18 March 2010

History of Compiled Genealogies within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This article was directly copied from a BYU, Hist 482 manual with minor additions in order to mention some newer systems that were not in the original. This article is for education purposes only and personal authorship is denied by the administrator of this blog.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been creating indexes and gathering other compiled materials since the creation of the Genealogical Society of Utah in 1894. Both the IGI and the Ancestral File have predecessors that still have value to researchers. To understand those of the IGI, it is important to understand that the IGI is in reality an index of names of individuals or couples, submitted from among their own families or by extraction of consecutive entries in original sources such as census or church records by members of the LDS church. The only difference between the IGI and the LDS Ordinance Index (found only at LDS Family History Centers) is that the latter has the dates and temples for the LDS religious rites that were performed on behalf of those deceased individuals.

The history of the systems used to submit names for performance of LDS religious ordinances will help to both understand the strengths and weaknesses of the IGI, and to identify other sources related to those earlier submission processes. Beginning in 1844, baptisms were performed on behalf of the dead. Other religious rites for deceased persons did not begin until 1877, when the temple in St. George, Utah was opened. From those earliest times until into the mid 1920s, a member of the church merely selected a name of a deceased person and went directly to a temple (by 1927 there were seven such temples) to perform the ordinances. Each temple maintained a register of such ordinance work. In 1925 the secretary of the Genealogical Society of Utah objected to the duplication and inefficiency in the system, suggesting that an index be created of all work already performed, and that in the future all names submitted be checked against that index and cleared before ordinances were performed. From that request the Temple Index Bureau (TIB) was created. The TIB only indexed those ordinances known as endowments and, therefore, did not necessarily contain names of persons for whom baptisms (performed before 1877) or marriage sealings were performed. The TIB was a file card index and grew to fill a large room with millions of cards in hundreds of file drawers before it was discontinued on 1 January, 1970.

In 1943, the means of submitting names to the temples was changed from one of submitting individual names to submitting complete family groups on family group sheets. That system likewise continued in use until 1 January, 1970, when it was replaced by a computerized system. The original family group sheets submitted were filed in binders and stored in the Family History Library in Salt Lake in what became known as the Family Group Records Archives—Main Section. Endowment ordinances that appeared on these sheets continued to be added to the TIB and a notation was placed on the TIB cards in the form of a C and/or a P in the upper right hand corner of the card to indicate if that person appeared as a child and/or a parent on a family group record. In addition to the information currently found on the IGI, these sheets often had source notes and other comments about the families. Throughout this period, individual temples continued to also maintain registers of work done. In January 1970, use of both the TIB and the family group records was discontinued and the temples shifted to a computerized system of record keeping. At that time nearly all submissions of names of deceased persons were done on 8½ by 11 inch sheets on which the names of from one to six individuals or married couples could be listed. In addition to space for each person’s or couples’ vital statistics, a space was provided for notes concerning sources of information. All of the vital statistics, along with the dates when temple ordinances were performed, were entered into a computer and the resultant index was initially known as the Computer File Index. In the early 1980s, the name was changed to the International Genealogical Index. As a result of this historical development, information on names submitted to the temples for ordinance work can be found in four sources:

Temple Registers. Most are available on microfilm, as identified in the Family History Library Catalog.

Temple Index Bureau. Available on microfilm at the Family Search Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake and on microfilm at the Family History Center in the library of Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, it is only available for consultation by members of the LDS Church.

Family Group Records Archives. These are available in their original format at the Family Search Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake, and on microfilm that can be ordered to Family History Centers throughout the world.

International Genealogical Index. This index contains not only names of persons whose LDS temple work has been performed since 1 January 1970, but, through a major transfer effort to vital statistic information from the first three sources discussed. For names submitted by individuals and not added by extraction programs, a copy of the original sheet as prepared by the individual submitter can be viewed on microfilm. The pamphlets on the IGI explain the process of identifying batch numbers and searching for these in the FHLC. The researcher should remember that none of the information concerning submitters and their relationships to the deceased person, nor the information concerning sources, was transferred to the IGI. Also, the IGI does not contain information about baptisms for the living performed outside of the temples that may appear on the TIB cards.

Today all of the former systems have merged into one, newFamilySearch. While newFamilySearch will always be a work in progress, as people continue to add data, it fulfills the purposes of the earlier systems: preparing names for temple work, avoiding duplication and recording sources.

Prior to newFamilySearch, Pedigree Resource File was the means of submitting one’s genealogy for safekeeping and sharing. Before that it was Ancestral File. Rumor has it that when the FamilySearch website was introduced it was discovered that transferring the offline Ancestral File database to an online environment was not going to work. Some say it is at that realization that the new database was introduced. As early as the 1920s, the Genealogical Society of Utah encouraged its members to submit copies of their genealogies to the Society for those purposes. Those early efforts through 1963, now known as the Old Patron section, are available though the FHLC. Beginning in 1963, the LDS Church urged its members to submit at least their first four generations on family group sheets. These—with an incredible amount of duplication and contradiction—were gathered together in the Family Group Records Archives—Patrons Section. They likewise are available in the original at the Family Search Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake and on microfilms that can be ordered to Family History Centers throughout the world.

Even in geographic research areas where one may think there would be of little value, these indexes should be checked. I cannot count the number of times I have sent Latin American and southern European researchers into these collections and they have returned disappointed at not finding anything. Nevertheless, just when I have begun to consider not having them do so anymore, I have found in these indexes such valuable materials as complete parishes in Bilbao, Spain that are indexed on the IGI, or a series of over four hundred family group sheets from the colonial period in Jalisco, Mexico extending a line back to the 1520s that can be found in the Family Group Records Archives Main Section and accessed through the IGI. These indexes should always be checked when new surnames, time periods or places become available during the research process.

This article was directly copied from a BYU, Hist 482 manual with minor additions in order to mention some newer systems that were not in the original. This article is for education purposes only and personal authorship is denied by the administrator of this blog.

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