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Elka Björnsdóttir´s diaries

Elka Björnsdóttir (1881-1924), a working woman in Reykjavík, kept diaries during the years 1915-1923 which are a remarkable source material on the life of working class women, besides being a wealth of information on the various events that took place in Iceland at this time.

Elka followed national affairs closely and was interested in matters of equality and improved conditions of the working class. She was also very concerned about education, cultural matters and progress.

Her diary gives a unique insight into the struggle for existence, living standard and conditions of poor people in Reykjavík during the years of the First World War. Many important events in the history of Iceland 1915-1923 e.g. the Spanish flu, the eruption of Katla, the winter of the great frost and the sovereignty in 1918, are mentioned in her diary.

Elka´s diaries have recently been published by the University of Iceland Press in the series Sýnisbók íslenskrar alþýðumenningar. They are conserved in the Manuscript Department of the National and University Library of Iceland. The first record in the diary is entered on the first day of summer approximately 100 years ago, on the 22nd of April 1915.

The manuscript can be viewed here:


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