19 May 2006

Research: Online: Using the IGI

19 May 2006
One of the most useful web sites for researching your family tree is the IGI (International Genealogical Index) database, at FamilySearch.org.

This site contains thousands of baptismal/christening, marriage and death records from all over the world, collated by members of the Mormon (LDS) church.

Many genealogists criticize the IGI because there are a lot of errors, mistranscriptions, duplicate records, etc. However, it provides a great point of reference when first tracking down your ancestors, to provide clues as to the location of original records, and simply to jumpstart your research.

The IGI allows you to search by last name, firstname, names of parents, name of spouse, year range, location and type of record (birth/christening/baptism, marriage, etc.). In my opinion, the biggest weakness of the IGI is that seemingly reasonably combinations of search parameters are sometimes not permitted. For example, if you try to search on last name + mother's first name + region, you will be told that:

"If you enter a last name without a first name, you must either not enter parent or spouse names, a year, or you must enter a batch number or a film number."

Why? I ask myself.

As you start to use the IGI regularly, you will eventually come across the concept of "Batch Numbers." Batches are essentially groups of records, often collected from a single parish, or group of parishes (or other locations). However, the IGI does not provide full details as to what is covered in each batch. However, various helpful souls have put together indexes of batch numbers, available online, to assist people with their IGI research. One of the best is the site compiled by Hugh Wallis, containing records from North America and Great Britain, which is hosted by Rootsweb.com.

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Kate said...

I agree that the IGI comes on for undue criticism. I'll be honest, I don't take any notice of submitted files. I have found several pertaining to my family that are so wrong it's ridiculous and one that was obviously fabricated. However, the extracted records are pretty accurate, as good as transcriptions on other sites and a good starting point for further investigation.

You are right, the search really could do with an update though, it is very restrictive.

Ian F. said...

I totally agree, Kate. The IGI really is a godsend and provides a great starting point for further research.

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