submitted by James Victor Prineas on 26.02.2008
Dear Friends of Kythera,
have you taken a close look at your parents' or grandparents' photo album recently? Can you name almost everyone in each of the photos in the album? Do you think your children will be able to as well? And their children? Perhaps, like me, you can't name many people in your grandparents' or even your parents' wedding photos. Who were those people who were close to our ancestors? Did they play with us when we were children? Did they give one of our parents' their first job or were they at our christenings? Does it matter?
I think so. It gives a whole new dimension to our link to our past if we can fill the world of our parents and grandparents with real people. Children often have trouble imagining their grandparents at an age where they went dancing at the Trocadero or held hands with their first love-interest. Seeing pictures of the parents or grandparents of people we knew as children is often a real experience because we have a slightly enhanced insight into the past of that person. As is meeting someone who knew our parents or grandparents when they were children. We can ask them what they remember about that person, what they were really like.
And even if such things don't matter to you now, they might become interesting one day - if not for you then perhaps for one of your descendants. A photograph in which all the people in the picture are listed (on the back) is certainly less likely to be tossed away by our descendants than one in which no-one is known.
What's the rush?
Photography really only became widespread and affordable in the 1920s. Before that it was often a once-in-a-lifetime luxury, especially for those still living on Kythera. A group of people - perhaps at a wedding or a funeral - in a picture taken in the 1920s are, if still alive at all, quite old now. Their children - who can probably still name most of the people in the picture - are probably no spring chickens themselves either. And when they've popped off then the chances of naming all the people in the picture diminishes dramatically. With the loss of each generation of our family we often lose a possible link to our past. We can sit alone and go through the old album, but there is no-one next to us to tell the stories behind the pictures or the people in the photos. One day the album will be passed down to a generation who can put no names to the faces and the link will be lost.
The Internet saves the day
That photo from the 1920s in your family album is like the tip of a hug tree - only one point at the top of a tree which grows progressively wider as you come closer to the ground on which we stand. Many of us stand under it - our cousins and their cousins and many people who may not be related to us at all. A wedding picture from the 1920s with 6 people in it is likely to be linked to at least 100 people still living today. And they could be anywhere in the world - still on the island, in Sydney or New York or Berlin like I am. If that wedding photo was on the internet and accessible to any of those 100 persons, you not only have the chance to delight and inform many of those persons who have never seen the picture before, you also have the chance to identify some of them. To fill in the gaps. To help recreate the world of our family members. The internet, like no other medium, can allow us all to share and experience the contents or our and others family heritage collections - photos, stories, biographies and family trees. And that, dear friends of Kythera, is what Kythera-Family.net is all about.
Easy as pie
Making it simple to upload your pictures and stories and other heritage material to Kythera-Family.net has been our number-one priority from the word go. 800 of you already have already uploaded material successfully and thousands more visit the site each month. By making your collections available to all in this way you'll do us all a favour and save your family history for posterity in the bargain. And perhaps, or even probably, your distant cousins will appear from no-where to fill in the names of the faces in that old wedding photo.
The "Discover Your Roots" Kytherian heritage event.
In just 2 weeks - on the 13th of August - our first heritage event will take place on Kythera and we are expecting a big turnout. We've been publicising it for months now but for those of you new to the newsletter I've added the event information at the end of the newsletter - new registrations are still welcome. For those who have indicated that they will attend I just want to add that it will be held in Hora at the Kythiraikos Syndesmos (Kythera Village Hall) which is (from memory) the first big white building on the left as you drive into Hora (a.k.a. Kythera) from the north. If you have any questions then I will still be online until the 11th of August to answer your emails as promptly as I can. In the days immediately preceding the event you can either call co-organiser John Stathatos of the Kythera Cultural Association on (2-7360-) 31 718 or me in an emergency on my German mobile number which will be switched on on the island:
0049-179.291 03 43
We are all looking forward to a wonderful day together full of information and new contacts.
