Greek Family Genealogy Resources

Greek Genealogy Resources, Naming Conventions, Translation, and Transliteration

Information that can be helpful in your Greek family research.

You should request my advice before applying any information as part of your own Greek family tree research.  The search could generate negative or no results during your genealogy research for Greek family names if you are attempting to transcribe Greek names and surnames.

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Simple tips on researching Greek family roots!

Greek Naming Conventions to Latin by Various Methods of Translations:

  • Greek Phonetic translation of names, e.g. Πέτρος to Petros

  • Transcribing Greek names, e.g. Λεωνίδας to Leonidas

  • Translating Greek names, e.g. Αντώνιος to Anthony

  • Transliteration in accordance with the current standards of the Greek authorities

Generally speaking, translating first names from Greek to another language does not have a standard.

My name based upon my heritage should be Pantelis but the name Peter is translated similarly from Pantelis, Petros, and Panagiotis.  I have also heard it translated from Pericles by another family.

The Greek services however gave me the name Petros instead of Pantelis based upon a strict translation which was wrong.

Example: my own first name is translated by the Greek authorities from Peter to Petros but in actuality it can also be represented as Pantelis or Panagiotis (Πέτρος, Παναγιώτης, Παντελής), while my last name can be transliterated from Μπουρνιάς to either Mpournias or Mpoyrnias or Bournias.

Therefore, when translating from English to Greek the correct situation is to keep the first name because the individual who is not born in Greece which is my case should have been written in Greek as Πήτερ.  See more on Foreigner's names below.

Other ways of how Greek names change to Latin:

Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Πέτρος Petros Petros rock, stonelike
Μπουρνιάς Mpournias Bournias See this

Greek Occupational and Nicknames

A nickname is referred to in Greek as a "paratsoukli". It is a name used to refer to a nickname or as a profession based upon a characteristic and can be applied to the first name of a person as well as the family surname.

There are many people with first and last names using nicknames in Greece.

Despina = Debby or Ντέπυ = Deborah or Δεβόρα

Vasilis = Βασίλης or Μπιλί = Billy

Kiki, Lily = Βασίληκη = Vasiliki or Αγγελική = Angelika

Kafetzis, the person who served coffee.

Papoutsis, a person who makes shoes.

Steve = Stamatis (Σταμάτης), Stephanos (Στέφανος)

Peter (Πήτερ) = Petros (Πέτρος), Panagiotis (Παναγιώτης), Pantelis (Παντελής)

The above are generalizations and may have alternate uses.

Greek Cognomen

Many Greek names are derived from the original name as a shortened version.

An example of this is the name Haralambopoulos for which the name Harris has been used.

Greek Name Ending's

Here is an short example of common Greek surnames can be indicative of a  geographical location in Greece.

Name Endings
Last Name
Καταλήξεις
Επώνυμο
-idis Pavlidis (Ponti) -ίδης Παυλίδης (Πόντιοι)
-adis Georgiadis (Ponti) -άδης Γεωργιάδης (Πόντιοι)
-oudis Pavloudis (Macedonia, Thace) -ούδης Παυλούδης (Μακεδονία, Θράκη)
-oglou Arzoglou (Asia Minor) -όγλου Αρζόγλου (Μικρασιάτες)
-akis Kazanzakis (Crete) -άκης Καζαντζάκης (Κρήτη)
-akos Giatrakos (Mani) -άκος Γιατράκος (Μάνη)
-poulos Dimopoulos (mainly Peloponese) -πουλος Δημόπουλος (κυρίως Πελοπόννησο)
-atos Geoggatos (Kefalonia) -άτος Γεωργάτος (Κεφαλονιά)
-elis Apadelis (Mytilini) -έλης απαδέλης (Μυτιλήνη)
-ousis Philipousis (Chios) -ούσης Φιλιππούσης (Χίο)

Due to numerous wars and other disasters in Greece, many surnames may have moved to other areas.

Foreigner’s Name to the Greek Language Translations

The correct translation of a foreigner’s name to the Greek language from another is the phonetic translation, e.g. Peter in Greek should be Πήτερ.

Your name should be recorded as it sounds on legal documents unless the family wishes to use a proper Greek name from their own relatives.  Depending on the Greek official, they may tell you otherwise but you must insist and demand that it be translated the way that you want.

Your signature should also be recorded as used in your own country.  You should not be expected to provide it written in the Greek language.  The same holds true for Greeks moving to other countries.

Translation of Names Affected by Country

Whether your name is one of family tradition to respect a family ancestry or simply a name chosen by your parents for other reasons, the country where you are born or reside will usually affect the way your name is recorded.

