Friday, March 31, 2017

PARISH PROFILE: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Atlantic City, New Jersey

This profile was published in the July-August, 1998 Orthodox Observer, and can be read in full online -

PARISH PROFILE:  St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church

LOCATION:  Atlantic City, New Jersey

FOUNDED:  1924

St. Nicholas Church is at the "center of the action" in this city of 40,000, on which the popular board game Monopoly is based.  "We're in the middle of the casinos," remarked Fr. Nikas, who has served the parish eight years.

He said that about 80 percent of his parishioners come from Greece, and that "80 percent work in the casinos, but they don't like what they see, "The priest describes his community as "very conservative."  Most of the immigrants hail from northwestern Macedonia and the island of Chios. . . . . 

Although the church was established in 1924, only two years after the founding of the Archdiocese, the Greek Orthodox presence in Atlantic City originated before 1900, according to a historical article by Sophie Nestor.

Mrs. Nestor is the daughter of Prodromos Prodromou, a former parish president (1932-33) under whose administration the community built the existing church.

A key factor that accounts the original presence of the Greek community is the tourist industry.

Along the Boardwalk

A hundred years before the first casinos opened in 1978, the 5-mile-long Boardwalk and its amusement piers was a tourist attraction.  The pioneer Greek settlers came in the late 19th century and worked as peddlers, and its restaurants as dishwashers, cooks and busboys.  Many years later, by the early '20s, every small restaurant in the city was Greek-owned or managed, many along or near the Boardwalk.  

More families arrived after 1900.  According to Mrs. Nestor's article, by 1910 they established a coffee house on Kentucky Avenue that served as a meeting place for many years.

In the early 1920s, community leaders began efforts to form a permanent Greek Orthodox parish.  a meeting with Archdiocese representatives at the Odd Fellows Hall on Nov. 19, 1924, resulted in the community receiving approval to establish a parish.  The first priest was Fr. Georgiou Dougekos, who served from 1924-26.

Establishing the church's presence since then almost reads like a trip around a Monopoly game board.  Services first took place on a monthly basis in rented space at the Roman Catholic Church of the Ascension on Kentucky and Pacific avenues.  In 1932, the community purchased the house on nearby Mt. Vernon Avenue for $6,000 and build its first church.

Years later . . . . 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Koraes Library - Argenti Folklore Museum, Chios, Greece

The Koraes Library of Chios is one of the largest in Greece with a significant collection exceeding 130,000 volumes. It was established in 1792, as a department of the Great Chian School. The first books were donated by Adamantios Koraes and many of his friends, mostly Greek living abroad. 

Before the Massacre of Chios in 1822 it was the most important library of the whole region. After a major earthquake in 1881 it was moved into a new building where it has remained ever since. Initially the building had only one floor; the second one was added after 1948 by the major donator Philip Argenti. Important upgrades and additions took place in the period 1975-78, again with initiatives by the Argenti family.

Besides its founder, Adamantios Koraes, also many other Chians donated their personal book collections to the Library. Important donators include Ioannis AndreadisZorzis and Tarse Dromokaitou, Alex. Pachnos, Georgios Michalinos, Alex. Votsanis, Leonis Kalvokoresis, Georgios Theotokas, Phil Argentis et al.

Today the Adamantios Koraes library reports to the Libraries Department of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. A comprehensive catalogue and archives of the Library’s book collections are available. The Koraes Library has also a lending department and a mobile library van for the villages of Chios.

During the last years, the Library has put many efforts in providing the researchers and visitors with new more versatile and easy ways to access it’s collections, and in improving the preservation and proper storage of the invaluable archives of rare and old manuscripts and books. Modern technology is utilized in various ways to ensure the usefulness and efficiency of the Library.

In the same building, second floor, you may visit the Argenti Folkore Museum, exhibiting clothes and implements of everyday life of Chians during 17th to 19th centuries.
Opening Hours for both Koraes Library and Argenti Folkrore Museum: Monday – Friday 08:00-14:00, Saturday and Sunday closed
Tel. +30 22710 28256

Ticket: 1.5€. Free entrance for Greek pupils and students as well as for employees of the Greek Ministry of Education.


