Saturday, August 05, 2006
Get More From the IGI - Use Those Batch Numbers
By Betty Eichhorn
Brevard Genealogical Society
A little-known feature of the International Genealogical Index (IGI) is the batch number. This article has instructions on using it to get more information. However, since some readers may have never used the IGI before, we will start at the beginning.
Go to the Family History Library (FHL) web site http://www.familysearch.org. There is a search form on the home page but, instead, click on the yellow “Search” tab at the top of the page. Then click on the IGI in the left column. In the IGI search form, enter a surname and a region. You can add a first name, parents, spouse, and narrow down the event, time period or region as you wish. How much you enter depends on how rare the surname is and how large the region is. You can select “exact” spelling of the surname, which I use sometimes to shorten the list of findings. Otherwise, the list will include spelling variations of the surname.
Click on the “Search” button. At the top of the page, there will be a list of the selected search options and a number which states how many findings are in the list. If it is “200+”, there may be thousands of names.
It is worth noting that the found list ignores prefixes. That is, when I searched for the surname “Dono”, I got a lot of the surname McDonough. This was one case when I used exact spelling as the unwanted surname overwhelmed the the desired one.
When you find a record that matches one of the people in your genealogical file, click on the highlighted name to get the full record. Copy and paste the record into your notebook or word processor. Keep searching the list until you are either tired or reached the end.
USING BATCH NUMBERS
Click on the highlighted batch number in one of the records. The IGI search page will reappear with the batch number and region in it and any other entries removed. After hitting the “Search” button, a new found list will appear which has all the names on that batch in a crude alphabetical order.
So where do batch numbers come from? The LDS Church has a Record Extraction Program. Two teams or individuals each extract names from a film or a portion of a film (called an item). Then they compare their results to assure the most accurate indexing possible. The project is given a batch number which is preceded by a letter which indicates the type of record. The ones you will be most interested in start with a C (Christening or Birth) or M (Marriage). Be aware that some entries were submitted by individuals and they will not have batch numbers and usually no source is given.
So when you get the batch number list of names, it has all the names on that film or portion of film. This is very useful when the film covers a small area such as a village or a low population county. The list will likely have other surnames that match names in your genealogical file. Others may have the same surname but are not in my file but I save them anyway as I may later find that they are related. I have also found people with surnames so badly misspelled or truncated that a search would never find them. I have picked up several people that way. The batch list can be very productive.
Though the list is in a rough alphabetical order, some names may be mixed with others. For example, surnames beginning with C or K may be grouped together. I also found surnames beginning with P mixed with the names beginning with B. You may find other combinations of initial letters.
Again, paste the records into a word file or, instead of pasting, you can download gedcoms. Check the box beside the names you are interested in. Then click on “Prepare selection records for download”. You will get a list of the records that you checked. After clicking on “Download GEDCOM”, you will get a text file with the extension “.ged”. Using your genealogical software, assign the source (IGI and batch and film numbers) and import the gedcom into an new, empty file. NEVER put it directly into your master genealogical file. Instead, examine the downloaded material, make any desired changes and then import into your master file only the ones which go with your family. After importing, link the people or match and merge as necessary.
GETTING THE FILM NUMBER
Now that I have a list of records that are all on one film, I would like to order the film to get the full record and make photocopies of the original document such as a vital certificate or a municipal or county record. If you are lucky, the film number is highlighted on the record under the words “Source Call No.” Click on it. A page will appear with the title of the film. Click on the highlighted lines to get the full description of the contents.
Another way to get a film description is to click on the “Library” tab at the top of the page, then on “Family History Library Catalog” at the top of the page. Select “Film/fiche”, paste the film number into the form and click “Search”. The description of that film will appear. Copy the description and use it as a source for your records. Notice that the description states how many films or fiche are covered by the description. For instance, the description for Queens County, NY, marriage indexes and certificates covers 56 rolls of film. Click on “View Film notes” at the top of the page to get what each roll of film covers. Find the particular film you want to look at and paste the description (often date or place) after the general description.
If there is no film number with the batch number, then you can call the Family History Center (FHC) in Rockledge. They have a set of microfiche which lists batch numbers and the corresponding film numbers. However, I recently looked up eight batch numbers there and none were listed. The fiche was dated 1995 so it is definitely not up-to-date as films are constantly being indexed in batches. I wrote the FHL through the familysearch.org web site and received an answer promptly. They also said that, for now, the only way to get the film numbers is to write for them. You will have to register first - click on “Register" at the top right of the home page. After you receive an e-mail confirming that you are registered, sign in (upper right), then click on “Contact Us” at the lower right of the home page. You can send several batch numbers at the same time.
You can also go to the Library catalog (see two paragraphs back) and select the “Place” category. Enter the place name and click “Search”. A list of places will appear. Click on the most appropriate one. You will get a list of categories that have books, films or fiche on that area. Select “Vital Records” (or “Church Records” if it was a christening or a church marriage record) and see what films are available in that area. You may be able to determine which film was used for that batch number.
One more thing. If you find a film with an item number that has been indexed, add or subtract “1” from the batch number and search on it. I found that when one item on a film was indexed, they all were and they had sequential batch numbers.
Good luck and happy batching.
I found two films that were indexed for Brevard County, Florida.
Batch No. Film No. Description
C736638 0977782 Delayed birth certificates
M512981 0976411 Marriage licenses 1868-1902