Is the AGBI more reliable than say an old family genealogy book that is online at

+8 votes
When looking at the wikitree profile of an ancestor I notice that the date of birth is taken from a genealogy book on the family that is online at  It is a book that I use for my own genealogy website.  However, checking with the AGBI there is a 7 year difference in date of birth, seven years earlier.  Which is more reliable in the field of genealogy?  The book or AGBI.
in Genealogy Help by Scott Lee G2G6 Mach 2 (24.3k points)
Sorry Scott, but I have no idea what AGBI stands for?

Books available on and other websites can vary enormously, there are some that are very well researched using primary or original sources and there are others that are merely  retelling old family stories without any investigation.

So I usually evaluate such books based on whether they are quoting or citing any sources and what those sources are.

4 Answers

+10 votes
Best answer
The AGBI is just an index of genealogy sources.  If you're using the Ancestry database, look in the "Reference" field and that should tell you the actual source that its indexing.  Sometimes you can find the source online, but either way, you need to start there in order to determine the reliability of the info.
by M Cole G2G6 Mach 2 (29.4k points)
selected by Pip Sheppard
Thank you for your response.  I appreciate it!
+10 votes
As M Cole said, AGBI is just an index to people mentioned in books and journals. It should not be used as a substitute for a source since you won't have any real context. About half the time I've seen AGBI used as a source, it was for the wrong person. You do need to examine the real source.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (376k points)
Thanks Doug.  Great advice!
+3 votes

Recently one of those citations from American Genealogical Biographical Index (AGBI) got the best of my curiousity (mid 19th century female, very few references).  I found a service available at Godfrey Library (owners, originators, of the index) that supplies the reference and source lookup for ten dollars.  It is snail mail, but it was quick.  Within a week I had a copy of a message from the Boston Transcript.  Saved me much aggravation.

by Jo McCaleb G2G6 Mach 1 (19.6k points)
The Godfrey is a wonderful resource. I've used them enough that we are members. The AGBI can speed up finding info. That is, it is a great finding aid.
0 votes
I searched the AGBI for Lenover, my birth surname. I found one entry for Mary J Lenover. The AGBI had a birthday of 1830. I consulted the book (It was a surname genealogy book ) that was online and discovered no birthdate listed for her, but her husband had a birthday of 1831. I agree with others to treat it as an index/clue, but double check the original sources.
by Marty Acks G2G6 Pilot (102k points)

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