Genealogy when you least expect it: Iceland


On a recent holiday to Iceland I was expecting to be talking geology, Northern Lights, the dreadful British Pound exchange rate, and how many layers of clothing might be needed for the day ahead. Although Iceland is a fascinating country for genealogists, I wasn't expecting to have any genealogy encounters on this trip. I don't, as far as I'm aware, have any family connections here, and there were more than enough natural sites along the south coast of the country to keep us amazed during our visit.

Yet genealogy has a way of catching you unawares. This trip it was while waiting at the Reykjavik Maritime Museum for a tour of the Coast Guard Vessel Óðinn, a ship that took part in all three Cod Wars with the British from the 1950s to 1970s. Here I was lucky to speak with Linda, a member of the Museum team, who as an Icelandic citizen has first hand access to the Íslendingabók - the 'Book of Iceland'. This database holds genealogical information of Icelandic inhabitants stretching back over a millennium, and continues to be added to, drawing on both published and unpublished sources.

Sadly I didn't have time on this trip to visit Linda's other recommendation, the ORG Genealogical Institute, however there is so much striking landscape to see in Iceland we will certainly be back and I hope to make contact then. I'm also looking forward to travelling to the north of the country, which will include a stop at the Icelandic Emigration Centre in Hofsós. Genealogy regularly appears when I'm least expecting it, and makes for many rich moments. Really that shouldn't be a surprise, it is what connects us after all.

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