CGSI Symposium in SLC - UT


Salt Lake City Symposium

The CGSI will hold its 2012 Symposium March 16-17 at the Family History Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. A social get together will be planned for Thursday evening March 15 with details to be announced later. A day at the LDS Family History Library 35 NW Temple Street is being offered on Friday March 16. The Library will offer an orientation session at 9:00 am especially for our group. Individual research is available from the conclusion of the orientation until library closing at 9:00 pm. Friday lunch and dinner will be on your own so you can do research or other activities in Salt Lake at your own pace.

Regular Hours at the library are:

Monday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tues-Sat: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Sunday: Closed

Further information about the Family History Library is on their website:

On Saturday March 17 there will be a choice of 10 presentations in 5 one-hour time slots beginning at 9:00 a.m. See the list shown further down the page. The presentations have not yet been assigned to the 5 breakout time slots.

Symposium Program and Information
See SLC Program and information for times and events.

Symposium Registration Form
To sign up for the Symposium, fill out the Symposium Registration Form (PDF Format) and mail it in.

Hotel Reservations
To reserve your room please call the Plaza Hotel at 1-800-366-3684 and tell them you want rooms from the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International room block. The group room rates are $89 for single or double occupancy and $99 for triple or quad occupancy. If you need to cancel the reservation you must do so at least 72 hours prior to the stay to avoid a one night charge. We have a block of rooms for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, but you can still get the group rate. The cutoff date for the special room rates is January 15, 2012, after that based on room availability the rate may be honored. Room types include Single Queen, Double Queen or Deluxe King.

All rooms are 100% non-smoking. Each room contains a microwave and refrigerator, and free wireless high speed internet service. They also have an in-room safe and guest laundry facilities. They have an indoor Jacuzzi, and the outdoor pool is seasonal only.

The Plaza Hotel has covered parking for guests at the rate of $5.00 per day. Visitors to the hotel pay an hourly rate with a maximum daily fee of $8.00.

Transportation from SLC Airport to Plaza Hotel
Complimentary hotel shuttle available from 6:30 am to 11:00 pm. Hotel guests arriving at the Salt Lake City International airport shall find courtesy telephones at each of the baggage claim areas. Look for the Plaza Hotel phone and pickup. The phone rings directly to the hotel front desk.

Getting around near Plaza Hotel
The light rail system known as TRAX has two lines, one of which runs from downtown south to Sandy, and another runs east to the University of Utah. The Utah Transit Authority has a Free Fare Zone for travel within the downtown area as long as you both enter and exit within that zone. Visit and look for Free Fare Zone on the left side of the web page. Based on what others who have frequented Salt Lake City often have said, most of the things to see in the area of the Plaza Hotel are within walking distance.

Salt Lake City Symposium Presentations

1) Czech Research by Sylvie Pysnak This presentation will include the basics of Czech genealogical research, including historical and modern overview, boundary changes, determining place of origin of an ancestor, locating ancestral home, research tools that have been found most useful in Czech genealogical research, and various types of records. Availability of Czech records at the Family History Library and online as well as other helpful online and published resources will be discussed.

2) Czech Records Online Part I by Sylvie Pysnak This presentation will include a general overview of various Czech records that are now available online. Attendees will learn about Czech records that are part of the FamilySearch Historical Record Collections as well as explore specific Czech archives’ online databases.

3) Using Czech Archives’ Online Databases Part II by Sylvie Pysnak This presentation will include an in-depth look at the Czech archives’ online databases. Each Czech archive elected to use a specific web application for its digital archive that would suit its needs. This resulted in various web applications that one has to master to effectively use the online database.

4) Getting Started in Slovak Genealogy by Lisa Alzo Curious about your Slovak roots but don’t know where to begin? This session will show you how to “jumpstart your genealogy!” Learn the basics and how to investigate your family’s history using both traditional and online sources. Learn which records to tap into to identify your ancestral village, how history impacts genealogical research, and ways to utilize the Family History Library. Tips for contacting possible relatives and writing to the Czech/Slovak archive, as well as strategies for overcoming the most common pitfalls and problems will also be discussed.

5) Immigrant Cluster Communities: Past, Present and Future by Lisa Alzo There are a handful of “cluster” immigrant communities throughout the United States and Canada that blossomed during the immigration influx of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Exploring “cluster genealogy”—the process of researching those relatives, friends, and neighbors who lived near an ancestor—can often break down brick walls in our research. For those descendants who’ve moved away from such traditional immigrant enclaves, 21st technology can be used to rebuild “cluster communities” in the virtual world. This session will cover how to identify chain migrations and cluster communities, ways to work beyond your own family tree to share and collaborate with others, and how to use tools such as social networking sites, Wikis and Second Life to connect with other researchers, and build village-based online genealogical communities.

