This metaphor applies especially to genealogical research. It is important to survey what research has already been completed on your ancestry afore delving into intensive research on your own. One of several sources you should consult is the International Genealogical Index (IGI).
Where is the IGI?
It is kept and updated in Salt Lake City, Utah, by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saintsó(LDS), or the Mormons. Many public libraries and several genealogical libraries have also purchased the IGI in CD format. If none of these is local to you, then access is also available at any Family Search Center (FSC). Although FSCs are located in LDS meeting houses, they are open to the public. Be sure to call for their hours of operation in your location because they are staffed by volunteers whose schedules vary widely. Then again, you can search the IGI online at FamilySearch.org.
- First edition: 1969
- Latest edition: 1993
- Latest addendum: 1994
- Total name entries: 240 million
- Record sources: Government, Church and Personal Records
- Majority of Countries Represented: Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, United States and Wales.
What information is in the IGI?
- Vital records of births, christenings, or marriages.
- Records in regions around the world.
The International Genealogical Index is an index to vital records from around the world. No, it is not complete, but it may have just the family you are researching. Some of the data are microfilm copies of original records. Some original records may have been updated by record custodians, so you might find more accurate information in the original records. In some cases, you can obtain official copies of the original records by contacting the appropriate record custodian. The IGI lists many of these.
Much of what is in the IGI is original research by contributing family researchers. As with anything involving the possibility of human error, you may encounter discrepancies and errors. I have heard some researchers say, "I won't use ________ as a source because the data are all wrong." (You fill in the blank.) If all the data were wrong, it wouldn't be used by anyone! Most of it is solid, however. We all make mistakesóin recording, in remembering, in judgmentóyou name it. A successful genealogist verifies all data, regardless of source.
How to use the International Genealogical Index
- Type in a person's name. You can type either a first name, last name, or both names.
- Optional. Type any other requested information that you know.
- Optional. If you are looking for a specific record and know its batch, sheet, or film numbers, type them in. See Use the Film or Batch Number.
- Optional. If known, select an event in the person's life, such as birth, christening, or marriage. Type the date the event occurred.
- To begin the search, click Search.
That's it! Note: To conduct a search, enter at least your ancestor's first name or last name and the region.
In addition to using a person's name to search for information, you can search for records based on important events in the person's life, such as marriage or death. This can help you focus your search and reduce the number of extraneous records you find during a search.
How to Search the International Genealogical Index
- Required Information
- What Searches Are Invalid?
- Tips for Searching the International Genealogical Index
- Search for Children of the Same Parents
- Narrow Your Search
- Return to International Genealogical Index Search
You must enter at least an individualís last name and region OR An individual's first name and region.
What Searches Are Invalid?
FamilySearch will not search for: Middle names. FamilySearch will ignore middle names unless you check the Use Exact Spelling box. When you check Use Exact Spelling, the search will look for the individual's first, middle, and last name exactly as you listed it. If you check Use Exact Spelling, you may not list parents, spouse, event, or year.
You may not get the results you want if you list parents' names and a spouse's name in the same search. Most records from the International Genealogical Index contain either parents' names or a spouse's name but, not both.
Tips for Searching the International Genealogical Index
- You may search for any combination of first and last names for the individual, parents, and spouse.
- You may search for an individual's first name, last name, or first and last name within a region, country, and state or province. Up to 200 results will be displayed on a page. Click Next to look at the other results.
- For common surnames, fill in additional fields to improve your search results.
- You will get better results if you enter an individualís first name and last name.
- First and last names are standardized so that spelling variations are retrieved in the results.
Search for Children of the Same Parents
- To search for children of the same parents, enter:
- The region.
- The fatherís first and last name.
- The motherís first name (the motherís last name is optional).
Narrow Your Search
You may use the following to make your search more specific:
- Year range (If you select a year range, you must provide a year in the year box.)
- State or province
- Use exact spelling (If you check Use exact spelling, you may not list parents, spouse, event, or year.)
