The Batch Number search, one of the most useful services offered, permits specific searches in extracted parish registers. For genealogists interested in their British and European roots, the value of this additional search is substantial, as parish registers are a key source for those regions. Parish registers contain religious vital information such as baptisms, marriages, and burials on the majority of individuals who lived in Great Britain and Europe. The main search engine restricts geographical searches only by (1) region, (2) country/state/province, and (3) state/county; however, it does not reach down to the next critical jurisdictional level, the parish.
The parish is the most significant jurisdictional unit to search for ancestors in the United Kingdom, Europe, and their former colonies, because parish registers were recorded at this level. A parish search queries by surname or time period, and retrieves information on all individuals of interest in a specified locality. Before the addition of this new feature to the FamilySearch web site, it was necessary to search county by county, which for a place like London, England, with 114 parishes by the 19th century, yielded an unmanageable number of results. Being able to search parish by parish saves great amounts of time.
The Batch Number search is particularly valuable to genealogists whose ancestors came from countries where baptisms and marriages have been heavily extracted from parish registers. Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Mexico are among the best-indexed nations on the IGI. These registers have been transcribed by volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and placed on the FamilySearch web site at www.familysearch.org. Each parish has received one or more corresponding Batch Numbers.
Research aids are available for some of these countries to determine which parishes have been extracted. Cecil R. Humphrey-Smith's The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers itemizes the extracted work, parish by parish, for England, Scotland, and Wales, identifying, among other information, which parishes can be searched by name on the IGI.
To conduct this type of search, first determine the Batch Number for the parish of interest. I will present a case study from my own research to demonstrate the process.
During my attempts to discover the German hometown of my American immigrant ancestor, Johann Nicholas Kraft, I found mention of his marriage record on the IGI in the German Lutheran parish of Altleiningen in the province of Pfalz. After clicking on Johann's name on the Search Results page, I realized that the Messages section, near the bottom of the Individual Record page, stated that this entry had arrived to the IGI as an "Extracted marriage record for locality listed in the record." This revealed that the parish for his entry had been extracted, and that the entry was derived from a primary source, and not as a submission by someone tracing his or her personal family tree.
Immediately below the Messages section, under Source Information, I clicked on the link entitled Source Call Number, and discovered that this entry came from the parish registers of the Lutheran Church in Altleiningen, Pfalz. I used this information to order the microfilm and view the original handwritten entry, which can contain additional biographical details not listed on the IGI. The Source Information section also revealed the Batch Number as M997151, an item listed for extracted parishes. By clicking on the link for this number, I was brought back to the IGI search engine, and the web site automatically inserted the Batch Number in the box for my search. I proceeded to write down all of the Krafts in the parish, created an index for the surname, and then returned to the microfilm copy of the original Kirchenbuch to search for each of the original entries. The IGI made up for the lack of an index in the original German register, which saved time, and I quickly found additional information on my ancestor's relatives. A project that would have taken several hours took less than one hour.
Hugh Wallis has created an excellent web site called, IGI Batch Numbers, available at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~hughwallis/, which provides U.S. and British Batch Numbers. Arne Feldborg's web site identifies Batch Numbers in other localities, see http://184.108.40.206/php/batch_nr/igi_soeg_form.php.
If the desired person is not found on the IGI, make sure to also check the various regional Vital Record Indexes, which are holding files for recent extractions. These CDs may be accessed at local LDS Family History Centers, and those for Denmark, Finland, Mexico, Norway, and Sweden can currently be searched on the FamilySearch web site.