The IGI genealogy search engine can be an excellent tool for your genealogy research. The IGI is easy to access, but you will get your best results if you take the time to understand the best ways to use the Index.
What Is the IGI?
The International Genealogical Index (IGI) began in 1969 as a project of the Family History Library, a genealogy research facility of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). The IGI was created to make it easier to search for information on a specific surname or person. The Index is a compilation of about 250 million names which are referenced in data records. The original data records came from the following sources:
- Documents submitted to the church
- Data sources from around the world
The Index was created to keep track of the information researched by LDS members. Some of the information which is indexed was sourced from microfilm copies of original documents. Other information referenced in the index is still available for viewing in the original form, such as in books and documents at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City or any of the Library's branches in over 100 countries.
Issues to Watch Out For
The information in the IGI is gathered by record custodians. These custodians review the source documents, pull the individuals' names from the documents and record the names and the titles of the source documents on the IGI. As with any transfer of information to a database, there can be issues with the data. In the case of the IGI, the two biggest issues are accuracy and duplication.
You can expect that there will be errors in the Index. The Index may reflect a misspelling of a name or erroneously reflect a source of the information. For the most accurate information, you may want to use the Index as a clue of where to look, and then, for maximum accuracy, you can reference the actual source document from which the indexed information was retrieved.
The Index may show the same person indexed twice, or it might show multiple entries for the same source of information. For example, the Index may include two references to the same document for the same surname. Reviewing the original document is the only way to determine whether there really were two references to the surname in the document or whether the surname was just indexed twice.
Using the IGI
You can perform an IGI genealogy search through FamilySearch.org, the official genealogical website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You can start your search by entering an individual's last name and geographical region. With one entry, you can quickly see what information is available for that last name and all spelling variations of that name. Your search results will also show you where the source document or information is located. There is no cost to use the Index online.
Tips for IGI Genealogy Search
As with most search engines, there are some tips to help you improve the results of your search:
- Middle names - The Index will only search for middle names if you select the "Use Exact Speaking" option.
- Parent and spouse names - The Index will contain either the parent's or the spouse's name. You should do separate searches for each, instead of trying to search for both at the same time.
- Women's given (first) name - You can search for a woman by her first name if you also include her husband's name.
- Search results - Up to 200 results will be displayed with each search. To see additional results, just click "Next."
- Common surnames - You may be able to improve your search results if you add both the person's first and last name.
A Starting Point
The IGI can be an excellent way to quickly locate documents from around the world on a specific ancestor. However, your ancestor may not be included in the Index if he or she was not related to a LDS member whose genealogical records are recorded in the LDS Family History Library. The Index can be an excellent starting point for your research and can provide many valuable clues which you might not be able to find on other search engines.