September 13, 2001
Q: On Familysearch.org when you find your ancestor's baptism or marriage record listed on a microfiche, what does that mean? If I order the microfiche to view, will I only be looking at the same thing I saw online or will I be able to make a copy of the actual certificate? I would like to know before I make the trip to a History Center. Thanks. -- Leslie
What's In FamilySearch
FamilySearch is made up of a number of different databases. Sources for the information that you'll find online includes the International Genealogical Index, Ancestral File, and the Pedigree Resource File. Both Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File are compiled databases of information submitted by fellow researchers in the form of GEDCOMs. The International Genealogical Index, though, is comprised of some information compiled by fellow researchers, but also information extracted from the original records.
Ancestral File and the Pedigree Resource File display the information in a lineage-linked manner. Of the two, only the Pedigree Resource File supplies any source citations, should the compiler have included them. While you can view the names, dates, and places from the Pedigree Resource File online, you cannot download a GEDCOM file, nor can you view the information in a pedigree format as you can with the Ancestral File. The Pedigree Resource File will give you the name of the individual, his or her birth, marriage and death dates, the names of known parents, and the submitter information. If you want to see the entire pedigree, it is necessary to purchase the appropriate CD or set of CDs in the Pedigree Resource File.
The International Genealogical Index (IGI), on the other hand, is not lineage linked. Entries are categorized by birth or marriage and are displayed as individuals. In the case of a birth, you will be given the name of the individuals, his or her birth date and place, the name of the parents, if known, and then the identifying codes of where the information came from. The IGI entries do not directly display source citations, but it is possible that the entry came from an original source.
Many people stop when they see an entry in the IGI, but if you take the time to first determine the source of the IGI entry and then get the film, you may find that your can continue further on your ancestry.
Information from Where?
The online version of the IGI includes the film number along with other codes (usually known as the batch number and serial sheet). Sometimes, though, if you know the codes you can save time because you don't always have to click on the film number link, which takes you out of the IGI and into the Family History Library Catalog.
Below is a table that details the beginning character or characters to a batch number and an accompanying description for batch numbers beginning with those letters or numbers.
What's On the Microfilm
If the batch codes and the microfilm allude to a patron submission form, then it is possible you will find information about other family members, submitted on that specific form or nearby forms. Many LDS members who submitted these forms did so with multiple forms. These forms are often grouped together allowing you to see other family members, descendants, or ancestors on the line. You might also get some source citations on the forms. Once in a while the patron will cite a book, probate file or other source that you may have been unaware of.
If the batch codes and the microfilm allude to a temple book, then you will find no additional information. Temple books include the name of the deceased individual, the birth or marriage date as seen in the IGI, and then the name of the LDS individual doing the Temple proxy work. Some of these films are still restricted, due to living individuals being listed in them, so even if you did want to get the film, you may not be able to.
Finally, if the batch codes and the microfilm numbers allude to extraction work, then you definitely want to order the microfilm. The original records may indeed have more information on the individual listed in the IGI. If it is birth records, it could be a birth register, which may include information on the parents of the child, such as age at the time of the birth of the child, or the parents' places of birth. Usually a researcher will find that additional family members are located in these original records.
With an understanding of what you can expect to find on the film, you are in a much better position when deciding whether or not to order the microfilm. The only time I have ever felt that I ordered a film in vain was when my ancestors didn't show up at all in the record. It sounds like, in your situation, this won't be the case.The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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