In the last few days, Sandra and I have added a significant number of people, dates, and events to my Stephenson family tree using IGI records. We have also found some new tools that make these records much more accessible. These records are compiled by the Latter Day Saints and can be found at www.familysearch.org. Historically, English parishes were required to keep records on baptisms or christenings, marriages, and deaths. These records were compiled annually, forwarded to the Bishop and formed the Bishops Index. The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is compiled from the Bishops Index. Thus, anything found in the IGI is supported by official records.
Family Search also houses a huge amount of genealogical data submitted by individuals, but, like trees on www.Ancestry.com, these are not always supported by verifiable sources. I had used the familysearch site in the past but found it cumbersome and not very user-friendly. Records for an individual were not linked, so you could find a marriage record in one place, but christening records would be elsewhere and information on parents still somewhere else.
In the past week we have found two new tools that make the index much easier to use and has helped us make many new discoveries. The Latter Day Saints are offering a pilot of a new search engine they will offer at www.familysearch.org. To access it, go to the home page, select Search Records and a drop down menu will appear. Select the Record Search Pilot option.
The pilot search tool allows ease of data entry, filtering of data, and refining search criteria. I found it very user friendly. It will apparently allow views of the actual documents in the future.
A second tool that has been tremendously helpful is the England IGI Batch Numbers File. The link for England is shown here http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~hughwallis/IGIBatchNumbers/CountryEngland.htm#PageTitle. The home page for the full site is http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~hughwallis/IGIBatchNumbers.htm#PageTitle.
The Bishop’s Records forming the IGI were compiled in batches. This tool lets you select the English county and then the local area to search. Lincolnshire records of birth/christenings and marriages have been indexed and are readily available. This search tool allowed us to see all IGI records for Hogsthorpe, Lincolnshire and search for Stephensons. This provided lots of information and helped us find parents and siblings for family members living in the same locale.
The batch records search works best for small areas, such as the towns in Lincolnshire, England. Large cities, Liverpool being an example, require knowing the exact church parish.
For some unknown (to me) reason, none of the three search methods — familysearch, the pilot search, and the batch search — seem to have all the records. I find that I sometimes have to use all three methods, but usually end up identifying a new nugget of information. It is quite exciting when that nugget is uncovered.
I experimented using the batch record search for the U.S. and Ireland. Sandra’s family has roots in County Down, Northern Ireland and she did not find the these records helpful. Searching the U.S. was particularly difficult, but more practice may improve my opinion.
Using the IGI files, we have expanded our family tree adding Stephensons, Richardsons, Woulds, and Swins. I will share these findings in future blogs. If you have a particular interest in these family lines, send me a comment on this blog and I will send you the information I have. In the near future I will upload family files to Ancestry.com and, at your request, I can set you up as a guest on those files.