The e-newsletter of the New England Historic & Genealogical Society (NEHGS) recently announced the availability of new, free databases on the Internet for researchers (eNews, Vol. 11, No. 8, Whole #415, February 25, 2009). Valerie Beaudrault, writing for NEHGS recently, outlined the new information posted to the Atlantic County Library System of New Jersey (http://www.atlanticlibrary.org/collections/digitized/index.asp).
While some collections of data will not serve Greek-American populations well--such as the "German Immigrant Experience" project--there are a number of data sets that clearly will be of interest. Hellenic Historical and Genealogical Association examined some of these digital records for their utility to Greek-Americans and found some surprising gems, among which are a scanned collection of local newspapers and indexes of immigration records with more than two thousand names. Hellenic names appear infrequently in the local newspapers, but these PDF files are nonetheless invaluable for information about the local business climate and community events. Many small businesses advertised in these publications, giving us a window into our ancestors' environment during their first years in the U.S. The immigration records are even more useful, listing the names of persons who applied for naturalization.
When we typed in "PAPPAS" we retrieved several hits. Browsing briefly through the alphabetized index of names also yielded several Greek names in the "A," "B," and "Z" sections: Alefaropoulos, Nikolas; Alexion, Demetrios; Aspiotis, Louis; Bristogianis, Nicholas Andrew; Zaharopoulos, Zacharias. Researchers beware, however. These databases are subject to errors in typing and transcription. To overcome this limitation, develop a set of alternate spellings for your target individual and try them all. Try substituting different vowels, eliminating double consonants, replacing consonant combinations with "sounds like" sets. For example, if your ancestor was George Pappas, try using "PAPAS" and "Giorgios." For an immigrant with the name Stratios Hatziantoniou, try "Hadjiantoniou," "Hajiantoniu," Chatsiadoniou," and also "Stratis" for starters. Keep in mind that Greek names like "Odysseas" may have been transliterated at "Hercules," or that "Kostas" may have been recorded as "Charles," and "Hatziantoniou" as "Hatzis" or "Antoniou," as other examples of the changes that some Greek given names and surnames may have undergone.
Below are the descriptions given by NEHGS of these two library databases on newspapers and immigration records:
There are more than 5,000 newspapers in the library’s digitized newspaper collection. They cover the period 1860–1923. The titles and dates of the individual newspapers are: Atlantic Journal (1860); Hammonton Farmer (1863 and 1866); South Jersey Republican (1863–1923); Atlantic Democrat and Cape May County Register (1864–1865); Atlantic Democrat and Cumberland County Patriot (1866); Atlantic Democrat (1866, 1867–1868); Hammonton Item (1872–1877); Mays Landing Record (1877–1906); Atlantic County Record (1908–1917); and South Jersey Star (1917–1923). The newspapers can be searched by keywords. You will need the free Adobe Reader to view the newspaper images. Click on the newspaper link to bring up the PDF image of complete newspaper. Use the Find function to locate your keyword in the newspaper.
This collection contains thousands of immigration records, both declarations of intention and correspondence. They cover the period 1850–1930. These records are currently being indexed and posted to the website. The online collection currently contains mostly declarations of intention. The Immigration Record database is indexed by last name. The project is ongoing. Two thousand six hundred (2,600) records have been indexed to date. You can search the index by last name or browse through the alphabetical by surname list. Click on the surname link to view a digital image of the record.