Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday's Tip - Use PERSI to find genealogy-related periodical articles

Today's Tuesday's Tip is:  Use the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) to find periodical articles on genealogy-related topics.

In my experience, periodical articles provide many solutions to specific brick-wall research problems.  The peer-reviewed journals (like the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ), the New England Historic Genealogical Register, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and others) often publish articles about previously unsolved ancestral problems, describe and demonstrate the research techniques for solving those problems, etc.  Many regional, state, and local genealogical journals provide research articles, descriptions of repository holdings, listings of previously unpublished records, etc.  All of these may be extremely useful for genealogy researchers, especially for periodicals published near and articles written about ancestral towns and counties.

In my humble opinion, a researcher cannot perform a reasonably exhaustive ancestral search without using genealogy-related periodicals. 

The PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) "indexes articles in 11,000 periodical titles (including 3,000 defunct titles), dating back to 1847, published by thousands of local, state, national and international societies and organizations, arranging 2.25 million entries by surname or location and 22 basic subject headings."  This is a continuous effort by the staff at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

You can read all about PERSI in the article Periodical Source Index (PERSI) on the FamilySearch Research Wiki. 

There are some limitations that users should know:

*  PERSI is a subject index to articles, not an every name or every word index. Entries are by:
- Location and record type;
- Surname as subject; or
- How-to topic.

*  PERSI does not cover surname periodicals and does not normally include queries, charts, fiction, cartoons, or poetry.

PERSI is available online at two websites:

*  Heritage Quest Online, which is available in many public libraries (and available remotely using a library card from the participating library) and at all LDS Family History Centers.  There are four options for beginning a search in HeritageQuest: People, Places, How-tos, and Periodicals.

Ancestry.com, which is available through personal subscription, or is free at subscribing libraries and all LDS Family History Centers. From the Ancestry.com main page, click the “Search” tab, then under “Dictionaries, Encyclopedias & Reference” select “Periodical Source Index.” 

PERSI is available in book form many public and genealogical libraries, but the yearly publications ended in 1997.

The FamilySearch Research Wiki page has much more information about the two services and how to effectively search using them.

All of the periodicals indexed by PERSI are available at Allen County Public Library (ACPL) to peruse and copy.  The indexes are updated regularly.

The ACPL Foundation offers an article copying service for those unable to visit or access the periodicals elsewhere. To use this service, print an Article Request Form available on the Genealogy Center's webpage. For each article requested, include Title of Article, Title of Journal, Volume (if cited), Number (if cited), Month (if cited) and Year. A pre-paid handling fee of $7.50 (check or money order to “ACPLF”) covers up to four articles and should be sent with each form. Multiple forms may be submitted, accompanied by the appropriate handling fee (e.g. for 10 articles: $7.50 X 3 = $22.50). An additional copying fee of 20 cents per page will be billed when the copies are sent. Please allow up to 4 weeks for delivery.


RBrass189 said...

Great tip, I'll have to try to use PERSI sometime. HeritageQuest Online is free for anyone with a Wisconsin based IP address through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction at http://www.badgerlink.net

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

I have used PERSI so much that I have nearly exhausted the options relating to my family lines! I wait patiently for new additions. Thanks for the plug for this great resource.