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Taking a Peek in the Icelandic Roots Treasure Chest

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

Explorations among IR’s “Hidden Gems”

-by Rob Olason (IR#I149007)


When we first become members of Icelandic Roots, we have so much to learn: how to navigate the database, explore our family information already documented in the database and contemplate how to add all the family information we have gathered on our own to our family’s record in Icelandic Roots.


Keeping all these tasks operating smoothly is no easy job. The mental demands focus our attention on an increasingly narrow slice of the database, namely our individual family’s story. We’ve all spent many hours in this pursuit.


However, when we need to take a break from our highly detailed personal efforts, Icelandic Roots has the perfect place to recharge our genealogical batteries and at the same time offer some very pleasant diversions. If you haven’t yet taken this path, I strongly recommend you spend some time exploring the ever-growing "Special Collections" section of the database.



Clicking on the "Special Collections" tab will reveal a number of paths to explore.

On a recent excursion, I chose the subheading “Histories.” I ended up clicking on a link to the story titled “It Tears at the Heart,” which explored the current exhibit at the New Iceland Heritage Museum in Gimli, Manitoba about John Ramsey. He was the Indigenous man who is credited with saving the newly arrived Icelandic settlers in 1875 by helping them survive the harsh winter by providing them with food and teaching them survival skills in this new and strange land. Too bad I live half a continent away, I would love to see this exhibit. The NIHM has received a yearly heritage grant from Icelandic Roots.


New Iceland Heritage Museum in Gimli, Manitoba

Next, I clicked on an article closer to my home of Blaine, Washington written by David Johnson called “A Short History of Seattle,” which actually gave me some new clues for my research on my ancestors who spent some time living in Seattle in the late 1890s.

Emboldened, I decided to try another subject area by exploring the “Media” tab. I remembered in a previous session I had discovered a photo of a second cousin whom I used to “jam” with when I was a child, he on banjo, another Icelander on fiddle, and I playing catch up on accordion as the two seasoned players rotated through their 1930-40s era country tunes.


Using the media search bar, I chose “Blaine,” and got several links to explore.

To my surprise, one of the first links was a photo of a young woman who was the “Fjallkona” of Blaine in 1910, Anna Kristín Pétursdóttir (IR# I335179 ). Intrigued, I clicked on her name under the “Linked to” column and learned from the inscription written on the back of the photo:


“This is a picture of Mrs. Anna K Magnusson (Pjetursdottir) the way she looked 2nd of August 1910 here in Blaine, Wash. She was the Fjallkonan. The robe or dress is dark green silk and trimmed with silver tinsel and she carried a spear and had her long blond hair flowing and her long hair almost reached her knees, everyone thought she was very stately.”

Further intrigued, I clicked on her Icelandic Roots entry and discovered she had moved to Blaine in 1906 with her father, but shortly after her honor as a Fjallkona in 1910 she moved to Seattle to learn nursing and eventually moved to California, where she died at the age of 48.


Recharged after my diversion into the Icelandic Roots treasure chest, I returned to my own family history projects, energized by the gems I had found with a few clicks of the mouse.


I’m going to continue my relaxing journey through the Icelandic Roots treasure chest and share some of the unique treats I uncover along the way in this newsletter. I think of the "Special Collections" as my very own “I-cloud,” which is my very own “Icelandic library in the cloud.” It’s always open anytime day or night and as a special benefit, I will never get an overdue notice!


I encourage you to join me in a treasure hunt for Icelandic treats. Like me, I’m sure you will be amazed at the variety and richness of what awaits you in this special corner of Icelandic Roots. If you find a true gem that we should all see, drop me an email and tell me about it and I’ll share your find in an upcoming Icelandic Roots Newsletter.


Happy hunting!


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