As an example, the name in Greek Μιχαίλ can be recorded in latin characters as Michael in the United States, Canada, England, Australia and elsewhere but it may also be recorded as Michail which is used in Russia.

Genealogy Resources and Terminology for Greece

The Greek services have registries of Greek families and are not centralized.  The information available is provided by the local authority based on the area of the individual.

Each of the Greek registries of family records in Greece may have information regarding Greek families but may be limited due to the wars between Turkey, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria from various periods.

These services are provided by the Greek local government agency:

Registry of citizens
Registry of birth, marriage, death, next of kin
Family Status (may provide information regarding children of family members)

Information regarding the records of birth, baptism, and marriage are sometimes provided by the church for those of the Greek Orthodox religion.
The Greek Orthodox Church, local to the area, the Metropolis, or the Patriarch.  The Metropolis or Mitropolis was used to archive records from the local churches as a backup copy.

Anglicized given or first names of Greeks from ancient Greek, the Byzantine Empire, the old and New Testament.

A list of locations or places in Greece directly transcribed from Greek to Latin.

The Foundation of the Hellenic World will allow you to volunteer your Greek family genealogy but they will only provide access to those records by the immediate family members.

Greek genealogy via the Internet

Is there any digital information available for Greek genealogy that can be accessed via the Internet?

Yes, but it is limited.

The General Archives of Greece or GAK is a well known library of historical information for Greek genealogy.

Users should be polite, considerate, know Greek very well, and know specifics regarding the genealogy search of the Greek archives.

The database on their website includes scanned images from government records that include court property, company, and other records but as they are stored as images, very good knowledge of older versions of Greek are required to be able to read them.

The government agency that began recording information is known as the Digital Collection of the State Archives or GSA in Greece.

The following link is from an exhibition of the General Archives of Greece.

A view of what kind of documents the GAK has to offer.

A link to one of my blog articles regarding the GAK.


The libraries in Greece also have original documents of books, newspapers & journals, archives, manuscripts, art, and maps.

The National Library of Greece

The Library of the Association of Smyrneans contains published books in Smyrni or Smyrna of Anatolia before and after 1922.

The Hellenic Parliament of Greece has a library that allows the viewing of microfiche archives where you can find detailed information for use in your quest of Greek genealogy and ancestry from Greece.

Information about the location and hours of the Library of the Hellenic Parliament of Greece.

A microfiche catalog is available for download in pdf format that includes names in English and Greek category sorted by alphabet, year, and place.

Greek Wiktionary provides a list of Greek names in Greek.

As new information is being digitized, I will update this page with more links.

Military records are not easily attainable and therefore not available online.

Church records are available through the Metropolis or Patriarch located in the locality of the research area.  They are not availabe online as yet and maybe limited due to wars and other disasters in Greece.

Greek Genealogy of Royalty, Diplomats, and Politicians

For those of you who are interested in the royal family, the ministry of the interior has the archives.  You can find them through their website regarding diplomatic and historical archives.

GREEK LAND REGISTRIES

Land registries are a good source of information for Greek genealogy.

They contain the names of the individuals that are involved in the deeds of the transactions of buying and selling property.

They may also contain other information such as dowries.

There are land registry offices that are usually located in every municipality.

To obtain records from them requires either a lawyer or a notary.

Land registries records are not digitized or computerized and copies of the documents are charged based upon the appointed clerk of the office.

The records are generally indexed by surname.

Types of Greek Census Records

A number of people have asked about Greek census records for Greek genealogy and what is available from them.

The Census generally identifies any cataloging by type or by class, e.g. Census of population, military equipment, disasters, goods, real estate, etc.

  • Population census the main one, which is mostly statistics, may also have information regarding fiscal or demographic, and for military reasons
  • Inventory of goods, manufactured goods, etc., Subject to trade, customs and financial control, or as used in a shop or warehouse or goods traded
  • Census of vessels, subject to maritime law
  • Property inventory, which is the subject of law, distinct in extrajudicial and judicial census, and deals with seizures, inheritances, etc.
  • Inventory of real estate, public land, and land registers (see below)
  • Catastrophe inventory, social welfare, regarding earthquakes, floods, fires, hail, frost, etc.

Greek census data may or may not be available depending upon the year and the locations.

Years that the Greek census were performed:
19th Century
1828, 1829, 1834, 1837, 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842, 1843, 1844, 1845, 1848, 1853, 1856, 1861, 1870, 1879, 1889, 1896

20th Century
1907, 1913, 1920, 1928, 1940, 1951, 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991


References:

The content of these links are in the Greek language because the information may change if one chooses the English language.

Απογραφή - Census

The areas of the first census of Greece in 1828

The Greek census of 1834 to 1836


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