Written by: Elín de Ruyter
Icelanders are known for their love of books and poetry, so it’s no surprise that one of our very own volunteers Natalie Guttormsson has just released her first book of poetry. Titled “Nostalgia” it is an inspiring collection of poems about love and yearnings of the soul.
Natalie is a fifth generation Icelander, born in British Columbia, Canada but she is currently residing in Reykjavík, Iceland with her husband and their young son. She has been a valued member of our team of volunteers since 2015 and plays the important role of Webmaster for our Social Media Team.
She was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions, so we can get to know the wonderful person behind the volunteer:
1. Why did you become a volunteer for Icelandic Roots?
I had just returned to Canada from spending the summer in Hofsós, Iceland as a Snorri Alumni Intern at the museum of Emigration - Vesturfarasetrið. I had met Sunna briefly while I was in Hofsós, and I was intrigued by the organization. I’d spent the summer trying to find out as much as I could about my ancestors and their emigration journeys, but I ran into several dead ends - this was before Icelandic Roots became an official partner of the Vesturfarasetrið. When I returned home, I reached out to Sunna for help in finding information on where my 4th great-grandmother, Lovísa Samúelsdóttir, was buried. Sunna helped me in my search, pointing me towards sources I could try to find some mention of her in.
Lovísa’s name had been changed to Louisa Samuelson when she emigrated to North Dakota from Manitoba, as many Icelanders’ names were changed when they moved from place to place in North America. After weeks of looking at online census records, cemetery listings, and newspaper archives, I finally found an unexpected mention of a woman that was a likely match to Lovísa. It was under the name Louisa Samuelson that I found a single line entry in a Pembina County newspaper declaring that she had been sent to the Jamestown State Hospital for the Insane on the 26th of August, 1901. Part of me hoped it was not her, but the name of the person sending her away matched the family she had been known to have emigrated with. Next I searched for her death certificate which confirmed that she was Icelandic, and that she had died on December 14th, 1901, only 3.5 months after entering the hospital - which was a huge relief, as the stories online about the place were horrifying!
When I told Sunna what I had discovered, she personally went to the cemetery at the Jamestown State Hospital and found Lovísa’s headstone. She planted an Icelandic flag on the grave, and filmed a moving video for me and my family. When she asked if I wanted to join the team and help others find their family members, I said yes without hesitation. Icelandic Roots is about so much more than finding your own family tree, it’s about weaving together the branches of all our ancestors, painting a picture of the communities they built, and preserving that legacy for the generations that come after us. After finding some of my own answers, I wanted to give back and help others find their missing genealogical puzzle pieces. I think most of us volunteers get involved in a similar way.
(You can read more about Lovísa’s story on her page: IR#324792)
2. What is your specialty with IR?
I started out helping with genealogy research and responding to the Cousins Across the Oceans forms that would come in. After my son was born, I became more involved with blog writing and creating social media content. I currently coordinate the social media team as well as manage the website and curate the blog.
I have several passions, so I’ve started calling myself a “Digital Creative / Storyteller” meaning I love design and I also love storytelling and t
hey often overlap. I have a web and graphic design business, Hugsi Designs, and I am a writer of poetry and fiction. I just self-published my first book of poetry on Amazon, called “Nostalgia”, which was really exciting and I’m currently working on a novel inspired by Western Icelandic culture and Norse Mythology.
4. If you could meet one of your ancestors, who would it be and why?
This is a VERY tough choice to make, but I will pick Lovísa, whom I talked about earlier, because her lineage is so fascinating (go read her IR page!), and yet her life must have been so difficult. I would want to hear her version of her life events.
It’s thanks to volunteers like Natalie that help make Icelandic Roots the wonderful, comprehensive resource it is today. She is one of the many talented individuals working tirelessly with us to preserve our Icelandic story- it’s history and culture for future generations.
We would like to thank Natalie for her valued contributions to Icelandic Roots and we would like to congratulate her on the release of her first published e-book of poetry. You an buy it on Amazon here. You can also follow her on Instagram: @guttormsson.writer and visit her website at www.guttormssonwriter.com
Natalie has been gracious enough to share one of her poems from ”Nostalgia” with us.
We are not bound by time
you and I.
The years matter not.
We reunite and embers ignite
right where we left off.
Time means nothing to us.
Our souls do not measure the seconds
Our hearts are not weighed by the hour.
Our minds do not count the minutes…
...okay, yes, they do
for each minute without
you is an eternity.
If you would like to join our team and become a volunteer for Icelandic Roots, please send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you would like to become an Icelandic Roots Member please head to the following link https://www.icelandicroots.com/database-membership and fill out a Cousins Across the Ocean Form.