Scope and Content
Title: Steingrimur Octavius Thorlaksson Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1916-1970
Accession number: GTU 89-5-010
Shelf location: 2/B/6-2/C/1
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
Graduate Theological Union.
Source and Date
S. O. Thorlaksson, c. 1973
Collection is open for research.
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.
[Identification of item], Steingrimur Octavius Thorlaksson Papers, GTU 89-5-010, The
Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA.
Lutheran Church in Japan --Sources
Japan --Church history --Sources
Missions --Japan --Sources
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
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