Purpose of this Page
This page is designed to help North
Americans find their Icelandic ancestors using tools commonly available
in libraries and on the Internet. This site provides several tools that
you should become familiar with.
Alphabet introduces the alphabet and how to enter special
characters in Microsoft Word.
Names explains the way Icelandic patronymics are created.
Dictionary of Icelandic genealogical words translated into
- Emigration Rate graphs the number of Icelanders who emigrated between 1870
Map shows you the 23 sysla (counties) and the farm that your
ancestors came from and the 12 ports they emigrated from.
American Map shows the 41 most common destinations for Icelandic
The next task is to identify who
from Iceland and where
they settled. Research
is a good generic guide for the beginning genealogist.
It is provided by the Church of Latter Day Saints, who have one of the
largest collections of genealogical data in the world.
and community histories are the main way to identify who came from
- Elders in the family are often a very good source of
information. They should be interviewed to find out as much as
possible about the names of ancestors, where they settled, when they
came, where they came from, and what their original Icelandic names
were. Try to find out if the original settlers moved from one district
to another and when.
- Documents may exist in the family. Written lists of
ancestors, notations in family bibles, or newspaper clippings of birth
announcements, marriage announcements, and obituaries are common. The
early settlers often published long obituaries in Icelandic newspapers
that described their family history and ancestors in Iceland. Many of
these have been collected and abstracted in Vestur-íslenzkar
Ćviskrár by Benjamin Krístjánsson and Árni Bjarnarson, published
in 4 volumes by O. Björnssonar [1961-] in Akureyri. This may be
available in larger libraries.
- Church records may be a useful source of information. Most
Icelanders belonged to the Icelandic Lutheran Church.
- Grave yards may provide names, birth dates, and death dates
- Community histories were written for most of the
communities in Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1980 when the provinces
celebrated their 75th anniversary. Many communities in Manitoba also
produced histories at about that time. These can be found in major
libraries. They may give information about your family if there were
any living relatives in the community at that time to contribute to
the history projects.
Iceland is divided into 23 counties or
shires. The emigrants departed from 12 different ports. The largest
number of emigrants departed from the North and East sides of the
Icelandic immigrants went to many places when they arrived
in North America. The following links list sources of information about
the most common locations.
- The Utah
Settlement were Icelandic Mormons who settled around Salt Lake
City around 1855.
Ontario was a short-lived settlement of people most of whom
later moved to Gimli Manitoba.
- Markland Nova
Scotia was another short-lived settlement that later moved to
was settled in Lincoln, Lyon, Yellow River, and Roseau counties.
Dakota has a concentration of Icelanders in Pembina County.
was first settled in New Iceland at Gimli and later at other
had Icelandic settlements around Thingvalla, Qu'appelle Valley, Foam
Lake,and Fishing Lake.
Sources provide web sources for ancestors in Iceland and
information about emigration to America.
Books provide published sources for ancestors in North America
and information about emigration to America.
of a search to illustrate the kinds of information that can be found.