Greek City Times is proud to present a weekly historical snapshot
from the archives of the ‘In Their Own Image: Greek Australians’ national project
by photographer Effy Alexakis and historian Leonard Janiszewski.
THE KRIZOS (KYRIAZOPOULOS) FAMILY
Prominent amongst Melbourne’s Greek community of the early twentieth century was the Krizos (Kyriazopoulos) family. Their legacy persists today.
Michael was born in Melbourne in November 1910. His father, Dr Konstantinos Krizos, had established a successful medical practice (as a ‘Masonic Lodge’ doctor) in Melbourne. He had graduated from Athens University, and had undertaken medical experience in both Paris and Bulgaria. Able to speak six languages, Dr Krizos became Honorary Consul of Greece in Melbourne from August 1921 to January 1923, and was very briefly president of Melbourne’s Greek Orthodox Church and its Community. He was a monarchist in political temperament. He abbreviated his name from Kyriazopoulos to Krizos in 1926, as it was too difficult for his British-Australian patients to pronounce. Michael’s mother, Antigone (née Dimissa) was also very well educated. Her father, like her husband, practised medicine.
A characteristic of early Greek settlement in Australia was its gender bias – it was overwhelmingly male. Because of the shortage of Greek women, amongst the single Greek men who had secured a future in Australia, some would briefly return to Greece to select an appropriate bride. Dr Krizos was part of that pattern. Michael explains:
“My father arrived in 1902 [having been born in 1864 in Adrianople, Eastern Thrace (Edirne, Turkey)]… He had been told that Australia needed professional people… After about eight years, having established himself, he wrote over and asked for mother’s hand [Antigone’s family were also from Adrianople]. My grandfather [maternal] said he wasn’t going to let my mother come out to Australia unless father came over and married properly. So in 1909, my mother and father came to Australia… the whole Greek female population of Melbourne turned out to greet my mother – the whole five of them!”
Michael passed away in 2007.
The early twentieth century saw the growing but still limited number of Greek women in Australia’s major urban centres banding together and forming Hellenic social groups and organisations. Antigone, utilising her good education and middle class background, assisted in establishing the Melbourne Greek Women’s Society in 1916. In the following year, as President of the Society, she instigated the staging of her husband’s play – translated as ‘The Inconsiderate Guest’ or ‘The Uninvited Visitor’ – in aid of the Greek War Orphans’ Relief Fund (World War I). Dr Krizos’ play is considered to be the earliest written by a Greek settler in Australia and its staging by Antigone was the inaugural public performance. Formal Greek women’s societies were also later constituted in Perth (1926), Sydney (1929), Brisbane (1931) and Adelaide (1937).
Fifi graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Melbourne University in 1938. Having majored in haematology, she entered employment as a biologist at Melbourne’s Prince Henry Hospital. During World War II she became a medical assistant in a munitions plant and later served with the Red Cross in Greece.
Michael attended Scotch College in Melbourne and graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) from Melbourne University in 1934. He became an electrical engineer working in the Northern Territory and then in 1948 he acquired the position of Senior Electrical Engineer with the Victorian Department of Water Supply. He retired in 1975. Following Michael’s passing, Fronditha Care (aged care facilities initiated by Greek-Australians) was bequeathed a donation of $1.8 million from his estate.
Photos: Effy Alexakis
Historical Research: Leonard Janiszewski
© In Their Own Image: Greek-Australians National Project Archives
ABOUT EFFY ALEXAKIS & LEONARD JANISZEWSKI
Since the early 1980s, Effy Alexakis, a photographer, along with historian researcher Leonard Janiszewski, have been travelling around Australia photographing and collecting stories. They have also photographed Greek-Australians in Greece and documented some amazing histories. The images and text provide personal, diverse and powerfully moving insights, about opportunities, hopes and challenges. Collectively, these stories provide personal perspectives of a diasporic Hellenic identity. Their archive encompasses photography, both historical and contemporary, taped interviews and literary materials.
They have published 3 books and numerous articles, and their projects are ongoing. The photographs have been widely exhibited throughout Australia and in Greece.
VISIT THEIR LATEST PROJECT: Greek Cafés & Milk Bars of Australia | Facebook