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It’s A Wrap!

2021 Was a Milestone Year for Icelandic Roots

-By Rob Olason

Icelandic Roots celebrated its eighth-year anniversary in November 2021 and also logged some pretty impressive accomplishments along the way.

Here are some of the highlights:

Bigger Database

The IR Database is the heart and soul of Icelandic Roots and with thirty-two genealogists collectively putting in thousands of hours of work each year, the number of “cousins” in the database grew by thirty-thousand people in just one year. At the end of the year, the total number of individuals in the database exceeded 741,280. The volunteer genealogists add an average of 2,300 records per month - every month. And each month, 8,000 - 12,000 records are revised with new material, information, photos, and documents sent in by our membership. With this constant addition of more information, the database continues to increase in value for anyone researching Icelandic genealogy, now and in the future.

Because of this growth, a "Quick Start Guide" was created to help people navigate the most common features of the database. Semi-annual intensive training courses are given by Dave, the IR IT Director. Throughout the year, member sessions are held to answer questions from members and show them features that are "hidden in plain sight."

The genealogists meet at least twice a month to discuss new resources, discuss difficult genealogy questions, review places and sources plus much more. It is a great time to gather all these genealogy nerds together where they are not just teammates but also they have become good friends.

More Media

The media collection of photos, news clippings, videos, and original documents also experienced a rush of growth. Nearly 500 new entries each month added 5,894 new items to the expanding media library in 2021. The media collection now holds nearly 30,000 individual items.

Media entries help bring the statistical information alive by helping fill out the biographical picture of our cousins in the database.

We are grateful that our members share these precious supporting items with Icelandic Roots so this material will always have a home on the website for future generations to discover and treasure. The IR Media Team is specially trained and meet often to learn better techniques of working with the various pieces of media and how to organize all this information in the database.

More Paths to Discovery

A special thanks is in order to the hardworking IT specialists and genealogists who create interesting search methods to find new and useful avenues to explore the rich features of the database.

This year one of the new “paths” is found in the Special Selections tab on the website. The sub-category: "Sagas" offers a unique way to explore the Icelandic Sagas through the characters and settings of the Sagas.

Another feature that has become more robust this year is the mapping feature available for each individual’s record. With the work of our Places Team, it is easy to drop into a location whether it is around the corner—or some faraway spot in Iceland. You can zoom in on your family's ancestral farm and see the landscape surrounding it from your computer.

The Emigration Team has completed their first passes and are now working on a few outliers. They have passenger lists, stories, photos of the ships and ports, locations, and much more for all Icelandic emigrants from 1855-1914. Other emigration information is also available on Icelandic people who emigrated after 1914 including the war brides and the new Icelanders to North America and around the world. If you know of or are a recent immigrant, please send us your story - at least the year of emigration for the "Cousins Across the Ocean" project.

Other features expanded in 2021 include the "Stories of the Crossing" which offers many firsthand accounts of travelling from Iceland to North America. This feature combined with the "Women and Children's Stories" help paint a vivid picture of what the life of our ancestors was really like.

More Ways to Stay Connected

In August of 2020, Icelandic Roots started its bi-weekly newsletter bringing news, research tips, Icelandic history and culture to members. If you are reading this article online in the blog or newsletter archive, it first appeared in the newsletter.

Icelandic Roots continued to produce the very popular "Samtal Hour." This is a bi-weekly live conversation with an interesting presenter or discussions on topics of appeal to members of Icelandic Roots. Likewise, the longer webinar events covered even more topics throughout the year. If you were unable to attend a live webinar event, check the Icelandic Roots YouTube Channel to watch the presentation at your own convenience. IR Members have a special link to see Member-Only content on the website and the YouTube channel.

Our social media channels are full of interesting posts. If you haven’t looked into the offerings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other channels, you can find links to those opportunities on the main page of

More to Come

The IR Leadership Team is going strong and leading their various teams through growth and expansion. Here is a recent IR Team Structure chart. We added Public Outreach, the Podcast, the Saga Project, the Newsletter, and the Author's Corner in 2021.

In 2022, the Icelandic Roots teams will continue to build on the successes of this last year: expanding the database and its features, bringing more opportunities for members to participate in online events, learning, and research opportunities.

I have not even touched on half of the projects, programs, and work that is done behind the scenes. There is so much done for philanthropy, too!

  • The Icelandic Roots Library continues to grow thanks to many individuals who want us to preserve their books, documents, and collections

  • Even though Covid restricted the travel for Snorri participants and thus our Snorri Scholarships and the INLNA Conventions in Canada for the past two years, IR still gave the following over 2020-2021:

  1. $8,000 in Canada

  2. $8,500 in the United States

  3. $8,500 in Iceland

You can see a listing of grant recipients HERE.

There is no doubt that there will be some surprising new offerings when more than 70 enthusiastic volunteers put their heads together and set to work…

… Because in 2022 and the years beyond, Icelandic Roots and its volunteers remain committed to our mission:

  • to educate, promote and preserve interest and knowledge in the history of Iceland and its people

  • to strengthen the links between Icelanders and those of Icelandic descent in North America

  • to broaden access to historical documents and records for Icelandic genealogy and history

  • and to inspire pride in Icelandic heritage, traditions, language, literature, and culture.

If you have not joined IR yet, please consider joining us as a member. As an all-volunteer, nonprofit, public charity, we believe in "Paying it Forward" for the people of today and those in the future yet to come. You can give a gift of membership, make a donation, or just fill in a "Cousins Across the Ocean" form to help fill in the younger generations.

Thanks to all the IR Volunteers and Members!

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

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