Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why Was the IGI?

With the release of the new FamilySearch.org website, 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 whole week I have been addressed the what, when, whence, why, and where of the IGI.

Why was the IGI?

Elizabeth L. Nichols (retired FamilySearch employee and IGI expert) explained that the International Genealogical Index was

…created and published primarily to assist members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) to identify their ancestors and other relatives for the purposes of verifying whether temple ordinances have already been completed for them and to further their research into their ancestral lines.1

As I mentioned previously, I think the original, idealized objective of the IGI was the creation of one individual entry for each person who had ever lived and one marriage entry for each couple that had ever wed. Consequently, it is an index of individuals and couples rather than an index to original records. 

Over time the value of the file to the general public was recognized and in 1981 it was renamed the International Genealogical Index.2 However, the purpose of the IGI did not change. And the Church continued trying to avoid adding duplicates. As you will see momentarily, this compromised its value to the general public.

“Extracted records…that were duplicates of patron-submitted entries [were] not added to the IGI,” wrote Nichols.3 “If an entry was already in the file through another source, the duplicate entry from the extraction program was not added.”4

Let’s look at an example. Twenty people in Batch C 2286-2 named Bull were extracted from the parish records. The detail below from the Parish Printout (dated 1977) shows 12 of them:5

A portion of the Parish Printout for Shustoke, Warwick, England

Search Batch C022862 for surname Bull and it shows the IGI contains but 11 of the 20. (See the illustration on the right. Just for the heck of it, on the left I’ve also shown the results of the same search on the new FamilySearch.org website. And you thought you could no longer do batch number searches! Pish, posh! But I’m getting ahead of myself…)

Historical Records shows the 11 Bulls from batch C022862The IGI contains 11 Bulls in batch C022862

Compare the IGI with the Parish Printout and you will find these are the 9 entries missing in the IGI:

SURNAME   DATES   GIVEN REL PARENTS
BULL CHR 29 SEP 1549   MICHAHELL S*  
BULL CHR 1 SEP 1550   WILLIA S*  
BULL CHR 21 DEC 1559   RAPHE S WILLIA BULL
BULL CHR 29 JAN 1580   ANTHONIE S WM BULL
BULL CHR 29 JAN 1580   ANTHONY S WILLIM BULL
BULL CHR 19 DEC 1581   ANNE D WILLM BULL
BULL CHR 8 JAN 1582   ELIZABETHE D WILLM BULL
BULL CHR 4 JAN 1584   WYLLM S WYLLM BULL
BULL CHR 24 JUN 1593   ANNE D MICHAELL BULL

 

Why are they missing? An IGI search in Warwick County, England for these entries shows matching member submissions already existed. (Click the Given name to see the IGI entry.)

SURNAME   DATES   GIVEN SEX PARENTS
BULL CHR 29 SEP 1549   MYCHAHELL M  
BULL CHR 1 SEP 1550   WILLIAM M  
BULL CHR 21 DEC 1559   RAPHE M WILLIAM
BULL CHR 29 JAN 1581   ANTHONY M WM
   "    " "                 " "    "
BULL CHR 19 DEC 1581   ANNE F WM.
BULL CHR 8 JAN 1583   ELIZABETH F WM.
BULL CHR 4 JAN 1585   WILLIAM M WM
BULL CHR 24 JUN 1593   ANNE F MICHAELL

 

These were all part of member submission batch 7526216, which I think means it was received in 1975. The Parish Printout indicates the extraction batch was not processed until 1977. To avoid adding duplicates to the IGI, these entries from the extraction batch were discarded. And that’s no bull…

(Come on; with that surname, you can’t tell me you didn’t know a bad pun wasn’t coming sometime!)

Tomorrow: “Where is the IGI?” Actually, I’m behind schedule. You may not see the article until next week.


Sources

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

     2. James B. Allen, et. al., Hearts Turned to the Father, a special issue of BYU Studies 34:2 (1994-95), pp. 306, 317-9; digital images online (http://byustudies.byu.edu : accessed 28 December 2010).

     3. Elizabeth L. Nichols, “The International Genealogical Index 1992 Edition : Part 2: More about Temple Records,” Genealogists’ Magazine 24 (December 1993): 352.

     4. Elizabeth L. Nichols, “International Genealogical Index (IGI), 1993 Edition—Part IV,” Federation of Genealogical Societies Forum, Fall 1994, 6.

     5. You were probably hoping for a citation to the parish printout here. So was I. But I ran out of time. No matter. How I found it is fodder for a future article. Don’t let me forget.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you. At last, an explanation for why so many entries that appear and are legible on the Parish Records do not appear on the corresponding IGI batch entries - prior member submissions. I'd always believed it was LDS policy to miss off 1 in 10 to make you look at the original records :-)

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  2. Thanks for all this information. Sorry I didn't thank you earlier in the series. I realize what an effort it takes to organize and think through something like this explanation. I think the IGI has given too much emphasis as a "source" over the years.

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  3. Thank you for doing the public a favor and explaining this.

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  4. You wrote, "Warwick County, England"

    It's the County of Warwick, England, or Warwickshire, England.

    It should NEVER be called Warwick County.

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