Tuesday, July 3, 2007

IGI on FamilySearch.org

The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is like an old car that you can't seem to let go. Everyone (at least most...hopefully some) knows what I'm talking about. I own a 1995 Honda Accord, and it runs great, but there are a few things don't work as well as they should, nor does it have everything I would like to have in a car...and don't get me started on the passenger side window. It gets me from A to B, and until something better comes along (or until it dies) I'm just going to keep driving it. The IGI has been around forever, well maybe not forever, but it's like your old car. The 'old' database may not have all the bells and whistles like digital images and other database frills, but she runs good and gets you from A to B pretty well, and quiet frankly there aren't any databases out there that can replace it for Hispanic genealogy. So, we should just deal with her issues, and leave the passenger side window rolled up.

The IGI is supplied in two different ways. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints (more commonly known as Mormons) submit names of their ancestors so that religious ordinances can be performed for them, and FamilySearch (sponsored by the LDS Church also referred to as the Famiily History Department) works with volunteers to extract names from original records within its collection. The database is accessible through http://www.familysearch.org and is free to use. To access the database follow these steps:
  • go to http://www.familysearch.org
  • click on the Search tab
  • click on International Genealogical Index (located in a list of databases on the left side of the screen)
The IGI is so important because it contains names of millions of names (I'm not sure of the exact number, but I believe it is hundreds of millions) of deceased individuals from around the world. As mentioned before the database is made up of patron submissions and also from extraction work. The FamilySearch extraction program is quite older than me, and has been a blessing in deguise for researchers. If you would like to know more about FamilySearch extraction (known as indexing now) visit http://www.familysearchindexing.org. I would really like to focus this blog entry on the extracted records that can be found in the IGI.

You will read, and most likely hear in the future, about batch numbers. The extraction program divided original records into batches to make them more easily to manage. Each batch number refers to a particular microfilm where the information was extracted from, for instance: batch number C630014 covers baptism records for Cordoba, Cordoba, Argentina for the years 1792-1809, which can be found on microfilm #763313.

Warning: not all parishes have been extracted! If you search the IGI and don't find your ancestor(s) don't be discouraged. Not all records have been microfilmed, and all the records that have been microfilmed have not been extracted. If your ancestor does not appear in the IGI it means you are looking in the wrong place, his/her records have not been submitted by anyone or the records have not been extracted.

It has been difficult in the past to determine if the records for the parish where your ancestor's lived were extracted. The last published list of IGI batches done by FamilySearch is more than 10 years old. Fortunately other groups have pitched in to make our lives a little easier.
The Asociación de Genealogía Hispana has begun a project to identify batch numbers for Latin American countries and Spain. The project is ongoing, and may not contain all the batch numbers that have been done, but it's the most complete one available. So far the association has identified batch numbers for Argentina, Spain, Chile, Peru, Uruguay and have begun working on Mexico. This is a great database and continues to grow, keep checking back for updates and/or contact them to see how you can participate in the project. You can access their batch number database at: http://www.hispagen.es. Please note that it is not required to have a batch number to search the IGI. It is simply a way to narrow your search and quickly find ancestors. You can search the IGI without a batch number by simply entering a first and last name and a region (this should be pretty self explanatory when you visit the site). If you do have a batch number go ahead and enter it into the indicated box.

  • As a general rule (not an exact science) batch numbers starting with the following letters have the following significance:
    • C = confirmations/baptisms of both males and females
    • J = confirmations/baptisms of males only
    • K = confirmations/baptisms of females only
    • M = marriages - try searching for both the groom and bride
  • Always order the microfilmed copy to view the original record. The IGI does not contain all the information that will be found in the original record. In baptism records you can normally expect to find the following additional information:
    • birth date of the infant being baptized
    • place of residence and/or place of birth of the child's parents
    • names of both paternal and maternal grandparents
    • marriage records will provide the place of birth of both the bride and groom
  • This is the most important online database for Hispanic genealogy...be patient and ask for help if you need it. You can contact your area family history center or contact FamilySearch Support at: support@familysearch.org
  • FamilySearch.org is the best site for finding variant spellings of Hispanic surnames, however, you may want to try some variant spellings on your own to be thorough in your search.
  • If you don't find anything on your ancestors in the IGI, try searching the Vital Records Index and the Family History Library Catalog. I will write more about these two superb resources in the future.
  • Keep coming back to the blog for upcoming Skypecasts (learn more about them at http:www.skype.com). I plan to begin holding regular Skypecasts to help others with their Hispanic genealogy. The first Skypecast will be in a couple of weeks, and we will talk a lot about the IGI and other great resources found on http://www.familysearch.org


Anonymous said...


Couldn't help contacting you after seeing your photo with the Catedral de Notre Dame in the background. I was there in 1968 and I enjoyed the whole Paris scene. I was a French student attending summer school in Avignon and left from Paris to return home to the USA. I am researching the Gonzales and Ayala family lines from Zacatecas and the Ayala and Zamora lines in Michoacan, Mexico. Will be looking to participate in your Skype presentations. How does one get hooked up?

Beth Ann said...

How do I access the list of IGI batch numbers? When I clicked on the link you had, it was all in Spanish and I couldn't figure out where to go from there. Not everyone doing hispanic research speaks and reads Spanish. I've found quite a bit by searching on IGI batches and would love a list of what films, etc have been extracted. Thanks.