May Day is a Good Day to Search the IGI as a Database

The International Genealogical Index (IGI) was begun in 1969 by the Family History Library to create a master file of online vital records entries for all the countries of the world.  Originally called GIANT, this database has changed names and formats several times and been located online in several places. 

Currently (April 2013) the IGI data are still preserved intact as a distinct database, with the information included at

How to Find this Database on

  1. Arrow down the screen below the search screen.
  2. Click “Browse all published collections.”
  3. Type  Int  in search bar.
  4. International Genealogical Index:  1) Community Contributed IGI and 2) Community Indexed IGI.
  5. Click Community Contributed IGI for genealogists patron-submissions of their own ancestors.
  6. Click Community Indexed IGI for controlled-extraction entries indexed by trained indexers directly from record sources, mostly churchbooks–each entry was indexed by two different persons and checked by a third party when the entry was difficult to read or interpret.

This database provides standardized place names uniquely identified by geographic coordinates and standardized surnames with cross-references for each spelling variant as well as a batch number index of sources used for each submission and an inventory of all sources extracted, called Parish and Vital Records List updated regularly as a source control.

For many years, the IGI represented the largest datasets in Genealogy.  And when you used these datasets as data, the computer with all of its search and analysis strengths could be harnessed to aid you in your genealogy.  Even with questions you did not think to ask.

Yet, only a handful of genealogists took advantage of this remarkable resource and its search capacity; most genealogists preferring instead to pop in and out of the data looking for a specific ancestor. If no matching person appeared, they were off to another database or record.

The DOS format of the IGI–one of the older formats (still available on FamilySearch computers at the main Family History Library only) provided a marriage search–you found the marriage for an ancestral couple, and then asked for a search for their children.  On the screen appeared a list of identified children in birth order with birth information.  This is a very cool search feature that has not been preserved exactly on the new FamilySearch site, yet.  Migration patterns become apparent in the birthplaces for each child in the family.  If your ancestor does not appear as a child, examine entries for siblings carefully for places to research along the family migration trail.

Stay tuned for descriptions of other unique features and search techniques that can still be applied to these datasets.  Computerized data available free on the internet are usually restricted or limited in scope:  locality, surname coverage, dates, access to indexes, and on and on.  This database is not restricted–although in its current access it is divided into two sections–one preserving what family members knew or thought they knew and one preserving what the record actually said. Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  The IGI contains some key record datasets integrated into the whole–stay tuned for a list of these, discovered by my use of the database.  This post is just the first in a series of posts to help you utilize this amazing genealogy resource.


This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply