Welcome to -


Vesturfaramiðstöð Austurlands

East Iceland Emigration Center
Kaupvangur 2, 690 Vopnafjörður, Iceland


Who Are We?

The East Iceland Emigration Center
is an organization of volunteers
interested in re-establishing contact
with the descendants of the people
who left East and Northeast Iceland (primarily Vopnafjörður, North- and South-Múlasýsla, and Þistilfjörður) after
the eruption of Askja in 1875.


May 2012

Vesturfaramiðstöð Austurlands / East Iceland Emigration Center began in May, 2002. At the annual meeting, it was decided that a birthday open house would be best.

We were offered the use of Kaupvangskaffi, downstairs in the Kaupvangur in Vopnafjörður, and there we have tables with a good number of the resources we use in searching for relatives. Also are a good handful of maps of North America, a slideshow of last summer's visit to Manitoba and North Dakota, and an extra computer or two for those who might want to delve into the past when they stop in. Of course, goes without saying that the coffee/tea pots are well stocked!!

And as is rather necessary these days, the donation jar is handy to the guestbook - and even small change is very welcome!! Our guests today were very kind to us - in addition to being very interesting folks to chat with.

- Wish you could have been here...

April, 2012 -
Annual Meeting Held

"Vesturfarinn's" annual meeting for 2011 was held on Wednesday, April 25 in Vesturfarastofa here in Vopnafjörður. All went well, as you might expect among Icelanders: president's report, secretary's minutes, and treasurer's reports all happily accepted without exception!! - One comment from one of our newer members was along the lines of, "As you wish, we are more than happy that we don't need to bother putting this all together - please, accept our applause for your hard work!!"

Oh, if all governing duties were so simple!! ...Perhaps after the next election, wherever we live and vote!

The board members were instructed to choose their own positions for the next year, and met a few days later to decide. - Meaning, as you might only hope for in your own committees, "No, you take that seat, you're better suited...Well, alright, I'll take that position. Are we all happy now?? Let's go home."

The results of the fencing and fending are: the chairman for Vesturfarinn for the next year is Cathy Josephson, the secretary for our group is Ari Sigurjónsson, and our treasurer is Ari Hallgrímsson.

Some of these names are familiar both East and West. Cathy, born and raised in the Minneota, Minnesota area, has lived in Vopnafjörður since 1995. Ari Sigurjónsson has his home in the village here, and works away from home (uses his free time to do some amazing stuff for us!). Ari Hallgrímsson is retired, and busier than ever - as most retired people are. He is very interested in old places, old photos, and generally the history of this area, although he has a website which we check for the early morning weather report. If Ari hasn't set something in, then he's off traveling somewhere!!

Summer 2011, here we come!


í Kanada - beint flug 2011

"Karlakórinn Drífandi", an East Iceland men's chorus, will be traveling to sing during August the Deuce and Gimli, Manitoba celebrations. They have invited others here in East Iceland to join them. Space is filling quickly - and those who are interested in finding and meeting relatives are asked to provide pertinent family information.


Mystery Image!
Do you know this family? The photo was taken in Glenboro, Manitoba.

Click here to see this photo enlarged.

Contact us with your...



Information about the
emigration years?

About the emigrants?

Additions to our
Photo Album?

Donations of letters,
family histories, etc.?

By e-mail: Vesturfarinn

Call us: 354-473-1200

During DST, add 5 hours to Central Standard Time; during winter, add 6 hours. (Remember to adjust accordingly for other time zones.)

Call forwarding means
we always answer!
Surface mail:

East Iceland Emigration Center,
Kaupvangur v/Hafnarbyggð
690 Vopnafjörður, Iceland

Office Hours:
Mondays & Thursdays


Open more often
- and VERY happy to open just for you!!!
Be sure to contact us.

What Do We Do?

We offer genealogical services,
looking into the past to the time of
their ancestors, but also into the
present in search of relatives in
Iceland. We can help in planning
visits to places and people connected
with their family.


...every year, Western Icelanders from Canada, from the United States -
sometimes even from Brazil - come to Vopnafjörður and East Iceland. The Center's aim is to provide help to those descendants who come to visit their ancestral homeland.

They come singly, in small groups, and sometimes as a family group of several generations. They come with family
stories, with ancestral charts, with
family photographs - almost always
with very good basic information about names and places in Iceland.

And with a feeling that they are somehow returning home, they stand on their ancestors' old farms, looking across the fields, rivers and mountains, often with tears in their eyes. That is why.


By exploring the past... The task before
us is large. Many years, many miles from Iceland to the Americas, more than 25,000 men, women and children gone...
"farinn"... But Icelanders are fond of record-keeping, and there is a wealth of information to help us find each other again: donated family histories, census records, church records, old photographs sent back to relatives and friends still in Iceland.

By standing in the present... Every year, descendents of the emigrants visit Iceland
to explore their roots - to visit places their grandfathers have talked about. So we are ready to accompany them, help them find the old farms, perhaps meet a few cousins, certainly make new friends.

Look at some of our sources in the links below

Below are links to some of the information
currently available in our library:
Here are links to various sites with information about the years of emigration, the emigrants themselves, and their new lives in the Americas:
Iceland in the 19th Century - the National Archives Census Database has posted most of Iceland's censuses. A VERY welcome addition! English language option, and searches possible with an English keyboard ("Sigfus Arnason" yields "Sigfús Árnason").
Vesturfarar - Emigrants 1876 - 1878 from Vopnafirði - has much information and is not focused on any one area where Icelanders settled.
Jökuldalsheiði and Its Settlement - the site for the North Dakota Icelanders annual celebration
The Minnesota Settlement - they are a "volunteer-run 'non-profit' project to find and make genealogical records freely available
Letter from Dagverðagerði Hálfdan Helgason has much information about the emigrants and their descendants. Contact him about accessing his genealogical database.
List of Settlements - Icelandic periodicals, including publications from the emigration years, have been posted to this site. A very informative site if you can read Icelandic.
Emigrant Photo Album - An award-winning site sponsored by the North Dakota State University

These sites have information about some of the Icelandic emigrant settlements - and one family site is also included: - focuses mainly on Icelanders
who settled in the Langruth, Manitoba area. - has much historical information, with immigrant photos, about the Swan Valley, Manitoba settlement. - very informative site about the small
group of Icelanders who were only a few years in Novia Scotia. - Icelanders settled on Washington Island, and some descendants are still there. The site has information for summer travelers, but the "History" page includes Hjörtur Þórðarson (C. H. Thordarson) from Dalgeirsstaðir, Torfastaðahreppur, Húnavatnssýsla. - This is a family site for the Icelandic and Faroese ancestry of Linden and Janet Davidson. You might just be related!!

We do check these links from time to time - but be sure to let us know if you find a link that no longer works. Also, we will be glad to add other web sites concerning the history of Iceland, the emigration years, the emigrants and their descendants, etc. Comments - questions - additions: send an e-mail to: Vesturfarinn


Don't miss our Emigrant Photo Album!

Thank you for visiting our site!

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