Thursday, March 8, 2007

The LDS IGI - a Gold Mine of Data

I have used the LDS International Genealogical Index (IGI) from the beginning of my research. It is a gold mine of data on births, christenings, and marriages.

Unfortunately, there is some "fool's gold" in this database, and a researcher needs to be careful in accepting each piece of information.

With experience, I learned to accept data extractions (from church records, town records, etc) as very likely accurate (but subject to transcription errors). I consider data submissions (from an LDS member who obtained it from some source, or made it up) as possibly accurate, yet always suspect. However, if data submissions have a date and location, then I may accept them as probably accurate.

I also realize that not every birth or marriage before 1900 is entered into the IGI. There are many locations where birth and marriage data does not exist as official records, and many families that do not have LDS members as descendants.

How can you tell if an item is an extraction or a submission? You look at the Messages section at the bottom of the web page and check the Source Information section (by clicking on the microfilm number). There are three examples below:

1) For the IGI entry for a Cornelia Bresee (christening on 17 Jan 1768, Linlithgo, Columbia, NY) has the following in the Messages section (at the bottom of the entry web page):

"Record submitted by a member of the LDS Church. The record often shows the name of the individual and his or her relationship to a descendant, shown as the heir, family representative, or relative. The original records are not indexed, and you may have to look at the film frame-by-frame to find the information you want. A family group record for this couple may be in the Family Group Record Collection; Archive Section. (See the Family History Library Catalog for the film number.) These records are alphabetical by name of the father or husband."

The Source Information (clicking on the microfilm number 0,184,265) for this record is:

"Salt Lake City temple endowments for the dead, 1893-1970; heir indexes, 1924-1956; baptisms for the dead, 1941-1970, 1893-1970, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake Temple"

While this is a submitted record, it does have a date and a location for the record - and it is a christening record, which means that someone found it in a church record book of some sort - the original, a microfilm copy or a transcription or abstract. I trust that this record is very likely correct, and I should be able to find a record to support the IGI entry.

2) The IGI entry for a Cornelia Bresee (born about 1766, New York, married to David Coon 1784 in Rensselaer County NY) has the following Messages:

"Record submitted after 1991 by a member of the LDS Church. No additional information is available. Ancestral File may list the same family and the submitter."

The Source Information section says:

"No source information is available."

This record may be accurate - it is impossible to check because there is no Source listed. In this case, I don't trust the information on this record unless there is another independent record that supports it.

3) The IGI record for a Cornelia Bresee (christened 18 August 1775 in Saint John's Lutheran Church, Manorton, Columbia, NY) is an extracted record. The Message says:

"Extracted birth or christening record for the locality listed in the record. The source records are usually arranged chronologically by the birth or christening date. "

The Source Information for the record is :

Batch No.: C503921
Dates: 1765-1872
Source Call No.: 974.739 N1 V26B
Type: Book
Printout Call No.: 0933984
Type: Film

Sheet: 00

There are six sources on this microfilm 0,933,984, including:

"Item 3 St. John's Lutheran Church, Manorton, New York computer printout, births and christenings, 1765-1872 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Department"

By renting the microfilm at my FHC, I can find record of this christening. Note that this is a computer printout - in other words, a transcription of the original record.

I have high confidence that this record is accurate, and subject only to possibly transcriptions errors. I don't think that someone made up this record.


Do you agree with my assessment of these records? Which ones should I include in my Bresee database (remembering that I'm looking for possibly family ties and not trying to "prove" the relationships yet)?

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