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Inventory of the Steingrimur Octavius Thorlaksson Papers, 1916-1970
GTU 89-5-010  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Access Points
  • Biographical Description
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Steingrimur Octavius Thorlaksson Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1916-1970
    Accession number: GTU 89-5-010
    Shelf location: 2/B/6-2/C/1
    Creator: Thorlaksson, Steingrimur Octavius, 1890-1977
    Size: 13 boxes

    4 1/2 linear ft.
    Type of material: Papers (English, Japanese, some Icelandic); photographs; postcards; books; periodicals; pamphlets; financial records; glass slides; 1 plaster relief; 1 copper negative, 1 printing block
    Repository: The Graduate Theological Union.
    Berkeley, California
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Source and Date

    S. O. Thorlaksson, c. 1973


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Graduate Theological Union. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Graduate Theological Union as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Steingrimur Octavius Thorlaksson Papers, GTU 89-5-010, The Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA.

    Access Points

    Lutheran Church in Japan --Sources
    Japan --Church history --Sources
    Missions --Japan --Sources
    Missionaries --Correspondence

    Biographical Description

    Steingrimur Octavius Thorlaksson (1890-1977) was born in Mineota, MN, May 26, 1890, his father the first immigrant pastor of an Icelandic Lutheran congregation. He graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College, 1913; Chicago Lutheran Seminary, 1916. That same year he married Caroline Kristin Thomas of Winnipeg, Manitoba (4 children: Margrethe, Octavius, Erik, Esther). They were commissioned missionaries to Japan --by the Icelandic Synod of America on behalf of the old General Council of the Lutheran Church --arriving there in the fall 1916.
    Thorlaksson served various pastorates, including Kobe, and as the Treasurer for the American Lutheran Mission in Japan until his evacuation at the outbreak of WWII. Before evacuation, he transferred all mission properties to the independent Japanese Lutheran Church which prevented confiscation by the military during the war.
    The Thorlakssons moved to the San Francisco area which became their permanent home. Caroline died in 1956 --Thorlaksson remarried in 1959, Liv Cecilie Oddson. He worked as a Field Missionary for the Board of American Missions of the United Lutheran Church in America serving congregations on the West Coast maintaining a continued interest in Japanese and Scandinavian churches.
    In San Francisco, 1944, he entered diplomatic service on behalf of Iceland as Honorary Consul General. He was given the title "Member Emeritus of the San Francisco Consular Corps" by that body on February 17, 1971. (See Biographical Sketch of Thorlaksson, Box 4 ff 9)
    From 1967, he lived and served as resident chaplain of the Martin Luther Tower, a retirement home in San Francisco. He died in Webster Grove, MI on July 10, 1977; and was buried from St. Mark's, San Francisco.

    Scope and Content

    This collection was processed in two separate sections. The first section had been partially processed and cataloged by library staff. The second section processed two years later when four boxes of unprocessed material were discovered after a shelf move. The two sections of material have been incorporated into one collection. The arrangement here is the archivist's construction, there having been no inherent arrangement. Most of the collection has to do with the business or financial aspect of mission work (bills, statements, correspondence, etc.). There is very little personal material. Some of the collection is in Japanese, some in Icelandic. Major portions of the collection concern the Japan Lutheran Mission, and the Lake Nojiri Summer Resort where Thorlaksson had a summer home.