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!

GDPR the privacy laws of the EU which includes Greece

This is very important to understand because the majority of the services in Greece have not been instructed properly about the GDPR article 5 which refers to historical research data.

The simplest interpretation of the GDPR law is that it is there to protect living persons not the deceased.

I am writing this because I have had to argue with numerous personnel who once upon a time issued any information that they had on persons alive or dead and now they have gone to the other extreme out of ignorance of the law.

Municipality Records and the Diaspora

The Greek services may now request that Greek diaspora file appropriate documents when relatives abroad marry, divorce, have children, and when they die.  They may stop your request for copies of certificates if they find the files of your ancestors open or incomplete.

Recently I asked for a copy of a family registry to prove the relationship for a request of a military record known as the Fillo Poreias (Φύλλο Πορείας) or Fillo Mitroo (Φύλλου Μητρώου).

The request by the military was denied based upon the above and I was told that the family needed to file the grandfather's marriage to his spouse, as well as, his children, and the children's children in order to be declared and entered into the system of the Greek services to be able to prove their family relationship.

This was requested because otherwise the person whose record was originally requested would show that they were born and then disappeared into limbo, and therefore as there is no proof of relationship between the family members the military refused to provide any documentation.

Church records are available through the (Μητρόπολη) Metropolis or Archdiocese or Patriarch or Cathedral (Καθεδρικός) located in the Dioceses of the research area. They are not availabe online as yet and maybe limited due to wars and other disasters in Greece.

Certificates from Church records and government registries:
Baptism and Birth certificates were combined in the past but are completely separate today.
Marriage certificates  prior to 1925 are geneally recorded by the Greek Orthodox Church and are recorded at a municiple office now.
Death certificates are recorded by the local municiple office where the individual last resided.

All of the above records are local to the area of residence in Greece.

Mitroo Arenon or the boys registry are lists containing the names of boys who will be drafted into the Greek military when they reach the necessary age.

Cemetery records and in some rare cases tomb stones and graves provide some dates of birth and / or death and may include photographs, if the graves are maintained by a family member.

All of the above records require proof of relationship or a legal request by a court of law in Greece.

School Records or school lists by year may be available from the General Archives of the local area of the person and may contain the names of the parents, the child, age.

Refugee records may be available from the General Archives with lists of surnames that can provide a clue to the area from where they were emigrated from. These records may be available by searching through the General Archives of Greece.

Greek Corporate and Partnership business registers are another possible source of family relationship that may provide age and year of birth, and vital source information about the shareholders.

The Gazette of the Greek government also known as FEK may list the names of individuals and information about the work or job title, as well as company names.

All information will be in the Greek language, and require some knowledge of the area and years for researching Greek genealogy.

The only exception regarding Greek documentation is that of Turkish texts written in the Greek alphabet, known as Karamanlidika.

Greek History books may contain references to family members if they were part of a historical event.

The Greek telephone directory can help pinpoint where the family surnames were located and were many of them are today.

Some quick links to topics of Greek Genealogy written below:

Greek Orphanages and Adoption Records

Greek Census Records

Church Records

Greek Naming Conventions

Greek Occupations and Nicknames

Foreigner’s Name

Services by the Greek government agencies

Greek genealogy via the Internet

Greek Land Registries

Greek Prison Records

Greek School Records

Wars in Greece

Greek genealogy of Royalty, Diplomats, and Politicians

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


traditional Greek Genealogy naming for family members

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 = Δέσποινα or Ντέπυ = Deborah or Debby

Vasilis = Βασίλης or Μπιλί = Basil, Billy, Basileio

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.

One of the biggest problems when searching for someone with a foreign name is that they may have changed it to a completely different name or even surname.

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).

Greek Orthodox Church Records and Archives

The Greek Orthodox Churches began to create registries of baptism and marriage. This began roughly around 1825 and continued up to about 1915.

There were many reasons for this, some of which included preventing polygamy, to prevent marriages between close relatives, and the creation of organized family records. Although the Greek government began the manual record keeping around 1915 for the registries of birth, marriage, and death, the church continued to keep records.

The church was also affected by the depredations of wars and due to the destruction or loss of local church records. It began centralizing the local church records at the Metropolis for each area.

The Greek Orthodox Church is currently creating a digital archive of the records that it has but it has not provided access through the Internet as yet.  According the Metropolis of Athens they have now scanned records from the present back to about 1990.

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 archived records from the local churches as a backup copy.

Anglicized names originating from Greek

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 but it is improving year by year.

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

A recent trip to the General Archives of Greece caught me by surprise when I asked if I could photograph a document instead of having a hard copy.

The employee I asked works there and she said that due to changes in the GDPR privacy laws of the EU, if the list has names of other individuals then the General Archives of Greece has the right to refuse.

I told her that I have consulted a lawyer here that informed me, that there were no constraints where individuals were deceased.  This creates a conflict once again with regards to what can and cannot be copied and requested with regards to historical genealogical information.

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.


Libraries in Greece

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 Recruting draft lists may be available.

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

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.

The Land Registry (Υποθηκοφυλακεία) has records of property transactions and contain the names of the individuals that are involved in the deeds of the transactions of buying and selling property.

Greek Land Deeds sometime include Wills and may have written declarations that can include information from adoption, inheritances, and dowries can be found.

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

To obtain copies of records from them requires either a lawyer (Δικηγόρος) or a notary public (συμβολαιογράφος).

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

You are not allowed to photograph land registry records unless you are willing to pay for them.

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

Greek Prison Records

I have received requests regarding prison records from the past and I have found that the following is what some of you doing research in Greek genealogy should know.

The first regards records of the prison and the second is for records of the court trial.
Based upon the year, it is most likely that there will not be any prison records because during the 1900's, the first fifty years Greece was involved in wars and that the Germans destroyed the majority of records of that time period.

From another case that I had, I could not find any prison records.  It depends upon the location and time period if any exist, they may be at the General Archives of the area of the prison.
If a specific location and time period is provided, it may help to see if the court has any records.

Regarding court records, the criminal archives from 1964 and back have been destroyed by the government.

Last Updated Sunday, 17 November 2019
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