2017 CGSI Conference Schedule


  • Tuesday10/17/2017
  • Wednesday10/18/2017
  • Thursday10/19/2017
  • Friday10/20/2017
  • Saturday10/21/2017
8:00 AM

Pittsburgh’s Industry of Our Immigrants Tour

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. // Pickup and dropoff at Hyatt Regency

The “Babushkas and Hardhats” Tour offered through the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area includes a presentation at the Bost Building, a brief tour at the Pump House, and a guided tour of the Carrie Furnaces at the former U.S. Steel Homestead Works plus a step on guide doing narration between those 3 stops. This part of the day’s tour will be about 3 hours.

Gary Rogers, a historian with the Oakmont Historical Society will provide coal mining history in Western PA on the bus ride to Penn Brewery, where the group will enjoy a selection of luncheon appetizers, with soda, water, or coffee. Beer purchases by attendees on their own.

After lunch the tour continues at the Tour-Ed coal mine in Tarentum, PA. The underground portion of the tour lasts about 30 minutes, and visitors will ride in coal cars inside the mine. A group of up to 25 would go into the mine while the remainder will visit the Museum and listen to mining stories from the guides and miners, then the two groups rotate. It is 52-55 degrees inside the mine so a light jacket is recommended.

Tour Price: SOLD OUT
Price includes deluxe motor coach, guide fees, lunch, driver tip, and all admissions.


5:00 PM
8:00 AM

Pittsburgh with a Slovak Touch Tour

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. // Pickup and dropoff at Hyatt Regency

Join guide Joe Bielecki on a tour of Pittsburgh with a Slovak touch. This tour includes stops at Mt. Washington for a panoramic view of the city and ride down the Duquesne Incline, a drive by of St. Matthew’s, a former Slovak church, a stop for coffee at the Slovak Catholic Sokol Hall, a drive by of the Andy Warhol Museum and the Pittsburgh Agreement Memorial in downtown. Next is a tour of the Heinz History Center emphasizing the Slovaks and Pittsburgh area industry, including Henry Heinz artifacts and an immigrant house. An executive boxed lunch will be served in a private room at the Heinz along with members on the Carpatho-Rusyn tour group. Other afternoon stops include the Nationality Classrooms at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, a drive-by of the Edgar Thompson Steel Works and former St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church building in Braddock (think “Out of this Furnace” by James Bell), and lastly the National Slovak Society’s Heritage Museum in McMurray.

Tour Price: SOLD OUT
Price includes deluxe motor coach, guide fees, lunch, driver tip, and all admissions.


8:30 AM

Rusyn Historical Bus Tour of Pittsburgh

8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. // Pickup and dropoff at Hyatt Regency

Much of the Carpatho-Rusyn international history was played out in Pittsburgh in the last 100+ years. Tour stops include the childhood home of Rusyn-American artist Andy Warhol. The section of Pittsburgh called "Ruska Dolyna" 'Rusyn Valley', including the spectacular St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church, where Warhol was baptized and raised. The first Rusyn Cathedral in America and the first bishop's residence, located in Munhall, PA. Next, Homestead where Rusyn Americans made the decision for their homeland to become a part of a new Czechoslovakia at the end of World War I. Visit St. Michael's Orthodox Church in Rankin, a Rusyn-founded church in its original turn-of-the century state and one-time parish of Fr. Stephan Varzaly, the controversial editor of the nation's largest Rusyn newspaper during the great 1930s church split. Visit both Carpatho-Rusyn displays in the Heinz History Center and enjoy an executive boxed lunch in a private room at the Center.

Tour Price: $60
Price includes deluxe motor coach, guide fees, lunch, driver tip, and all admissions.



Movie: The Final Mission

The Final Mission

This one hour documentary film by the prize winning Slovak director Dušan Hudec entitled The Final Mission, (Unknown Heroes) tells the story of American airmen who were shot down over Slovak territory during WWII while on bombing runs from Italy to Germany and Poland. Forty-six bombers and eight fighter planes were shot down, 106 airmen died in the crashes and 370 were taken captive and sent to POW camps. But eighty-five airmen succeeded in escaping. Slovaks from villages near the crash sites took them in and protected them in spite of the threat by Nazi Germany that anyone who assisted the downed pilots would be shot. Strong emotional relationships were established between the Slovaks and Americans who were involved, and those ties endured even during the communist regime.

