Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, August 31, 2015

Genealogical Journals and PERSI

The Periodical Source Index or PERSI contains more than 2.7 million, fully-searchable entries from articles and records in over 8,000 historical, genealogical and ethnic publications. It is currently available on the website. Here is a short description of the collection:
The Periodical Source Index is compiled quarterly by the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and will be simultaneously updated on findmypast. Along with these updates, findmypast is also working to provide access to the same articles indexed in PERSI through our site. Images from PERSI-indexed articles are regularly added every month.
 The main limitation of the collection is described in this quote from a post by The Ancestry Insider:
While indexing all these articles, PERSI doesn’t actually include them. Researchers must subsequently find a copy of the periodical. Fortunately, PERSI includes a list of institutions holding the respective titles. Or one can pay a small copying fee and get copies of articles from the Allen County Public Library.
You’ll recall that Findmypast added the PERSI index to their website back in February 2014. As part of that partnership, Findmypast is digitizing indexed articles, which increases the value of PERSI by several orders of magnitude. While I hope Findmypast can negotiate posting of recent periodicals, the list indicates that thus far they have not done so. All currently posted articles are from magazine issues for which the copyright has expired.
Now, the real issue here is the genealogical journal.  As noted above, there are of have been over 8000 of these publications across the United States. A Google Book search for "genealogy journal publication" comes up with 2,570 results. Varying the terms could come up with either more or fewer publications. Some of these on Google Books are in the public domain and are complete runs. Some of the other online digital books sites, such as the Internet Archive and the have also managed to acquire various genealogical journals. One source for journals and other publications you may end up overlooking is's Books section. It is a good idea to search for various associated terms, including geographical and bibliographic terms. For example, on's Book search I searched for "journal" and had over 53,000 results. When you find a list like this, then start using the words of the titles of the publications as search terms to find even more listings.

The quality of the articles varies from useful to useless but there is always the chance that what is included is unique and available no where else. On occasion, the local journals and historical society publications contain list extracted from original records that are either hard to locate or have long since disappeared.


  1. PERSI and journals/newsletters are grossly underused. I've found some Bible records and loose courthouse records in them. Some journals, like the NEHGR, date back many years. Another gem to be found in them are gravestone epitaphs from stones that have been lost to time. Maybe the FindMyPast project will bring in a new audience to PERSI and they will find out what they have been missing.

    1. I certainly agree. That is one reason I wrote the post. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Unfornately, if the name or place you are seaching is not in the TITLE of the article in a genealogical journal, it will not be indexed in PERSI. I discovered this accidentally about 5 years ago.

    1. Mostly you are right. But in many cases, the journals that have been digitized can be searched word-by-word so the content is available online. Most journals are regional or very local and can be associated with the places where events occurred in your ancestors' lives. I never said it would be easy :-)