Now you see it, now you don’t – IGI and FamilySearch

I found this marriage of a potential distant relative (1st cousin 5x removed) at the Norfolk Studies Library when the library was at Anglia Square in Norwich, at some time prior to the move to the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library in 2001. At that time, the International Genealogical Index (IGI) was widely available on microfiche and arranged by county. I noted ‘IGI Shropshire’ and the marriage details:

Bride: Mary Evans
Groom: Thomas Wilson
Date: 8 January 1818
Place: Claverley, Shropshire

The Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) started publishing an index in the 1970s, which developed into the IGI. Several editions on microfiche and CD-ROM were published up to 1999 when the FamilySearch website was introduced. By then the IGI contained 285 million entries, which were released by region [1].

So, I should find this marriage on FamilySearch. But, no matter how I searched, I did not find it, making me wonder about my sanity! Time for some detective work.

Book containing transcript of Claverly parish registers in FHL

Book containing transcript of Claverly parish registers in FHL

Consulting the FamilySearch Card Catalogue, I find that a transcript of Claverley parish registers is the likely source of the index entry I found on microfiche. A copy of the book is housed at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, reference (call no) 942.45 B4sh v. 10, a volume I have previously consulted (see Three Wilson-Wilson marriages and the FHL Experience).

Sure enough the marriage is recorded [2] :

1818, Jan. 8. Thomas Wilson, of C., b., & Mary Evans, of Worfield, sp., lic.
Wit: Ann Wilson, John Evans

Are all the records in this book missing from the index, or only some of the records? The result of search for marriage records with this volume’s FHL microfilm no (162094), compared to the book shows missing records:

year no marriages in book no marriages in index no missing marriages in index proportion missing %
1813 5 4.5 0.5 10
1814 8 5 3 38
1815 9 4 5 56
1816 3 2 1 33
1817 6 2.5 3.5 58
1818 5 3 2 40
1819 7 4 3 43

Each marriage should produce two entries in the index, one each for the bride and groom. Some marriages are index by one partner only, giving the .5 figures. The proportion of missing index entries varies greatly and from this small sample, I cannot discern any pattern.

The original 1999 FamilySearch website went off line in June 2012, so I cannot check if the records were included in the original online indexes. In recent years the FamilySearch website was re-organised and now has split the IGI entries into records extracted from original and derivative sources (e.g. parish registers, transcripts of parish registers, bishop’s transcripts etc.) and records submitted by church members. In August 2012, the FamilySearch blog announcement “The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is complete” prompted many comments that data were missing. In October 2012, the Ancestry Insider posted two articles about the IGI update that confirmed that many records are missing and expressed a number of other reservations. In particular, a warning:

The IGI contains a small selection of records in FamilySearch’s microfilm collection. Some films were skipped. Some films were partially skipped. Some records, such as stillborns, were never indexed. Some indexed records were discarded rather than duplicating user contributed entries. That means an entire parish may be present except for a handful of people.

Could this be the root cause of my not finding this marriage? As more than a handful of entries are missing, I suspect there is more to this mess.


[2]Fletcher, W.G.D. 1907. Shropshire Parish Registers.  Diocese of Hereford. Vol X. privately printed for the Shropshire Parish Register Society.  p. 411 (FHL microfilm: 162094 item 2, book shelf mark 94245 B4sh v.10) citing Claverley parish registers. Vol. X., Marriages 1813-1837.

© Sue Adams 2013

2 Comments on “Now you see it, now you don’t – IGI and FamilySearch”

  1. […] Now you see it, now you don’t –  IGI and FamilySearch […]


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