I recently spent time studying different resources available for the Midwestern region of the United States. A certain resource jumped out to me during my exploration. I had discovered a fortune of information in periodicals! As I searched through the pages of many periodicals, my eyes were opened to a wealth of information that benefits research in all areas of the United States. This information has been published in newsletters and magazines of various historical and genealogical societies or family organizations. It would be impossible to attempt a complete description of periodicals and their use in one article, but I hope to open your eyes to a new resource and get you started in using them for your own research.
Periodicals may offer family histories and genealogies, pedigrees, abstracts from a variety of records (including land and probate records), cemetery records and inscriptions, obituaries, vital records, maps, transcripts of family Bible records, passenger lists and immigration information. Also included may be information concerning the activities of different genealogical organizations, family reunions, instructional articles for genealogical research, advertisements and histories of localities the periodicals represent. These are only a few examples of what can be found in a periodical. A researcher must discover the value of this resource for themselves.
In order to find periodicals for your area of research, I would suggest turning to research outlines available through the FamilySearch Web site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints www.familysearch.org. Outlines are available for each state and will reveal some of the best periodicals for each respective state, including the bibliographic citation, a short explanation about the resource and the call number to locate the periodical in Salt Lake City's Family History Library. Another great tool in finding national, regional, statewide and topical periodicals, as well as many periodical directories, guides, and indexes, is an extensive bibliography found in Kory Meyerink's guide to genealogical records titled Printed Sources (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Incorporated, 1998).
After finding periodicals in your area of research, the next task is to find out if the periodical has information you need. Many periodicals, but not all, publish indexes to the information they share. The indexes are usually published annually or on an every-issue basis, but the frequency depends on the publisher. A valuable index covering nearly six thousand English and French-Canadian genealogical periodicals is called the Periodical Source Index (PERSI). The periodicals are indexed by subject that may include a family surname, locality, or research methodology. PERSI can be accessed in major genealogical libraries in the United States or online through Ancestry.com.
These are a few of many tools to guide you to the information you need in periodicals. Hopefully your eyes have been opened to a treasure chest of valuable information that will aid in your genealogical research. Some of the information found in periodicals may not be accessible anywhere else so it is important to consider examining periodical resources in your genealogical research.
Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2004.
*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.
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