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Three Western Icelandic Organizations Join Hands For an Online Event

IR Webinar hosted by INLNA and INLUS

The Icelandic Roots Database is the subject of a joint Icelandic National League of North America (INLNA) and the Icelandic League of the United States (INLUS) webinar slated for October 26, 2023. Or rather, the subject of how an Icelandic descendant could use the database to find out their ancestor’s emigration history is the focus of the webinar.

In 2023, Icelandic Roots is celebrating ten years of operation as a non-profit, all volunteer organization dedicated to helping individuals uncover their Icelandic heritage through its extensive genealogy database and the powerful software that helps access an individual’s family history. Recent changes in the database program have opened up new pathways to discover previously obscured family history.

Icelandic Roots volunteer, Dave Jonasson, who is the IT and Emigration Team Director for Icelandic Roots, will be presenting these new program features in the one-hour online event hosted by INLNA’s Natalie Guttormson.

Natalie intends for the presentation to “show anyone unfamiliar with Icelandic Roots some of the new developments and features that make researching the emigration of each family so much easier and faster.”

Dave Jonasson echoed that goal, saying that “the volunteers at Icelandic Roots have been working hard over a five-year period to add emigration information to the database.”

The process included adding the information recorded in Vesturfaraská, the 1983 work of Júníus H. Kristinsson, into the IR database. This publication was the first major attempt to identify all of the Icelandic immigrants to North America. It is estimated that up to 20,000 people, one-quarter of the Icelandic population, emigrated during the emigration period - 1870 to 1914. Vesturfaraská only included those where documentary evidence existed - 14,268 names.

The team of volunteers then began matching that information with actual ship manifests, extending the period examined to the end of World War II. This was merged with other emigration information from Icelandic and North American census records and family histories.

A ship manifest
A ship manifest

"The IR database now contains 17,857 people who are recorded as emigrating. The effort is not complete," Dave said, "as we continue to add and improve our records."

Natalie Guttormson described what this data trove means for someone researching their ancestor’s emigration.

“What would take days/weeks/months to research on your own is all compiled into the IR database, she said. “I don't think a lot of people know that. Nor how long the immigration research team has been working on this.”

Dave Jonasson described the one-hour presentation as a great starting point in helping Icelandic descendants to “identify your emigrating ancestors, the farms they left from, the ships they traveled on, the ports where they arrived in North America, and groups of people traveling together.”

Jonasson added that the program “shows you your emigrating family and how they may have emigrated over a number of years. It is focused on leaving Iceland and arriving at a port in North America. It does not go into the next segment----arriving at their new home in North America.”

"The database, however, often contains that information and more," he said. "Tracing the journey from Iceland to North America is often the mystery in the family story that the Icelandic Roots database can help shed light on."

The presentation takes place on October 26, 2023, at 3 pm ET, 2 pm CT, 1 pm MT, and 12 pm PT. The program can be accessed a few minutes before the start time in your time zone at this link:

The webinar is presented through the INLNA’s “Everything Icelandic” series and co-sponsored by INLUS. Natalie Guttormson said this "collaboration between multiple Icelandic organizations in North America helps strengthen the Western Icelandic communities."

She concluded, “How great it is that we have multiple organizations in North America, working together to promote our heritage, culture, and genealogy. INLNA, INLUS, and Icelandic Roots all want to work together more in the future - this webinar is just a start.”


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