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PERSI - The PERiodical Source Index

How to Find Your Ancestors in Genealogical & Historical Periodicals


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Widely recognized as a vital tool for genealogical research, the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) helps researchers quickly locate information about people and places in over 2.25 million genealogy and local history articles appearing in publications of thousands of local, state, national and international societies and organizations. Created by the staff of the Historical Genealogy Department of the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, PERSI is the largest subject index to genealogical and historical periodical articles in the world. Genealogical research and records presented in many of these journals and other publications can not be found online and, as such, PERSI is a valuable component of a good genealogy research plan.

Record Type: Searchable Database

Localities: PERSI is focused primarily on genealogy and local history articles published in the United States and Canada (in both French and English), Britain, and Ireland. A few genealogical publications from Australia are also indexed.

Time Period: 1800 to the present (time period covered by the articles ranges from the 1700s to the present)

What Can I Learn From PERSI?:
The PERSI index lists every article from over 11,000 genealogy and local history publications (including 3,000 defunct titles) according to locality, family (surname) and/or research methodology. Each citation includes publication details for each periodical which you can use to obtain the article directly from the publisher, or through interlibrary loan at your local library. You may also contact the Allen County Public Library, which owns a copy of each periodical indexed in PERSI, for photocopies of articles. Subscription-based website FindMyPast.com began offering PERSI linked to digitized images of the articles in February 2014, with more digitized articles to be added over time.

Where Can I Access PERSI?:
You may search the PERSI resource from within any Allen County Public Library facility. Outside of Allen County, the PERSI resource is available from many public libraries through HeritageQuest Online - a genealogical database available to users (including remote access) of subscribing libraries. PERSI is also available as a subscription database from Ancestry.com and, as of February 2014, from FindMyPast.com. PERSI still available and fully searchable at both HeritageQuestOnline.com and Ancestry.com as of February 2014, but will likely be transitioning completely to FindMyPast.com over time.

What to Expect:
PERSI provides family historians with access to articles, photos, and other material that they may otherwise never locate through traditional search methods. PERSI can be a great way to locate cemetery transcriptions and other records that have only appeared in a serial publication, as well as family histories, and articles on the locations of your ancestors.

It is important to know that while PERSI is very comprehensive, it is not a full-text index. Not every surname included in a given article is included in the index. The main family being researched is listed, while individuals mentioned only in passing usually do not appear in PERSI unless they are a part of the article's title.

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