Elizabeth Petturson was born on November 28, 1911, in Reykjavik, Iceland. She was the daughter of Magnus and Sigridur (Einarsdottir) Petturson. Following the death of her father, she and her mother traveled to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in March 1913 to live with relatives. In 1914, her mother took a job as housekeeper to Gudni Helgason in Highland Township, Ramsey County. Her mother married Helgason on September 11, 1916. A daughter, Rosy, was born the following year.
Elizabeth Petturson graduated from Edmore High School in 1931. She married William Oakland on October 1, 1933, in Fairdale, North Dakota. The couple began their married life on the same farm where Elizabeth Oakland had grown up. They had two children, Sylvia and Steven.
After living in Highland Township for seven years, the couple moved to William Oakland's former home near Nekoma, North Dakota. They remained here until 1965, when they moved to Grand Forks. Elizabeth Oakland worked as a resident manager for Bosar Company in Grand Forks. She was also a poet. Her poetry appeared in several local newspaper and magazines, including the Grand Forks Herald, the Cavalier Republican, the Dakota Farmer, and North Dakota Outdoors. In 1969, she published Prairie Collage, a collection of her poetry.
Elizabeth Oakland died on June 29, 1996, in Grand Forks. She is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery.
Donation; Acc. #79-616
The Elizabeth Oakland Papers include the August 1977 edition of the Icelandic journal Samvinnan. This edition contains an article written by Elizabeth Oakland entitled "Sagnir Af Sidhaerda Joa." The article concerns the exploits and adventures of Joe Stefansson, a pioneer settler near Nekoma, North Dakota, and brother of Vilhjalmur Stefansson, famed Arctic explorer. A five page, typewritten English translation accompanies the publication.
Also included is a photocopy of a letter by Vilhjalmur Stefansson to Oakland, dated January 3, 1962. The letter regards a newspaper clipping from the Minneapolis Journal which Oakland sent to Stefansson.