A huge thanks to the ICA for the 19th year of promoting Genealogy here at The Deuce. My brief message is to highlight the Genealogy Center and the organization, Icelandic Roots.
George Freeman led the charge to host the first Genealogy Center at the Deuce in 2003. I volunteered to help. We used Hálfdan Helgason’s Genealogy Database and lots of books. Over the years, George and I helped build that database, did lots of genealogy, and for the Deuce, helped tour groups and dignitaries coming from Iceland to find emigrating ancestors and living cousins.
In 2012, Icelandic Roots was born and was granted nonprofit status in 2013. We had been doing the volunteer genealogy work for many years but creating the official nonprofit was the tipping point to creating unstoppable momentum.
Our team has grown the database from Hálfdan’s 500,000 people to now almost 800,000 people and not just names and dates – adding to our family tree – every month - about 2,300 people.
We do comprehensive research and documentation of ancestors and descendants with data, charts, interactive maps, special reports, obituaries, cemeteries, and photos by our dedicated Media Team. They have almost 40,000 photos and documents in the database now!
The emigration information is extensive with ships, ports, passenger lists, stories of the crossing, diaries, letters, and special reports to see complete family emigrations, locations, and more.
Even people who think they know all their genealogy are surprised by what we have inside the database. While the database is amazing, there is more! With two IT teams, writers, educators, social media, special projects like Emigration, War Brides, Women and Children´s Stories, Midwives, and the Saga project. There are Histories, Books, Seminars, Samtal Hour, Book Club, and more to educate others and “pay it forward” for the next generations to come, our Cousins Across the Ocean.
Since 2013, we have given more than $150,000 in grants and scholarships, not counting our services at events like this – and all with just membership fees, donations, and an all-volunteer staff.
This year, we gave 14 Snorri scholarships plus an educational grant. Other grants include Hofsos and Vopnafjörður Emigration centers, KN Julius project in Akureyri, Riishus in Borðeyri, language scholarships, the three Icelandic National Leagues, the Lögberg-Heimskringla, Icelandic churches, and cemetery restoration projects, and more.
A special thanks to Vilhjálmur and all of you who have joined Icelandic Roots. You have access to and are supporting this remarkable, collaborative, living community that ‘pays it forward.’
Þórdís Kolbrún, we checked out your family connections here. Your closest relatives include Grand Marshall – Dr. Eugene Byron! He is the 2nd cousin to your Afi, Guðmundur Helgi Ingólfsson. We will take a big group photo at the end of this program.
Our Leadership Team is 9 outstanding individuals from Canada, Iceland, and the United States who lead 68 volunteers – 68!
My friends and teammates here from Iceland are: Cathy Josephson from Vopnafjörður who has been here many times. Hjördís Hilmarsdóttir from Egilsstaðir will show her documentary here at 6:30 on the East Iceland highland farms, and Gay Strandemo from Wisconsin with the wonderful book about Guðriður Þorbjarnardóttir – the most widely traveled Viking woman and an ancestor to us all.
The Icelandic Roots motto is, “Alone we can do so little…Together, we can do so much.” And together, the Icelandic Roots volunteer team and members like you continue to grow the database and our community for all.
Members say: By joining, you will learn so much more about your Icelandic story, strengthen your roots, identify more deeply with the nation of your ancestors, and for those who live in Iceland – you will enjoy precious friendships through our organization filled to the brim with culture, stories, poetry, and gatherings of inspiration and kinship that the world so desperately needs today.
Takk fyrir – Thank you!