The following obituaries and article were published in the January 14, 2006 issue of The National Herald.  I am providing them as a possible tool for Hellenic genealogy research.


PANO KOUMANTAROS, a man who liked to help others, and who lived passionately, loses his battle to cancer at 61 by Stacey Mulick, The News Tribune

TACOMA, Wash. - Panayotis "Pano" Koumantaros took two major risks in his life. 

At 26 and with little grasp of English, he left his native Greece and his parents to seek opportunity in America. Five years later, he launched his own pension benefits consulting firm. 

Both moves paid off. 

His firm, Spectrum Pension Consultants Inc., has grown from a one-man operation to a company that employs more than 20 people and provides pension consulting to nearly 700 small businesses in 17 states. 

He became active in the Tacoma community, serving in the Fircrest Golf Club, the Tacoma Narrows Rotary Club and the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Parish Council. 

He also created a scholarship foundation for college-bound men and women in the local Greek American communities. 

Mr. Koumantaros, 61, died on December 22 after a six-month battle with bladder cancer. He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Maria; two sons, Petros and Yannis, who will take over their father's company; and his sister, Anna Koumantaros of Athens, Greece.

"He was just an incredible inspiration for us," said Petros. "We hope to continue his legacy well into the future." 

The elder Koumantaros was born in Athens. He studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Florence in Italy, where he met John Xitco. Xitco, a Gonzaga University student studying abroad, encouraged Koumantaros to come to the United States. 

"I was proud of him when he came over here," Xitco said. 

"He did what he said and did it when he said." Mr. Koumantaros immigrated to the United States in 1970 and met his wife later that year. He started his company in 1975. In addition to his work and community involvement, he was an amateur chef and a wine enthusiast. His collection of wine numbers a few thousand bottles, according to Petros. 

Mr. Koumantaros enjoyed cooking meals and hosting friends at dinner parties. He also enjoyed golfing. 

"He was kind. He was considerate," Maria said. "The man enjoyed waking up in the morning and living." 

Mr. Koumantaros, was widely recognized as one of the foremost experts on retirement plan consulting and design, he launched an independent pension benefits consulting firm in April 1975. The company operated as a sole proprietorship under the name Spectrum Financial Planning until July 1978, when it was incorporated under the name Spectrum Pension Consultants, Inc. 

To this day, the Koumantaros Family privately holds the company with more than 20 dedicated staff members and nearly 700 clients, and has provided pension benefits to more than 50,000 retirement-plan participants over the years.

Son of the late Petros and Marika Koumantaros, Mr. Koumantaros was born in Athens on August 12, 1944. After being raised in Athens with his sister Anna, he pursued a Chemical Engineering degree at the University of Florence in Italy. He returned to Athens, where he served as an officer in the Greek military for two years. In 1970, he immigrated to the United States and settled in Tacoma, where he accepted a position as a Life Insurance agent with Phoenix Mutual. 

Mr. Koumantaros married Maria J. Karanzas at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Tacoma on June 18, 1972. His contributions to local business groups, educational foundations, service fraternities and social organizations are too numerous to count. 

He served on the board of directors and was elected President of Fircrest Golf Club, the Tacoma Narrows Rotary Club and the St. Nicholas Church Parish Council. Dedicated to knowledge and educational pursuits, he served as an AHEPA District Governor. He founded the AHEPA Scholarship Foundation, which has provided more than $100,000 in scholarships to college-bound men and women in local Greek American communities.

A Rotarian since 1979, Mr. Koumantaros had a perfect attendance record for 25 years, and was a multiple Paul Harris Fellow. He dedicated himself to philanthropic pursuits as a way of giving back to the community which provided him the American Dream. Frequently remembered among family, friends and colleagues for his ubiquitous spirit and social grace, he loved entertaining; was an avid amateur chef; and had a deep passion for wines. Few could forget the excitement of his 60th birthday weekend celebration in Napa Valley or the many dinner parties shared at the Koumantaros residence. 

