their new surroundings. Seeking to keep their culture as it existed in the homeland, immigrant groups frequently founded their own churches, schools, boarding houses, and other institutions, as well as forming their own academic, athletic, or charitable groups, and fraternal, occupational, and social organizations. Many also established their own ethnic presses that published newspapers and histories to highlight specific communities. In the late 1800s, fraternal organizations became very popular. Employed largely in difficult and often dangerous industrial occupations, immigrants sought financial protection for themselves and their families. As a result, they established their own fraternal/benevolent organizations to provide mutual insurance and to foster camaraderie and social interaction, and some even as a way to keep ties to traditions or ways of the old country. Today, we have the Internet. For my parents and grandparents, these fraternal benefit societies and lodges provided the “social networking” opportunities.

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 16: Let's Do Lunch!

March 16 — If you could have lunch (or another meal) with any female family member (living or dead) or any famous female who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you eat?

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

I would like to spend the day with my mother Anna, my grandmothers, Elizabeth and Verona, and my great-grandmothers--Ilona, Borbala (Barbara), Maria, and Anna—all together in one place. I imagine we are in Slovakia – in one of my ancestral homes. Of course we would have Slovak food! I picture us sharing a traditional Easter meal: paska, hrutka/syrek (Easter cheese), hrin (beets & horseradish), klobassy, ham, hard-boiled egg--each food symbolic.   I would understand and speak the Slovak language so I could listen to their stories and their wisdom and help them prepare all the delicious foods. My family dream team!

Recipes and information on Slovak Easter traditions are included in my book, Baba’s Kitchen: Slovak & Rusyn Family Recipes and Traditions.

Copyright, 2013, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved