What it’s Like to be a Czechoholic

Proud to be American-Czech!1I have a treat for you today! Our fourth installment is a guest post from my friend Carrie Brown! She has been a great help to me both while I studied and traveled abroad in the Czech Republic and home in Nebraska. She has a huge wealth of knowledge in all things Czech and is a blast to hang out and talk with! I hope you enjoy a glimpse into her incredible life and experiences!

When I sat down to write this I realized it’s been OVER AN ENTIRE DECADE since I first got involved in the Czech-Slovak pageants! That’s unbelievable! And let me tell you, a lot has happened since then. Some people say they’re chocoholics because of their love of chocolate, but I guess I could be considered a Czechoholic. Read on and you’ll clearly see why.

Similarly to the other guest writers, I grew up with knedlíky, polka, koledy, koláče, vánočky, and family pride in our Czech heritage. At the recommendation of my grandparents Jack and Rose Marie Vankat, I represented the Omaha Czech Cultural Club as Queen in 2005, 2007, and 2008, and the third time really is a charm because I was finally crowned Miss Czech-Slovak Nebraska that 08-09 year. The following year I competed in the Miss Czech-Slovak US pageant and won 2nd Runner Up! What an honor it was to represent my family and further develop my own personal connection to the Czech heritage through those organizations, pageants, and events! But for this post, I’d like to focus less on my time as Queen, and more on my time spent in the Czech Republic.

“It is good and beautiful to celebrate the Czech heritage and culture our ancestors brought with them so long ago, but culture evolves. It is not frozen in time. Appreciation of the past is magnified when you see and experience the present in real life.”

My first trip to the Czech Republic was in 2008, the summer before I was due to compete in my third state pageant. My mother, aunt, and I joined the Czech heritage tour group from Doane College led by Janet Jeffries Beauvais (highly recommended!) and simply adored exploring the villages, meeting ancestors, dancing in the wine cellars and breweries, finding kroj pieces in antique shops, playing the dudy (Bohemian bagpipes) with a local legend, seeing old friends, getting lost in the winding streets of Old Town prague, and more. I could go on and on about how wonderful it was to finally be in the place I’d heard so much about. I just couldn’t get enough!Performing with 20+ bagpipers at Chodské slavnosti (I'm the farthest girl to the right)

Fast forward two years to the summer of 2010 when I (with the help of a friend) arranged to live with a family in one of the villages I’d visited on that first tour. I knew I had ancestors in the Chodsko region and that they were active musicians in the areas, so we all saw it as a perfect opportunity to share our cultures, languages, and musical interests. We had never met before, and my limited Czech and their limited English made communication interesting to say the least, but they’ve become “my Czech family” and I their “Američanka”. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world! That summer I also received a full scholarship through the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to study in an intensive, month-long Czech for Compatriots language course in Dobruška, Czech Republic (again, highly recommended!) with people from all over the world. We had class for several hours a day, seven days a week, along with excursions and presentations. And that was ALL in Czech! That summer I felt the difference between visiting a place and actually living there. I needed lots of coaxing to get in the train that would take me to the airport to fly back to Nebraska after that summer because again, I just couldn’t get enough.Practicing with my _Czech brother and sister_ for our performance at Chodské slavnosti

The whole journey back to Nebraska and for several months after that, I knew I wanted to get back to the Czech Republic as soon as possible. Long story short, after waking up at all hours of the night and looking presentable for different interviews over Skype, I ended up getting a teaching job in Prague!! I moved there in August of 2011 after I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree. So many people told me they wished they would have taken the chance to live abroad while they were young. I didn’t want to always wonder what it would be like, I wanted to live it. I had to seize the amazing opportunity and go for it! I told myself and others that I wanted to try it for at least one year, but ended up making Prague my home for four unforgettable years.Photo credit_ Lauren Barta. Graffiting the Lennon Wall

Like I said before, the difference between visiting and living there is vast. It’s impossible to make a list of everything I experienced in my four years there like one could for a trip. The longer I lived there, worked there, struggled and thrived there, the more I learned about myself and about modern Czech culture in general. I never quite know how to respond when people say, “So how was it?” How can I accurately convey how it felt to regularly lead a multinational congregation in song in 700+ year old St. Thomas church that was established by a king? Or to successfully set up automatic bill pay for gas and electricity entirely in Czech? (My grandma would be so proud!) Or to go to a post office daily for a week to pick up a birthday package, only to be told it got sent back? Or to be the only American playing the dudy at a festival in the square in which my ancestors surely walked hundreds of years ago? Or to be shuffled between three different foreign police offices before finding out that the papers I acquired didn’t count because they were signed in the wrong color of ink? Or sitting in the grass at my favorite park with a view of the castle with a beer in hand while my friend played the guitar? Or participating in holiday traditions with “my Czech family” such as weaving pomlázky for Easter or cleaning kapr to eat at Christmas? I could clearly go on and on! I’ve been back in Nebraska for about ten months now, but it’s still difficult to talk about all these experiences in the Czech Republic without getting emotional. I miss it every. single. day. At the same time, I know I have to be grateful for each of these memories that will last a lifetime, for the irreplaceable friendships I made, and for each of the stepping stones that made me who I am today.

The only advice I can give is this: GO. Whether it’s a trip or a move, please go. It is good and beautiful to celebrate the Czech heritage and culture our ancestors brought with them so long ago, but culture evolves. It is not frozen in time. Appreciation of the past is magnified when you see and experience the present in real life. Participating in Czech clubs, events, and the pageants in Nebraska further sparked my interest in all things Czech that my family had established long ago. My first trip to Czech Republic, living there for a summer, and ultimately moving there were a culmination of the passion I’ve had for over a decade. If you are able, I urge you to go experience it for yourself. Don’t let years pass by full of wonder and miss your chance to visit the fairytale Czech Republic. It’s as lovely as the national anthem so poetically describes. For me, one thing is certain. I’ll never sing Kde domov můj? (Where is my home?) the same way again.

 

If you missed the last three guest posts you can find them here:

Let me know what you think of Carrie’s post below or on Facebook! And have a safe Memorial Day weekend!

From Iowa to the Czech Republic and Beyond

Waters Headshot1This is week three in my guest posts series and I am so excited to share a post from my friend Janna. She is eccentric, a great listener, and works like the energizer bunny! For her talent at nationals, Janna gave a puppet show completely in Czech! It was definitely one of the coolest talents I have ever seen! I hope you enjoy hearing about all the cool things she is doing!

I was so honored and excited when Danielle asked me to write a guest post for “My Czech List”. As we here in Iowa get ready for Houby Days, and the 15th Annual Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa Pageant this weekend, it seems like the perfect time to reach out to all of you. I care to wager that most of you, the readers, are probably unfamiliar with who I am – so without further ado, please allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Janna Waters. I was the Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa Queen of 2014-2015. I am originally from Marshalltown, Iowa, and graduated with my Bachelor’s in International Studies: Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies from the University of Iowa in 2013. During my time at Iowa, I participated in 4 study abroad programs that spanned 5 countries: Russia (twice), Italy, Estonia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. I was a student of Czech language, literature and culture for 3 years, and also founded The Czech Connection – a university student organization.

Ever since I was a little girl, my dream has been to earn my PhD and teach History at the university level (ballerina and professional basketball player also topped the list, but this seemed to be the most plausible). After my graduation in 2013, it took me a couple of years to find the right program for me. In the meantime, I became a non-degree seeking graduate student at the University of Iowa and a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures Department. I also worked full-time as an assistant store manager at a retail store; all while keeping up with my queenly duties and events (If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I have 2 speeds: “0” and “100,” and not much in between!).

To say that my year as Iowa’s Queen was nothing but magical would be a complete understatement. It changed my life, pure and simple. The people I met, the Midwestern communities that welcomed me in as one of their own, and the sisterhood that I formed with past, present and future queens will remain with me for the rest of my life. Our Czech and Slovak culture is truly special and completely unique; it is our privilege and duty to preserve it for future generations.

During my last few months as Iowa Queen, I was admitted into Russian and East European Studies Master’s programs at three universities: The University of Michigan, The Ohio State University, and The University of Texas at Austin. After many hours of research and campus visits, I decided to make Ann Arbor my new home. Michigan’s Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (CREES) is one of the best, most respected programs of its kind in the US, and I knew it was where I was meant to be. On my very first visit to Ann Arbor, the program director asked, “Aren’t you Janna, the Czech Queen of Iowa?!” and that has been my identifier ever since…even when I meet important scholars! My focus in the program is on Imperial Russian History, and History of the Czech lands under the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

I am the only Czech and Slovak specialist in my cohort; something that I take a lot of pride in. The University of Michigan has been very good to me, and I have loved my time in Ann Arbor so far. In Fall 2015, I was hired as a Graduate Student Instructor in the Slavic Languages and Literatures Department for the upper-level undergraduate course “The Czech New Wave and Its Legacy.” Fate always has a funny way of working out, and as luck would have it, my course supervisor was also the supervisor of my mentor from Iowa during her time at UMich in the early 1980s. During the Winter term (which is the equivalent of a “Spring” term at almost any other college/university) I was hired to work with the course “Central European Cinema,” and we watched a number of films from the previous semester. As a terminal Master’s student, our funding is not guaranteed, and GSIships are not promised to us. I have been exorbitantly fortunate for the opportunities that have been presented to me, and the amazing faculty that I get to work with every day. In Fall 2016, I will start another GSIship with the Screen Arts & Cultures Department teaching a mid-level “What is Film?” course. My teaching resume is becoming ridiculous!

Our program highly encourages us to work on our language skills and/or research for our thesis over the summer break. At U-M, we begin classes the day after Labor Day, we only get a 2 week winter break, our Winter exams are over by the end of April, which frees up 4 months of summer for us! As I have noted above, I rarely take the “easy” way out in any situation, and my summer plans are no different this year. After spending many hours on funding applications and research proposals, the academic gods smiled on me. I am the recipient of a Foreign Language/Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship through the federal government; I will be spending 7 weeks in Prague (beginning in June) studying Czech language at Charles University once again. When my time is up in the City of A Thousand Spires, I am off to Bratislava to begin my internship with the Bratislava City Gallery. I will spend 2 weeks there, and in mid-August I will travel to Náměšť nad Oslavou (near Brno) for a Moravian Folk Music Master Class. During the Winter term I took a course called “Czech Poetry Through Song”. As the only non-vocal performing student, I worked on researching lesser known composers and poets, as well as folklore, language and history; my time at the Master Class will be spent similarly. We’ll be living and working in a 17th century castle, so life could be a lot worse. When that week is up, I will travel back to Bratislava and resume working at the Gallery for another 2 weeks before flying back to Detroit on September 1st – Fall term begins on Sept. 6th.

In addition to my FLAS fellowship, I also received 4 other forms of research funding from various institutes and centers at the University of Michigan, such as the International Institute, the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia, Rackham Graduate School, CREES and the Slavic Dept. I am completely humbled, yet proud, to announce that I am FULLY FUNDED for my 3 months of work in Europe!! I received the most summer funding out of anyone in my cohort (but, I am also doing more work in comparison). My research project is entitled, “Folklore through Sculpture, Print and Song in Moravia and Slovakia,” and I will be working on small parts of it in Prague, with the majority being conducted at the Gallery and Master Class. I plan to dedicate a section of my thesis to this project; as of right now, my Master’s thesis will look at folklore representations during the Czech and Slovak national revivals.

So, I guess the big question is, did my reign as Queen influence my future scholarship and career? I would say “yes” and “no”. Before my coronation, I had planned on studying Russian and Czech history in graduate school, and making that my life’s work. I will say that my time as Queen heavily influenced my thesis topic, and preliminary research trips for it.

I wish I had been given some glimpse into just how drastically my life would change as the Iowa Queen before I was crowned. This opportunity was an important stepping stone on my life path; while I cannot compete again due to my age, I still stay very active in the Cedar Rapids Czech community and with the Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa Pageant. My intuition tells me that I have not yet ridden out all of the ripples that the Miss Czech-Slovak Organization created in my life, and it makes me excited about the future of our culture.

 

As always, if you have questions, comments, thoughts of any kind, please leave them below or on the facebook page! If you want to read either of the previous guest posts, you can meet Michaela here and Meagan here!

Choosing your Kroje and Success at Nationals

Meagan0I have another amazing post in store for you today as we continue week two of guest posts from the Czech community. Miss Meagan Kurmel is the current Miss Czech-Slovak US! She is from Omaha, Nebraska where she and her fiance are engineers and travel most weekends as ambassadors to the Czech and Slovak communities. In the following post, Meagan talks about how kroje impacted her journey to and success at Nationals. She also gives some fun tips to anyone looking to compete in the pageants. Here we go!

While I was preparing for the Nebraska and then national pageant, I was constantly centering myself on encouraging involvement in the culture and preserving the heritage. However, I wanted to ensure that I was being genuine to myself and was portraying myself as I am. Since the pageant topics are very encompassing, I found it was easiest for me to digest them in smaller pieces.

After accepting the honor of representing the Omaha chapter, I sat down with my family to discuss the pageant. We had a pretty good idea of where our ancestry was from. There were also some kroj that we had that were authentic in my family. After long talks, my family and I decided together that going authentic was the best route for me. However, when I ran for Miss Czech-Slovak Nebraska there was a rule stating that you could not wear more than one authentic piece. So we recreated one of the kroj and wore the vest as the authentic piece, in addition to authentic jewelry.

I have found that choosing Authentic or Americanized kroj is a deeply personal choice. Whichever is chosen, I would suggest to link it to you, your family, and your heritage. Making this choice sooner in the preparation for the pageant gives you and your family more time to research, design, make, and prepare your kroj. And trust me, more time is better! Another item I have found with kroj is that you need to make it your own. You should wear your kroj proudly and it should represent you, your family and where your family is from. Don’t forget the little details that bring your personality into it. For me this is totally about the shoes! See below for my description that I used:

Meagan is wearing an authentic kroj replicating her grandmother Helen Janicek-Kurmel’s kroj. This dates back to the early 20th century from the Piestany region of Slovakia. Meagan’s great-grandfather Frank Janicek emigrated from this region in the early 1900’s. The Piestany region is known for highly skilled silversmiths. Their craftsmanship is reflected in the silver embellishments seen throughout the kroj.

 Meagan’s blouse and cap are replicas of her grandmother’s. They are of fine cotton and decorated with yellow and orange cutwork embroidery, incorporating metallic threads in a floral design. The vest is of floral brocade and trimmed with ribbons and features three silver clasps, silver wire, and ten silver buttons. These clasps are traditionally on a black, blue or green bodice where the metal craftsmanship can be seen.

 Meagan is wearing her grandma Helen’s skirt. The full skirt is a two piece skirt-set made with black cotton fabric and smocked around the waist. Each is trimmed with embroidery in ivory, yellow and peach. You can see the many small stitches creating the raised designs. The skirt is trimmed with an ivory bobbin lace.

 This is completed with black boots and a floral Czech ribbon tied into a bow. This is the same sash her grandmother wore with her kroj. Meagan has accessorized her kroj with garnet jewelry. Her favorite piece is the garnet bracelet from her parents. The collection of garnet pendants from various family members reminds Meagan of what she values most in life…..family, love, and kindness.

