The Constantinople Family

When initially studying the Greek community in Alexandria, I noticed that there were not many Greeks in the early twentieth century. According to the 1920 US Census, there were approximately twenty Greeks living in Alexandria. Most of these immigrants were younger, single men coming to the city for work  in the food service industry. The time frame that these immigrants were coming to the U.S. also caught my attention. Most of them immigrated between 1905-1915. Early twentieth-century Greece was not a stable place to be.  Between border wars and revolutions, Greece was fairly dangerous. When briefly looking at Greek history, I saw that there was a revolution going on in Greece in 1905 known as the Theriso Revolt.[1] This revolution sought to see Crete unify with Greece and resulted in martial law on the island.  This outbreak of fighting was then followed by World War I, in which Greece tried initially to be neutral and then joined the Allied Powers.

Not all Greek immigrants were single men working wage jobs who came as the result of the region’s instability. The Constantinople family had roots in Alexandria for a long time. Having settled in the U.S. in 1893 and naturalizing in 1898, James Constantinople quickly established his life in Alexandria. The Constantinople family lived at 523 King Street in 1920, which was part of the central business district. James, his wife, Georgia, and their two children as well as Georgia’s brother and sister-in-law lived together, which was not unusual for immigrant families. The Constantinoples seemed like a typical Greek immigrant family in the 1920s that had chosen to live in the U.S. They were small business owners and were involved in their community and church.[3]

As far as his occupation went something struck me. He was not working in the food industry in the 1920s. The 1920 U.S. census lists James’s occupation as a merchant. This information in the census caused me to look deeper and see what jobs he worked prior to 1920. In a newspaper clipping from the Washington Post published in 1908, I found that James owned a fruit stand.[4] In the article, James (along with another fruit stand owner) were fined for being open on Sunday.


Through my investigation on the Constantinople family, I was surprised to see little documentation. For a family that had been in Alexandria for such a long time, it was mildly disappointing that I was only able to find more information.

[1] C. Kerofilas, Eleftherios Venizelos, His Life and Work, trans. Beatrice Barstow (London: John Murray 1915).

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Orthodox Greeks To Hold Service: Feast of Transfiguration to Be Observed With Special Mass,” The Washington Post August 8, 1929.

[4] “MUST CLOSE ON SUNDAYS: Fruit Dealers Fined for Keeping Stores Open on Sabbath,” The Washington Post June 11, 1908.

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