By: Lica Catsakis
Names of people
It is very important to write the names of persons and places the correct way. Usually these names are given to you by a document or a relative in the language used at the country where you live. But most of the time these names cannot be recognized in Greece.
Names of persons For the immigrant ancestor (the person who first came to your country) it is best to write his name both ways: the way it was in Greece and also the way it was in the country he lived as an immigrant.
For example: John Nicholas Papas is the Americanized name. The Greek name was Ioannis N. Papadopoulos. The surname “Papas” is a short for a longer name such as Papadopoulos, Papagiannis, Papanikolaou etc. The “Nicholas” is not a middle name. It is his fathers given name which is Nikolaos in Greek. It may appear as an initial. If you ask for information about “Ioannis Nikolaos Papadopoulos you will most likely receive an answer that such person does not exist.
Keep in mind that females use their father’s given name or initial as long as they bear their father’s last name (their maiden name). When they are married their last name changes but also the name that appears as a middle name (or initial) changes and becomes the given name or initial of her husband.
For example: My name at birth was Harikleia V. Katsaki, (my father’s given name was Vasileios). When I married, my name was Harikleia N. Vafeiadou (my husband’s given name was Nikolaos
Names of towns
The names of towns need to be followed by the name of the eparhia [district], and the name of the nomos [county] to which the town belongs. It is important to know to which municipality the town belongs because this is where many records are found. Municipality is the city or town having its own incorporated government for local affairs. In other words it is the area that a Mayor is in charge of.
Community in Greece was the municipality of a small town. The word municipality in Greek is dimos. The word community in Greek is koinotis or koinotita.
In order to write the names in their Greek spelling using the Latin [English] alphabet you need a system that is simple to use, is easy to be understood, and that it can be used in computers. This system is explained by the Transliteration Chart which is included in the manual "Family History Research in Greece" and in the "Greek Gazetteer" (see "Books" of this website).