The way I see it, the personal interview and the on stage interview really go hand in hand. I felt it was important to be very familiar with the history of our culture, be current on present day events, and know some about the culture. I also felt that, since I was wearing an authentic kroj, that I was knowledgeable in what I was wearing. I made sure to research what type of kroj was worn, from what villages, and when. I also found it fun to learn the small differences that set one village’s kroj apart from another. This is such a fun and interesting way to learn about our shared heritage.

One little tip I learned from being nervous for interviews, both on and off stage, is to take a deep breath and just be you. There is nothing better you can do than be you! And maybe, crack a really good joke!

For talent, I have found that each judge is looking at your presentation from a different angle. I would suggest to do something that you feel showcases your talent. Keep it clean and streamlined. If you are going to sing, keep your whole talent presentation about your singing. Also the stage size could play into how you present your talent. This is definitely not a determining factor, just one to consider. Finally, remember to smile! This is the talent and showmanship part of the competition.

After all of the preparation and the competition, I felt that being able to represent my state and now my country as a cultural ambassador was a wonderful culmination of myself, my family and my friends’ hard work and efforts. Passing on that heritage is important to myself and my family. Preparing for the state level and national level competitions, I also discovered a connection between my heritage and my chosen career field. I’ve discovered that Czechs and Slovaks have been prominent in science and engineering. Czechs and Slovaks have pioneered medical research, created drugs and treatments for diseases like AIDS and HIV. And even invented things like soft contact lenses and sugar cubes.

One time that I will always remember is the evening right after I was crowned. In Wilber, I walked with my family into Sokol Hall. The whole hall started cheering, it felt almost as loud at Memorial Stadium. It was a very enjoyable, family-centric time and to me that is what shared heritage is all about: family.

For those individuals who are preparing for their pageant, who are excited about sharing their heritage, and who may now want to be a queen, remember that a crown and sash does not make a queen; it’s the heart inside you and the example you leave that make a queen.

I strongly encourage others to promote their heritage. If there is anyone who is interested, please feel free to reach out to me.

Meagan Kurmel
Miss Czech-Slovak Nebraska 2014-2015
Miss Czech-Slovak US 2015-2016
missczechslovakus15@gmail.com
www.gofundme.com/missczskusa2015

**Photos by Mary Chavez of Mary Chavez Photography

I hope you enjoyed Miss Meagan’s perspective! If you missed last week, read about Michaela Steager’s experiences as Nebraska queen here! And as always, leave a comment below or on the facebook page! I would love to hear from you!

Why I Think Czechia was the Wrong Choice

flagI am interrupting normal posting to bring you news. I’m not sure yet if it’s great news or not, but I thought you needed to know why I think Czechia was the wrong choice. I bet by now you have heard this name. As of Monday April 18th, Czechia is the new official shortened name for the Czech Republic. This is similar to Slovakia for the Slovak Republic. They haven’t changed the name, just offered an easier alternative for English speakers, or so they say. From everything I have gathered, Czechia is not a popular choice. Here is a Czech list of some issues:

1. How to shorten Czech Republic? Czech politicians have been debating names for awhile now and couldn’t justify Česko, the shortened version they use in the Czech Republic, because the English language lacks the same sounds and it is reminiscent of Československo or Czechoslovakia.

2. Which shortened version should be used? Some other options that were discussed were Bohemia, Cechy, Czech, and Czechlands. The latter would be my choice. I feel that Czechlands best encompasses the authenticity of the territory that has changed so frequently. I think Czechlands is also more accurate and includes Bohemia or the Czechs, Moravia, and Silesia, the unifying factor of language, and does not leave out the areas that make up the current Czech Republic. I’m afraid Czechia will cause confusion with non European countries and frankly, it sounds lame.

3. Will it be confused? Some people are not happy with the new name because it sounds too much like Chechnya, the semi autonomous country located next to Russia. This is a problem because of the terrorist threat last year with the perpetrators being from Chechnya and the mix up with the Czech Republic.

