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Overheard in GenForum: LDS Site - How to Order Marriage Records
by Rhonda R. McClure

Each week Rhonda answers a question from the GenForum message boards and gives her expert answer here. We'd love to hear anything you have to add. Go ahead and leave your comments on GenForum with the original message.

June 01, 2000
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Q: I found my ancestors on the LDS site but now I do not know how to order the marriage and christening records. If someone has a few minutes I would appreciate it if you could explain this to me. -- Cynthia

A: The databases available through the LDS web site, FamilySearch, are the same ones that are available on CD through your local Family History Library. The information found in these various databases are derived primarily from information submitted by LDS individuals.

There are some differences in the information that you can access and how much of it you can gather. For instance, when working with the online version of the International Genealogical Index (IGI), you can, though the custom search options, limit the search by selecting a region and including dates of events, and add the names of parents and/or a spouse. The CD version allows you to select a region but then you can only include the name of the individual and the date of birth.

The information found in the FamilySearch databases are derived primarily from information submitted by LDS individuals.

Which Database Was Used?

The first thing that you need to do is to determine which of the databases included the marriages that you found. Some of the databases will have more information, and others will not.

The databases currently available online include:

  • International Genealogical Index
  • Ancestral File


The International Genealogical Index or IGI has been a useful tool for genealogists for many years. However, that was not the reason for its inception. The Index was designed so that LDS members could keep track of the ancestors for whom Temple Ordinance work had already been completed. It was designed to cut down on the duplication of ordinance work by individuals across the country who share common ancestry and may have been unaware that the other was working on the same line.

Each IGI entry includes a Batch Number and Serial Sheet number. These numbers are the clues to where the information came from. Some of the entries are through the Extraction Program. These entries are taken from microfilmed vital records such as births and marriages. These entries are very accurate. The extraction program relies on two separate individuals to extract the data. A third individual then checks the two works for accuracy. If there is enough discrepancy, then a third individual will extract the work. If an entry is from the extraction program, then there is a microfilm that contains the original records.

Another way that the names can be found in the IGI is through patron submission. This is where individuals of the LDS faith have filled out either family group sheets or patron submission forms with the information pertinent to their ancestors for whom they wish to do temple work. The family group sheets and patron submission forms have been microfilmed. Sometimes viewing the entries of a given individual can show lineages that you may have been unaware of, as often times the individual would submit a group of forms or sheets at the same time, and they will all be on the microfilm together. While there may be no additional lineage information, the forms often times will include source information that can be useful. Sometimes it is as simple as "family knowledge" while other times the sources might be a published genealogy, a probate case or some other valuable resource that you might not have been aware of.

Getting Copies

If the entry is from the extraction program, then you will definitely want to order the microfilm. This is because it is the microfilm of original records. The extraction program doesn't always take everything from the record. So it is possible that there is information about the parents of the individual found in the IGI entry. And, if the volume includes an index, you might find other family members or other surnames that you hadn't thought to look for in the IGI.

If the entry is a patron submission, then you will want to visit your local FHC and ask for the Photoduplication Request form. You can order up to eight patron submission copies per form (for a total of $2.00).

Ancestral File

If the entry you are interested in was found in the Ancestral File, then you can first download the information in a GEDCOM file. However you will also want to check on the Details for the individual in question. This is where you find information about who submitted the family. You will be given the name and address of the individual so that you can contact them. In some cases, if the entries were on family group sheets rather than through floppy disks, then there may be a microfilm that you can order. This is especially useful for the older entries when the submitter may no longer be living at the address supplied.

In Conclusion

If the entry was located in the IGI, then you may need to be satisfied with what you can get from the record of submission (either original record or patron submission). The entries in the IGI do not mean the submitter is interested in genealogy. They were fulfilling a church calling. If you find the information in the Ancestral File, you can then contact the individual who made the submission. Those who submitted to the Ancestral File did so with the knowledge that a fellow researcher may contact them to share information.

See Rhonda's Previous Columns

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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