Unsung Heroes Awards Announced at FGS

The winners of the Unsung Heroes Award for the 3rd Quarter 2019 have been announced at the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Washington, DC.

The Unsung Heroes Award is a collaborative program between The Genealogy Guys Podcast and Vivid-Pix, makers of RESTORE software. the program was launched in 2019 to acknowledge and celebrate members of the genealogy community who are leading the way in digitizing, indexing, and transcribing photographs and documents. Nominations are accepted in five categories: Individuals; Societies; Libraries & Archives; Youth; and Posthumous. Awards will not necessarily be made in all categories each quarter.


Presentation of the awards for winners for this quarter is being made by Rick Voight, CEO of Vivid-Pix. The winners are as follows:


James Paprocki 2The Individual winner is James “Jim” Paprocki for his tremendous work on the Rochester Churches Indexing Project for churches in the Rochester, new York, area. The RCIP was begun in 2009 by a group of individual researchers with ties to the Rochester Genealogical Society, Inc. Their experience led them to an idea which would help genealogy work in the future. It was determined that the convenience of a general index to the many churches in the Rochester, New York, area would be a tremendous asset.

Jim Paprocki has been one of the coordinators of the RCIP and the key developer of the database. As of August 2019, The website states that there are over 200,000 records in the database, including 35,575 marriages, 96,863 births/baptisms, and 90,295 deaths/burials/funerals. 

Jim shared some information about himself:

“I have a background in Computer Science, which includes a Bachelor of Science degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1973, so it seemed only natural that in 2009 when Bert Balt [also an RGS member of long standing] suggested that he wanted to index the first German Roman Catholic Church in Rochester and put it online, that instead of just creating text files like so many cemetery listings of the time, we create a searchable database.

“I have been interested in genealogy since the mid 1970s. In 1996 I created a website detailing the work I had done on the Paprocki name. Because of this, I was contacted by a family in Poland who wanted to reestablish ties with family from the United States. Contact was lost in the 1950s when the last US family member who knew Polish died. I was able to reunite the family and was subsequently invited to Poland. I went in 2001 and was able to view family records in the local parish church and the Archdiocesan Archive of Gniezno.

“I joined the Rochester Genealogical Society sometime after 1983. Previously I had been a member of the Kodak Genealogy Club. I was the RGS newsletter editor from 1991 to 1998. I have worked on various aspects of their website including the Church Records Preservation Committee.”

Congratulations, Jim Paprocki, and thank you for all of your hard work to make this project become a reality and to continue the RCIP’s work


Funeral card berra enrico origThe Society winner is the Michigan Italian Genealogy Society for its work in digitizing and indexing funeral cards for people with Italian surnames and making them available on the Internet. A majority of the cards are from the Detroit area dating from 1924 to 1999, and they contain names, birth and death dates, and the name of the funeral home. Many also have photographs of the individual. This online collection can be accessed at https://miitaliangs.weebly.com/blog/detroit-area-funeral-cards

The Michigan Italian Genealogy Society explores various methods of tracing Italian ancestors, promotes education for beginners and more experienced genealogists through social media and blog posts. The Society is dedicated to promoting Italian family history and genealogy. We are dedicated towards educating members and the public in the methodology of finding one’s roots. Our goal is to empower our members in their search for family records by providing the necessary tools and expertise needed. Discover that family history is an interesting, rewarding hobby that will enable you to discover your past and preserve your heritage for future generations. The Michigan Italian Genealogy Society is a proud member of the Historical Society of Michigan and the Michigan Genealogical Council.  

MIGS LogoFuneral Card caballi melana origKenneth Merique, a director with The Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan, generously donated hundreds of funeral cards he has collected over the years. Most of the deceased are from the Detroit area, but some are distant relatives with Michigan connections. The Michigan Italian Genealogy Society has digitized these resources and has posted them to our website. An index is also provided. 

This collection represents a unique set of records that can provide clues to other evidence, including birth records, a death certificate, funeral home records, and cemetery records.

Congratulations to the Michigan Italian Genealogy Society and thank you for all of your hard work to make these wonderful records available!


Details about the Unsung Heroes Award program and nomination forms can be found at https://ahaseminars.com/cpage.php?pt=24. You may submit nominations for any category and you can even nominate yourself! Nominations not receiving awards for the current quarter will be retained and considered for future quarters’ awards.

We Sing Your Praises!