Museum staff provide consultations for Genealogy Members
Many people of Lithuanian ancestry request assistance from the Museum when they begin to research their own Lithuanian family names or ancestral places of origin. Sometimes the expertise the Museum's Genealogy Department provides is linguistic in nature. The Museum staff can assist in deciphering historical immigration documents, particularly handwritten records, such as passports and immigration papers. These written materials are not always legible because handwriting styles and the spelling of Lithuanian words have changed significantly over time. Prior to World War I, Lithuania was part of the Russian Empire and documents were issued in Cyrillic script. In such instances, the staff can assist with the translation of these records. If names have been shortened and "Americanized" over time or in circumstances where spelling was altered through transliteration, the Museum staff can help ascertain what the original Lithuanian surnames or place names might have been. "While we cannot always guarantee that we will find the information you are seeking, we can at least give you enough information to help you focus your genealogical research and avoid some common pitfalls" says Karilė Vaitkutė, who heads the Genealogy Department at the Museum.
Genealogy Membership Levels:
Basic Genealogy Membership - $125 annually*
Entitles a member to all the privileges of the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture FAMILY MEMBERSHIP, including free admission to the Museum, invitations to all programs, gift and program discounts, 10% discount on translation service, subscription to the Lithuanian Museum Review. It also entitles a member to:
- One Basic Surname Search - A search of the indicated name in the following sources: Obituary Collection "Naujienos" newspaper; Master File; Minor File; indication of spelling variants of the indicated name; etymology of the indicated name; list of addresses of people with the same last name in Lithuania today; search through available internet resources, such as Ancestry.com, etc.
- One Basic Ancestral Town Search - Includes location indication on the map and photocopies of the location description from the following sources:
- Encyclopedia Lituanica (in English)
- Lietuvių Enciklopedija (in Lithuanian)
- Lietuviškoji Tarybinė Enciklopedija (in Lithuanian)
- Mažoji Lietuviškoji Tarybinė Enciklopedija (in Lithuanian)
- Lietuvos Baznyčios ("Churches in Lithuania" - in Lithuanian)
- Mūsų Lietuva (Our Lithuania – in Lithuanian)
*NOTE: Online searches for digitized birth, marriage, and death records in the Lithuanian State Historical Archives are available based on accessibility. The records are in Old Russian, Polish, and Latin. A search and translation of one record is an additional $100.
Patron Genealogy Membership - $350 annually*
Includes a BASIC GENEALOGY membership, plus up to four Basic Surname Searches and four Basic Ancestral Town Searches. Staff members will research these additional resources:
*NOTE: This membership is highly recommended for those who want to research more than one family member, e.g. a husband and wife, or a grandfather and his parents, etc.
Benefactor Genealogy Membership - $1,000
(A one-time payment)
Includes all benefits of BASIC and PATRON Genealogy Membership plus these additional sources used for research:
- Digitized birth, marriage, and death records from Lithuania (if available);
- Library Publications and Articles (Authors)
- Nobility File
- Heraldic & Coat of Arms Research
- Artist File
- Photo Archives
- Jurgis Gimbutas Collection (Photos of towns and cities in Lithuania)
- Individuals decorated with Medals by the Lithuanian Government
- List of exiles to Siberia
- List of Lithuanian military men
Genealogy Services for Non-Members:
Non-member genealogy services are à la carte:
- Obituary check: $25
- Obituary translation: $40
- Determining the right spelling of a name: $25
- Determining the right spelling of a location: $25
Location indication on the map: $25
- Online search for digitized birth, marriage, or death records in Lithuania: $150 (based upon availability)
Please contact Karile Vaitkute, Director of Genealogy Department, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-582-6500 during regular business hours.