Dušan Hudec, the independent filmmaker, visited the U.S. several times over the course of two years doing research in the National Archives and traveling to several states interviewing surviving airmen (in their 90’s!) as well as family members. He also found surviving members of Slovak families that took these downed airmen into their homes at such great risk and interviewed them also. Some of the US airmen and their families also traveled to Slovakia and were reunited with these Slovak families and family members of airmen who did not survive found closure by visiting the sites in Slovakia where their loved ones died. When asked why he was interested in these stories 70 years after WWII, Mr. Hudec replied that when the communists were in control of Slovakia these stories could not be told and the World War II generation is passing into history. Two of the airmen he interviewed who are seen in the film actually died before it was completed. This story is almost unknown both in the United States and in Slovakia and Mr. Hudec thought is important to preserve these stories before they are lost.

There is also a fabulous 24 poster display that goes along with the film which was shown in Bratislava Square when the film premiered in August 2014 for the 70th anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising.

This film has previously only been shown in New York City, Chicago, Washington, DC, Youngstown, OH, and Johnstown, PA.

8:30 AM

Conference Orientation Session

8:30 a.m. - 8:45 a.m.

9:00 AM

9:00 – 10:15 A.M. Sessions

Pennsylvania Vital Records
Marilyn Cocchiola Holt, MLS

An introduction to the practice of records research in Pennsylvania, beginning with an overview of Pennsylvania record-keeping and focusing on sources for vital records, and moving on to substitute sources such as church and cemetery records, newspapers, and city directories. Repositories such as courthouses, state archives, and libraries will also be reviewed.

Beyond Kolaches: Cuisine as a Reflection of Historical Changes in Czech Nation
Gabriela Jiskrova and Albert Ksinan

National and regional cuisines have always been considered a part of peoples’ cultural heritage. The aim of this presentation is to describe characteristics of Czech and Slovak cuisine in the context of various historical periods (and cookbooks) and to discuss cultural changes that shaped gastronomy in the Czech lands. Probably the first widely known Czech cookbook was published in the Austrian empire in the early 19th century (Rettigová, 1826). As a part of the talk we will present copies of recipes from these cookbooks and will discuss specifics of food preparation and the most favorite ingredients used in each historical period.

Coal Mine Culture – A World of its Own
John Righetti

Among the very first Industrial era immigrants to the United States were citizens of Austria-Hungary who were recruited to work the coal fields of Pennsylvania and select other states. An absolute necessity for both industry and homes, Coal was king. John Righetti outlines what coal communities were like at early immigration and how they became even an economic system distinct from the rest of America. He explains how coal communities developed as a culture unto themselves. For anyone with family roots in coal mining, this presentation is a must.

World War I on Slovak Lands
Ronald Matviyak

WW I penetrated into the territory of Slovakia causing untold damage and suffering for the local population, primarily Rusyns living in the mountains and hills of NE Slovakia. As with their Lemko cousins on the northern slopes of the Carpathians, the Rusyns were treated as suspect and spies due to the close relationship of their language and faith to that of the enemy Russians. The A-H army was incapable of supplying its own army in the severe conditions of the Carpathian winter, and civilian stores of food, animals and draft horses were commandeered, leaving civilians to take care of themselves. This presentation brings to light some of the hard to find details as they affected the people of Old Hungary.

10:45 AM

10:45 AM – Noon Sessions

Courthouse Research in Pennsylvania: In the Realm of the Prothonotary
Marilyn Cocchiola Holt, MLS

An introduction to resources for family history research which will be found in Pennsylvania courthouses, beginning with an overview of Pennsylvania record-keeping and focusing on sources for vital records, wills and estate records, civil and criminal court records, and deeds.

Beyond Žatkovich and the Pittsburgh Agreement: American Ethnoreligious Influences on Czechoslovakia (1890 – 1939)
Dr. Joel Brady

This presentation explores the origins of Russian Orthodox conversion movements among migrants from Austria-Hungary in the late nineteenth century and traces their transatlantic history through transitions wrought by world war and the formation of Czechoslovakia. It is based upon archival research, including parish records, migrant correspondence, immigration records, and newspapers and periodicals published in East Central Europe and the Americas.

