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General - Introduction to the International Genealogical Index (IGI)

  Index Entry Information - What you will find in an IGI entry
  Access - Where you can access the IGI and in what forms
  Caution - What you need to be aware of when using the IGI
  Referenced Source Documents - Accessing IGI referenced source documents
  Search Illustration - Guidance on using the FREE internet search of the IGI provided by
  British Isles Vital Records Index - Supplementary index to further births and marriages

Although it is not an original source, the International Genealogical Index (IGI) is an invaluable key to finding relevant original information. It contains millions of worldwide index entries of mainly baptisms and marriages. Although the IGI did not start out as an index for genealogists, it has become one thanks to the goodwill of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (more commonly known as the Mormons). Many of the index entries for England and Wales derive from parish registers, bishops transcripts and non parochial registers from the 16th century right through to 1906. No living persons are included within the IGI.

A large proportion of the source documents (parish registers, etc) for the IGI entries have been microfilmed by the Latter-day Saints. Individual microfilms can be booked for a modest fee from their central Family History Library in Utah for viewing at any Family History Centre.

  Index Entry Information

IGI entry for each listed person:

  • forenames
  • surname
  • event(s) associated with named person - usually birth, christening and/or marriage
  • date for each listed event
  • location of each listed event (parish, county, country)
  • associated father/mother if birth or christening (with link to named persons in online internet version)
  • associated spouse if marriage (with link to named person in online internet version)
  • batch number relating to the source document
    plus in FREE online internet version:
  • clickable link to held index information on any listed spouse or parent
  • the call source number reference of the microfilm or microfiche containing images of the source document which can be viewed at your local LDS Family History Centre
  • access via the call source number' reference to information on the source document - see immediately below and in the search illustration
    Entry in online version of IGI for each referenced source document:
  • title of the document (e.g. "parish registers for Gautby, 1570-1980")
  • authors of the document (e.g. "parish church of Gautby in Lincolnshire")
  • form of copy (microfilm , microfiche or book)
  • where original document held (e.g. "Lincolnshire Archives Office")
  Access Internet version of the IGI
  • the complete IGI can be accessed online at - this excellent free web site run by the Latter-day Saints provides both general guidance on tracing your ancestors and more specific advice on using the online version of the IGI - it is very easy to use, as shown in the search illustration below
  Microfiche version of the IGI
  • microfiche copies of all the IGI entries for England and Wales can be viewed at the Society of Genealogists, at most Record Offices and Local Studies Centres - some record offices and local studies centres only hold the IGI microfiches for their own and neighbouring counties - however nearly all record offices and libraries provide access to the Internet version of the complete IGI

Always check out the original source

  • The International Genealogical Index is exactly what it says - an INDEX. It should only be used in conjunction with other research. A copy of the original source document (such as the relevant parish register) referred to in the index should always be examined. Invariably it will contain more information and help you avoid any transcription errors.
    Be wary of private patron submissions
  • IGI entries from the "controlled extraction" program can generally be regarded as accurate. These have "batch" numbers that are prefixed with a C, E, K, J, M or P. However those from private patron submissions cannot always be relied on. Their "batch" numbers are either all numerical or are prefixed with an A or F and they should be treated with caution.
    Incomplete coverage
  • Even though it contains millions of entries, the IGI's coverage is far from complete. If the ancestor you are searching for does not appear in the IGI do not give up. Pursue your investigations elsewhere and it is always worth also searching the British Isles Vital Records Index which contains over 12 million births and marriages, most of which do not appear in the IGI
  Referenced Viewing at your local LDS Family History Centre
  Source Documents
  • this is normally the easiest and most straightforward way of viewing the source document (e.g. parish register) referenced in the IGI for the person you are interested in
  • simply contact your local LDS Family History Centre (there are over 75 centres spread across England and Wales) and quote the call source number reference shown on the IGI for the microfilm or microfiche containing images of the source document you are interested in
  • for a relatively small fee, your local centre will order your microfilm or microfiche through the central LDS library and within a matter of days you will be able to view it at your local centre - viewing is free with only small fees charged for printouts
  • you will find the volunteer staff at your local centre very helpful and you will encounter absolutely no pressure to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - the subject will ONLY arise if you first express an interest in learning about the Church and its beliefs
    Viewing at your local record office, local study centre or local family history centre
  • record centres often hold microfilm/fiche copies of parish registers of neighbouring counties (and sometimes even further afield) - see this web site's record offices section for contact and visiting details of all record offices in England and Wales
  • local study centres normally hold microfilm/fiche copies of parish registers for the locality served and sometimes further afield - see this web site's local studies section for contact and visiting details local study centres across England and Wales
  • local history societies with libraries commonly hold microfilm/fiche copies of parish registers for the local areas they serve - see this web site's family history societies section for contact details for your local family history society
    Viewing at a national repository
  • the largest collection of microfilm/fiche copies of parish registers for England and Wales is held at the Society of Genealogists - search on the parish name in the society's online catalogue to see what source documents the society has a copy of - viewing at the society's premises in central London is free for members - see its Visiting the Society web page for details of day visit fees for non members
  • the National Library of Wales holds copies of parish registers for over 500 parishes in Wales together with large collection of non-conformist registers - you can check if the library has a copy of the source document you are interested in by searching in the library's online catalogue - viewing at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth is free
  • after civil registration was started in 1837, two parliamentary commissions were set up to collect registers from Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist and other non Anglican denominations - many of these collected non-conformist records are held at the National Archives - see their catalogue for details - viewing at the National Archives in the south London suburb of Kew is free
    Viewing online
  • although in theory this would be the ideal way to view source documents referenced in the IGI, in practice this route is often problematic
  • much of what is available online is transcribed rather than an image of the original document with all the inherent risks of transcription errors
  • the coverage of parishes is very patchy on both free and subscription web sites - it can be quite a laborious process checking out which web site, IF ANY, is likely to hold the source record that you are interested in (in either transcribed or original image form)
  • web sites holding parish and non-conformist register records include FreeREG (free), Ancestry (subscription), Find My Past (subscription) and the Genealogist (subscription) - see this site's Subscription Sites page for a comparison between what these subscription sites have to offer in general and at what cost
  Search Illustration STEP 1 - Enter name and search event for ancestor
  • access
  • enter First Name and/or Surname
  • select Community Indexed IGI (i.e. those from the controlled extraction program rather than those submitted privately which often cannot be relied on)
  • select event (birth/christening, marriage, residence, death/burial or all)
  STEP 2 - Enter optional further search criteria
  • Enter further optional search criteria (place and/or year range and/or spouse/parent names
  • Press the Search button
  STEP 3 - Select from displayed list of matches
  • simply click on the person you want to see more information on
  STEP 4 - View index links to selected person
  • the IGI Individual Record then displayed shows all the index links held on the IGI to the selected person
  • it also displays the source call number of the microfilm or microfiche containing an image of the relevant source document (e.g. parish register page) that can be ordered and viewed at your local LDS Family History Centre
  • if the displayed batch number is prefixed with a C, E, K, J, M or P it is from the 'controlled extraction program' and the entry can generally be trusted - if the batch number is all numerical or prefixed with an A or F, treat the entry with caution and look for further evidence of the displayed event
  British Isles Vital Records Index General
  • The British Isles Vital Records Index (BVRI) supplements the IGI
  • It is an index to around 10 million births/baptisms and around 2 million marriages in the British Isles from 1538 to 1888 (with the majority being in England and Wales)
  • Few of the index entries in the British Isles Vital Records Index appear in the IGI
This page last updated: 18 February 2013