My Big Fat Greek…Heritage?

By Alison Wintheiser

Like many people, all of my grandparents died when I was extremely young. While I have photos of me sitting on my grandmother’s lap and a few of my grandfather’s old shirts in a trunk in my basement, I have almost no real memories of my grandparents. Sure, I’ve heard my parents tell stories here and there but I’ve never heard anything that made me feel truly connected to my grandparents.

Last month, I brought my Have the Talk of a Lifetime Conversation Cards to my parent’s house and we came across a card that asked, “did your heritage play a role in your upbringing?” To my surprise, my mom began telling me a story about how her and her siblings used to dress up in traditional Greek attire and march in their church’s parade every March 25th to celebrate Greek Independence Day.

While the story was incredibly fascinating, I was extremely confused because I’ve spent my whole life thinking I was 100% German descent. After I went home that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about what else I possibly didn’t know about my family and my heritage.

I had heard about those websites that can show you all about your ancestry and family tree but I always thought they were too expensive and too complicated to use. But after hearing the stories that my mom shared about her heritage, I knew I had to find out more. After doing some research, I stumbled across the Family History Library – the largest genealogical library in the entire world AND the database for The library has thousands of records dating as far back as the 1800’s and their main goal is just to help people discover more about who they are and where they come from.

It took me about 30 seconds to sign up and I began to start researching everything about my family’s history. The best part was that it was completely free. The website lets you upload pictures, enter information about other family members that may not be on the website yet, and connect with other members. I could search records based on names, marriages, death, age, location, and so much more. The Family History Library helped me discover so much information that I never knew was possible.

Turns out, my great grandparents moved to the United States from Greece when they got married so they could raise their family. I was even able to find my grandparents marriage certificate and find out that I have a great uncle that lives in Canada. My mom’s family lives all over the country so I never really got to see them growing up and when I did, we never really got a chance to talk about our heritage.

It’s funny how I was able to uncover an entire part of my family history just by asking one simple question from the Have the Talk of a Lifetime Conversation Cards. Now I have so much information about my family, heritage, and life. Just think about what you could uncover about your families background with just a few simple steps!

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