The founding members of the Czech & Slovak American Genealogy Society of Illinois (CSAGSI) for the most part, had been members of the Czech and Slovak Interest Group of the Chicago Genealogical Society. In October 1995, after co-hosting a genealogical/cultural conference in Countryside, Illinois, which drew over 500 attendees, several Interest Group members realized the need for an independent Czech and Slovak genealogy society in the Chicago area.
The initial meeting of the society’s founders took place March 9, 1996 at the home of founding president, Joe Hartzel. At this time, the society name was chosen, the logo designed, and an Articles of Incorporation suitable for submission to the State of Illinois and for approval by the Internal Revenue Service was approved and signed. Finally, it was decided the quarterly journal would be titled Koreny which means “Roots.” Today, CSAGSI boasts a membership of approximately 1,000 with all fifty states and a number of foreign countries represented.
Soon after CSAGSI’s founding in 1996, a website at www.csagsi.org was developed and its number one goal, development of a research library, became a reality with the opening of a library within the T. G. Masaryk Czech School in Cicero, Illinois. Today, the CSAGSI Paul M. Nemecek Genealogy Library, named in honor of the library’s devoted chairman, contains over 1,000 volumes providing an anchor for comprehensive genealogical research dealing with immigrant families who have lived in or passed through Chicago. It is the finest repository in the United States for historians and lay people researching the Czech, Slovak, Moravian, Carpatho-Rusyn, and Silesian history, culture and their ancestors. A list of the library collection can be found on the website.
Summer 2012 has been exciting at the CSAGSI library. The library’s hours of operation have been expanded from just one Saturday per month from September through May to every Tuesday and Thursday and the second and fourth Saturdays. Thanks to the generosity of library friends attending our recent fundraiser, five computers with internet access and Ancestry International have been installed.
CSAGSI holds its quarterly general meetings at the First Presbyterian Church of LaGrange in LaGrange, Illinois. and, is proud to feature a program dealing with an aspect of our ethnic genealogical research or related heritage and culture.