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Lifelong Love of Books

Updated: Jan 15, 2020

The Icelandic Roots Library has received a spectacular donation of thirty-eight (38) boxes of Icelandic books from George Hanson. We are overjoyed and so thankful! The following news release comes from George.

George Hanson donates his Icelandic Library to Icelandic Roots

A lifelong love of books and a deep appreciation of his Icelandic heritage have defined the life of George Hanson.

He was born in 1934, in Chicago, to Vigdís “Daisy” Guðmundsdóttir Hanson and George William Hanson. His father emigrated from Sweden, where his ancestors had been civil servants. His mother was born in Iceland, where her ancestors had been Lutheran pastors and bishop for centuries.

From the age of four, George spent summers visiting his Icelandic “Amma” in Arborg, Manitoba, known as “New Iceland,” where he learned the ancient Icelandic language.

After graduating with honors from Lake View High School in Chicago, George continued his education at Northwestern University, where he was on the Dean’s List and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in 1956. He taught Elementary School in Chicago for a few years while also studying for his Master’s Degree at the University of Chicago.

In 1961 he accepted a teaching assignment at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Keflavík, Iceland, where he conducted research at the National Library of Iceland for his Master’s Thesis, titled “The National Library of Iceland During the Twentieth Century.” Returning to Chicago, he resumed his studies while working as a librarian at the University of Chicago, and in 1963 earned his Master’s Degree in Library Science.

In 1964, George accepted a position at Truman College in Chicago. Within ten years, he was named Director of the Truman College Learning Resources Center and remained in that post for eighteen years, until his retirement in 1991.

George continued his education at Chicago’s Loyola University, where he was awarded a

fellowship. He spent a summer researching his dissertation in the large Icelandic library at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and earned a Doctoral Degree in Education, with high honors, from Loyola in 1979. His dissertation was titled “Icelandic Education: Tradition and Modernization in a Cultural Perspective.”

In addition to reading, George’s interests include music, gardening, and sailing. He studied piano at the Chicago Conservatory of Music, was a dedicated Master Gardener, and an avid sailor. He received a full certificate from the U.S. Power Squadrons and sailed his boat on Lake Michigan and on Puget Sound after retiring to Port Townsend, Washington, in 1992.

George has a deep love for Iceland and has visited the country twenty-five times. He also has traveled extensively in Europe and in the United States, exploring all fifty states. Always—whether traveling or at home—he has sought out bookstores, building a significant personal library of more than three thousand volumes. His wide-ranging interests are reflected in this library, which includes collections on Charles Dickens, English and world literature and history, theology, boating, music, gardening, and Iceland.

Throughout his life, George has been attuned to his Icelandic heritage. This, combined with his love of books, led to friendships and correspondence with other Icelandic writers and librarians, including Dr. Richard Beck and Dr. Finnur Sigmundsson.

His Icelandic books, most of them written in the language, comprise about a third of his extensive library. It is this Icelandic collection that George has donated to the Icelandic Roots Library.

I appreciate the mission of Icelandic Roots and the dedication of its volunteers.

George Hanson, 10 Oct 2017

The IR Board of Directors and volunteers are deeply thankful for this bequest from George. We are always grateful for donations. The gift of Icelandic books makes an important contribution to the preservation of our shared heritage and our language. We will continue to accept donations of Icelandic books and those about Iceland written in the English language. The US Federal tax code allows individuals and businesses to make cash and non-cash contributions to qualifying charities and to claim deductions for these contributions on their tax returns.

Icelandic Roots is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, non-political, charitable organization with the mission to educate, preserve, and promote the Icelandic Heritage, Culture, Language, and Genealogy.

For more information on Icelandic Roots, see more on our website or contact us.

Email us your questions or join the conversation on our Facebook Group.

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