John and Anna Serednicka Manko with son seated for studio portrait, 1930s-1940s. Manko-Serednicka Family Papers and Photographs, MSS 869, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center.

Foundations of Eastern European Genealogy

Sunday, May 23, 2021 • 10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Presented in partnership with the Jewish Genealogy Society of Pittsburgh, the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh | Virtual Program

Add to Calendar05/23/2021 10:00 AM05/23/2021 05:30 PMAmerica/New_YorkFoundations of Eastern European GenealogyJoin genealogy experts for the History Center’s first virtual Eastern European Genealogy workshop.Heinz History CenterHeinz History Center, the Jewish Genealogy Society of Pittsburgh, and the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical SocietyfalseMM/DD/YYYY

Join genealogy experts for the History Center’s first virtual Eastern European Genealogy workshop.

Benefitting beginners and seasoned genealogists alike, this in-depth virtual workshop will explore the core genealogical knowledge essential to tracing Eastern European ancestors. Attendees will gain insights into researching ancestors who lived in modern-day Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and more.

Featuring live Question and Answer sessions and interactive virtual networking opportunities, this workshop will foster connections between attendees and expert speakers on tracing your Eastern European ancestors.

Live virtual presentations include:

  • Who Do You Think You Are? The Real World
  • Where is That? Determining Place Names in Central and Eastern Europe
  • Crossing the Pond: Successful Strategies for Researching Eastern European Ancestors
  • Understanding and Interpreting Birth, Marriage and Death Records in Eastern Europe
  • Jewish Genealogy Research in the former Russian Empire

Special access to recordings of the lectures will be made available to attendees following the live workshop.

This workshop is offered in partnership with the Jewish Genealogy Society of Pittsburgh, the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.


General registration  is $25.

Registration is $20 for members of the History Center, Jewish Genealogy Society of Pittsburgh, and Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society.

Please register online.

Register now

To request special accommodations or for more information, contact Sierra Green at 412-454-6361 or

Accessibility: Open Captioning Live captioning will be provided at this virtual program.

About the Speakers

Lisa A. Alzo

Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A., is a freelance writer, instructor, and internationally recognized lecturer, specializing in Eastern European genealogical research, writing your family history, and using the Internet to trace female and immigrant ancestors. She grew up in Duquesne, Pennsylvania and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1987 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Pittsburgh in 1997. Lisa is the author of eleven books, including The Family Tree Polish, Czech and Slovak Genealogy Guide, and the award-winning Three Slovak Women, and hundreds of magazine articles.  Lisa is a contributing editor for Family Tree Magazine and works as an online educator and writing coach through her website Research, Write, Connect. She also developed the Eastern European Research Certificate Program for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Lisa is a frequently invited speaker for national conferences, genealogical and historical societies, and webinars. An avid genealogist for more than 30 years, Lisa chronicles her family history adventures on her blog, The Accidental Genealogist.  Visit for more information.

Lara Diamond

Lara Diamond began researching her own family around 1989. She has traced all branches of her family multiple generations back in Eastern Europe using Russian Empire-era and Austria-Hungarian Empire records. Most of her personal research is in modern-day Ukraine, with a smattering of Belarus and Poland. She has done client research leading to their ancestors in many parts of the former USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania and more. She is president of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland and is JewishGen’s Subcarpathia Research Director. She has lectured around the country and internationally on Jewish and Eastern European genealogy research as well as genetic genealogy. She also runs multiple district- and town-focused projects to collect documentation to assist all those researching ancestors from common towns. Lara blogs about her Eastern European and Jewish research at

Karen A. Melis

Karen A. Melis, a Pittsburgh native and University of Pittsburgh graduate, is passionate about placing our Eastern European ancestors in the very contexts in which they lived. Having studied Slovak at Pitt and earning a 2011-2012 Fulbright Scholarship, she spent 10 months studying in Slovakia, speaking the language and embracing the culture firsthand.  She has over 25-plus years of hands-on research in over 200 villages of the former Spiš and Orava Counties, Kingdom of Hungary, digitizing records in the Spiš, Zamagurie, Orava, and Podhale regions. With regular research trips overseas, she actively seeks out records and other documents in the Slovak Republic and Polish State Archives as well as land and civil registry offices to better understand the very conditions under which so many of our ancestors lived and decided to migrate. Based on her intimate knowledge, experience, and research capabilities, she formed SlovakGenealogy, LLC to help others find their roots. (See for more information.) Karen also moderates a regular monthly Eastern European Special Interest Group (SIG) with the North Hills Genealogists and has lectured on Eastern European genealogy at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP).  As a volunteer group administrator of four geographic DNA projects with FamilyTreeDNA, she assists project members in understanding their genetic matches by combining traditional genealogy and DNA testing.