The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is a database created and maintained by the LDS church that is very loosely described as an indexed listing of selected vital records from around the world. It contains names, dates and places of vital records events, focusing mainly on christenings/births and marriages, that have been transcribed from the original records, usually microfilmed copies. The actual origin, history, composition and precise use of the database is much more complicated than this simple definition, but it will suffice for an introduction and beginner use. The church also maintains some other databases with similar and sometimes duplicative content. That discussion is for another time.
The IGI was originally available on microfiche, copies of which were available in LDS libraries, branches and some libraries. With the rise of the internet, it was placed online to the joy and jubilation of researchers worldwide, though some libraries may still hold on to their fiche copy.
The IGI is organized by "batches" which are numbered groups of records that identify the source of those records. So, for example, Batch Number M515341 represents marriage records from 1825-1879 for Lincoln County, Missouri as located in the County Recorded of Deeds office. The "source" is shown as "Source Call No.: 0973688 V. 1-3" where "0973688" is the number of the microfilm copy of those records in the FHL library and "V. 1-3" represents their sequence position on the film. The Batch prefix "M" is for marriages; other prefix codes indicate the type of record, such as "C" for christenings. These represent original record "extractions", i.e. direct indexed transcriptions, of the actual vital records, usually from the microfilm copy.
The IGI may also contain user submissions of vital record data. Those submissions are identified through different batch codes and numbers. They are considered highly variable in quality and accuracy, but may contain useful research clues.
However, during 2012, separate access to the IGI as a discrete database via the FamilySearch website was "officially" discontinued. Its data has been incorporated into the Family Search global search facility which acts as a kitchen sink kind of search. One problem with the IGI is that it had become saturated with all those uncited patron submissions of questionable origin and validity, which too many researchers relied upon as proven fact, in addition to the extractions from primary source records. Batch numbers, if that was the source, will continue to be displayed in the detail search results page, but it does not appear to be possible to search on batch number through the new global search. However, as of October 2012, the following link still works to bring up a panel to search just the IGI. Note the radio buttons to select either: "Community Indexed IGI" - which will be primary source extractions OR "Community Contributed IGI" - which could be just about anything. Hopefully this hidden gem will remain.
The following sections were written previously, prior to October 2012, and may not be current. Search panels may have changed or function as described. Links shown may no longer work. (Need to review and revise, but later.)
Marriage records for many, if not most, United States counties have been indexed in the International Genealogical Index (IGI) at the LDS FamilySearch website at LDS Family History Site The indexed marriages are generally limited to those before about 1885. The IGI also includes birth/christening records for some churches and civil jurisdictions within the USA as well as marriages and christenings for many countries outside the USA, predominantly Europe, British Isles and Scandanavia. Other IGI records have been submitted by individuals and source information may or may not be included. Those records may be helpful, but should be used merely as unproven clues.
The IGI records are generally presented by jurisdiction (i.e. county, parish, etc.) and range of year coverage in "Batches". Most batches are assigned an alphabetic prefix and serial number that is generally sequential by jurisdiction alphabetic order (i.e. county name) within state. There are various codes for the prefixes, but the two most common are "C" for Christening and "M" for Marriages. See LDS International Genealogical Index (IGI) - Batch Numbers - Prefixes for a list of the Prefix coding scheme. "Christening" records (more precisely infant baptism) are considered as an alternative for birth records in early times when those did not exist. However, the length of time between birth and christening will vary from a couple of days to a year or more, depending on local practice, church doctrine, culture and custom.
The IGI can be searched for all records for all locations by entering, at a minimum, one person's 1) given name, 2) surname and 3) Region (North America, etc.). The resulting list could be quite large, so other information can be entered to restrict the search such as date range, record type, spouse, parents, etc. The IGI can also be searched for all records for just a given surname within each batch, essentially being a surname search for a particular jurisdiction (i.e. county or parish). This is accomplished by entering, at a minimum, three fields in the IGI inquiry form: 1) Surname, 2) Region (i.e. North America) and 3) Batch number. Unfortunately, IGI batch numbers are not listed online (as of August, 2007). They are available at the LDS Family History Centers or through trial-and-error guessing. Lists of batch numbers for various locations may have been discerned; those for IGI-indexed marriages in Missouri counties have been listed.
Unless specifically told not to (checkbox), the system will include certain alternate spellings. Although I do not know how they have programmed these alternate spellings, from my own observation, it appears that they are more comprehensive (and useful) than just the Soundex algorithm. However, the alternatives used are not completely comprehensive, so it may be necessary to try alternatives manually. For example, "Smith will be included with "Smyth" but NOT with "Smythe". Also, the LDS search may not include all variants that would have been displayed by Soundex.
To access the IGI search, try IGI direct link otherwise, do the following:
You can also enter a 'First Name' by itself or in combination with a Last Name. Also, the LDS system will NOT accept wildcards (i.e. asterisk *) in any fields.
The returned list will show all indexed marriages for the surname for the time period in Pike County, Missouri.
For another explanations, lists of batch numbers, etc.:
For some additional information about IGI batch numbers, some newsletter comments are at IGI Batches
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