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Proformat News
No: 66
August 2011
August seminars
13: Practical Genealogy for Family Historians Session 2: Accessing the secondary research stream—the paper trail 10:15am–4:45pm State Library for Flinders University
27: Practical Genealogy for Family Historians Session 3: Interpreting the record 10:15am–4:45pm State Library for Flinders University

September seminars

No seminars programmed.

See the seminar program for more details and bookings.

British Library newspapers
The British Library is to digitise much of its newspaper collection, the largest collection in the world, and then make it available online. They will include papers dating back to the early 1700s.
The library will focus initially on digitising papers that document historical events in the 19th century, such as the Crimean War, the Boer War and the suffragette movement.
The cost of the ten-year project to be carried out by online publisher Brightsolid is not clear, but online users away from the library will have to pay an access fee. We Australians have to be very pleased that the National Library of Australia did not go down this pathway.
The reaction to these plans by News Ltd is interesting. James Murdoch attacked the plans warning that public bodies should not decide how copyrighted material is to be exploited for commercial gain without consulting the original owners of the material. His problem arises because of the commercial arrangement with Brightsolid rather than the preservation of the material for posterity and making free access for library users easier.

2011 Narratives of War
To be held on 29-30 Sep at the Magill Campus of the University of South Australia. The organising committee warmly invites you to register your attendance on-line for this free event at the website
The theme of this year's symposium is 'Legacies of War'.
Programme highlights include presenters from interstate as well as SA and keynote speakers from the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

In this issue:
August seminars
September seminars
British Library newspapers
2011 Narratives of War

Feature article
Goodbye IGI, hello HRC


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Goodbye IGI, hello HRC
Towards the end of 2010 the FamilySearch website changed and users seemed to have lost the well-known feature called the International Genealogical Index commonly known as the IGI.

The IGI was a file within FamilySearch published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and contained millions of stand alone entries relating to births/baptisms, marriages and, to a much lesser extent, deaths. By stand alone we mean that each entry had no reference to any other entry. Thus a person’s birth was not linked in any way to their marriage record and so on and no attempt had been made to make any links.

The IGI has a long history and was originally called the Computer File Index and was first published as a fiche collection in 1973 with about 20 million listings that had been collected previously. About 80% of the material then resulted from extractions of existing records and the balance came from submissions from members of the LDS. In 1975 an updated version of about 34 million listings was published. In 1981 the set of fiche had 81 million and was called the International Genealogical Index for the first time. The 1984 collection of 108 million was the first set offered for sale to the public and is likely to be the first collection accessed by family historians undertaking research in non-LDS centres.

In 1988 the IGI was published on a CD for the first time with some 147 million entries. This publication caused some angst amongst researchers because material in the 1984 set was omitted due to technical issues. As it turned out the problem was addressed in later editions. The 1992 was a fiche edition (example pictured) and was quickly followed by the 1993 CD version with each edition growing in the number of listings. The size had grown to such an extent, that the subsequent publications were addendums to the 1993 CD and come out in 1995 and 1997.

The next step was the Internet and the IGI was released in stages from 1999.

Prior to 1970 the bulk of the material collected was by extraction, but between 1970 and 1990 this turned around and the bulk was private submissions. This, in the opinion of the writer, devalued the IGI considerably because the material failed to reveal sources and the user was very much reliant on the research skills of the submitters. The previously strict requirements laid down by the compliers were also relaxed to allow guesses to be posted and so we started to see entries like <England> (meaning: I think England was the place.) and words like about. After 1990 things deteriorated even further. In the previous 20 years the user was at least given the name of the source person and with effort could track them down, but after 1990 submitter details were removed and it became impossible to determine the trustworthiness of the data! To compound the problem further, the administrators resolved to avoid duplicate entries wherever possible and that resulted in a comical outcome in that if a record was submitted by a private individual, a latter duplicate entry was rejected even if it was the result of a sourced extraction!

Of course in defence of the LDS, users must remind themselves of the generosity of the LDS to even release the material to the general public. There was no obligation to do so, although there may have been some anticipation that non-Mormons may also become contributors. Whether they did or not, the writer has no idea!

Turning to the present day, you will have noticed that the FamilySearch website has undergone a major revamp. While at the time of writing you can still visit the old site with the IGI, its days are limited.

Image shows button to access old site.

During the transition period material submitted by members of the church cannot be accessed unless you ask the staff at an LDS Centre. This collection is known as the New FamilySearch or NFS and includes the old Ancestral File and much of the former Pedigree Resource Files. The material available is the extracted material and is now known as the Historical Record Collection or HRC. Unlike the objective of the old IGI, HRC Search is being built for family history researchers. Gone is the need to check if a batch number is present to distinguish that you are looking at extracted data rather than a private submission.

All is not positive and the loss of the batch number facility and the interconnected support site by Hugh Wallis will deny researchers a powerful search avenue. Whether there are plans to address this new shortcoming is not known. The Wallis site has not been updated since 2002. Previously the writer found looking at a single parish register with every entry in alphabetical order rather than chronological order a great plus and missing people were often found . This was done by going to the Hugh Wallis Batch Number website and ascertaining the batch number for a particular parish and then using this to search the IGI and thus calling up every entry. The batch number of the entry you visit is revealed and indeed if you click on it you will get every entry that shares that number, but the writer is yet to find how to ascertain the specific name of the place the batch number represents! Nor can you identify if there is more than one batch number for the event as is the case for many parishes.

The Hugh Wallis site lists batch numbers which in turn indicate which records have been filled by the LDS.

There are a couple of other minor gripes too. The new website does not display gender, nor event type, date, and complete location. The essential film number is not linked to the new catalogue as it was in the IGI. Using the film number to order the appropriate filmed record is an essential part of the research process. After all the material on your screen is very much a secondary resource whereas the film is a primary source and will overcome any transcription errors and may even provide additional data! At this stage the process to order the film is clumsy, in that you have to open up

Thus the corrupted IGI has been rightfully purged of its private, often incomplete, submissions. This strange mix has seen the more significant part of the IGI, the material extracted from the record becoming the HRC. Thus the term IGI will eventually be lost and in future we should talk about the HRC.
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