Mr. Koumantaros' love for this country and his passion for living each day to its fullest will be forever remembered by all who knew him. . . . . 

The above incorporates information from stories published by the Tacoma News Tribune on December 24 (“Immigrant Forged Success in South Sound - Panayotis 'Pano' Koumantaros lived passionately, focusing on his family and friends and his Fircrest Pension Benefits consulting firm - dies of cancer at age 61”) and December 27 (“Panayotis 'Pano' Koumantaros, Local Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, Dies at 61”)


ANDONIADIS, Athena (nee Policardioty) - Age 92; died January 3, 2006, beloved wife of the late Nicholas; loving mother of Andrew (Jolene) of Oregon and Nina (Ken) Lamson of Georgia; proud grandmother of Alexandra Andoniadis, Anastasia (Jim) Satterwhite and Kacina Lamson; dear sister of the late George Polek. Family and friends met January 6 in the morning at Transfiguration of Our Lord Greek Orthodox Chapel at Elmwood Cemetery in River Grove, IL, for funeral Service. Interment Elmwood Cemetery. Donations to St. Philothea Greek Orthdox Church, 3761 Mars Hill Road, Watkinsville, GA 30677 would be appreciated. Arrangements by John G. Adinamis Funeral Director, Ltd. c/o Smith-Corcoran Funeral Home.


BARBATSULY, Tom. - A furrier in Garden City for more than 60 years, Tom Barbatsuly was known by his patrons for his friendliness as much as he was known for the chinchillas and minks he sold them or stored for them, relatives said. "He was a very warm, affable man, a consummate gentleman who was very generous with his time," Greg Efthimiou of Arlington, Va., said of his grandfather. A fixture in the community since opening Barbatsuly Brothers Furs of Garden City in 1936, Barbatsuly died Monday of natural causes at his Garden City home, six days shy of his 99th birthday. Barbatsuly was born in Kastoria, the fur capital of Greece, one of nine children and the youngest of six boys. All his siblings preceded him in death, relatives said. Barbatsuly, who came from a family of furriers, learned his craft in Greece before moving to Paris at 21, to hone his sewing and furmaking skills. He moved to Boston in 1923, joining his brother, George. Tom Barbatsuly moved to New York soon after and joined with three other brothers to open a fur business on Jamaica Avenue in Queens. He met his wife, the former Tina Chagaris, around 1926 while visiting the family farm retreat in Platskill. They married in 1936. Shortly after, he established the Garden City store with his brother Nicholas. His son, Mark, who died in 2004, and his daughter, Carol Efthimiou, joined him in the 1960s to help run the business. Barbatsuly was active in numerous civic organizations and served as president of St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Hempstead. The church honored him for his contributions with the Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the highest citation available to a layman. Besides his wife, Barbatsuly is survived by his daughter, Carol Efthimiou of Garden City, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Funeral services were held on January 6 at St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Hempstead. A private burial followed at Greenfield Cemetery in Hempstead. Contributions may be made to the St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 110 Cathedral Ave., Hempstead, 11550.


CULULI, John J. - Age 83; of Bethlehem, VA; died January 4, 2006 in St. Lukels Hospital in Bethlehem. He is survived by his beloved wife of 51 years, Mary (Pappas) Cululi. Born in Bethlehem he was the son of the late Demetrios and Mary (Thomas) Cululi. He graduated from Liberty High School Class of 1940. John served as treasurer of the Bethlehem Future Craftsman of America. He won the National Scholastic Awards in mechanical drawing and industrial design in 1938, 1939 and 1940 and was awarded a Scholarship to Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh. He enlisted in the Navy in World War II as a aviation machinist mate and served as instructor on the Salerno Bayand on an escort carrier. He was honorably discharged on May 7, 1949. John, his brother Augustine and nephew James Petrakis pioneered the First TV community cable system in the Lehigh Valley in 1950 and the third system in the Country, operated as Electronic Enterprises Inc. and sold the cable system to the Wolsonovicks, the present owners of Service Electric in 1957. John retired from Allentown Mack Truck in the plant engineering department after 17 years of service. John was honored as a member of Liberty High School Alumni of Distinction Award at its 75th Anniversary in 1977 for pioneering the first TV community cable System in the Lehigh Valley and the holder of several U.S. patents as a mechanical artist in individual design. He was a member of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Bethlehem and had served two years of the Church Council. He was a member of St. Nicholas Senior Citizens and a 50 year member of Order of AHEPA Homer Chapter 65 in Bethlehem. Survivors: wife, Mary, three Daughters, Cleo Millheim of Bethlehem, Demetria Paonessa of Poughkeepsie, NY and Ann Weaver of Sacramento, CA; six Grandchildren. Services were on January 7 in St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, in Bethlehem. Burial in Cedar Hill Memorial Park Cemetery Allentown. Funeral arrangements were made by the John F. Herron Funeral Home, in Bethlehem. Contributions: to the Church, 18018 or Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Center, 631 S. St. John Street, Allentown, PA 18103


FIFLES, Peter G. - Age 76; loving son of the late George T. (Martha, nee Paris) Fifles; dear brother of Gus "Deno" (Tasia) Fifles, Theophilos “Phil” (Gloria) Fifles, Arthur (Janet) Fifles and the late Ernest G. Fifles. He is also survived by many loving nieces and nephews. Visitation was January 10 at G.L. Hills Funeral Home in Des Plaines, IL. Funeral Service was the following day at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Des Plaines, IL. Interment at Elmwood Cemetery, River Grove, IL. Memorials to Greek American Rehabilitation and Nursing Centre in Wheeling, IL. 


GUS E. POULOS, Famous Auto Dealer in Salt Lake City, Dies of Cancer at 64

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah businessman and philanthropist Gus Ernest Paulos, the auto dealer whose television commercials showing only the top of his head and poking fun as his short stature, has died at 64. 

He passed away on Sunday, January 1, at LDS Hospital at age 64 following a two-year battle with lung cancer. Paulos, a third-generation owner of Gus Paulos Chevrolet, died on Sunday, January 1, after a two-year battle with cancer. 

Mark Drennan, a General Motors zone manager, said Paulos did such a good job building community awareness about his dealership that he could have fun with his advertising campaigns. 

"They basically could spend the money to be funny and basically let people know Gus Paulos was a great place to buy a car. They didn't have to scream, '$10,000 off,' " he said. 

In 1980, Paulos took over the family auto business in West Valley City from his father and uncle. He had started working there at age 14 doing janitorial work and washing cars. 

The brothers inherited the dealership in 1938 when their father, a Greek immigrant who became Magna's first automobile dealer in 1921, died in an auto accident.

Paulos was born on September 23, 1941 in Salt Lake City. He graduated from Cyprus High School and attended the University of Utah on athletic scholarships for football and wrestling. He later served in the United States Marine Corps. 

Paulos' business was recognized with many awards, including TIME magazine's 2004 Quality Dealer Award, said his daughter-in-law, Debbie. TIME listed him as the number-one car dealer in the United States for humanitarian and community service. 

In 1987, Gus Paulos Chevrolet was also named one of the nation's top 500 automobile dealers by Wards Auto Dealer magazine, which evaluated dealerships across the country for dealer sales volume, sales professionalism and service excellence. 

Paulos' family and friends described him as a selfless man who gave back to his community. 

"He was a very kind and generous and inspiring father, and businessman, and set many examples," said his son, Greg, 42, who will become the fourth generation of Pauloses to own the dealership. 

John Franks, general manager of the dealership, said Paulos gave to charities and individuals and organized a campaign against drunk driving. 

Paulos sponsored high school football and basketball in West Valley City and provided for scholarships at the University of Utah, his daughter-in-law said. 

He also gave money to cancer research, and to individual cancer patients who could not otherwise afford medications or treatments.

Gus was born on September 23, 1941 in Magna, Utah to Ernest Gus and Katherine Joan Paulos. He grew up and was educated in Magna, graduating from Cypress High School and then went on to the University of Utah. 

After serving in the United States Marine Corps he returned to Utah and married Lanna Jo Franks. They were later divorced. In 1979, he married Barbara Ann Rydalch. Gus and Barbara were a perfect match and enjoyed wonderful years filled with success, good humor, family and friends. 

In 1980, Gus took over an automobile franchise which had been in the family since 1921, and went onto create one of the top dealerships in the country. For many years, he was the number-one dealer of any make in Utah. He was known for his humorous, self-deprecating advertising, through which he often made fun of his short stature. He also was known for his extreme generosity and kindness, especially toward those who had encountered any kind of misfortune. 

Over the last 25 years Gus spent literally millions of dollars battling drunk driving. He felt strongly that the products he so proudly sold should never be misused in that manner and was very aware of the pain and devastation caused by those who operated vehicles under the influence. He made significant contributions to numerous other charitable causes in Utah, including the Make-a-Wish Foundation and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and to many other organizations and individuals whenever they were in need. 

Gus received numerous honors during his life, including recognition by the Utah State Legislature and the Governor of Utah. 

Gus had great love for his family. His family was the great joy of his life. He also considered those who worked with him and his many associates as part of his family. He had the ability to make everyone feel that they were the most important person in the room. Despite his short stature, Gus cast a long shadow for good wherever he went. 

Gus is survived by his wife Barbara; his mother, Katherine Joan; his children, Greg & Debbie Paulos, Tim & Candey Paulos, Troy & Kelli Rydalch and Bart & Candice Rydalch; his brothers, Peter and Leon; his sister Patty P. Miller; eight grandchildren and one greatgrandson. 

The viewing was held at the Larkin Mortuary on January 6. Funeral services were held on January 7 at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Salt Lake City. 

The Paulos family would like to especially thank LDS Hospital, Dr. Pearl, Salt Lake cancer specialists and all others who were there for Gus during his last several months. In lieu of flowers, Gus requested that donations be made to the Gus Paulos Charitable Foundation at any Wells Fargo Bank, to the cancer treatment charity of their choice, or to simply do an act of kindness for someone else. 

The above incorporates information from stories published by the Associated Press on January 3 and the Salt Lake tribune on January 6.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

GREEKS OF HOLLYWOOD - 10 articles in Journal of Modern Hellenism Vol 32/2016

Issue Vol. 32 / 2016 of the Journal of Modern Hellenism was published entirely on the subject of the GREEKS OF HOLLYWOOD.  This looks so interesting.  I haven't had time to read it myself, but plan on doing so over the next week.  Enjoy it!



The Greek American Image in American Film:  Creation of a Filmography by Barbara Saltz

From "Other" to "One of Us":  The Changing Image of Greek Americans in American film:  1943-1963 by Dan Georgakas

The Hollywood Films of Irene Papas by Gerasimus Katsan

Before and Beyond America America by Stathis Giallelis

And the Winner is Olympia Dukakis by Elaine Thomopoulos

Working Through and Against Convention:  The Hollywood Career of A. I. Bezzerides by Yiorgos Kalogeras

Creating Images for Hollywood Classics by Vicki James Yiannias

Forgotten Movie Theater Pioneer:  Alexander Pantages and Immigrant Hollywood by Taso G. Lagos

John Cassavetes and the Uneasy Conformism of the American Middle Class by Vrasidas Keralis

Promises, Trust, Betrayal:  The Art of Elia Kazan by Geoffrey Jacques

Explore Greek Manuscripts Online at the British Library

The Greek News Agenda published an article titled "Explore Greek Manuscripts Online at the British Library" on March 10, 2017.

"Historians, biblical scholars and students of classical Greece alike no longer have to make the trip to the British Library’s reading rooms since most of the British Library’s Greek manuscripts are now accessible online. As a result of the Library’s Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project, which began in 2008 and is funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, full digital coverage and new catalogue descriptions of 905 Greek manuscripts are now available to researchers with high resolution colour images of each manuscript, including flyleaves and bindings, with an up-to-date description of its content and codicological features, and an extensive bibliography."  . . . .