Collections of the Heinz History Center
Sierra Green

Explore collections available at the Detre Library & Archives of Pittsburgh’s Heinz History Center. These sources will lead to individual voices that can be discovered in the employment, family, local government, funeral home, and immigrant community newspaper records. This session will also provide guidance about how to harness the Czechoslovak collections in order to recreate your ancestor’s historical setting in Western Pennsylvania.” The presentation will also cover artifacts from the History Museum. We collect materials, both artifacts and archives that document the lives of Western Pennsylvanians over the past 250 years.

The Cycle of Life in Czech and Slovak Villages
Helene Baine Cincebeaux

Our ancestor’s lives revolved around the seasons with rituals and celebrations that brightened their work-a-day lives. Celebrations often involved traditional verses, food music and song. A slide program will take you through the seasons of the year beginning with New Year's customs, Fasank (the night before Lent), spinning bees and courting parties, spring planting rituals, christenings, Easter, weddings, harvest festivals, village hody and wakes, All Soul's Day, death customs, Advent and the Christmas season. The church was at the heart of village life. Questions to answer include: Who was Morena? What's a Name Day? Other topics.



Lunch (included in conference fee)

1:30 PM

1:30 - 2:45 PM Sessions

Genealogical Resources in Western Pennsylvania
Marilyn Cocchiola Holt, MLS

An introduction to research and repositories for family history in Western Pennsylvania, beginning with an overview of Pennsylvania records and focusing on sources for vital records, church and cemetery records, newspapers, and city directories. Major libraries and depositories will be highlighted, as well as specialized collections in local historical societies, colleges, and universities. Repositories such as the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, and the University of Pittsburgh will be discussed.

Genealogy - Getting and Staying Organized
Rebecca Kichta-Miller

So you've been "doing Genealogy" for a few months, years, or decades, have piles of papers, books, magazines, and supplies that just keep getting moved from place to place, and the piles never seem to get any smaller. How do you get a grip on the “mess” you’ve created? This workshop will walk you through getting organized from the first piece of paper you pick up to the last, then provide you valuable hints and tricks to keep you organized and ready to tackle the next branch of our tree.

Overcoming Brick Walls in Eastern European Research
Lisa A. Alzo

Research in Eastern European can be a challenging process. Sorting out surnames, trying to identify ancestral hometowns, and deciphering old country records to connect families are just a few of the obstacles often encountered along the way. Through sample case studies, this session will demonstrate lesser utilized research tactics, and discuss repositories and key resources used to locate information about your elusive Eastern European ancestors, and how to overcome the most common research problems.

Slovakia – Land of Miners
Michal Razus

Topics to be covered include: Slovakia – heart of the mining industry; Metals -source of medieval fortune; Mining towns of central Slovakia and their metals; Slovak Ore Mountains – source of mining; Processing and usage of ore: smelters, founders, iron workers; Technologies, maps and machines, mining Academy; Unique mines in Slovakia, harvesting of opals and salt; Mining from water; Life of a miner, his daily routine and working conditions; Insurance companies and professional organizations; Slovak invention used by Ford; American – Slovak connections – U.S. Steel in Košice; and Mining in art – movies, songs, religion.

3:00 PM

3:00 - 5:00 PM Session

Reading Kurrent Workshop
Blanka Lednická

(Limited to first 12 registrants; repeats Saturday morning) Kurrent writing is the most complicated part of Czech genealogical research. It is usually a brick wall where efforts of many researchers end because they are not able to read old handwriting. Kurrent originates in German neo-gothic handwriting and was used for Czech records from 16th to 19th century – and for German records to the 20th century. When combined with Czech language it could be the end point of the research. This workshop is focused on understanding Kurrent. It's recommended that participants already understand basics of genealogical research and have some experience with searching in Czech parish books.

3:15 PM

3:15 - 4:30 PM Sessions

The Aliens Are Coming: USCIS Record Sets
Rich Venezia

A-Files? AR-2 Forms? C-Files? Oh my! Wade through the alphabet soup of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ record sets to find immigrant ancestors. In additional to handling current immigration into the USA, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) holds indispensable genealogical records for anyone with post-1906 immigrant ancestors. This lecture explores a bit about how USCIS came to be, but more importantly, the valuable records it holds. Participants will learn who is likely to show up in which USCIS file set, and how the index searching and ordering process works.

