In May 2011, the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection became the new home of the Hellenic library of the late economist and computer scientist, columnist and author, Dr. Steve (né Savas) A. Demakopoulos. Dr. Demakopoulos was born in New York City in 1930. He received his bachelor's degree from the City College of New York in 1953, served in the U.S. Army from 1953-1955, and received both his master's (1958) and doctoral degrees (1970) from New York University. His two-volume dissertation was titled "Methods and Efficacy of Long-Range Industry Forecasts: A Case Study of the Domestic Air Cargo Industry." Also in 1970, he married Madeline Polisson, his wife of 35 years. Between 1958 and 1970, he worked in various positions in programming, systems management, and operations research analysis before becoming a senior economic analyst for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey in 1971, where he spent the remainder of his professional career.
He cultivated various intellectual pursuits in Hellenic studies broadly and in particular in the fields of lexicography, literature, folklore, and music. He was a personal member of the Modern Greek Studies Association, the Dictionary Society of North America, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (formerly the American Association of Artificial Intelligence), and Krikos. The chief manifestation of these personal interests was his private library, which in total comprised roughly 8,500 volumes, approximately 3,100 of which are in Greek. Among the Greek materials the most pervasive subject area is language, including hundreds of dictionaries of Ancient, Byzantine, and Modern Greek (both katharevousa and demotic), dialectal glossaries, grammars, works on etymology, syntax, orthography, the teaching of Greek, New Testament studies, demoticist scholarship, and other specialized linguistic materials, many of which are rare. Related to language there are copious literary works of major authors; anthologies of poetry, essays, and satire; theatrical works, etc. There is also a substantial number of titles dealing with folklore on topics such as proverbs, songs, stories, and customs of Greeks in Greece, Asia Minor, Pontus, and elsewhere. In addition to books about Greek music, Demakopoulos maintained a sizable collection of bound Greek and Greek-American sheet music (ca. 250 volumes) as well as a musical archive on the same.
Another extension of his interest in the Greek language came in the form of numerous articles and columns he published in newspapers such as the National Herald, Proini, Hellenic Chronicle, Greek Star, and in various magazines. He is also the author of Do You Speak Greek? (2000), in which some of these articles are reprinted in an exploration of Greek language in use in everyday contexts.
Dr. Demakopoulos passed away on Jan. 1, 2006 in suburban Boston, where he had retired 10 years earlier. In 2009 his library was sold to a local book dealer. The following year the collection was brought to the attention of our Curator, who had an opportunity to survey the Hellenic materials for possible acquisition. Based on his strong recommendation, in 2011 the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Foundation very generously acquired this Hellenic library and gifted it to the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection.
The Hellenic library in total contains approximately 3,400 books, including the bound sheet music and roughly 260 volumes in languages other than Greek, and circa 18 linear feet of musical archives. As an accompaniment to these materials, Demakopoulos' widow subsequently donated several hundred audio recordings (vinyl records, reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes, and CDs), personal files, correspondence, lexicographical subject files, and related materials.
This collection was carefully crafted over a lifetime by an individual with a passion for Greek culture and an abiding belief in its enduring value; the linguistic materials alone represent quite possibly the finest library on the Greek language in this country previously in private hands. The Demakopoulos Hellenic library represents the most significant acquisition for the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection since its opening in the University Library in 2003. It has dramatically elevated our holdings in the four principal areas of Greek language, literature, folklore, and music to distinguished status among Hellenic studies collections in the United States. Our thanks go out to June Samaras for her help in facilitating this acquisition.
The cataloging of the Demakopoulos library is ongoing and available materials can be found by searching "Demakopoulos Collection" in our on-line catalog.
The above biographical details come from American Hellenic Who's Who 1994-1995 and Do You Speak Greek?.