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

PARISH PROFILE: New Hampshire's Mother Church - St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Manchester, New Hampshire

This profile was published in the April 20, 1998 Orthodox Observer, and can be read in full online -

PARISH PROFILE:  Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral

LOCATION:  Manchester, New Hampshire

FOUNDED:  1905

St. George Cathedral parish embodies the quintessential Greek experience of 100 years ago in this country.

New England, with its flourishing textile mills and shoe factories, attracted tens of thousands of the Greek immigrants who came to this land in the 1890s and early 1900s.  Today, Greeks comprise about 10 percent of Manchester's 100,000 people.

Manchester, sitting astride the Merrimack River in southern New Hampshire, was typical of many towns and cities in the region with plenty of low-paying factory jobs for newcomers, including children, willing to work 12 or more hours a day under grueling conditions.

The Amoskeag textile mills were among the largest in the world and employed hundreds of Greeks in the early years of this century.  A large number came from Sparta and from the mountain villages of northern Greece.  However, the first recorded Greek settler in the city was a doctor originally from Crete names Zevoudakis, in 1893.

In 1898, two brothers, George and Peter Xanthathis opened a candy shop.

According to a parish history, by 1905 there were 300 Greeks living in Manchester, when efforts began to organize a parish.  An ecclesiastical brotherhood, "St. George," was founded at a meeting in June and a board of directors was named the following year.

Church services were conducted in private homes beginning in 1896 when a Father Kaparellis visited Manchester several times over a three-year period to conduct Liturgy.  A room at City Hall also was used for a time. . . . .


Monday, March 27, 2017

1998 - 2017 Yearbooks - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website provides online access to the new 2017 Yearbook (294 pages), along with archives of Yearbooks back to 1998.  


General Information
Ecumenical Patriarchate
Archdiocese of America
Departments - Ministries
Archdiocesan Departments
Archdiocesan Institutions, Related Agencies and Organizations
Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops
U.S. Orthodox Communities Under the Ecumenical Patriarch

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Hellenic Organization: Pan-Rhodian Benevolent Society of NSW "Colossus" LTD. - New South Wales, Australia


Name of Organization:  Pan-Rhodian Benevolent Society of NSW "Colossus" LTD.

Location:  New South Wales, Australia


Website ?

The Pan-Rhodian Benevolent society of NSW is a non profit organization formed in 1958 by a group of Greek migrants whose origins were from the Greek Island of Rhodes in the Eastern Aegean sea. The society’s mission was to provide a platform where migrants from their community could come together in this new country and celebrate their “greekness”, memories of their heritage and to provide charitable assistance.

Today more than 54 years latter, the second and third generation of the families of those first men and women who formed the society continue to uphold the values and mission of the society. It’s year long list of social activities act as a means of bringing Australian Greeks together whilst raising money for those that are facing hardship and are less fortunate.

In the past year the society has made generous donations to the Queensland Flood relief appeal and the New Zealand earthquake to name just two causes.

Hellenic Organization: Pan Rhodian Society of America "Apollon", Inc.


Name of Organization:  Pan Rhodian Society of America "Apollon", Inc.

Location:  Chapters throughout United States



This Society was founded pursuant to Article 65 of Law 3534 of the State of Connecticut on
January 28, 1927, under the name PAN-RHODIAN SOCIETY “APOLLON." By amendment
of a Society Convention, the name was changed to PAN• RHODIAN SOCIETY OF


Aims and Objectives

a) To unite in one organization all individuals of Rhodian descent, regardless of sex or
religion, residing in the United States of America and Canada;
b) To promote greater unity within the Greek-American Community;
c) To encourage mutual aid and to promote solidarity and brotherly relations among its
d) To give financial assistance to patriotic, educational, religious, philanthropic, athletic, and
agricultural institutions in the United States and in Rhodes;
e) To grant scholarships to the children of member Rhodians or to those of Rhodian
descent attending accredited institutions of higher learning in the United States of
America and elsewhere.

The Dawn of Greek Stereotypes in Early American Cinema


Published in The National Herald, March 4 - 10 , 2017 Issue
Authored by Steve Frangos
TNH Staff Writer


We are excited to announce that The National Herald has given Hellenic Genealogy Geek the right to reprint articles that may be of interest to our group. 