Creating a Family Archive
Rebecca Kichta-Miller

There a difference between archiving your family history and scrapbooking the major life events of your family. Archiving and preserving your family’s original photos and mementos takes special skills. Learn skills that can take your prized possessions out of those old albums, storage boxes, and trunks and into the next century. Topics covered: What to keep and what not to keep; Techniques – scanning, preserving, storing, sharing photos and documents, and book preservation; Organizing digital files; Archival supplies and where to use them; and Restoration – what NOT to do.

Sites of the Czech Republic and Their Stories
Miroslav Koudelka

People say that the Czech Republic has all kinds of tourist sites with just one exception, the sea. This presentation will introduce you to some of them, including both the world-famous – such as Prague, Karlovy Vary, Olomouc – and those that are not listed in every guidebook, e.g. Praskolesy, Komárov or Hynčice. In addition to historical sites from castles and cathedrals down to picturesque folk houses, it will cover natural phenomena (mountains, caves, historic trees) and places referring to famous personalities (Charles IV, St. John of Nepomuk, Johann Gregor Mendel, Oskar Schindler), too. These sites will be shown through photos.

A Crash Course in Slovak: Useful Slovak Words and Phrases for Travel and Genealogy
Michael J. Kopanic, Jr., Ph.D.

Slovak is a very rich language; it beautifully flows like a song or poem. It is also one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn, with a very complicated set of grammar rules. This presentation will introduce attendees to Slovak pronunciation and cover the most basic words and phrases needed to get by in traveling in Slovakia, and some key Slovak words in researching genealogy. It will also offer some useful advice if one intends to travel in Slovakia, including driving or using trains in Slovakia.

7:00 PM

7:00 - 8:30 PM

Regional Networking Sessions

8:00 AM

Opening Session with Keynote Address

They Built This City: Celebrating Pittsburgh’s Industries and Immigrants by Lisa Alzo
8:00 - 9:00 AM

9:15 AM

9:15 - 10:30 AM Sessions

How to Research Czech Birth/Marriage/Death Registers on the Internet: A Practical Lesson
Miroslav Koudelka

How to determine the archive your village’s records should be available at. A revolution has occurred at archives in recent years turning from a coal shovel to the worldwide web. How many of the registers from particular archives are available online? The speaker will discuss advantages and disadvantages of working with original source records versus digital copies on the internet. The various types of handwriting and languages encountered will be addressed. Speaker with audience input will undertake a successful attempt to research a family – a practical lesson.

What was it like in 1969, 1989 and 1993?
Helene Baine Cincebeaux

Tumultuous times for Czechoslovakia in the 24 year period from the Russian invasion to unexpected freedom to the Velvet Divorce... told from the people’s points of view from eyewitnesses to history. Helene and her mother Helen Zemek Baine visited some 3,000 villages, towns, and cities beginning in 1969, then 1972, 1975 and every year thereafter to the present, talking with people in all walks of life. She will compare how life was like based on all her trips to the Czech and Slovak Republics. It will include many adventures, such as police interrogation, being spied on, our photo exhibit in Prague, being hosted by an Archbishop, etc.

Emigration from Slovakia
Michal Razus

The presentation will cover the following topics: Periods of emigration – years, peaks and waves; First Slovaks in the USA (numbers and statistics of immigration); Isaacus Ferdinand Sharoshi, Mayor Jan Polorecky, Maurice Benyovszky and the Lincoln Riflemen of Slavonic Origin; reasons and motivation that caused emigration (Push-Pull factor): economic and political; The regions with the highest % of emigrants (Šariš, Zemplín, Spiš, Abov); Target destinations (Pittsburgh & Johnstown, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Streator and Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Colorado). Other topics are modes of travel, Hungarian restrictions.

Rusyn, Russian, Slovak, Ukrainian—the Quest for Identity among Carpatho-Rusyns
John Righetti

Carpatho-Rusyns both in Europe, and especially America, have been identified by others– and sometimes themselves – as one of these 4 nationalities. John Righetti explains how AND WHY this happened. Those conducting genealogy research on Carpatho-Rusyns and Slovak will learn the secrets for determining if the people they are researching are indeed Carpatho-Rusyns.

