Searching Berkshire Parish Registers

International Genealogical Index (IGI)

The International Genealogical Index (IGI) (here is the link) was a family history database listing several hundred million names of deceased people from countries throughout the world. The individual names in the IGI came from two sources. Families either submitted details to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormons), or volunteer teams abstracted and indexed details from original records. The IGI was first published in 1973 and was closed in 2008.

Today, it is still possible to search this database. The simplest means of finding it is to enter "International Genealogical Index" as a search term in your preferred search engine. This will take you to the specific page within the FamilySearch website on which the IGI is held.

You will then need to create a FamilySearch account to take matters further.

Even today, the IGI can be a useful finding aid. It is free to use and, if used with care, can often be helpful in research. But it does have numerous limitations.

Be aware that you will be taken to part of the 'Family Search' website' This certainly contains copious amounts of information but can often be slow to respond and it is not always easy to find your way around.

Note that the IGI does not contain all parish registers from a particular location, it does not cover all time periods, nor does it include all parishes. In many cases, entire parishes are missing.

Except for some burials of infants and young children, the IGI contains no indexed burial information.

Using Berkshire as an example, many parishes are included, at least in part, in the IGI but information is far from complete.

You should also be aware that some IGI data was derived from Bishops' Transcripts and not from original registers. This has the potential to introduce disparities from the original entries. (See below)

Some Berkshire parishes (and parishes in other counties too) are missing in entirety, or nearly so. Significant Berkshire omissions include Kintbury St Mary, Newbury St Nicholas, Reading St Laurence and Wargrave St Mary.

There are also significant gaps in the time periods covered and, for many parishes, indexed details stop at 1812.

Help in using the IGI

To discover which parishes and time periods (not just for Berkshire but for all counties) are included - and, equally important, those that are omitted - in the IGI, there is a website that may help you.

You may find it easier (especially if you are fairly new to family history research) to check first on the parishes and time periods included in the IGI. You can do this by visiting Steve Archer's website FamilySearch: a Guide to the British batches

You can then search quite specific batches of parish records — remembering each time to change Batch Numbers as you search for different people in different parishes

  • This particular website, confined to UK content, explains the IGI in more detail;

  • Includes British batches added since 2002, especially 'I' batches;

  • Provides a detailed analysis of 'mixed' batches - where the LDS included data from more than one place;

  • Assigns places to mid-19th century historic counties. For example, if you consider entries for 'London', these are assigned to the City of London, Middlesex, Surrey or Kent

  • Lists the number of entries (life events) per batch and dates covered, obtained from the data itself; and

  • Includes some summary statistics.

Final words of advice on the IGI.

You cannot build an entire family tree from information found solely online or just from the IGI - even if names and places look, superficially, to be correct. The IGI is a 'secondary' rather than a 'primary' source of information. Should you find entries in a secondary source, like the IGI, that might be relevant to your research, you then need to look at the original records (the primary sources) and to confirm those details. The original registers will be accessible in the relevant county record office or metropolitan archive. In some cases, but certainly not all, digital images of register pages may be available to view online.

Always satisfy yourself that any indexed or transcribed information is accurate, correct and, most important, complete. Many original register entries contain important and relevant additional detail that is not recorded in the IGI itself.

Additional information