Skip to Main Content

American Folklife Center Collections: Iceland

This guide provides access to ethnographic resources documenting Icelandic expressive culture in Iceland and the United States in the collections of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.


Sidney Robertson Cowell, collector. Oddrun Sigurasson, portrait, photograph. 1938. WPA California Folk Music Project Collection.

American Folklife Center collections documenting Icelandic traditions represent the diversity of Iceland's expressive culture in Iceland and the United States. Among its unique collections are recordings of Icelandic ballads made by the University of Wisconsin in 1940, recordings of Icelandic music and song made in Iceland by Amanda M. Burt, and recordings of Icelandic singers in California made by Sidney Roberson Cowell in the 1930s as part of the WPA California Folk Music Project, and presented online as part of the following online presentation.

California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties Collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell

California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties, comprises 35 hours of folk music recorded in 12 languages representing numerous ethnic groups and 185 musicians. It includes sound recordings, still photographs of the performers, drawings of folk instruments, and written documentation from a variety of European ethnic and English- and Spanish-speaking communities in northern California in the 1930s. Sponsored by the University of California, Berkeley, and cosponsored by the Archive of American Folk Song (now the American Folklife Center archive), this undertaking was one of the earliest ethnographic field projects to document European, Slavic, Middle Eastern, and English- and Spanish-language folk music in one region of the United States. The collection includes Icelandic ballads and rimur performed by several singers.

Additional Collections of Interest

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

Podcasts and Blog Posts