Iceland seems to have been a common thread this past week. Relatives are planning a trip there late this fall, a fellow genealogist was telling me about Icelandic heritage and another friend has talked about their yearly celebration of all things Icelandic. Plus the volcanic eruption in Iceland in the news. All of this made me curious to know more about what is involved in researching your Icelandic roots. Sadly, I do not have Icelandic ancestors and so do not have firsthand knowledge, but research is what I do! Here is information that I have discovered about researching Icelandic family history. Let’s look.
According to my friend, Iceland has done an extremely good job of documenting family history. There is an excellent book (now a database) called Íslendingabók - English Summary (islendingabok.is) where Icelandic family histories have been recorded since the 18th century. There is a catch though…you can only access that database in Iceland! Wouldn’t those of us with Irish roots love to get back that far in our family history? Technically Icelandic roots originated with Norwegian and Celtic peoples settling on this island. Ah…well I’m always up for travel. If your Icelandic ancestors made their way to Canada or the United States, there are plenty of resources available. Here are some sites that you may find of interest.
This blog talks about Icelandic naming and heritage as well as the Islendingabok book: Islendingabok: The Acient Book of The Icelanders | Iceland24 (iceland24blog.com)
Icelandic Roots | Genealogy Resources According to their site the Icelandic Roots is “a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, non-political, charitable organization with a mission to educate, preserve, and promote Icelandic Heritage.” Membership to this group provides access to a database called Hálfdan’s Genealogy Database which is a collection of births, marriages, and deaths.
National Archives of Iceland | Þjóðskjalasafn Íslands | The National Archives of Iceland You can translate the page to English and among the information that you can search are census records from as early as 1703. I searched using a known Icelandic name and found results easily.
Icelandic immigrants found a niche in northern North Dakota. The small community of Mountain, North Dakota celebrates that Icelandic culture and heritage with a festival every year. You can learn more about this active group here: The Deuce – Icelandic Communities Association of Northeast North Dakota. It’s quite remarkable how this tradition has continued for over 100 years. You can read more about how the second of August became a day to celebrate being Icelandic as well.
If you want to explore more about Icelandic culture, this site Icelandic National League – A source for all things Icelandic (inlus.org) provides a great starting point. They even have free webinars on a variety of topics that you can enjoy for free.
Iceland Genealogy • FamilySearch You can find many additional links for researching Icelandic records.
There are a surprising number of Icelandic records available on Ancestry as well so if you have a subscription that includes world records, it is worth checking out.
It was fun to explore a bit more about Icelandic heritage and I hope the sites I shared provide you with the tools to begin or continue your research. “Gleðilegar rannsóknir” (Happy Research!) At least I hope Google translate was correct!)
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.