- Batch number
- Film number
- Batch and film number
- If you choose birth or christening as the event, you must also enter one of the following options:
- Last name, region
- First name, last name, region
- First name, last name, fatherís first name, region
- First name, last name, fatherís last name, region
- First name, last name, fatherís first and last name, region
- First name, last name, motherís first name, region
- First name, last name, motherís last name, region
- First name, last name, motherís first and last name, region
- If you choose marriage as the event, you must also enter one of the following options:
- Last name, region
- First name, last name, region
- First name, last name, spouseís first name, region
- First name, last name, spouseís last name, region
- First name, last name, spouseís first and last name, region
- If you choose death as the event, you must also enter one of the following options:
- Last name, region
- First name, last name, region
Use the film or batch number to search for other family members
If you find a record with a film or batch number, search for the film or batch. You may find other family members in the same film or batch.
For example, if you found Alan Kensington on film number 1417888, do another search using only the film number. See if you can find other family members on the film. Note: If a record contains both a batch number and a film number, then use only the batch number for your search. Film number searches are only valid when there is no batch number.
Details about Each Part of the Screen
First Name field:
Type the first name of the person you are looking for. Examples: Jayne, David, Horace. Do not type identifiers or titles, such as Jr., Dr., Miss, Captain, Sir, and such. Do not type middle names or initials. (They do not always appear in the IGI records, and the search may disregard them.)
Last Name field:
Type the last name of the person you are looking for. Examples: Powell, McCormick. For a woman, search for her maiden name first. Then try a second search using her married name.
Father and Mother fields:
Type the first and last names of the father and mother of the person you are seeking. To search for a person, you do not need the father's and the mother's names. You may have only one or any combination of the names. For example, you may have the father's first name and the mother's first name. If you want to find information about a father or mother, type their names into the First Name and Last Name fields.
Type the first and last name of the person's husband or wife. Use the wife's maiden name.
Click on the Event field, and select an event (birth, marriage, all records, and such) in the person's life for which you think a record was made. If you chose Other from the event lists, FamilySearch Internet will search for information found in census records, wills, adult christening records, and any other miscellaneous records. Focus your search by entering additional information about the event in the Event Range, Year, and Country boxes.
Year Range and Year fields:
Use the Year Range and Year fields to indicate when the event you selected in the Event field occurred. Example: If you select a date range of "+ or -10 Years," and type 1880 in the Year box, FamilySearch Internet will find only records created between 1870 and 1890.
Region and Place fields:
Records in the IGI are organized by geographical regions (Britain, Finland, and such). To reduce your search time:
- Click Regions, and select a region to search.
- Click on the region where you think the person was living at the time of the event you selected.
- Depending on the region you choose, other boxes may appear, such as Country or Province.
- Select the appropriate items from the lists.
IGI Source Numbers:
You can find a record in the IGI by entering its batch number, serial/sheet number, and film number. To find source numbers:
- First, search for a person's record by using other information, such as his or her last name and birthplace.
- When you find the record, write down its source numbers. The next time you want to find the record, enter the source numbers.
- You may also want to use the numbers to find other relatives. Go to Use the Film or Batch Number Search for Other Family Members.
Exact Spelling Check Box:
To find records with the person's name spelled exactly as you have entered it, click the Use Exact Spelling box. If you use the exact spelling feature, type only the name of the person you want to find. Do not enter names of parents or spouses, and do not select an event. Include an event date only if needed to limit your search results. When you use the exact spelling feature, be sure to enter the individual's complete name as it would appear in the record, including middle names and initials. When you don't click the Use Exact Spelling box, FamilySearch Internet searches for the name you typed and any close matches. For example, the search results for the surname "Nelson" would include Nelson, Nelsen, Nielson, Nielsen, and such.
Enter information into the search fields; then click Search to begin a search.
To remove all the information from the search fields, click Clear.
How to Download This Information onto Your Computer
You can download four generations of an individual's pedigree at one time. The downloaded file will be in GEDCOM format, which you can use with Personal Ancestral File and other family history record-keeping software.
- The file will contain the following information:
- Each individual shown on the screen and his or her spouses and children.
- The brothers and sisters of each individual whose parents appear on the screen.
- The information needed to preserve the relationships between the individuals.
- Any sources and notes that were included for all of the above individuals.
- Downloading requires Java Script-enabled browsers such as Internet Explorer, FireFox or Netscape Navigator.
To Begin Downloading:
- Display the pedigree chart that you want to download.
- Click the Download link.
- If you have problems downloading, see their Download Troubleshooting Sheet.