11:00 AM

11:00 AM – 12:15 PM Sessions

“After the Roof” - Surname Changes in the Czech Past
Blanka Lednická

Surnames as we know them originate in the middle ages. First surnames were based on the occupation, father’s name or personal characteristics of every person. But surnames were not stable until the end of 18th century. One of those specific areas is Southern Bohemia where surnames “after the roof” are used even today. This lecture focuses on examples of surname changes – why they happened, how to decide when and why the change occurred, and how these changes were marked in parish books and seigniorial records.

How to Locate those Elusive Military Records for Ancestors who Served in the Austro-Hungarian Army
Carl Kotlarchik

Military records are many times over looked by genealogists. But they often contain valuable information about an ancestor that cannot be found elsewhere. They can also provide insight into what an individual may have experienced during their lifetime and give a perspective of the history of that time. Consequently, knowledge of military service can add real depth and interest to a family history. The presentation will attempt to demystify the process and provide the necessary tools and methodology to locate the AH military records.

The American Slovaks and the Start of the Great War
Gregory C. Ference

The start of World War One just over a century ago in the summer of 1914 caught almost the whole world by surprise and the Slovaks in the United States were no different. The approximately 650,000 immigrants in America had just begun to put together a political plan for an autonomous future of their compatriots within the Kingdom of Hungary when war erupted causing them to reassess their options that by the end of the year began to focus on a Czecho-Slovak option. Slovak men were warned not to return to the homeland since they were certain to be drafted to fight Imperial Russia. The American Slovaks turned their backs on Hungary.

Parish Histories: A Prospective Window on Carpatho-Rusyn Genealogy
John Schweich

This presentation draws upon my collection of 1800 parish commemorative books to provide the following via images and narrative: Economic and social context for the ancestors' community settlement choices; Information on home villages; Details on the church splits and schism which punctuated and enlivened their lives; The complex and bewildering jurisdictional terminology employed, e.g., "Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic"; Advertisements documenting the transition of certain members of the community from "mines and mills to business self-ownership; social groups, parallels with ethnic histories, founders, and humor.

12:15 PM


Lunch (included in conference fee)

1:45 PM

1:45 - 3:00 PM Sessions

Homes of Our Czech Ancestors in the Old Fatherland
Miroslav Koudelka

This presentation will focus on three main topics, the social aspects, cities and towns, and homes in the countryside. Under social aspects we will discuss property owners and roomers, and the multi-generational way of living. For cities and towns we will discuss ground plans of medieval cities, the neighborhood of the feudal lord’s residence (area covered, city walls, size and shape of the square, streets, reflections of feudal privileges), layout and shapes of medieval city houses in different architectural periods. For country we will discuss the origin of villages, houses, living section, equipment, sheds and barns, garden and orchards, etc.

Czecho-Slovak Legion: Historic Significance
Kevin J. McNamara

The exploits of the Czecho-Slovak Legion in revolutionary Russia at the close of the First World War have received only modest attention; historians have yet to take account of the historic significance of this ad hoc army. The speaker will discuss various reasons why this may be. The Czecho-Slovak Legion helps to fatally undermine the ancient Habsburg dynasty and enable its leader, Tomas G. Masaryk to shatter the Austro-Hungarian empire, creating the republic of Czecho-Slovakia and the many other small nations that continue today to alter the politics and destiny of Europe.

Beginning Slovak Genealogy
Lisa A. Alzo

Nearly 620,000 Slovaks came to the U.S. during the period of “mass migration” (1880-1914). This workshop will provide an overview of how to begin the research process using both traditional and online sources. Learn how to identify your ancestral village, locate and interpret vital records, trace ancestors through census and immigration records, utilize the Family History Library, tips for contacting possible relatives, writing to Slovak archives, and how to find and hire professional researchers. The basics of organizing your research and strategies for overcoming the most common pitfalls and problems specific to researching Slovak ancestors will also be discussed.

Changed by Thalerhof
John Righetti

Few know about Austria’s Thalerhof. It was the grand experiment in a European state corralling its own citizens, viewing them as a threat. It had never been done before. This is the story of the creation of the first European concentration camp. There were no rules. People arrested, interred with no charges, hungry, sick, dying – because of who they were. A generation before Auschwitz. The victims? Carpatho-Rusyns. Changed by Thalerhof is an hour-long documentary produced in 2014 on the camp’s 100th anniversary. Film will be shown, followed by discussion with producer John Righetti.

3:30 PM

3:30 - 4:45 PM Sessions

Stable Cadastral Maps of the Czech Republic
Helmuth Schneider

This presentation provides background information about the Stable Cadastral Maps and discusses why they are available on the Internet. The online website will be provided. You will be shown, step-by-step, how to open the website and locate the Stable Cadastral Map for any village in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. The maps were originally drafted in the 1820's -1830's. They show the Houses and/or Barns built on the city lots and the many small farms, ownership, etc. The maps were colored using Watercolors. Every feature on the map has a color. No notes required as presentation will be shared.

Slovaks and Rusyns Seen through the Eyes of Travelers 1795 – 1915
Ron Matviyak

The direct quotations taken from the various Travelers may occasionally touch a sensitive nerve, as their observations are not always complementary and can be painful to read. Thus this presentation is rated PG. At the same time, the harshness of some of the quotations may reveal new insights into why our ancestors wanted to leave the Old Country. Western Europeans long regarded Hungary as the “Wild East” where civilization and costume and custom were still a blend of western and orient. This is a presentation of the observations made by intrepid travelers from England and Germany who traveled through the remoteness of Old Hungary or lived there for several years and returned to the west to report their observations in books.

Traditional Slovak Customs during the Year
Michael J. Kopanic, Jr., Ph.D.

Slovaks have always loved to celebrate and this presentation will survey some of the main folk traditions that they practiced during each calendar year. Many of the customs were rooted in ancient pagan traditions and then modified after Christianity came to Slovakia. The modernization of Slovakia has led to some of these traditions disappearing, while others have persisted to the present day. Traditions also varied somewhat in different regions and villages, depending on geography and local resources. Holidays covered will include Christmas and New Year, Shrovetide, Lent, Easter, Spring customs (such as the Maypole), etc.

From the Carpathians to the Alleghenies: Carpatho-Rusyn Immigrants in the Greater Johnstown, Pennsylvania Area
Rich Custer

Carpatho-Rusyns first settled the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, area in 1887 and began to establish their own churches and other institutions. The immigrants made up a substantial part of the workforce of the local steel mills and bituminous coal mines. Descendants of these Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants are still found in this region in large numbers. The presentation will cover their early settlement in the greater Johnstown area, their places of origin in the European homeland, and the development of their churches and fraternal and cultural institutions. The presentation emphasizes the visual, with more than 180 slides that tell their story.

6:00 PM


Dinner (optional, separate registration required)

7:15 PM

Parade of Kroje

Parade of Kroje emceed by Helene Baine Cincebeaux

7:30 AM

7:30 - 9:30 AM Session

Reading Kurrent Workshop
Blanka Lednická

(Limited to first 12 registrants; repeat of Thursday afternoon) Kurrent writing is the most complicated part of Czech genealogical research. It is usually a brick wall where efforts of many researchers end because they are not able to read old handwriting. Kurrent originates in German neo-gothic handwriting and was used for Czech records from 16th to 19th century – and for German records to the 20th century. When combined with Czech language it could be the end point of the research. This workshop is focused on understanding Kurrent. It's recommended that participants already understand basics of genealogical research and have some experience with searching in Czech parish books.

8:00 AM

8:00 - 9:15 AM Sessions

Czech Family Name Sources – A Lesson for Foreign Genealogists
Miroslav Koudelka

This presentation will cover the following topics: The history of surnames in the middle ages: From given names thru personal attributes to the 1780 family names codification; Sources of Czech family names and their semantic content (Christian first names, Geographical names, professions, personal characteristics, etc.); Language aspects of family names appearing in genealogical documents, language used for recordkeeping (Latin, German, Czech, dialects), spelling variations, female forms; and a survey of most frequent Czech family names.

Identification of Alias Names in Slovak Records – Two Cases Studies
Margaret Nasta

Tracking your ancestors who were born in the former empire of Austria--‐Hungary can be challenging if your family used more than one surname. Both names were often recorded in church archives, but which one came to America with the immigrant? In Central Europe people could be called both by a family name and an alias name. The alias might be a property name: the house where they lived or the land they farmed. Sometimes it was just a village nickname. The speaker will cover two case studies from her family showing how she determined these people with different names were one and the same.

Roma in Central Europe: Past and Present
Stepanka Korytova, Ph.D.

