PERSI: Search Tips Part 2

One of the ways I love to use PERSI is for looking for articles in a particular journal. I often would find myself in a smaller public library with a genealogy and local history section, and find that they would have a run of a a particular journal, or several. Many genealogical society journals provide an index, annually. They very rarely combine them into one larger index. So, you have to pull out each annual index and look for your item, subject, name, or keyword of interest…for EVERY year, for as long as that journal has been in publication.

If you read last week’s blog, you know how to get a set of results for a geographic area, with a keyword or subject. Once you’ve done that, you can then search those results by the journal title. Let’s look at this example. I was sitting in the Clayton Library in Houston (a fantastic genealogical library with one of my favorite librarians, hi Sue!), and I noticed that they had a run of the journal Saga of Southern Illinois which covers Hardin County, where I had some collateral ancestors move off to. I wanted to check that journal for a variety of topics, but didn’t want to sit there and pull out each volume to check its index. Instead, PERSI can help with this.

First, use the “United States” button and narrow down to which state you are looking for, in this case Illinois.

PERSI’s category buttons

I personally like to leave it at the state level for this kind of search, but you could narrow your search down to a particular county if you wish. From the topics list, I choose the one that most closely covers what I am looking for. In this example let’s choose “Cemeteries.”

PERSI categories for Illinois

You can see that there are 5,861 articles relating to cemeteries in Illinois in PERSI. Let’s narrow that down now by the journal title. The results are in a table with the following headers: Article Title, Periodical, Year Published, and Publisher. If you know the title, you’ll want to use that to narrow this down, if you know the genealogical society, you could use that as well. I’m going to use the title “Saga of Southern Illinois” or just “saga” to narrow these results.

PERSI results for “cemeteries” in Illinois

Type the word “saga” in that search box (red arrow pointing at it above).

PERSI Results filtered by the word “Saga”

Putting a word in the search box filters the results you already have by that search word. This is a text search only and there’s no way to say “I only want to look at periodicals with this word.” So, if a title of an article has the word “saga” in it, that will come up too. However, you can see that most of the results are from the journal Saga of Southern Illinois. You can also see that the results are now at 216 entries instead of 5,861. Much easier. There is no way to do a second filtering. Say I wanted to see all articles in Saga about Browning Hill Cemetery. It won’t let you do a second filtering. However, you could get creative with your searching and perhaps do your initial filter by Hardin County only and then search for “Browning Hill” in the search box.

I use this technique when I have the journals at hand and want a more efficient index to use or I know I want an article from a particular publication. Since PERSI is not an every name index, you may still decide to look at those annual journal indexes for your ancestors, but using PERSI this way can cut down on some of your research time and make your library visits more efficient.

Next week we will look at some ways to get copies of the articles once you’ve found them in PERSI.

6 thoughts on “PERSI: Search Tips Part 2

  1. This is a great blog topic, thanks. I’ve been experimenting with searching on PERSI. I’ve done a surname search on FamilySearch books, then trying to find the journals on PERSI. Of course, I don’t know the article name so I’ve had to be creative in finding the journal. That involves finding an article actually in that particular journal. Of course, I don’t know if the surname mention is just a query or part of an article so I’m not sure if I want to request the articles or not but I’m keeping a list.

  2. I love this series on PERSI. I have been too lazy to figure it out myself. Thank you for taking the time to explain it. I can’t wait to hear how to get copies of the articles.

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