Monday, January 15, 2007

Genealogy Periodicals - an Underused Asset?

Are you reading genealogical periodicals from your areas of interest? If you don't subscribe to them, how do you access them? How do you find back issues? Are they name-indexed?

Arlene Eakle has a wonderful article about her experiences reading periodicals, and her methods of accessing and reading them here. Arlene is very experienced and an expert - it would be wise to take her advice. I agree completely with her.

One of my favorite things to do whenever I visit a repository in my ancestors' home town is to browse the local or regional genealogy society newsletters and publications. Many of them just recount society events, but some are gold mines of local data that is available nowhere else.

In San Diego, the Carlsbad library has a tremendous collection of genealogy periodicals from many state and local societies. The San Diego Genealogical Society library in El Cajon also has a great collection. When I visit these places (only once or twice a year, unfortunately), I try to spend an hour or two browsing the collection. The SDGS also publishes a subscription journal called "Leaves and Saplings" which covers local San Diego genealogy data - like vital records, cemetery records, voter registers, etc.

I whined some time ago on this blog that there are not every-name search capabilities or page images available for genealogy journals, and the kind folks at pointed out to me that such a search and image capability would violate copyrights of authors and/or societies. It is still a needed research resource, but it is evidently not attainable.

Many of the larger genealogy periodicals have published indexes of their holdings, some have published CD-ROMs with the images on them, and some provide search capability and image access on their subscription web sites (e.g., NEHGS has all of the above). All societies or periodicals should be encouraged to make and publish indexes, CD-ROMs and provide web page search and image access of their publications. Of course, that all takes money...

Then there is the Periodical Source Index (PERSI), which is available online at HeritageQuestOnline through a subscribing library, or on microfiche or books at an FHC or local library. However, PERSI only catalogs the author, title, date, keywords and periodical name. There is no every-name search capability. If you do find an article of interest, it can be obtained, for a cost, at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. See for more information.

The 2007 Federation of Genealogical Societies conference will be held in Fort Wayne from August 15-18, 2007, hosted by the Allen County Public Library. The Allen County library should be a must-visit for researchers who have not been there before. SDGS recently sponsored a member research trip to ACPL - I hope to go sometime soon.

UPDATED 16 January, 9 AM: Thanks to Becky for correcting my error about the FGS conference - the correct location and dates are shown in red above. Note to self: why don't you check these things out before you screw up again?

1 comment:

Becky Wiseman said...

Randy - the 2007 FGS Conference is going to be held in Fort Wayne, Indiana August 15-18 (not in Chicago in May). It is being co-hosted by the Allen County Public Library (ACPL). More information can be found at

The ACPL is currently closed until January 27th when it will re-open in its newly remodeled building, which will have some really cool tech features. Curt Witcher spoke at our Genealogy Society last fall and gave us a preview of what was to come. Something to look forward to during this dreary winter weather!