How to Use PERSI (Periodical Source Index) for Genealogy

By Sunny Jane Morton

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The Periodical Source Index (PERSI) is your portal to millions of genealogy articles and is now searchable for free on the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center website. 



I am Sunny Jane Morton with Family Tree Magazine here with a quick tour of PERSI. 


For decades, thousands of periodicals, newsletters, magazines, journals have been published by historical and genealogical organizations. 



These can help your genealogy, like this article that helped me locate a cemetery in Eccleshill, England. 


This article that gave me historical context about my family’s religious heritage. 


This transcription of an entire 1896 obituary for one of my female ancestors. 


And this reference that gave me my first clue to early Ohio land ownership for my pioneering ancestors. 


These and more than two and a half million entries are searchable in PERSI, the periodical source index.


These and other articles can help you locate hard to find records about your family, learn more about local history, find any sorts of family history or biographical sketches that have been published and even find your lost or wandering ancestors if you’re not sure where they lived at another time. 


Now let’s take a tour of PERSI, which is now at the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center website here at Or you can also navigate to it from the Genealogy Center’s homepage under the free databases portal. 


As you can see, you have lots of options here for searching in PERSI. Let me show you this first one: surnames.


This one is the most useful of course, if you’re researching an unusual surname. [It] won’t help so much with finding your Smiths, because there will be so many. 


But if I’m looking for my Felix in the search results here, while there are several of them, I can scroll down and see that there’s only 43 of them. 


I could easily look through 43 options, but let’s say that I’m searching specifically for Felixes in Belgium; this will limit my search results, so when I add to the search parameters right here, I can quickly narrow this down to the ones that list Belgium in the title. 


Now this might not be fully comprehensive. If Belgium is not mentioned in the title, it’s not going to catch it, but It can be helpful to you if you’re trying to narrow things down specifically.


So what you’re seeing here [is] the article’s bibliographic information that you can use to order copies of an article that would have appeared in a particular periodical, and it gives you the dates [and] the publishers so that you could write to the publisher If that publisher is still in business to ask for copies.  


But you can also request copies right here through the Allen County Portal, and you’ll see this on many of the pages. It says “Click here to order articles.” That will bring up a new form for you, which you can print and fill out. And you can, as you see, order up to six articles at a time for a very low amount of money. Here it says $7.50. Just follow the instructions on this form. 


But let’s go back to PERSI because there’s more to explore.


At any time, you can hit PERSI to get back to the main landing page. 


Now let’s say you want to search geographically. 


If I’m looking for example in the British Isles in England for that cemetery article on Eccleshill, Eccleshill is a fairly unusual name, so I’m just going to enter it right here under England.


And that brings up several articles on Eccleshill, which I could then click on each subject to bring up the articles I’m looking for, and there’s that article that I showed you already. 


If I go back here to a location search for the United States, it will let me choose by state and then by county. 


And any article tagged with the name of that county will come up, and then I could look at the various subjects within that county. 


The next thing I can do is search by research techniques, and these are the how to articles. 


So if you’d like to learn more about how to use a certain kind of article, let’s say that I wanted to learn more about land records. I could search for any articles about land records. 


And once I find them, I can narrow down to a topic of interest for me. Civil War land records––that looks interesting––and then I bring up nine articles that have been published. 


Once again, if I find one that looks interesting to me, I can order a copy of that article down here where it says click here to open article to order articles. 


Now last but not least is going to be the article title keyword search, which is sort of a catch all for any sort of keyword that you might be looking for. 


So let’s say that I’m looking for the city of Piqua, which has an unusual name (Piqua, OH) and so I’m confident that if I search for Piqua, I’ll probably mostly bring up articles about that town. And as it turns out, that’s the case. 


And there’s 226 of them. But if I’m interested, if I have a lot of family roots in the city of Piqua, then boy, I’m going to be happy to scroll through all of these because there’s so many intriguing titles here. 


Now let’s say I wanted to perform another search here if I have relatives who survived the Johnstown Flood. 


These search results are showing me that there’s more than one Johnstown Flood, so I’m just interested in the one that happened in 1889. 


So I add that to my search parameters, and now I’m going to find just articles that are about the 1889 flood. 


Again, I can click here to order the articles. 


So that’s a brief introduction to the Periodical Source Index. 


It’s easy, though the results you find are intriguing. 


It’s free to search, and it’s inexpensive to order. 


I’m Sunny Morton with Family Tree Magazine. 


Thanks for coming with me on this tour. 

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