How to use the International Genealogical Index

International Genealogical IndexThe Mormons or Latter Day Saints have drawn on Church records to compile their own resource. They now share the Churches vast amounts of relevant information with the general public. They have their own libraries which people can visit to find out information relating to their ancestry. As well as these libraries the Mormons have also compiled an online resource which is also known as the International Genealogical Index. If you type this in as a search then this resource will appear and you can use it to find out information that is unlikely to be available on the Census online. The Census only gives useable records as far back as the 1800s whereas the Mormons have records stretching back as far as the 1500s which then tail off around 1876 crossing over the point where the Census continues records of similar information.

The Mormons glean their information from the parish records derived from a number of different places including Britain and the Channel Islands. This information has then been centralised and organised by the Mormons. The type of information collated includes largely baptisms and marriages, but a few deaths and births are also recorded. They were originally recorded in the Parish where the event took place. The parents or spouse of the person registered is also usually recorded. You can easily access the information from the Mormon libraries but there are a few other IGI libraries. To use the library is free you just have to book a machine in advance. You will be given an instruction manual there on how to use it.

The IGI is a library of information but not a complete set of full records. Researchers may not be able to access all Parish registers for various reasons. Gathering old records on such as large scale is not only a difficult and laborious task but includes some 'dead ends' where old records from some Parishes may be lost or incomplete, for example. However the parishes covered in each county are listed and you can cross reference these with all the parishes listed today on an ordnance survey map, for example. You should also be aware that although this is still the most comprehensive list of church records online that there may be multiple listings for a few individuals as well as possible missing information on ancestors you are searching for. From 1876 and even earlier the record entries have been made by individuals and are therefore less reliable evidence. You can of course check the entries against the Census online or the Family Records Department to verify them. Be aware that when doing so that the county boundaries used in the IGI are inconsistent with the standardised boundaries which the other resources are more consistent with. For example Smethwick Non-Conformist Church is registered under Birmingham and Smethwick Church of England records are under Staffordshire. Understanding these issues with the IGI makes it easier to proceed with online searches.

The IGI online is divided into batches which have been organised by the Mormons and draw on the two main ways in which they have compiled their information. The IGI has been put together through these laborious methods which in turn save us time in looking up information on our ancestors. The first method is through individual submissions where members of the Mormons submit the information found which is then assigned a batch number and then often listed under individual or family group. The other lengthy process undertaken by the Mormons is the name extraction process whereby information is collected in relation to that individual's name including vital data and Church records. These often appear in the subdivisions of the batches such as 'C' for christening references and 'M' for marriages.

To search for your ancestors on the IGI you need to be aware of how to access and use these batches of information. You can access the IGI by going onto the Family Search website and choosing 'custom search'. This will give you the IGI section where you can then choose a region and enter a surname. The search can be narrowed with a first name being entered as well. The blanket search will only give the first 200 results, so putting in a first name will narrow this. You can then select the name you are interested in (further indicated by location) and be given a batch number (usually attached to the local parish of that ancestor). You then enter the name and the batch number you have been given to get further information including the microfilm number so that you can order the microfilm from your local Family History Centre and verify records.

Next: Using Parish Registers