4. Does anyone know its location? Now, part of our problem here in the states is that most people know absolutely nothing about European geography, let alone history, and even fewer know of our close relationship with the Czech Republic since 1918. We have not always been very good friends to the Czechs, especially during WWII, but our countries hold the bonds of democracy and they want to help us out with their name. Will shortening the name really change its popularity or the likelihood that we will know its location? Probably not.

5. Why the re-branding? The Czech Republic has had a rough history. A re-branding would allow for a change of opinion and distance from its past. Many people still call it Czechoslovakia, but that country hasn’t existed since 1993. Before that, the Czech lands were a part of the Austria-Hungarian empire; subject to humiliation and degradation during WWII in the eyes of a man who thought it should still belong to the German people. He used the land and people to further his goals. Following a brief moment of freedom, the Czech lands were again occupied. This time by the Soviet Union who stole its wealth and exploited its people. Though I understand the desire to remove the bad associations, it’s still a part of who they are, and what made the Czech Republic into the country they are today.

6. How will the change effect the economy? Rumors is Czechia will be more favorable to China who largely imports Czech cars and beer. There has been bad blood between the two countries because of Czech distaste with China’s treatment of its people and continued socialism. In order to mend this relationship, as well as that of Russia, President Zeman has worked toward solidifying itself with the worlds largest countries.

7. What about all the companies who have Czech or the Czech Republic in their name? This could end up being a huge problem with tourism and commerce. Not everyone will be able to benefit and many will be at a loss because of this name push. No one can be sure how the change will effect the country as a whole.

8. What about the Olympics? The Czech Republic has already been printed on everything for the Olympics, making it even harder for Czechia to become more widely used.

9. What do the people think? Since the Czech population did not have a say in this decision, many are rebelling against the change. From my knowledge the Czech people don’t use Czechia. Why would they need to?

10. Will Czechia really catch on? I’m not so sure. There have been quite a few countries that have tried to re-brand themselves and it didn’t stick.

Czechia is officially in the United Nations geographical names database, but I will not be calling it that anytime soon. I feel that there are just too many issues to ignore. I only listed ten possible problems and I’m sure more will come up. Even though I am a fan of Czechlands, it’s still long for a shortened version. I like the idea of using what the Czechs use with Česko but spelled Czesko since cz is already recognizable from Czech Republic. Most people will at least have heard the name, even if they don’t know where it’s located.

I think if the country really does want to re-brand to move away from past negative associations, it will need to come up with a name that doesn’t include Czech. I don’t necessarily think that is right though. I think there would be more success if the name would be voted for and the population were happy to promote it. Either way, I think Czechia was the wrong choice. I guess we will find out.

 

Tell me what you think of Czechia below or on facebook!

Genealogy: Where to Start

Www.myczechlist.comMy Czechoslovak Genealogical Society international (CGSI) member welcome packet came in the mail this week! It was like Christmas for a nerdy, family history obsessed person such as I. I carefully opened the Manila folder and read every word of the materials which included welcome letter, brochure, member packet, and current issue of their quarterly publication. (The contents are in the image above) Then, I got on the website and signed into the member only section and found the holy grail of resources, with links to sites, books, and tips on how to do research. I was seriously like a kid in a candy store.

Www.myczechlist.comOn top of that, my grandma brought boxes of her mother’s photos to Easter! My grandmother, her sisters, and I spent the afternoon absorbing ourselves in hundreds of photos. In my previous Genealogy research, I found a ton of info on my grandma’s father’s family, but almost none on her mother’s family. While rifling through some of the older loose photos, I found a couple photos of my grandma’s maternal great-grandparents with names on the back! This is a huge deal because I didn’t have either the photos or the names before. I was stuck with that side of the family and now I have a new lead. Yay!

