Early Church Information File (ECIF)

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LDS History > Early Church Information File (ECIF)

What is the Early Church Information File?

The Early Church Information File (ECIF) is an alphabetical index of individuals. It occupies 75 rolls of microfilm (Family History Library films 1,750,655 to 1,750,729) and contains about 1,500,000 entries from over 1,200 sources about Latter-day Saints and their neighbors. The index is international in scope and should be among the first sources checked when searching for Latter-day Saint ancestors or persons living in areas heavily populated by Latter-day Saints. It mainly covers sources from 1830 to the mid-1900s. It indexes information from such sources as

  • Latter-day Saint membership records.
  • Ward histories.
  • Family histories.
  • Local histories.
  • Journals.
  • Collective biographies.
  • Priesthood records.
  • Missionary records.
  • Periodicals.
  • Cemetery records.
  • Immigration records.
  • Marriage records of Utah and some of Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Illinois, and California.

Several major indexes are also referenced in the Early Church Information File. For example, the card in example three refers to Mormons and Their Neighbors, an index to hundreds of books and microfilms. Other indexes in this file include

Guide to Mormon Diaries and Autobiographies.

Membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1848.

Mormon Manuscripts to 1846.

Nauvoo Temple Endowment Register.

Entries in the file often refer to an event such as a person's birth, marriage, or death. Entries may also refer to a biographical sketch. The Early Church Information File usually gives a person's name, the date of the event, and a source reference and library call number for the source. The original record may supply additional family history information as well.

How Can The ECIF Help You?

You can use the Early Church Information File to:

  • Help you simplify your genealogical research by quickly identifying useful sources.
  • Identify possible family connections.
  • Find birth, marriage, and death information.
  • Find the names of an ancestor's relatives.
  • Locate individuals in a specific geographic area.
  • Obtain useful biographical information.

What ECIF Does Not Include

The Early Church Information File does not include:

Getting Started

Four Steps to Follow When Using the Early Church Information File

Step 1. Select the microfilm numbers you need

Microfilm numbers for the Early Church Information File are listed in this Family History Library Catalog link. Names are listed alphabetically by surname and given name. For example, if you want to find index references to Perrigrine SESSIONS, the catalog shows you would look in microfilm 1,750,712.

Note that names that begin with Mc or M' are filed as if they were all spelled with Mac. For example, both McGhie and M'Ghie are filed as if spelled MacGhie. Abbreviated names like St. John are filed as if they were spelled out, for example, Saint John.

Step 2. Locate the name in the index

Once you have located the appropriate microfiche, or film, locate the name you are searching for in the Early Church Information File. Names may be typed in any order, but the cards are always arranged alphabetically by surname. For example, a name may appear as Perrigrine Sessions or Sessions, Perrigrine. An individual in the Early Church Information File may be listed on one card or on many cards depending on how much is written on the individual and how much of that material has been indexed.

On the right are three example cards found in the Early Church Information File for Perrigrine Sessions.

Step 3. Interpret and copy the information

Study and copy the information shown in the Early Church Information File. Although cards may appear in a variety of formats, the name is always near the top. Call numbers for sources listed on the cards are usually on the left or at the bottom of the card. Most sources are described in detail.

Step 4. Obtain the source

If you are at the Family History Library, use the call number listed in the Early Church Information File to find the actual source. If the call number is not listed on the card, refer to the section below titled "Can't Find The Source On The Card?"

If you are at a family history center, request a microfilm or microfiche copy of the source. For sources not available on microform, you may be able to get the book(s) through interlibrary loan at a local university or public library. For information on obtaining addresses of libraries and using interlibrary loan, see United States Archives and Libraries.

Can't Find the Source on the Card?

Updated Call Numbers. About 80 percent of the sources in the Early Church Information file have a valid call number listed on the card. Some sources that list only a book number are now available on microfilm. Also, some call numbers have changed. Check the Family History Library Catalog to find an omitted or updated call number.

Missing Call Numbers. About 20 percent of the cards in the file do not list a call number for sources they reference. This section explains how to find most, but not all, of the missing call numbers.

1. County Marriage Records. About half the cards without call numbers are from county marriage records. Most of these marriage records can be found in the Family History Library Catalog by doing a Place Search and reviewing the catalog entries for Vital Records (marriages).

NOTE: Cards listing the source as Utah County Marriage Book 8 from November 1919 to 1938 are really for Sanpete County marriages. They are located on microfilm 481,512.

Marriage records for three counties indexed in the Early Church Information File are not available through the Family History Library. You must contact the county clerk for the county marriage records of these counties:

    • Lemhi, books 2-3 (Idaho)
    • Lincoln (Wyoming)
    • Weber (Utah)

2. Nauvoo Baptisms. If a card does not have call numbers but includes the phrase "Bapt. Nauvoo" or "Nauvoo Bapt.," it refers to the records of baptisms for the dead. Locate the records on microfilms in the FHLC under the title: Baptisms for the dead 1840-1845

3. U.S. LDS Ward Records. The following table lists most, but not all, ward records for which call numbers are not provided on the ECIF cards.

Welsh Latter-day Saint Branch Records are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog by the town name. Look for:


4. Patriarchal Blessings are available only to direct descendants. Write to

     Historical Department Member Services
     50 East North Temple Street
     Salt Lake City, UT 84150

5. Priesthood Records are no longer available at the Family History Library. The following Priesthood Records are now preserved at the Church History Library and Archives:

    • Source Listed       FHL Film Call Number
    • 1 C Seventies 179954
    • [Quorum Number] Sevenites 179953
    • GR Seventies Book B 179953
    • Seventies Book B 179953

Other priesthood records with the following phrases in the lower left-hand corner of the card have always been found only at the Church History Library and Archives.

    • High Priest
    • High Priest B
    • High Priest W
    • H O High Priest
    • Re Bap 1808
    • Seventies Book A

Can't Find a Name?

Before concluding that your ancestor's name is not in the Early Church Information File or in LDS records, consider the following:

  • The name may be spelled or listed differently (for example, Anne instead of Ann; John A. instead of John Andrew).
  • The name may be listed under a nickname or middle name (for example, Bill instead of William; Ann instead of Mary Ann).
  • A woman may be listed under her maiden or her married surname.

The ECIF does not include every name in the sources it indexes. Search the records in which a person's name should appear for entries that may have been accidentally omitted in the index.

The index does not include all LDS sources. For example, the Scandinavian LDS Mission Index is not included. See Tracing LDS Ancestorsfor additional LDS records and indexes to search.

Records of LDS ancestors are often found in non-LDS sources such as vital records. Study the Wiki research article of your ancestor's country of origin to learn about other records that may mention your ancestor.

More Information about the File

Generally the quality of indexing in the ECIF has been excellent. Over the years, however, the amount of data placed on the cards has varied greatly, ranging from listing only the name, date, and page(s), to capturing most of the data in the source.