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            October, 2004

      Carol Sanderson, Editor
      Charles Hansen, Technical Advisor

          Newsletter Archives   |  E-mail                    

- by Charles Hansen

        One of the most overlooked genealogical research sources is PERiodical Source Index (PERSI). It is the largest subject index to genealogical and historical periodical articles in the world. PERSI is indexed by the Allen County Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It is a subject index for periodicals written in English and French (Canada) 1 since 1800. Time period of the articles are from the 1700s to the present. It now contains more than 1.8 million index entries.

        Why is PERSI important? Local genealogical and historical societies are constantly publishing information. Perhaps your ancestor has been written about already in a genealogical society newsletter say in Washington state. However, if you do not live in Washington or belong to a genealogical society in Washington then you probably would not know of these articles. If you were a new genealogist you might not know of articles printed in the 1950s by your own society.

        Where can you find PERSI? Our library has an early version in book formon the shelves near the census indexes. This is an easy way to search for articles, and near the back is an index of all the periodicals listed in the book. Even though this is a fairly old version of PERSI, it must be 25 or 30 volumes. There is also a CD Rom version put out by Ancestry, and both Ancestry and Heritage Quest Online have PERSI online. Ancestry has PERSI in their pay for view area and Heritage Quest is available through many libraries.

        PERSI lists both surnames and localities, so if you are researching in Keystone, Washington you might find an article on the history of the area. On the CD you can also search for authors or even genealogical societies. I was really shocked to find my name in the authors index, but then I have written a lot of articles for the local genealogical society bulletin. All were listed in PERSI.

        Once you have found an interesting article in PERSI how do you get a copy of the article? The fastest way is to check your local library to see if they have that periodical on their shelves. Our local library has a very large collection of periodicals from all over the USA. If your library has a copy, it is real easy to get a copy of your article. The next suggestion is to write the society/publisher for a copy. 2 The Allen County Library has all of the periodicals in the index and they will make copies. See their order form at their web site, for these.

        Have you used PERSI? Will you use PERSI? If not, you are missing one of the best resources available to genealogists.

    1 Periodicals date back to 1800, but the articles in the periodicals date back to the 1700s. One can write an article on 1700s ancestors today, and it would be indexed in that way.
    2 The Allen County Library home page is:

    Webmaster's note: We wish Carol a speedy recovery from a recent surgical proceedure.

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