Hundreds of South Floridians Attend Hellenic Historical & Genealogical Association Workshops


Fort Myers, West Palm Beach, FL and Portsmouth, NH—On January 25 and February 4, 2003, Annunciation and St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Churches of Florida were the locations for two workshops, “Introduction to Greek Genealogy,” presented by HHGA founder Mary Papoutsy. The Hellenic American Social Club of Southwest Florida and the Association of Retirees sponsored these workshops in their respective communities at Fort Myers and West Palm Beach.
HHGA founder Mary Papoutsy lectures on Hellenic Genealogy at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Fort Myers, Florida
Mrs. Mel Zogopoulos Schunemann, dynamic President of the Hellenic American Social Club of Southwest Florida, along with Vice-President Angelo Constan and his wife Ann, Fathers Johannes Jacobse, Anastasios Blougouras and George Pappas, led the participation of their entire group’s membership in this pioneering effort.

Over 100 attendees filled the community center of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, where elegant refreshments were served during the workshop. Opening the second half of the workshop, Christos Papoutsy gave a short santouri concert of taximia, musical improvisations in eastern modes. At the conclusion of the three-hour workshop, President Schunemann and her industrious committee presented Mrs. Papoutsy with a lovely bouquet of roses.

Christos Papoutsy performs santouri improvisational taximia at HHGA workshop at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Fort Myers, Florida

The second Floridian workshop was held at the beautiful community center of St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church in West Palm Beach. The hosting organization, headed up by its president, Helen Stamas, along with a committee, greeted a capacity crowd of over 120 people at a combined luncheon meeting and workshop.

Members of the Hellenic Social Club of Southwest Florida, Inc., ask questions of Mary Papoutsy at introductory workshop in Fort Myers, Florida at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.
Among those attending this session were the local parish priest of St. Catherine, members of Sts. Demetrios and Mark Greek Orthodox Churches and St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Miami, and the president, Irene Alexandrou, and officers of the Hellenic Society Paideia of Florida. Numerous friends and acquaintances from as far away as Portland, Maine, and Dover, Keene, and Manchester, New Hampshire, and the greater Boston and New York metropolitan areas added to the numbers of attendees.

At both workshops, Mary Papoutsy discussed the main goals of Hellenic genealogy—finding the original Greek name of one’s immigrant ancestor and the original Greek name of one’s ancestral village—and methods for realizing these goals. The first part of the lecture outlined research in the U.S. necessary for launching an investigation in Greece.

HHGA and Rock of Ages corporation donated packets of extensive educational and methodological materials for attendees, including original articles penned by Mrs. Papoutsy: “Transliteration of Greek and the Causes of Variant Surname Spellings,” “Greek Patterns of Naming,” and “Beginning a Greek Genealogical Search.”

Typical genealogical sources such as passenger ship records, naturalization papers, and census data, constitute some of the cornerstones of the American-based research.

Mel Schunemann, President of Hellenic-American Social Club of Southwest Florida, at location for genealogy workshop, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church of Fort Myers, Florida
Hellenic-American Social Club of Southwest Florida sponsors introductory Greek genealogy workshop. Depicted are the Executive Board of the organization, from left to right: Angelo Constan, Vice-president; Mel Schunemann, President; Kitty Atvges, Secretary; Mimi Atvges, Treasurer
In particular, Mrs. Papoutsy recommended use of the free online database sponsored by the Ellis Island Foundation for locating passenger ship records of many relatives. Discussion also focused on patterns of naming and analyses of Greek surnames, especially as they relate to geographical origin. The second part of the workshop entailed examination of Greek handwriting and ecclesiastical records and techniques for conducting research in Greek villages. The multimedia presentation also featured concrete examples of successful searches and data garnered from various sources, as well as anecdotal accounts of challenges overcome. At the conclusion of each workshop, Papoutsy conducted a question-and-answer period.
Officers of the Association of Retirees of St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church of West Palm Beach, Florida pose with Mary Papoutsy, founder of HHGA at conclusion of introductory workshop
All attendees will receive free lifetime membership in Hellenic Historical and Genealogical Association, as well as additional assistance in their search for elusive ancestral records.
These two workshops are part of a series of free sessions sponsored by HHGA and Rock of Ages corporation, beginning last fall at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Dover, New Hampshire, and the Newburyport Public Library. Future workshops are scheduled for Somerville, Massachusetts, at the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church on Saturday, April 19; at Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church in Haverhill, Massachusetts on Saturday, May 3; at Ipswich Public Library in Ipswich, Massachusetts on Wednesday, May 14; The Greek Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts on a Saturday in May to be announced.
Officials of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church and organizations attend HHGA genealogy workshop at Fort Myers, Florida: (left to right) John Continos, president of Annunciation Church Parish Council; Mel Schunemann, president, Hellenic-American Social Club of Southwest Florida; Rev. Fr. Hans Jacobse, parish priest of Annunciation Church; Lily Terris, president of the Philoptochos Society of Annunciation Church; and Bella Continos, wife of parish council president John Continos.

Formed as a non-profit entity in 2000, Hellenic Historical and Genealogical Association has been established through a grant from the Christos and Mary Papoutsy Charitable Foundation to promote the importance of Greek ancestry and history through educational programs and volunteer projects. Membership is free and open to all persons interested in researching Hellenic roots. Additional information on HHGA can be found on the genealogy web pages hosted by Hellenic Communication Service at

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