The most popular and most comprehensive international genealogy database, the International Genealogical Index (IGI), is actually a collection of a variety of databases and records from around the world. This is an ambitious attempt to collect huge amounts of genealogical records to help people find their ancestors from diverse areas. Here are some pros and cons of this database which you need to know to be able to fully tap into its potential.
Its biggest attraction of course is that a wealth of information can be found in one single location. There is no question that IGI can reduce the time and complexity of research involved in building a family tree.
Records are well arranged according to the region, year and type of record. For example you can find a record of all marriages in York County, Pennsylvania in one place. This makes it easy to research the records.
Extensive microfilms of christenings and marriages can be found, which can be loaned out through a local family history center. Some of these microfilms are not yet indexed into the IGI, so this is another great area for research.
It’s worth noting that IGI is particularly rich in information on individuals living in the period of 1500-1900.
All this information and research material which becomes available with the IGI should come in very handy during your genealogical research. However, this is till not a perfect source. Here are some of the main problems you will encounter when using IGI:
The main disadvantage with the records is that they are highly skewed towards databases of the US, Canada and Western Europe. Though you will find a few records from Asia, Africa and Latin America, they are really not sufficient in number. To be truly useful, an international genealogy database should contain more information about the other areas of the world.
A lot of data is user submitted and therefore there is always scope for errors and omissions. Thus the data obtained using International Genealogical Index can only be a secondary source and to provide authenticity and credibility to your research, you will need other validation sources.
A lot of information on microfilm is still not indexed into the main IGI. Therefore it becomes difficult to search for such records.
The records do not allow a search using just the surname, which is a huge disadvantage as the name is not always known for ancestors. In such a case, one needs to go through the entire IGI records of a particular region or of a particular church.
The International Genealogical Index is a very useful research tool but is not a one stop shop for all your research needs. It has its strengths which should be exploited but care should be taken not to rely solely on this information source for your genealogical research. The good news is that the international genealogy database is fast expanding. In the future we could very possibly see a much more comprehensive database coming up with the IGI.
Julia Hanson is a genealogy expert. For more great information on working with any international genealogy database visit http://www.Build-Family-Tree.com