Www.myczechlist.comIf you have not done family history research before, the previous paragraph may have been a little overwhelming, sorry about that. But, I have caught the genealogy bug and once you get started, I promise you will too! It is extremely gratifying to add another name or detail to my family tree and often mind-blowing to see photos of family members I know and those that died before I was born. It helps me feel connected to that family and I gain a better understanding of who I am and where I came from. It is something special to be a part of something bigger than yourself and know your place within it.

Because of this kismet with the genealogy society and the family photos, I have decided that I have no other choice but to resume my research once again. I’m going to start from scratch and look through all my files, photos, and documents to verify that the information I had was correct. In order to do this I need to be thorough and organized with the information and I thought you might be interested in how I’m going to do it and maybe join me on this adventure too!

Www.myczechlist.com1. Get Organized.
I started today by printing “family group record” sheets from ancestry.com (see photo above). These sheets have a standard format that I can fill in with each families information, starting with the husband and wife and listing the children below. This will allow me to do each set of parents and establish clear generations. It will also make me find out the information about all that couple’s children, not just the one that I descend from, making it easier to find more connections later if I hit a road block.
2. Start with Yourself and Move Outward.
The first thing I did with the sheets was fill out one for my husband and I. This is the starting point. Next, I will fill out one for my parents, then each set of my grandparents, and so on as far as I can remember.
3. Start Researching Recent Generations by Identifying Photos
Once I can no longer positively identify on my own the generations, I will start looking through pictures and writing down names.
4. Ask Family Members.
I will ask family for help with the photos to use their memory of generations I didn’t know and then check the documents I have gathered from family members who have done their own research (these documents must have sources or proof of who the generation is or I cannot use it). I note all this information on my sheets. You may have to ask around to find out who has done family history research or who may have photos, such as cousins, great aunts, or distant relatives you may not yet know.
5. Use the Internet.
Once I get done verifying all the information I can find from family members I will start googling surnames, documenting all citable sources. Then, I will check all the major genealogy sites such as ancestry.com, genealogy.org, or archives.gov to expand my search. Next, I will get more focused with internet sources. This is where my CGSI membership will come in handy! I have a wealth of knowledge by using their databases and resources that I have never tried before, meaning I will be more successful because I have more options.
6. Ask for Help.
Many libraries, town record keepers, and genealogy societies will have staff that can help do the research with you or for you for a fee. You will need to have quality records they can work from if you go this route, so make sure to be very detailed.

And that’s just the beginning! My goal is to use all the information I find, plus pictures and documents, to write an e-book of my family history for all the generations that will follow me and other family members who will be able to use it in their search. Hey, maybe I will find that you and I are related.

Keep a look out for my progress and I would love to hear about yours. If you have any questions you can message me here or on Facebook!

MyCzechList

Welcome! It has been forever since I last saw you!

facebookcoverAs you may have noticed, the blog has a new name and a new look! Since the last time I posted, I have planned my wedding, got a new job, got married, and spent the holidays with my new hubby. I feel that because it has been awhile, not only does the site need to look different, but I also need to refocus the content. So here is my vision for this blog:

  1. Write more personal and in-depth posts, so that you can get to know me a little better. I hope to tell you more about my experiences and how I got to where I am. In the meantime, please Czech out my new About Me page.
  2. Focus less on Czech holidays and more on Czech identity and the Czech communities in the US. Many of my previous posts have been about upcoming holidays to inform you of Czech culture and traditions. While I believe those things are important and I do have some good stories to tell, you can get that information in a myriad of places. I want to tell you about the Czech communities, festivals, Czech Queen Pageants, studying abroad in the Czech Republic, researching your genealogy and so much more!
  3. Move to self-hosting this site and learning the ins and outs of blogging to better serve you! There is so much I have to learn about blogging. It is so much more than writing posts and basic design.
  4. A weekly post on Fridays. What do you want to hear about? Upcoming events? Updates on my learning process? Quotes from famous Czechs? Something else? Let me know your thoughts on my facebook page!