On the ALJEFFER List at Rootsweb recently, the issue of searching for marriages at the LDS familysearch.org website came up. I have to say that I believe it is one of the best FREE sources to look for marriages in the United States and to look for christenings/marriages in England/UK and elsewhere.
I stumbled upon these records several years ago. When I started researching I had no subscriptions so I was always looking for FREE resources. On the various mailing lists and message boards I kept seeing folks talk about the LDS website but could not figure out what the “fuss” was all about. Yes, I had searched the site and found a few indexed marriages, but there were many more that I “knew” had occurred in the same time period and place that I could not find.
Let me stop right now and say that I am not talking about searching the family trees or user-submitted data at familysearch.org, rather the IGI (International Genealogical Index). There is some user-submitted data mixed in with the extracted IGI records but they are pretty easy to distinguish once you know what to look for. I wrote up a quick reference on searching the IGI for a few groups I moderate at Yahoo for Genealogy research in specific areas.
To search by Batch# at familysearch.org, click on the “search” tab when the main page loads. Then click on “International Genealogical Index” (4th item down on left side of page). At this page you can enter as little or as much information as you have as long as you enter a batch number and set the “region” to North America.
Below is a file I made (Adobe pdf) with the instructions and batch numbers for Jefferson County along with several other Alabama Counties and a few other states.
Let me say that on many occasions names can be mangled in the index … it is worth it to search only by first name or initials, or just the approximate date and scroll through the “possibles”… also in some cases they indexed only the husband in the primary name field… and to find the wife you have to search only the spouse name field. These are just a few of the quirks I have found.
I have bookmarked a few sites over the years that give some background on the IGI and what various “batch” letters mean (note this first link is to a page in the “web archive” as the page no longer exists on the “live” web):
Hugh Wallis’ IGI Index
Hugh’s website is more inclusive for “across the pond” but he has a very good collection and starting point for United States batch numbers. In many cases the batch numbers for a county are sequential… so experiment a bit with a “known” batch number and see what else you might find.