July 25, 2016

PERSI for Genealogy: the Periodical Source Citation Index

PERSI for Genealogy Periodical Source Citation Index

Have you met PERSI? You should! PERSI is the Periodical Source Citation Index. Use PERSI for genealogy and you may discover your ancestors in thousands of articles you never knew existed. 

You may have heard me talk in the past about PERSI. In case you haven’t…PERSI is not a person—it’s the acronym for the Periodical Source Index. PERSI is THE master index for periodicals with over 2.5 million entries. Thousands of magazines, newsletters, journals, and other periodicals from the U.S., Canada, Britain, Ireland, and Australia are indexed here.

PERSI is maintained by the Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They have the equivalent of 6 full-time staff who are dedicated to subject-indexing every issue of every known genealogy or historical periodical and even the tiniest society newsletter.

Curt Witcher, who runs the Genealogy Center at Allen County and who has been a guest on the podcast in the past, estimates that if you don’t consult periodicals in your research, you could be missing up to 30% of your research leads! That’s a lot of leads! PERSI has long been a staple resource for advanced and professional genealogists to help them break through brick walls. With its help, you can much more quickly locate articles like biographical sketches of ancestors (or people they knew), transcribed indexes to naturalization or probate records, church records, school records, and the like. There might be just-what-you-need histories of places or the organizations your ancestors belonged to.

These key articles are often buried so deep in back issues of little local genealogy newsletters that you may never come across them on your own. Sometimes, they’re what we call “orphaned” content: articles we’d find in totally unexpected places.

HOW TO SEARCH PERSI ONLINE

PERSI used to be searchable on Ancestry, but it isn’t there anymore. You can use an older, archived version of PERSI on HeritageQuest Online at libraries that subscribe. The current version of PERSI is exclusively on Findmypast and they’re doing something really cool with it. They are adding digitized articles to the index. In fact, they added a total of 18,257 articles from 94 publications in their recent July update. They are doing this by signing contracts with each individual society or journal publisher, so it’s not a fast process. The vast majority of entries on PERSI do not have digitized articles linked to them yet. It’s a bonus when you do find them!

To search PERSI at Findmypast you do not actually need a subscription. They allow anyone to search and see the list of results. To see a image of a specific search result, you will need a subscription OR you will need to purchase their pay-per-view credits. You can also use Findmypast at Family History Centers and at many libraries that have institutional subscriptions.

Once you have located an article, it’s inexpensive to order a copy directly from the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center. Simply download the order form PDF from their website, fill it out, and mail it in. You can request up to six articles for only $7.50, which you pre-pay and then they bill you separately for copies at 20 cents per page.

Sometime soon, why not take 15 minutes—or your next lunch break at work–and search PERSI for your top surnames and locations? Again, the database is PERSI, it is at Findmypast, and the chance to discover is all yours.

MORE GEMS ON PERSI

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The Genealogy Gems Podcast Premium Episode 135: Comparsion of Google Scholar & PERSI (Premium Member Subscription Needed)

 

We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

We dig these gemsHere’s our weekly roundup of new genealogy records online! Everyone should check out the updates to PERSI at Findmypast. Also, there records of Australia-bound passengers; British watermen; Idaho marriages; and wills for Rhode Island and Staffordshire, England.

AUSTRALIA IMMIGRATION. New at TheGenealogist are over 190,000 indexed records for passengers who departed from Britain and Ireland on early migrant ships to New South Wales in the years between 1828 and 1896. According to a press release, “The transcripts of the latest release uniquely give a family link so you can see spouses and children setting out on their new life. They also reveal details such as which ship they had sailed on, where they were landing, the passenger’s occupation and in the case where the migrant has been assisted to travel out to a job, their employer’s name.”

BRITISH WATERMEN. If any of your ancestors may have worked as watermen in London, their names may appear in several new Findmypast databases:

ENGLAND WILLS. Wills and probate records for Staffordshire, England (1521-1860) are newly searchable on Findmypast. The index includes names, death dates, occupation and next of kin information.

IDAHO MARRIAGES. A marriage index for Idaho (1842-1964, 1975-1996) has been updated at Ancestry. Indexed entries may include “name, spouse’s name, spouse’s gender, marriage date and location, county and state in which the marriage was recorded, residence of bride and groom, and source information.”

PERSI UPDATE. Findmypast has done a quarterly update to the Periodical Source Index (PERSI), a database of thousands of genealogically-relevant articles in journals, magazines and newsletters. According to a release, “35 different publications have either been newly added to the collection or updated with additional coverage….You’ll find fully searchable new articles from states, cities and towns across America….The latest additions include indexes on English, Irish, Australian and Swedish genealogy too.”

RHODE ISLAND WILLS. Ancestry’s collection of Rhode Island wills and probate records (1582-1932) has been updated. It now includes images for probate records from all counties, though some may be missing for various localities or time periods.

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PERSI Digitized Collections Gaining Ground

ebook ereader for Mac Digital Genealogy books at Google BooksJust over a year ago, we shared the news that the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) was migrating to FindMyPast.com. The big news was that this index to over 2.5 million names and topics in thousands of genealogy, history and ethnic publications would begin to link to full-text articles on FindMyPast.

Well, it’s happening. FindMyPast recently reported: “We’ve added images to the indexes of fifteen different publications in PERSI, including The American Irish Historical Society Journal (1898-1922), The American Historical Society’s Americana (1909-1923) and the Connecticut Historical Society Annual Report (1890-1923).”

Even better, it’s FREE to search PERSI at FindMyPast and view results. If you see something really compelling, you can pay for a-la-carte access (called PayAsYouGo credits) to a detailed indexed entry and any digitized content, or subscribe for full access. But you can least learn whether an article on your topic exists (like “Silas Johnson Methodist minister” or “Swinerton family Salem, Massachusetts”) and where it was published.

Whether FindMyPast doesn’t have an article digitized yet or you don’t purchase access to it, you can still order a copy. Just use the Allen County Public Library’s Article Fulfillment service: it’s only $7.50 USD for up to six articles, plus $0.20-per-page photocopying charge.

Look Where You Can Find PERSI and Your Family History

Findmypast logo captureIf you’ve ever used the Periodical Source Index (PERSI), you know what a genealogy gem it is. PERSI is a master index to thousands of genealogical and historical periodicals, published by the Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center (ACPL). According to the Journal Gazette, PERSI contains about 2.5 million citation and adds another 100,000 a year. This is where you go to see if someone’s written about your family or ancestral hometown in state, regional, ethnic, local and other journals and newsletters.

You can currently search PERSI through the HeritageQuest Online databases at your local library and with your Ancestry.com membership. But the trick is accessing those articles once you find them. The best way right now is to order them directly from ACPL (click on Article Fulfillment Form). It costs $7.50 USD to order up to 6 articles at a time, plus $.20 per page and you get the articles in the mail.

Now findmypast.com has big plans to make PERSI easier to use. Findmypast.com is becoming the new online host of PERSI, and they plan to link digital images of as many articles as possible to the index. “PERSI unearths hidden gems for genealogy researchers,” says D. Joshua Taylor, lead genealogist for findmypast.com. “We look forward to working with various societies and publications to get permission to digitize their articles.”

That sounds like an enormous undertaking, but certainly one that’s long overdue and will pay off for family history researchers. I’ll keep you posted on their progress!

 

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