The Information Jackpot for Genealogists
by Joan M. Benner
Member of Association of Professional Genealogists
PUBLISHED WITH PERMISSION in the August 1999 edition of GenToday-L
PERSI is an acronym for the PERiodical Source Index, the index to more than 1.1 million articles appearing in nearly 6000 genealogy and local history journals and newsletters, developed by the Allen County Public Library Foundation in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Before PERSI, there were several different genealogical indexes published, but they were not as comprehensive, and only scratched the surface. PERSI covers nearly all of the genealogy and history periodicals that are written in English (and some French-Canadian) published since 1847. It is an under-used source and a fabulous tool for both beginners and experienced family historians. It can make you aware of new sources you would have never discovered by using traditional sources, and topics found in the research methodology section will enhance your skills as an ancestor detective.
Over one million articles have been published in thousands of local history and genealogy society newsletters and other periodicals, far more than any one person could possibly subscribe to or read. Before PERSI, it was nearly impossible to find out if an article had ever been published about your ancestor or the locale in which they had lived. PERSI is published annually and is carried by most genealogical libraries in book and/or CD-ROM version.
PERSI does not contain the actual article, but is an index to tell you whether an article was published and which magazine it appeared in. For the price of photocopies, you can then obtain copies of articles relevant to your surname, locale, or research method of choice. PERSI makes it possible to consult the knowledge of local history and genealogy societies that thoroughly research, index and write articles for the states and counties where your ancestors lived, without your large investment in subscription fees or time spent sifting through years of periodical back issues. Read on, and I'll show you how to hit the genealogists information jackpot.
The published index has over 27 volumes, published annually. There is also a new PERSI CD-ROM available for sale containing 27 volumes in one index, and is also available as a subscription database from Ancestry. Indexing a vast number of periodicals requires several volumes, and the breadth of the index can make using PERSI a bit confusing at first. Once you realize how many volumes are required to index nearly 6000 periodicals, and learn the system, PERSI becomes much less intimidating. Topics are divided into five categories.
The first sixteen volumes all have the same titles, either Places 1847-1985 or Families 1847-1985. They are divided into four retrospective series and a current series. The difference in each series is only the articles that have been indexed; the format remains the same throughout all of the volumes. The Allen County Public Library is continually discovering more genealogy and local history publications previously unknown, and continues to publish new volumes that include these periodicals.
Volume I Places 1847-1985
Volume II Places 1847-1985
Volume III Families 1847-1985
Volume IV Families 1847-1985
Volume V Places 1847-1985
Volume VI Places 1847-1985
Volume VII Families 1847-1985
Volume VIII Families 1847-1985
Volume IX Places 1847-1985
Volume X Places 1847-1985
Volume XI Families 1847-1985
Volume XII Families 1847-1985
Volume XIII Places 1847-1985
Volume XIV Places 1847-1985
Volume XV Families 1847-1985
Volume XVI Families 1847-1985
PERSI contains citations which reference specific articles. Each PERSI entry lists the title of the article, name of the periodical, volume and issue number in which the article appeared, the date it was published, and a PERSI reference code. The code refers to the appendix at the back of each volume, and refers to the title of the periodical, its general topic and area, and other bibliographic information.
Since the index is compiled by the Allen County Public Library, they have every article from every periodical referenced. If your local library does not have the magazine, the Allen County Public Library Foundation will send copies for a reasonable fee. To obtain copies of articles in the PERSI index, contact the
Allen County Public Library Foundation
P.O. Box 2270
Fort Wayne, IN 46801-2270
Describe the articles to be copied, provide the full entry from PERSI and the name of the journal. The charge is $7.50 per letter prepaid and .20 per page copied to be billed to you. Requests for copies cannot be accepted by telephone, fax or e-mail, and you will receive your copies in 6-8 weeks. Directions for requesting photocopies are listed at the front of each volume, and at
PERSI is a major genealogical source that has been underused for years, possibly due to the difficulty of searching through so many volumes, which is solved by the electronic version of PERSI. Whether you choose to consult traditional PERSI volumes at a genealogical library or electronically, it is a great help for every English speaking ancestor, and may be just what you need to solve some of the difficult searches for your roots.
Want info on William Pitt Bates who d: Pharr, TX abt 1952. Know all abt his ancestry & early life, but want to know exact date he died & if he remarried & had children in Texas. PattiBates@aol.com
SAMUEL DUNMIRE (c1830-1916),Pa.,w.CAROLINE MCGUIRE (c1840-1866) Va./ Cumb.Co.DUNMORE'S/ AMANDA FINKLBEINER (sp) Cumb.,Pa. firstname.lastname@example.org
Seeking any/all Tuxhorn family info. Few branches but all are related. Have tons of info to share w/the right person. Allied names:Wendt, Schoenberg, Whitworth. email@example.com
Wm. A. Morgan b. July 1878 m. Isabel A. Curbello 1901 Kerr Co., TX. Ch:Howard Wm. b.15 Mar 1907; Irene Willie b.2 Aug 1902; Naomi Annie b.30 May 1905 & Oma Joseph b.16 Nov 1909. All bapt 24 May 1911 (Japonica-Kerrville, TX) firstname.lastname@example.org
Seeking info PA families: Mary Cath STEINER Batdorf b1784/96, Peter BATDORF b1785/94, Saml PETERS b1820/1, Maryann SWARTZ Peters b1821 email@example.com
Seeking info PA families: Cath UMBERHAUER Wertz b1790/2, Sarah A C/KULP Updegrove b1844, Michael GOODMAN b 1800, Jos WORKMAN b1795 firstname.lastname@example.org
Info: KELLER family in N.C. 1811. My gg grandfather Riley Keller was born there-don't know who parents/siblings might have been. First mention of him is Charlestown, IN 1832. email@example.com
JENKINS, David, b. 1868 Glamorgan Wales to Thomas JENKINS & Anne LEWIS. David migrated to USA c1885-1889, possibly w/wife. Had son, Thomas, b. c1890s, who had son, David, born 1926. Seeking descendats. firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for parents of Russell James Spann, bn Dec 1864 Sumter, SC md Anna Angeline Anderson bn 1870 Elberton, GA parents: James bn 1845 md Angeline, bn 1853. email@example.com
Seeking Mary Ann (SCROGGINS)b1828TN & Charles W. GATHINGS b1825TN m. Marshall Co.,MS last known census' 1860/&70 Sabine Par.,LA. w/9 kids, may have gone to TX. 1860 census a Melton Gathings living w/them, must be a relative. Have Scroggins info to firstname.lastname@example.org
Researching Abraham GRIMES b. abt 1823 & Mary JOHNSON b. abt. 1830 Patterson, La., m. Nov. 22, 1869. Children: Sarah, Frank, Martha, Washington, Elizabeth, Easter, Isabella, Marshall & Hannah all born in Patterson, La. Claybas@aol.com
Seeking any info on, Frederick & Riney (PICKETT) MINGO & children: Cary, Isham, Shedrick, Lazuraus, Earnest, Martha, Mary, and Savinia MINGO. All of Patterson St. Mary Parish, La., between 1880 & 1900. Claybas@aol.com
When the Court House Burns Down
The 1930 Federal Census
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