Sunday, 22 April 2018


I am Miriam. Welcome to my Genealogy Corner!

I am a transgender woman from Norway, currently living in South Africa where I am working on my PhD in anthropology at the University of Cape Town.

I write this blog under the name Miriam Aurora. It is not a pseudonym, but my chosen name, which I go by in my daily life and to which I will legally change as soon as it becomes bureaucratically possible for me to do so. My current legal name is my (male) birth name, which I do not wish to divulge.

The city of Oslo is where I was born. It is also a city where I have deep and strong ancestral roots. Photo by me (2016).

As a child, I moved around a lot, and realized at an early stage that I did not truly belong in any particular geographical place. My identity has always been closely tied to my family, the people to whom I am bound through bonds of love, common experiences and, not least, common history. Combined with a love for Norwegian and world history and a strong fascination with various cultures and languages, this led me to start exploring my ancestral history. Perhaps that was where I would find out who I really was, and where I really came from.

Although genealogical research provided me with many answers, every answer spawned a multitude of new questions, and I have since learned that genealogy is a journey that can never really be finished. It has been a very important hobby for me since about 2005, and for the last decade it has been the most important of my hobbies (which also include scuba diving, hiking, music, and other things). This blog is an expression of my passion for genealogy in all its aspects. In it, I share the results of my delvings into my family history as well as thoughts and reflections about my genealogical works-in-progress and other related topics.

I write this blog for three main reasons. Firstly, because I want the information about my family history to reach a wider audience among my own close and distant relatives. Secondly, because I believe that the facts about my family history are relevant to the field of history in general, and especially the history of Norway. Thirdly, because I have amassed considerable experience within both traditional and genetic genealogy, some of my posts are aimed towards the general public.

A final reason for my writing, and perhaps the most important one, is that genealogy is, in essence, a collection of stories of interconnected human lives, and I find the stories of my family to be exciting, entertaining, moving, and often inspirational. I hope you too will enjoy them.


Many of my ancestors were immigrants to Norway from other countries, a fact of which I am very proud, since it brings cultural and ethnic diversity into my ancestral heritage. In fact, migrations and ethnic mixing is a field of particular interest for me, and several of my blog post deal with long-distance immigration to Norway (e.g. from Italy and even Brazil) in the 1500s, 1600s, 1700s and 1800s. I have also written about Black people in Norway in the early modern period.

Genetic genealogy

I have been an active genetic genealogist ever since I received my very first DNA results back in 2011 (Y12 from National Geographic's Genographic Project), and I have a particular fascination with biogeographical admixture estimates and what they can reveal about ancestral histories. Several of my blog posts deal with technical aspects of interpreting admixture estimates, and I have written reviews of most of the big DNA testing companies (FTDNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage) as well as third-party tools (herehereherehere and here). I have also written about haplogroups.

Additionally, I have written a couple of blog posts reflecting on the relationship between family history, DNA and personal identity (here and here), as well as a couple of posts with political content, addressing racist attitudes and assumptions among genealogists (here and here).

My own family history

Most of my blog posts deal directly with my own family history. Below I have listed all my eight great-grandparents and categorized these blog posts (clickable links) according to which great-grandparent's side of the family they concern.

A blog post exploring my family's various claims of ethnic/cultural heritage can be found here.

My great-grandparents (all born in Norway):

Fredrik Marensius Pedersen (1904-1979; fff), descended from farmers and crofters in Trøndelag and Gudbrandsdalen. Distant Scottish ancestry on the direct paternal line (MacMhathain, mid-1600s).

Ingrid Gunhild "Mossa" Olsen (1905-1990; ffm), of Norwegian, Sámi and Forest Finn descent. Several pieces of furniture have been preserved from her line of the family, as well as a family bible.

Inge Albert Winger Lister (1906-1974; fmf), Resistance fighter, of Norwegian, German and West African descent, etc. He also descended from a family of Atlantic slave traders. Many old photos have been preserved from his side of the family.

Gunvor "Vesla" Cederholm (1915-1989; fmm), of Norwegian and Swedish ancestry, etc. She and/or her husband seems to have had recent Ashkenazi Jewish ancestors. Many objects have been preserved from her line of the family. One of her ancestors helped establish the Danish colony in India in the 1620s, and was the first in my family to visit what is now South Africa.

Arne Harry Hammeren (1919-1991; mff), descended from Norwegian millersForest Finns, and German nobility with possible connections to Ethiopia and Rome.

Aase Lilly Eresia Johansen (1920-2000; mfm), descended from Forest Finns, Italians, extremely poor Norwegians, and perhaps Russians and Ashkenazi Jews. One of her ancestors was an accused sorcerer.

Torbjørn "Oslo" Johansen (1923-1985; mmf), sailor, adventurer and war hero, of Norwegian, Swedish and Romani descent.

Gerd Ovidia Hansen (1924-2005; mmm), Resistance fighter, of Norwegian and Forest Finn descent.

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