Category Archives: PERSI

PERSI: Search Tips Part 1

Now that PERSI (the Periodical Source Index) is now hosted at Allen County Public Library (ACPL), let’s take a look at some search tips for more effective searching.

The starting screen for PERSI.

When you begin your search at PERSI, you will first want to begin with one of the options shown in the above buttons. There are basically four categories: surnames, place, technique, and keyword. Remember, PERSI is not an every name index, so if you search by surname, that name will be the major subject of the article. For our example, we will choose “United States” to get started.

When you click on “United States” you can then further filter your results by choosing a state in the dropdown menu.

State drop-down menu on PERSI.

Then choose a county, if desired. It is not a requirement.

County drown-down menu on PERSI.

Once you have chosen your state and county, you will then be presented with a table of subjects and the number of articles available for that topic.

Subject list for Wood County, Ohio on PERSI.

For our example, we will choose “Court Records,” and see what kind of results we get.

PERSI results for “Court Records” in Wood County, Ohio

Along the top, you can see your waypoints so you can recall what category you are in. We are in USA>OH>Wood County>Court Records. You can also see that you can change the number of results you can see on one screen. It defaults to 10, but it can go up to 100. You can also see the column headings of for the article title, periodical (which includes the volume and issue number), the year published, and the publisher (the genealogical society usually).

If you search by surname, you will only have one level of results. In the example below, I searched for “Taplin” and was reminded of some articles I wrote some time ago.

PERSI search results for Surname>Taplin.

In both of the above examples, you’ll notice that there’s a “search” box above the results table. This will allow you to further search within the current results. Let’s go back to the Wood County, Ohio court records and search for wills.

Wood County, Ohio Court Records, search for wills

There is only one result in Wood County, Ohio with the keyword “will.” This is not any kind of “fuzzy” searching in that it will look for synonyms or similar spellings. If I put the full word “wills” in I will not get any results, because the one article that exists, uses the word “will” not “wills.”

We will take a look at some more search tips again next time.

PERSI Tips: What Kind of Index is it?

The Periodical Source Index (PERSI) began as a print publication in 1986 by the staff at Allen County Public Library (ACPL). ACPL’s collection holds over 8,000 titles of genealogical society journals. PERSI was first published as a 16-volume set covering the years 1847-1985, and then annually. It was also available on microfiche at FHL and CD-ROM through Ancestry.

Print volumes of PERSI, located at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas, photographed by author.

In 1997, Ancestry made PERSI available as a free online database. This was also the last year it was available in print. PERSI has been available for free through HeritageQuest and most recently through Findmypast (FMP). However, the contract with FMP is ending and for reasons not disclosed, ACPL is going to host the index on their own site: https://www.genealogycenter.info/persi/

What kind of index is it? Let me sum up the biggest misunderstanding in one sentence:

PERSI IS NOT AN EVERY NAME INDEX!

The biggest misunderstanding and misuse of PERSI is that users expect to be able to put in their person’s name or even a surname, and find information about that person. That is not how PERSI was indexed. PERSI is a keyword and subject index. The indexers did not index every name in a cemetery transcription published in a local society quarterly. They did not index every name in a transcribed local tax list. They did not index every name published in a military draft list for a county.

To best use PERSI, you need to think in terms of subjects and keywords. If someone is the subject of an article, you will find their name in the index. But if they were among those listed as petition signers, for example, you will not find them.

Over the next several posts, I will share some of my best tips, case studies, examples, and how to obtain copies of the articles, so that you can get the most out of PERSI.

Check out the New PERSI!

If you’ve heard me speak, you may know that I am a huge fan of the Periodical Source Index, or PERSI. This index has been around for a long time, started by the Allen County Public Library, whose indexers indexed nearly all genealogical society quarterlies and journals since the beginning of time. Well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it truly is nearly accurate. They have been doing small genealogical society publications a great service over the years, making the work of the local researchers and writers more accessible to researchers far and wide. PERSI has taken may forms over the years from a printed publication to a set of CD-ROMs to microfiche to an online index. Most recently it has been housed at Findmypast.

ACPL – Creator of PERSI

I attended a webinar yesterday put on by the Allen County Public Library sharing the new version of PERSI which will be housed on their website. The presenter made the point several times that one of the benefits of this is so that PERSI would be free. However, I want to make a point of correction here. PERSI has always been free. At Findmypast, you did need a login (set up a username and password), but no credit card was required to do that. You could access PERSI for free at Findmypast. There were a few features you could not access such as the full ACPL call number, volume number, or digital image if it were available. You were able to find titles of articles, authors, journal titles, and years of publication. Everything you needed to access the article, all for free. Not that it matters now, but I want to give credit where credit is due.

Over the years, as I’ve presented my lecture about PERSI, I have often had to dispel the myth that it was not free at Findmypast. I guess because it was housed at a company everyone thought you had to pay for it. I have a secret I want to share: nearly every website has some number of free databases you can access without paying for a subscription. PERSI was one of those at Findmypast.

The link to the new PERSI is: https://www.genealogycenter.info/persi/

The presenter stated that they are still working out some of the kinks and soon there will be a button for PERSI on the main database page. For now, you will find the link to PERSI at the bottom footer of the page for any of their other free database pages. Or you can just bookmark the link above.

The NEW PERSI homepage at ACPL.

I wanted to first share the link and a screenshot of the new PERSI website. Over the next several weeks I will share some of the details and reiterate some of my favorite tips for working with PERSI to get the most out of it for your research.