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How to Find My Icelandic Roots

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How to Find My Icelandic Roots

Eyjafjörður, near Akureyri, North Iceland.
From Eyjafjörður, North Iceland. Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

Q: My wife and I will be spending our honeymoon in Iceland this year and would like to visit the area my great great great afi lived. His name was Reverend Sigurgeir Jakobsson 1824-1887. He was the Grund, Eyjafjörður, Church pastor 1860-1879. His widow, Ingibjörg Jónsdóttir sold their half of the estate of Grund to Magnús Sigurðsson and immigrated to Canada, settling in Hecla Island, Manitoba. The church that Magnús built is the logical place for me to start, but it was built in 1905 and I can't find any records (in English) of the Grund church that predates it. Most importantly, I would like to find the cemetery in which Sigurgeir is buried. A search of www.gardur.is [a database operated by the Association of Icelandic Cemeteries] was unsuccessful.

Is it possible for me to buy a copy of the book Dagar Magnúsar a Grund (The Days of Magnús at Grund), which includes information about my ancestor? If so, where? It is my goal to update and expand the family saga for the next generation of Sigurgeirsons. It would very interesting to find out about any distant relatives currently living in Iceland. I would also like to trace our roots back as far as possible, with a focus on historical events like the Age of the Sturlungs.

Is there any way for me to access an English version of Íslendingabók? It seems to be the only resource that can answer my questions. Thank you in advance.

Neil, Canada

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A: Access to the ancestry data base Íslendingabók is limited to Icelandic citizens, or those who have an Icelandic ID number, or kennitala, and an English language version is not available.

Plans were underway last winter by those who run Íslendingabók to start offering people of Icelandic ancestry extensive information on their family tree sometime this year, but they have yet to be realized. To be able to use that service, you would need to know the names of your ancestors who left Iceland for the New World. At that point, information tracing your roots generations back could be provided, as well as information on your relatives living in Iceland. That service will be provided for a fee, since it can involve extensive research.

Until the service is launched, specific questions about your family, not requiring extensive research, may be directed to Friðrik Skúlason by email,[email protected].

You also have the option of contacting the Icelandic Emigration Center in Hofsós, North Iceland. They help people of Icelandic ancestry trace their roots and only charge for the service if it requires extensive research. Feel free to send them an email with an inquiry to [email protected].

We’ve also been told of a database called Icelandic Roots, or Icelandic Genealogy Database. It appears you can purchase membership there for either a month or a whole year.

Regarding the book you inquired about, Dagar Magnúsar á Grund, it’s available for purchase on this website, netbokabud.is, which includes two listings of it.

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VH