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PERSI article index is a valuable genealogy research tool

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Speaker Lela G. Evans presented a workshop on PERSI to the Fort Worth Genealogical Society. PERSI is the Periodical Source Index that indexes articles from genealogical and historical journals, magazines, and more.

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PERSI is an ambitious undertaking by the Allen County Public Library Foundation. Evans said the ACPLF has indexed 2.3 entries from 11,000 periodicals that are divided into 22 topic categories:

  • Biographies
  • Cemeteries
  • Census records
  • Church records
  • Court records
  • Deeds
  • Directories
  • Histories
  • Institutions
  • Land records
  • Maps
  • Military records
  • Naturalization records
  • Obituaries
  • Passenger lists
  • Probate records
  • School records
  • Tax records
  • Vital records
  • Voter records
  • Wills

Evans was quick to point out that while PERSI is a subject index to articles, not very word of every article, nor every name in every article, is indexed. There are no surname periodicals. If a genealogist's ancestor had an article written about him or her and their name is in the title of the article, it will be indexed. If an ancestor is mentioned in an article, but the article is not about that ancestor, the name is not likely to be indexed.

Genealogists can access PERSI through Find My Past, the Allen County Public Library, or through Heritage Quest. Heritage Quest is available through libraries. Genealogists can use PERSI in their local library if their library has Heritage Quest. Genealogists can also ask their local library if they can obtain a password to access Heritage Quest at home and log in on their home computer.

PERSI can be searched four ways:

  • People
  • Places
  • How to's
  • Periodicals

People

Although PERSI is not a surname index, there are more than 126,000 surnames that are indexed in articles and other publications, so Evans said genealogists should give it a try. The surname can also be combined with location in a keyword search, such as when a genealogist knows that a certain ancestor is associated with a certain geographic location.

Places

Evans said genealogists can search places by United States, Canada, or other countries. Searches can be narrowed down by state and county, provinces, or specific country names. Genealogists can search county tax lists, for example, by entering state, county, and then selecting tax list from the 22 category types.

How to's

There are "how to" articles that are about different research methods that may be useful to genealogists. These articles are divided into the same 22 categories, such as biographies, cemeteries, etc. The PERSI bibliography lists the names of publications that are referenced in the other sections. It also contains a lot of detail about the publication, including information about the organization that published it. Individuals or groups that publish journals or articles are encouraged to send a copy to the ACPL to be included in the PERSI database.

This section is designed to offer advice and guidance to genealogists about the research process. Evans also recommended using the Learning Center, which has videos for genealogists of all experience levels.

Periodicals

Genealogists should search periodicals by title, but they can also use keyword searches. They can combine a location with other key words to locate journals and other periodicals.

Evans said genealogists can print, email, or download the index citations they find. Heritage Quest will save findings while the genealogist is logged into the site, but citations and search histories will be lost once a genealogist logs out.

Many genealogists at the presentation told Evans they have found information on PERSI not found anywhere else. For this reason, Evans recommends genealogists add PERSI to the many tools they already use.

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