A database dedicated to queer women’s history

The first history database about queer women is in the making in Iceland. According to the researchers this is the first time that queer women’s history will be systematically researched in Iceland and possibly the world.

Íris Ellenberger (pictured), Ásta Kristín Hafsteinsdóttir and Hafdís Erla Hafsteinsdóttir, have acquired funding for their project, a database of the hostiry of queer women in Iceland with the working title “Huldukonur” (Hidden Women), beginning this fall.

“What little we know about queer people before 1960 is especially scarce when it comes to women or people of other genders,” says Íris Ellenberger, Post Doc at Centre for Humanities at the University of Iceland. “It’s hard to define who were homosexual, bisexual, transgender and so on because those terms didn’t exist then. For instance there’s no mentioning of homosexuality in Iceland till the 1950s and then it wasn’t even used about women, not until later than that. So it’s impossible to use those categories, especially since queer people before that time didn’t have these terms to define themselves and we can’t possibly know how they would have identified themselves, given the option.”

Íris and two other academics, Ásta Kristín Hafsteinsdóttir Phd student at University of Iceland and University College in Dublin and Hafdís Erla Hafsteinsdóttir recent postgraduate of gender history at Vienna University, have acquired funding for their project, with the working title “Huldukonur” (Hidden Women), beginning this fall.

“We’re going to systematically search through historical data from 1700 to 1960, for clues about women’s sexuality. Then we’ll gather the information and create an accessible database for the public, a database that can hopefully grow as we retrieve more and more information about queer history,” Íris explains.

She says the three of them got the idea when they were editing a collection of articles, about queer history in Iceland, and experienced the difficulties of finding historical data about queer women and other people perceived as female.

“We’re going to systematically search through historical data from 1700 to 1960, for clues about women’s sexuality. Then we’ll gather the information and create an accessible database for the public.”

“So the aim is to increase access to queer women’s history both for academics and anyone interested, through this database. I think that’s what mostly deters research in this area, the vast job ahead to find, let alone access the data that exists. And with women’s history especially because in general, it’s harder to find historical data about them. As a field of study, history has been more or less based on historical data where men are the main subjects and for the longest time, archives were organised in an androcentric manner so it’s often difficult to find data about women and people of other genders, except by accident. This is a huge and well-known problem when it comes to studying history from the viewpoint of others than cis men.”

The hope is that this project will become a starting point of a field that can then expand. But Íris says that the aim is not to reveal any secrets about people who can’t answer for themselves any more, or to embarrass them or their descendants.

Ásta Kristín Benediktsdóttir and Hafdís Erla Hafsteinsdóttir.

“The emphasis is not on naming or exposing individual women and draw conclusions about whether they were queer. We’re going to look for clues, where there would have been scope for the possibility of some sort of queerness. For example, we’ve heard that in the rural culture, women sometimes farmed together, living together at a farm and running it by themselves. We can’t possibly know whether they were queer but if we find more examples of that we can at least state that that arrangement left scope for queer women to be together and undoubtedly, some of them would have used that opportunity. But we will also conduct interviews and gather stories from people who might have known some of the individuals we’ll find in the data, so it’s not all going to be guess-work but we’ll have to assess each individual case when we come across it.”

The task ahead is quite extensive. The three academics have received a funding for the project from The Centre for Gender Equality and the plan is for the database to launch at the end of next year, 2018. But, to avoid gender bias, isn’t there need for a study of queer men’s history too? “Absolutely. The reason why we’re concentrating on the women’s history now is that we found how difficult it was to find material about queer women when we were working on editing the collection of articles about queer history, so we jumped at the opportunity when the Centre for Gender Research advertised the grants. But without a doubt, we will also come across data about queer men and people of other genders as well and we’re definitely not going to dismiss that, but note it down and hopefully it can be used to expand the research later.”

“There have been similar projects … but I don’t think there’s anywhere a database similar to ours dedicated to queer women’s history .”

But perhaps there’s already more known about queer men in Icelandic history? “Indeed, as I said, history revolves more about men in general and for the longest time, it wasn’t even considered that women could have sexual desires so their sexuality was not viewed as a threat and much less studied, whereas men’s sexuality was much more talked about and studied. Some of the sexologists of the 19th century, who came up with the term “homosexuality” were homosexual themselves and therefore more interested in studying men’s sexuality, so there’s much more data about queer men.”

As far as Íris is aware, this is the first time that data concerning queer women’s history will be systematically accumulated in Iceland and possibly the world. “There have been similar projects, especially in the UK where there’s also a brilliant database of queer landmarks in Britain, but I don’t think there’s anywhere a database similar to ours dedicated to queer women’s history .”

Íris, Ásta and Hafdís will start gathering material this September and plan on beginning developing the database next autumn. The end product will not only be the database and a published article, they also intend to create some sort of teaching material for schools. And they’re pleading to the public to help them with their research so if anyone has any history data that could be of use shining a light on the lives of queer women from 1700 to 1960, people can submit information or contact them through the project’s website: https://huldukonur.wordpress.com.

The project will be kickstarted with an introduction and discussions during Reykjavik Pride. The event takes place at The Student Cellar, University of Iceland, on Friday 11th August at 12pm.

Main photo: These had obviously seen a camera before and here they look very stylish. The photo of these cheerful ladies dressed in men’s clothing is taken on a snowy day at the garden of the tuberculosis sanatorium Kristnes in Iceland.

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.


Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.


    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.


        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.


        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us

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