It is difficult, from this historical distance, to decipher exactly what the average American first saw when attending the then-newly developed entertainment medium, the motion picture. Complicating our understanding even further for those concerned with Modern Greek Studies is that cultural stereotypes of Greeks are so fluid, many associations once inseparable image about Greeks in the average American mind are no longer recognized.

Unpacking these historically fixed images can seem, from time to time, unnecessarily complex. Nonetheless, working on these symbolic twist and turns, noting how they rise and then very often disappear without a trace, ultimately offers us insight into how stereotypes concerning Greeks in North America can form and momentarily function.

Early motion picture films were produced so quickly and the medium was so new that the films very rarely ran for very long at any one movie theatre location. Another point to emphasize is that these first black and white films were all silent. Music, when it was available, accompanied the moving images. Inserted within the films were cards with written dialogue or other relevant information. Talking pictures, i.e., movies with a soundtrack did not appear in American movie houses until 1929.

The running time of early films varied anywhere between a few minutes to rarely over half an hour. Movies were initially only part of the evening’s fare with live acts mixed with the “flickers,” as these early short films were commonly called. Most theatres at the time charged between five and ten cents a show depending on the film and other entertainment. When movies were the only scheduled entertainment it was so announced and anywhere between three and six films could be shown,

One of the very first blockbusters was the 1912 extravaganza Homer’s Odyssey. “Made at a reported cost of $200,000 this three reel cinematic sensation lasted for well over one hour and by the time it arrived, in say, Benton Harbor, Michigan it had already appeared for “5 months in New York at $1.00 and still showing. 3 months in Chicago at 50 cents and running indefinitely (News-Palladium June 18, 1912).”

As various reviews note the film was incredibly detailed for the era: “Ulysses of Ithaca (not the New York one) wanders and adventures around for over an hour in the Odyssey film which is exciting admiration at the Crystal theater now and he covers a marvelous amount of land and water and has all sorts of amazing adventures (Decatur Daily Review June 22, 1912).” This review is quite long and detailed noting the most fantastic elements in some detail such as: “The film shows the Greeks passing the Sirens their dash be tween Scylla and Charybals when each of the seven heads of the monster seizes the victim their slaughter of the herds of Helios the sun god and their consequent disaster. Ulysses has to finish this journey alone. He arrives after ten years and many vicissitudes to find his wife hard pressed by suitors. These he slays in a truly thrilling scene.” Ultimately, the reviewer contends that “the film is pronounced the best ever shown in Decatur. It certainly is the climax of wonders in motion pictures.”

Clearly this early version of the Odyssey drew on the then accepted notions of Classical Greeks, at least as the educated classes knew them. Yet it remains an open question as to how much the average American of the early 1900s may in fact have known of the Classical Greeks of history and myth.

Atonement (1917) offered another Greek stereotype, the dancing girl. The average Cheyenne reader soon learned that “Count Strezzi was so infatuated with Manuella, the beautiful Greek dancer that he was not above resorting to trickery and real crime in his effort to gain her for himself. But because Manuella was deeply in love with Lionel, her musician, her wits were sharpened and she managed to outwit Strezzi after all…Miss Regina Badet is the brilliant star in this production. She is known as the Vampire of France. Certainly she is one of the most beautiful women in that nation of beautiful women (Wyoming State Tribune June 28, 1918).”

Atonement can offer the film historian some considerable difficulties. As we shall see a beautiful woman as a vampire being the least of these issues. First this film was not made in America. Atonement is said to have finished filming, in France sometime in early 1917. Louis Mercanton (1879-1932) was a Swiss born naturalized French director who was educated in England and began an acting career in South Africa in 1904. His directorial debut was with the now internationally famous Queen Elisabeth (1912); Sarah Bernhardt’s (1844-1923) first film success. It is an accepted fact of film history that the receipts from this film’s distribution in the United States provided Adolph Zukor the funds to establish Paramount Studios. As one would expect Mercanton went on to direct other Bernhardt films; some to considerable success. Moving between England and France with each new success it is understandable that some of Mercanton’s films were shown in the United States. Atonement was among these films.

To begin with, the audience of the early American cinema was never composed solely of Americans. These silent films which cost most often five to ten cents to view came into being right when, what we now call, the massive wave of immigration 1880 to 1920 took place. Immigrants not only flooded the theaters but became deeply involved in all aspects of the new media from theater owners to filmmakers. New films for a ravenous audience put the pressure on film makers who at first made their motion pictures not in California but New York City, various places in northern New Jersey and the lake front neighborhoods of Chicago, Illinois to complete as many new films as possible. So any good film (and many, many bad ones) were shown regardless of their country of origin.

Regina Badet (1876-1949) was by all available accounts a stunning beauty whose unexpectedly short movie career 1910 to 1922 was filled with one popular success after another. An obvious favorite of Louis Mercanton, Badet appears in a number of his earliest films. The Jefferson Theatre (in Jefferson City, MO) advertisement had this to say about Atonement: “The wonder dance scenes in this production alone make it a truly exceptional offering. Regina Badet as a Greek dancer well justifies her title of “The Vampire of France.” You will enjoy this splendid attraction (Democrat-Tribune September 18, 1917).”

How a vampire translates into not simply a beautiful woman but a very specific type of alluring woman is itself a fixed period image. From around 1911, a vampire or vamp came to mean a female temptress. Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The Vampire” is credited with being the inspiration for the usage of vampire (and ultimately ‘vamp’) to mean a seductive sexually aggressive woman.

For Theda Bara, it was her stunning performance in A Fool There Was (1915) based expressly on the Kipling poem that established the stereotype of the ruthless femme fatale whose seduction inevitably leads to a man’s ruin. As The Vamp in A Fool There Was her command “Kiss me, my fool!” taken from a dialogue card seen in the film soon became a popular phrase.

But vamp and the juxtaposition of Regina Badet as a Greek dancer justifying her title of The Vampire of France involves yet another historically fixed cultural form. Among the sensation vaudeville acts of this era in North America was the vampire dance. This dance was described on more than one occasion as an Apache-style dance. The Apache dance like the Tango and the Maxixe, all introduced to the American public around 1910-1911, emphasized direct physical contact between dancers something new for the Wasp dancers of Decatur, Jefferson City or Cheyenne.

How all these stereotypes of Greeks as seen at the dawn of film as a popular entertainment inspired or influenced the average viewer has yet to be systematically studied, let alone understood. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Public Historical Library of Andritsaina - Greece

I want to thank George Koleas for posting the following information on the Hellenic Genealogy Geek Facebook group, and bringing it to my attention so that I could share it with all of you.


"I recently learned that the Historical Archive of the Library in Andritsaina contains pre-revolutionary, revolutionary and post-revolutionary handwritten documents including:
• Manuscripts from the personal archive of Nikolaos Dimitrakopoulos
• Handwritten letters of 1821 warriors (Panagiotis Anagnostopoulos; Theodoros Kolokotronis; Panos, Gennaios and Markos Kolokotronis; Anagnostis and Panagiotis Kanellopoulos etc.)
• Manuscripts of Plapoutas family
• Minutes of the Peloponnesian Senate
• Manuscripts from the personal archive of Charalambos Christopoulos.
In the following link, you can find the biographies of revolutionary warriors. The biographies are in English
If anyone can read Greek and translate or know of an English translation, I would be very interesting in learning what is written in the manuscripts of Plapoutas family.
It amazes me that my Grandfather, Dimitris Koliopoulos, his friend, George Assimakopoulos, his sister, Nickoletta Koliopoulos and their uncle George Kavouras all listed Andritsiana as the last place they were before emigrating on their arrival records. I have passed through Andritsiana on my way to the family village Trypiti (Mpitzimpardi)."

Friday, March 17, 2017

The New York Public Library Digital Collections


This site has over 700,000 items digitized.  "It is a living database with new materials added every day, featuring prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, streaming video, and more."

I found some interesting old maps and pictures using the search terms Ottoman Empire, Greece,  Turkey, or Greek immigrant.