The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is an index. This means that it is not an "original" source for the information contained in the compilation, but essentially an organized list of records. Since this huge index was first created on the GIANT program, it has since been incorporated into the genealogical database collections called the Historical Record Collections on the FamilySearch.org website. See the web page entitled, "International Genealogical Index (IGI)." The IGI contains 892,761,439 records.
There are two main components of the IGI. The first part is designated as the "Community Contributed IGI" and consists of family information submitted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here is a description of the Community Contributed IGI from the FamilySearch.org Research Wiki.
Community Contributed IGI (approximately 430 million names) represents a set of records submitted to the church for which no historical record collection source is known. Some of these records came directly from original sources. For a short period of time duplication in the IGI was reduced by removing records from the indexed data when these records were submitted by the community, but the original collection annotation was lost. The majority of the records may contain data from multiple sources. To do an exhaustive search for your ancestor you should choose to search the Community Contributed IGI from the IGI collection details page and then follow the process outlined on the Family Search Wiki IGI page to determine if the record you find was part of an indexed collection.The second part is designated as "Community Indexed IGI." Here is a quote concerning the content of this part of the IGI from the IGI Search Page.
The indexed data has been organized into the original collections from which it was transcribed and resides in the Historical Records system. To see a list of all collections available choose Browse All Published Collections from the home screen. The Community Indexed search from this page searches ONLY the records that were part of the old IGI. Most of these collections have had many more records added to them. To do an exhaustive search for your ancestors you should choose to use the search form on the home screen.Here is another quote from the FamilySearch.org Research Wiki explaining the content of the Community Indexed IGI.
Community Indexed IGI (approximately 460 million names) is a set of records transcribed directly from source material and submitted to the church. The indexed data that was part of the IGI has been organized into its original source collections from which it was transcribed and it now resides in the Historical Records system. The Community Indexed IGI search from the IGI collection details page searches ONLY the indexed records that were part of the old IGI. To do an exhaustive search for your ancestors in all available historical records (over 3 billion names that includes the old indexed IGI records) you should choose to use the search form on the home screen. To see a list of all published collections available choose All Record Collections from the home screen.There is a web page in the FamilySearch.org Research Wiki entitled, "International Genealogical Index Coverage," that lists the contents of the IGI by country and by state in the United States as of July 1998. However, index records were added to the IGI through December 2008.
It is important to understand that the IGI has a number of record collections. The indexed entries from the IGI are treated the same as indexed records from any other source and they are published by county or state (parish or county) and organized into the record collections they were transcribed from. Some of the idiosyncrasies of the IGI include the following:
- Burials and death records were not indexed unless they applied to children who died before the age of 8.
- Illegitimate infants who died young were not indexed.
- Many extracted entries have been redacted because FamilySearch does not have permission to publish these records online; these entries can now only be viewed on the microfiche and CD-ROM versions of the IGI.
- In England, entries before 1752 followed no standards for double-year entries dated between January and March.
Before going much further, it is important to realize the limitations of indexes. The entries in the IGI should not be considered completely reliable. Any information obtained from a search of the IGI should be verified by looking in the original sources.