This presentation examines the history and evolvement of Roma (aka Gypsies) settlements in Central Europe. Focus is on their ethnic structures, their employment, and their culture in its broadest sense: their language, customs and traditions (weddings and funerals for example). I will talk about their status as a minority group within the multinational Austro-Hungarian Empire. I will proceed by looking at the changes the Roma experienced within the rather ethnically homogeneous Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1993, including the Roma experience in the holocaust. I will conclude with my own experience working with Roma.

Andy and the Rusyns
Elaine Rusinko

Andy Warhol is the world’s most famous American of Carpatho-Rusyn ancestry, and the icons of the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church were his first exposure to art. Topics to be covered include: Czech, Slovak and Ukrainian attempts to claim Warhol; Warhol’s (mis)understanding of his ethnicity; The reception of Warhol by Rusyns in Slovakia; Warhol’s ancestral village of Mikova in the world’s spotlight; Andy’s religious consciousness; his art; sexuality, and his greatest influence, his mother Julia; Andy as a Rusyn icon.

9:45 AM

9:45 - 11:00 AM Sessions

The Czechs of Bohemian Hill
Carol Hochman

The first Czech to arrive in Allegheny City, now a part of the city of Pittsburgh, came from Mlynec, near Klatovy. Local records indicate he became a resident of Allegheny City in 1849. During the next fifty years, immigrants continued to come from the regions of today’s Czech Republic known as Moravia and Bohemia and settled in a section of Allegheny City known as “Český vrsek” or Bohemian Hill. The men found jobs as blacksmiths, tailors and tanners, or opened their own businesses, while many of the women worked at the nearby Heinz factory. They established churches, social halls and benevolent societies as a social safety net.

Slovakia – Wealth Center of Old Hungary
Ron Matviyak

Too often the perception of Slovakia as a land of poverty and deprivation is passed on through our families and has taken a life in popular perception and mythology. This is quite understandable, as our ancestors often struggled to earn a living, left an overpopulated area, or had a sibling inherit the family holdings and had to strike out on their own. We do not hear of the Slovak Land being the center of Old Hungarian wealth, of the great mines of copper, silver and gold. We have only to look at maps showing the proud medieval Towns of Old Hungary to see that most were developed on Slovak Lands. We will look at other signs of wealth.

The Making of a State: The American Creation of Czecho-Slovakia with the Cleveland Agreement and the Pittsburgh Pact
Gregory C. Ference

Czechs and Slovaks living in the United States were in an almost unique situation in world history. With the outbreak of the unpopular First World War in July 1914, they began looking for alternatives to remaining in the Austro-Hungarian Empire after the war ended. Despite being immigrants and largely cut off from the co-nationals in Europe due to the world war, they were positioned to influence great power politics in their quest for an independent state carved out of the Habsburg empire. The Cleveland Agreement (October 1915), and the Pittsburgh Pact (May 1918) are two of the more important documents for the creation of a shared country of Czechs and Slovaks that came to fruition in late October 1918.

Rusins – The Story of Survival
Michal Razus

This presentation will cover the following subject matter: origins of Nation (Rusins of NE Slovakia); Demographics, culture and religion; the role of Greek Catholic and Orthodox religion in the process of nation formation; sacral structures (Carpathian wooden churches); Pilgrimage places; Important national awakeners (Duchnovič, Gojdič, and Zhatkovich); Educational and cultural institutions and organizations (Institute of Rusin language, Annual Summer School, Museum of Ruthenian Culture in Prešov); The Destruction of the Greek Catholic Church; and Forced Ukrainization.

11:00 AM


Lunch (included in conference fee)

12:30 PM

12:30 - 1:45 PM Sessions

Life in Bohemia and Moravia in the 18th Century
Blanka Lednická

How did our ancestors live? What was the life cycle of serfs living in rural areas of Bohemia? How were their lives affected by the church, domain owners, local authorities? Were they free to decide about their marriage, children’s names, their occupation and place where they lived? This presentation focuses on the everyday life of Czech dependent people (serfs) during the 18th century. I will provide basic information about life cycle from birth to death, including the most common customs connected to birth and baptism, marriage, death and burial – both church and folk traditions. Inheritance and careers will be discussed.

