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Rhonda's Tips: Genealogy Questions Answered
by Rhonda R. McClure

July 1, 1999
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Understanding IGI Entries

Q: I have a question about information I recieved from the International Genealogical Index. I found an ancestor and it gave the birth, etc., but there was a number after that and I don't know what it is. The information in the IGI was: Johanna SULLIVAN, born 26 July 1868, Killorglin, 0317, Kerry, Ireland. Below that was a Batch Number (C701366). What do I do with this information? -- Jodi

A: The International Genealogical Index is an index designed by the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This index was designed to help LDS individuals keep track of what temple ordinances had already been completed on behalf of their deceased ancestors. Without going into a lot of detail on LDS beliefs, I want to stress that LDS believe they are offering deceased individuals necessary ordinances that must be performed on earth. However, those deceased individuals still have the right to say "Thanks, but no thanks." If you find your ancestor in the IGI, it does not mean that they have been forced to become LDS (or Mormon). They have been given the opportunity.

With that said, there are two ways that an individual can be included in the IGI:

  • Patron Submission
  • Extraction

The key to determining what type of entry you are looking at is to look at the Batch Number. The batch number your entry has is C701366. The C lets me know that this came from a Christening/Birth record and is part of the extraction program. Entries that begin with an M are also part of the extraction program and allude to marriage records. Patron submissions can begin with all number or certain other letters. Details on the different beginning letters can be found at your local Family History Center on the IGI Instructions fiche.

Armed with this information you now have a clue as to where the entry came from, a birth record. A search of the Family History Library Catalog (FHLC) shows that there are 1,031 microfilm reels of birth records for the years 1864 to 1955 from the General Registry Office in Ireland. Many of these are indexes. There is an index of births for the year 1868, which is found on FHL film #101045.

I would encourage you to order this microfilm at your local FHC. You will no doubt find Johanna SULLIVANS entry with the place name as you found it in the IGI. Also important to your research is the fact that the Family History Library has the actual birth records on microfilm from 1864 to March 1881. Therefore you can also locate the actual entry in the birth register for your ancestor, which will supply additional information including:

  • Registry line number
  • Date and place of birth
  • Name
  • Gender
  • Name, surname and dwelling place of father
  • Name, surname and maiden surname of mother
  • Profession of father
  • Signature, qualification and residence of the informant

Can I Research an Adoption Line?

Q: While doing research, I came across my great grandmother and her parents and others, discovering a whole new family. In doing a census in 1870 I discovered that my grandmother on my father's side was adopted. Does our bloodline end with my grandmother along with my genealogy or do I include them as family? -- Sonja

A: While the term genealogy refers to the researching of a bloodline, most people today are researching their family history. What this means, is that you can include the lineage of the adopted parents. I would suggest that you qualify it in some way in any published accounts you may share. This includes web pages. Otherwise there is always the chance that misinformation can be shared and multiplied, making research all the more difficult in years to come where this line is concerned..

While there may not be adoption records as we know them today, it is likely that someone was appointed as the guardian for your grandmother. It would be a good idea to search for guardianship records. These are sometimes located with the probate records, though they are considered court records in general.

Germans in St. Petersburg

Q: Where can I find out more about my wife's ancestor who moved from Germany to St. Petersburg, Russia before finally immigrating to America? Specifically, records in St. Petersburg area. My understanding is that the German immigrants to Russia data is housed in St. Petersburg but contains info on emigrants to the Ukraine, not St. Petersburg itself. -- Peter

A: When we refer to the Germans from Russia, we are very often referring to a specific ethnic group. This unique group was enticed to Russia by Catherine II, former German princess and then Empress of Russia. Catherine's manifesto offered these enticements:

  • Free transportation to Russia
  • Settlement in segregated colonies
  • Free land and tax-free loans
  • Religious freedom
  • Local self-government
  • Exemption from military and civil service
  • The right to leave Russia when they wanted
  • All of these rights were guaranteed to those immigrating and their descendants as well

The first Germans to take her up on this immigrated to the Volga River in the years 1764 to 1767. The next group would be those that immigrated to the Ukraine. Still others would be sent to the Crimea and Bessarabia. An important point about these immigrants is that they all had migrated and established their colonies long before your ancestor arrived. In fact there were so many coming that in 1804, a decree was issued that did require all newly arriving immigrants:

  • To have money and goods totaling 300 guilders
  • To be skilled in farming or some other handicraft
  • To be a family

You may want to turn your attention to Germany for records on your wife's ancestor. You already know where he was born. However, finding out why he went to Russia may prove interesting.

For additional information you may want to visit one of these links:

A Murder in 1838

Q: I've found that my 3rd great grandmother was indicted for murder in 1838. I know he was acquitted of those charges in 1842. I would like to know more about the charges, but the courthouse containing the records (Fayette, Jefferson County, Miss.) burned in 1988 and the officials say those records were destroyed. I read the indictment from a fire-scorched, water-logged book. I plan a trip to the State Archives this summer. Is there any place where I can search there for those old records? -- A. Ross

A: The records that you would most likely be dealing with would be those found in the circuit courts. It was the responsibility of the circuit court to handle such matters as:

  • Marriage licenses
  • Voter registration
  • Declarations and naturalizations
  • Criminal court minutes
  • Coroner's books - for some counties

While these records would normally be available at the county courthouse, you may also find them at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and some through the Family History Library.

Another resource that you will not want to overlook at the State Archives would be the newspapers. If there was indeed a murder, it most likely made the local papers at the time. In fact, the entire trial process may be found in the newspapers.

Finding My Indian

Q: My grandmother was born in Oklahoma in 1907. She was born on or near an Indian reservation in Ada. Her name was Ninnie Irene WILLIAMS. I have found absolutely nothing for her. She hated the name Ninnie, which was supposed to be an Indian name, so she always signed everything as Irene Williams. How do I find any information on her and her family? I know that her mother's name was Ethel EDWARDS and her father was from somewhere in Arkansas and his name was William Smith WILLIAMS. I have no idea who was Indian or if they were. -- Deanna

A: Based on your message, I am assuming that your grandmother has passed away. If you haven't done so already, you will want to get a copy of her death certificate. This may support your currently known information or may give you additional information.

You will also want to search the 1910 census for this family. Oklahoma is one of the states that were soundexed, so you have an index for the entire state. The 1910 census will include information about where Ethel and William were born, as well as where their parents were born. It will also list their race. Of course, there is always the chance that the information in the census is not completely accurate, but it is one more record to give you clues to your ancestry.

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning 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

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