Searching the IGI for Clues German Ancestral Origins

Searching the IGI for Clues German Ancestral Origins

Find tips for mining the free International Genealogical Index for clues to your German ancestors' places of birth.

Long before FamilySearch became the “brand” name for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ (LDS) genealogical efforts, one of the church’s first big pushes at assembling genealogy data was the International Genealogical Index (IGI). The church first published it in 1973 on microfiche as the “Computer File Index,” which contained about 20 million entries of birth and marriage records, a fair number of which LDS volunteers had extracted from German church records.

The index had grown to 81 million entries by the time its name became the IGI in 1981. A CD edition in 1988 included 147 million names. By 1999, the IGI had doubled to some 285 million names. When the FamilySearch website launched that same year, the IGI became part of a larger online records search.

In addition to extracted records, community members also contributed millions of entries to the IGI. The quality of these entries varies greatly as they weren’t independently validated. gives you the option of searching the IGI by Community Contributed IGI, the Community Indexed IGI, or both at once. Searching both (the broadest search) isn’t a bad idea, but if you’re looking for concentration of an immigrant surname, you might try restricting the search to Community Indexed IGI only to eliminate some of the “noise” you’ll get from the other material. If you find a particular town (or group of towns in one area) that has entries with the surname for which you are looking, that village or area should be your target.
From the May/June 2014 Family Tree Magazine 

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