Identifying Pittsburgh’s Slovak Cluster Communities and Their Role in Preserving Slovak Heritage
Lisa A. Alzo

Historically, no other city in the United States has attracted more Slovaks than Pittsburgh. Slovak immigrants came to the Pittsburgh region in the 1890s. It is estimated that close to 100,000 came to the area looking for work and a chance for a better life. They lived in neighborhoods close to their work. Slovaks formed numerous cluster communities throughout Western Pennsylvania—in such towns as Braddock, Duquesne, Homestead, Munhall, the North Side, Rankin, and Swissvale. Once settled, Slovak immigrants founded their own churches, schools, fraternal benefit societies, and social clubs.

Unlocking the Secrets of the Czech Archives: You Can Find Your Ancestors
Jim Hudec

Ready to dive into the Birth/Marriage/Death records in the Czech Parish Archives, or have you tried without success? The speaker will present tips to help you successfully find your ancestors in the Archives. The Archives are rich with data, including dates of birth/baptism, marriage, or death/burial, the names of parents and grandparents, their associated villages and house numbers, etc. With a little practice you can locate your ancestors by understanding a few key words, the structure of the Archive entries and how they changed over time, the difference in names based on language, spelling, and deciphering various handwriting.

A Village-Based Reframing of the Historical Narrative of Carpatho-Rusyns in the United States
Rich Custer

This presentation will discuss how Carpatho-Rusyn communities in the U.S. went from describing themselves in vague geographic/ethnic terms to at least a partial rediscovery of the relevance of specificity in terms of their European villages of origin. Topics will include: How do we know where they came from? The evidence the immigrants left about their village of origin. Connections they maintained with their villages, and the disappearance of and then decades later the reappearance of geographic identifiers.

2:15 PM

2:15 - 3:30 PM Sessions

How to locate House(s) on a Current (Katastr) map of the Czech Republic
Helmuth Schneider

This presentation will provide background information about village maps. These maps show conditions in the village(s) in the year 2016. The "Current" maps can be found on the Internet. The Online website will be provided. You will be taught how to open the Czech Geodetic and Cadastral Office website and find the "Consultation of the Cadastre". You will then select "Finding Construction". You will be taught how to locate the name of the village where the Town Hall for your village is located. You will input that village name, and your village name and the house number as we walk through this process step by step.

Slovak Land Records and Maps
Michal Razus

What is the urbar and the oldest land books and records? Reasons for their introduction. Theresa's Urbar from 1767 – how the Urbar of Maria Theresa affected the relationships between the empire - nobility and serfs. Impact on the country and its progress. Modification of the serf’s duties. Who is paying more? A comparison of the past and present taxes. A review of tax types – and their optimization (money, work, hunt, wood). Other topics include: Division of land in the village; Maps, types, orientation and match to land records; Where to search land records; How to match land records to a map; land books and their content.

Tying the Knot! Betrothal & Wedding Rituals & Customs in the Czech Republic & Slovakia with Clues for Genealogists
Helene Baine Cincebeaux

Presentation Techniques - lecture, images of actual weddings and customs in Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia, demonstration and artifacts. Weddings in villages were the most important life event and many rituals and customs were connected with the wedding and the courtship. Based on 45 years research in many villages, I'd like to share what I learned. Found one of the best questions to ask to get a reminiscing session started is “What did you do for your wedding? It is guaranteed to start memories flowing. Topics include: Courtship, Weddings, Typical Wedding Rituals, Weddings lead to babies, and miscellaneous items.

Who are the Rusyns?
John Righetti

Carpatho-Rusyns, Carpatho-Russians, Ruthenians, Lemkos, Uhro-Rusyns – no East European group has more names than the Carpatho-Rusyns who populated the Eastern most regions of Czechoslovakia and Southern Poland. But then no other group in Eastern Europe had as colored and checkered a political and cultural history than the Carpatho-Rusyns. The presentation gives a brief over-view of Carpatho-Rusyns’ history and explains how they were used as pawns in international agendas by superpowers both in Europe AND the United States.

4:00 PM

CGSI Annual Membership Meeting

CGSI Annual Membership Meeting 4:00 – 5:00 P.M.

5:45 PM


Dinner (optional, additional registration required) 5:45 – 6:45 P.M.

7:00 PM


Slavjane (Rusyn) Folk Ensemble adn the Pittsburgh Area Slovakians (PAS) Folk Ensemble