Best regards from a sunny but windy (holi-) day in Denmark,
James Prineas, Kythera-Family.net, Team Leader Europe
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DISCOVER YOUR ROOTS DAY
Venue: Kythiraikos Syndesmos (Kythera Village Hall) in Hora
Date: Saturday 13th of August 2005, 9:30am to 4:30pm
A single-day event in the capital of Kythera, Hora, the Kythera "Discover your Roots" day will allow many passionate Diaspora Kytherians as well as fans of Kythera-family.net to finally meet each other and swap family and island information. We are planning to have some island experts - family researchers, natural historians, archival specialists and artists - to present their Kytherian work in short lectures in English. I will present the site's newest features and would be happy to hear your comments and suggestions regarding Kythera-Family.net. And of course those who have never used the website are more than welcome as well - the day will by no means revolve around the website or the internet. The entire itinerary can be found below this text.
With an entry fee of only EUR10/A$15 (for the print-outs we are preparing) and a day full of information invaluable to anyone interested in Kythera and their family history, there is no excuse for any of you lucky enough to be on the island this summer to miss out. In typical Kytherian fashion, family and friends are all welcome.
To help plan the event we need you to let us know if you'd like to attend. Please send me your name, email address or telephone number, and the number of people you'll bring with you. Even if you aren't 100% certain of being there let us know anyway. You'll get regular updates of additions to the program as well as optional add-ons to the program such as gallery visits and archive tours. My email address is email@example.com. In Sydney you can call George Poulos on 02.9388 83 20 or fax us on 02.9810 6691.
Discover Your Roots Itinerary:
9:30 - 9:45
Kythera-Family.net European team leader James Prineas gives an overview of the day's proceedings.
9:45 - 10:15
Family Research - my experience
Australian/Kytherian Kalie Zervos has done extensive research on her Kytherian family roots and has completed a family tree going back to the 1700s. Her talk about her experience with the island's archives will give participants an insight into how best to research their own family history.
10:15 - 11:00
The participants introduce themselves giving a short overview of their connection to Kythera.
11:00 - 11:20
Tea & coffee break
11:20 - 12:00
Culture on Kythera
John Stathatos introduces the Kythera Cultural Association which he founded three years ago, and talks about about some of its activities; these include exhibitions, conferences, concerts and the annual Kythera Photographic Encounters, an event which has become a major fixture in the national arts calendar. He will also show and comment on a selection of historic photographs from the Kythera Photographic Archive
12:00 - 12:30
An American/Kytherian Artist
Artist George Tzannes, whose father was from Kythera, first came to the island in 1971. Since then, Kythera has become the exclusive subject of his work, which he has exhibited for the past 20 years at his Gallery in Hora. Today George and his family divide their time between New York and Kypriotianika, where he has restored an old stone farmhouse. In his talk George will give an overview of his connection to the island and present a selection of his work.
12:30 - 13:00
Kytherians in California
Yiannis Mavrommatis works at the Pedagogic Institute in Athens as a consultant and assessor to the Greek Ministry of Education. He has a doctorate from the University of Bristol in England and has worked as a teacher in Greece and in London. Between 1998-2002 he worked as superintendent for the Greek Schools in the Western States of the US. His lecture gives details from his research into the settlement, the organisation in a Kytherian Society, and the socio-economic development of the Kytherians who settled in California between 1900 to 2002.
13:00 - 14:00
14:00 - 14:40
A KYTHERIAN MISCELLANY: Kythera in books across the centuries.
John Stathatos reads from his ongoing anthology of Kytherian texts, ranging from ancient authors to the 16th-century English traveller Sir Richard Guylforde, the French poet Gerard de Nerval and travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor. Among the texts chosen and translated for this occasion are a contract drawn up by a Kytherian woman with a view to ransoming her husband from pirates, the hand-written chronicles of an 18th-century Kytherian parish priest, and the Declaration of Kytherian Independence of 1917.
14:40 - 15:20
The History and Future of Kythera-Family.net
15:20 - 15:50
Kythera Natural History Museum
In 1987, Robin Tzannes spent two years in Fratsia with her husband and children. An amateur naturalist, Robin was delighted by the rich and diverse natural environment of Kythera, and began organising a collection of native specimens. This collection eventually became the Kythera Museum of Natural History, which now contains over 500 objects found on the island. Robin deeply regrets that she cannot attend “Discover your Roots” in person, but has made a selection of some of her favourite images from the museum to be presented in her absence.
15:50 - 16:30
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