6) Social Media and Family History by Lisa Alzo Social networking has literally opened up the world to genealogists providing unprecedented access to places, people, and resources that would otherwise be impossible to visit in person or require more effort to connect with by traditional mail or e-mail. This session will show you how to effectively use Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Wikis, and Websites in your family history research.

7) Status of Czech and Slovak Acquisitions and Collections available through FamilySearch and the Family History Library by Kahlile Mehr The Department began acquiring digital images in the Czech Republic in 2007 and is beginning the process of delivering them to the Internet. It took several years to get the delivery structure built and we are now just beginning to get the images out in quantity. Concurrently, we are digitizing all the Slovak films acquired from 1992-2010, a process that should only take a year or two. This presentation will summarize the status of this effort up to the date of the Symposium.

8) How Family History Library Files are Acquired from the Former Soviet Sphere by Kahlile Mehr
This presentation covers Collection Management at the Family History Library, Record Locations, Field Negotiations, Filming Procedures, Shipping, Receipt, Cataloging, and Distribution through the Family History Library Catalog. Understand why some records are acquired an others not and improved ability find information in the Family History Library Catalog.

9) Austrian Military Records by Steve Blodgett This presentation covers Austrian Empire military records available in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City which are of interest to Czech researchers working in the 1600’s until the end of World War I. Personnel sheets for areas of the modern Czech Republic will be reviewed, together with muster rolls, regimental books, service records, military church records, and a valuable “Location Index” which facilitates finding the specific regiment for your ancestor and all troops in the Imperial and Royal Austrian Army and Navy.

10) LDS Experts’ Roundtable to Solve “Brickwall” Problems with Shon Edwards, Sylvie Pysnak and Kahlile Mehr
Individuals are encouraged to bring to the Symposium their “Brickwall” problems to be addressed to the panel of LDS experts. If a question pops into your mind during a session held earlier in the day, jot it down and bring it up in the Roundtable. This is the perfect opportunity to find out if your question can be answered, or if not, who the question can be referred to.

Dinner at the Plaza Hotel The Saturday evening dinner will be optional.

Saturday’s After Dinner Speaker
The History of LDS Record Acquisition, Past, Present and Future by David Rencher
The role and evolution of the record extraction by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from Day 1 (whatever that was) up to March of 2012 and then the future plans for record extraction in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Salt Lake City Speaker Bios

Lisa Alzo, M.F.A. grew up in Duquesne, Pennsylvania, and now resides in Ithaca, NY. She is the author of nine books and numerous magazine articles. Lisa serves on the Board of Directors for CGSI and writes the “Genealogy360” column for the CGSI publication Nase rodina. She teaches online genealogy courses for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, and is a frequently invited speaker for national conferences, genealogical and historical societies. During 2011 Lisa created a Czech and Slovak Genealogy Research course to be presented as a Webinar through Family Tree University. Lisa can be reached through her web site: .

Steve Blodgett, is an accredited researcher, with expertise in the United States, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He conducted research in the Vienna War Archives while their records were being filmed, and then cataloged the collection for the Family History Library where he has worked as a cataloger, reference consultant, collection development specialist, and authorities manager for many years.

Shon Edwards, works as a Eastern European cataloger for the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah; he catalogs materials from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Georgia, Hungary, and many other countries. He has also worked on the Authorities Team, which supplies authority localities for Eastern European and other localities of new FamilySearch. He has also been involved in Collection Development for the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He is accredited in Czech genealogical research and has written the Czech Research Outline, available on the web at: He lives with his wife and 5 children in Layton, UT.

Kahlile Mehr, manages the acquisitions and publication of East European materials for FamilySearch. He holds MA, MLS, AG degrees, has been involved in East European work for two decades, and has visited archives throughout Eastern Europe. He has published twenty-three articles and a book on family and local history topics. He serves on the boards of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

Sylvie Pysnak, AG was born and raised in the Moravian city Ostrava in the Czech Republic. She is currently employed by the FamilySearch International as a Slavic Research Consultant in the International Research Consultation Unit at the Family History Library. Sylvie is accredited in Czech research, has a working knowledge of many Eastern European languages and has researched on-site in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. She has been writing publications and has taught at various conferences since 1998.

David Rencher, serves as Chief Genealogical Officer of FamilySearch and direct’s FamilySearch’s collection development activities. He is a 30-year veteran of FamilySearch and a popular leader in genealogy and archive circles. Rencher is an Accredited GenealogistSM with ICAPGenSM in Ireland research and a Certified GenealogistSM with the Board for Certification of Genealogists. He holds a BA in Family and Local History from Brigham Young University. Rencher served as president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) from 1997 to 2000 and the Utah Genealogical Association (UGA) from 1993 to 1995.

Extend your research during your visit. Please note that the Library is closed on Sundays, but you can find leisure things to do on Sunday and return to the Family History Library for further research during the week.

Event Date: 
Date as you would like it to appear: