The society was founded on March 26, 1988 with an organization meeting at the Historic CSPS Hall in St. Paul, Minnesota. A group of 20 plus people appeared for this meeting. The society, known originally as the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society was initially a branch of the Minnesota Genealogical Society. Mark Bigaouette is credited with being the founder of the society and also served as President from 1988-1997.
On August 26, 1991 the society incorporated and became known as the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International. The incorporators were Mark Bigaouette, Dave Pavelka, Eugene L. Kubes, Paul Makousky and Wallace Oliva. The society also received federal tax exempt status under Section 501©(3) of the Internal Revenue Code on March 9, 1992. At this time the society became independent from the Minnesota Genealogical Society.
The society broadened its geographic area of organizational exposure by holding biennial conferences outside of Minnesota starting with the 1993 Conference in Cedar Rapids, IA. Subsequent Conferences were held in 1994 in Green Bay, WI; 1995 in Countryside (Chicago), IL; 1999 in Lincoln, NE; 2001 in Pittsburgh, PA; 2003 in Houston, TX; 2005 in Bratislava and Prague; 2007 in Madison, WI; 2009 in Cleveland, OH; 2011 in St. Louis, MO; 2013 in Lombard (Chicago), IL; 2015 in Cedar Rapids, IA. The 2017 conference will return to Pittsburgh, PA. in the year preceding the 100th Anniversary of the ‘Pittsburgh Pact’ which led to the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918!
CGSI President Dave Pavelka (right) accepting the Silver Presidential Commemorative Medal from Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic
for the society’s work in preserving the Czech culture.
Photo taken April, 1999 in St. Paul, MN
CGSI currently has well over 2,000 members from across the US, Canada and the Czech and Slovak Republics. This large group provides a vast networking opportunity for sharing information with fellow members. We also have an extensive library collection that can be accessed in person at the Minnesota Genealogical Society Library in South St. Paul, MN, through a mail-in research request, or by catching our traveling library.
More detailed historical information and photographs of society activities can be found in the 10th, 20th and 25th Anniversary issues of the quarterly, Nase rodina in March 1998 Vol. 10 No. 1, June 2008 Vol. 20 No. 2 and in March 2013 Vol. 25 No. 1.