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Genealogy Team Director


Cathy Josephson


Vopnafjörður, ÍSL

As a precursor to Cathy’s biography and work with Icelandic Roots, we are proud to celebrate that on New Year’s Day (2023) she was awarded the Knight‘s Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon at Bessastaðir by President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson! Read more at:

Cathy Josephson was born and raised in the old “Minnesotabyggð,” the area around Minneota, Minnesota. After living all over the U.S., including in Thief River Falls, Minneota, Green Bay, Nashville, and Minneapolis, Cathy collected her cousins together and traveled around Iceland in 1994. The following year, she returned to Iceland and has since made her home in Vopnafjörður. Since 2004, she has even lived on the same farm where one of her great-grandmothers was born.

In 2002, the East Iceland Emigration Center was formed, and Cathy was literally assigned to be a member of the governing committee. In the beginning, the Center had no office, no telephone, and no money, but Cathy and her colleagues began researching emigrants from the Vopnafjörður area and their descendants in North America, collecting photos and information. Over the years, the Center’s database and other resources have vastly improved, and the small but dedicated group of volunteers is doing wonderful things.

Cathy says her own memories of growing up in the Minneota Icelandic community, kept largely in a mental shoebox for longer than she cares to count, were a great help as she began to learn the ins and outs of genealogy research. Nearly all the Icelanders who emigrated to Southwest Minnesota were from East Iceland, and easily half were from Hofssókn, now called Vopnafjarðarhreppur, the municipality to which the village of Vopnafjörður belongs.

Cathy says she has sharpened her genealogical teeth, so to speak, by researching her own ancestors and she is ready to tackle other genealogy challenges.

In addition to her genealogy work, Cathy is an accomplished artist. Years ago, armed with borrowed paper and pastel charcoal colors, she joined a group of local hobby artists and has been finger-painting since. After several art shows, both in Minneota and in Vopnafjörður, she’s now trying to expand into watercolor and other media. Cathy says that art provides a wonderful break from the sometimes dry work of genealogical research.​

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