Monday, January 3, 2011

What is the IGI?

With the release of the new FamilySearch.org website (not to be confused with NFS, the new FamilySearch Tree), many are asking where the International Genealogical Index (IGI) went. To understand where it went, you first need to understand what it is and where it came from. This week I address the what, when, whence, why, and where of the IGI.

An entry from the Internet IGIWhat is the IGI?

The International Genealogical Index is a computer file published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It contains several hundred million entries, each recording one event such as a birth, baptism (christening), marriage, or death.

According to Elizabeth L. Nichols, former FamilySearch employee and IGI expert,

Each entry is a stand-alone record. If a person was born in one [region] and married in another, the entry for each event will be in the [region] where it occurred, with no reference to the other entry (if both entries are in the IGI). The entries in the file are not linked to other records, even when they pertain to the same person or same family.1

There are basically two types of entries: records of individuals and records of marriages. I think the original, idealized objective of the IGI was the creation of one (and only one) entry for each person who has ever lived and one (and only one) entry for each husband and wife. In practice, duplications were unavoidable and in recent years were even allowed to accelerate.

I’ll address the religious significance and the source of entries in the IGI in upcoming articles.

Tomorrow, “When was the IGI?”


Sources

     1. Elizabeth L. Nichols, “The International Genealogical Index (IGI), 1993 Edition : Part I,” Federation of Genealogical Societies Forum, Spring 1994, 5-10.

1 comment:

  1. AI, you say "I think the original, idealized objective of the IGI was the creation of one (and only one) entry for each person who has ever lived and one (and only one) entry for each husband and wife. In practice, duplications were unavoidable and in recent years were even allowed to accelerate."

    It would be interesting to hear about earlier history of the IGI.

    But at least in the 1970s and 1980s editions, IGI contained items keyed in from books, genealogical newsletters, family group sheets, and whatever else was sent to the Library.

    So a marriage of John and Barbara (with incorrect surname for her and incorrect parentage for John) was keyed in from a 1936 book, from each family group sheet copying from the book, from a 1960s book copying from the 1936 book, from a 1962 self-published work copied from the 1936 book, from a 1970s book copying from the 1962 work, from a 1982 book copying from the 1936 book and the 1962 work, from a 1984 book by the 1936 author (citing himself as authority), and innumerable family group sheets and uploaded files over the decades copied from the foregoing.

    Then a researcher in 1980s found actual documentation of correct ancestry of Barbara and of John and a few submitters began using the correct data in submitted family group sheets, Ancestral Files, etc., that were also duly keyed in to IGI.

    The supposed purge of family group sheet submissions ca. 1991 did not prevent subsequent submitters from copying from the above or from others' quotations from prior IGI versions. Since Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File entries that happened to have the documented correct data were not keyed in to IGI, IGI still has large numbers of entries for John and Barbara with emphasis on wrongness.

    The thinking that went into using IGI as the basis of newFamilySearch Tree is mind-boggling to contemplate.

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