Thursday, March 30, 2017

Using PERSI-An Interview with Jen Baldwin

During RootsTech 2017 I was pleased to be able to interview Jen Baldwin from and talk to her about PERSI (Periodical Source Index) which is now available on their site.
Jen talked about PERSI's past and future as well as the benefits for users and publishers. 

Jen Baldwin
Data Aquisition Manager, North America

PERSI has been a wealth of genealogy information for many years. This subject index of genealogy and local history periodicals is maintained at the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
For years the Library has been collecting materials from local, state and regional genealogy and historical societies. Articles are indexed into a searchable database.
Until recently, utilizing the vast collection meant a trip to the library or searching the index via Heritage Quest Online then submitting a form to request a copy of an article. 
Although you may still visit the ACPL, Heritage Quest Online is no longer partnered with PERSI.

Today, thanks to, PERSI is being updated, digitized and made available to search and view online. Currently, there are tens of thousands of articles available with more added every quarter. For those that have not yet been digitized the index leads to a form to send for a copy of the article from the ACPL. 
For Findmypast to film this vast resource, permission needs to be obtained from the publishers of the materials to avoid violating copyright. By agreeing to allow Findmypast to digitize and publish their periodicals each receives a copy of the images and royalties. A win/win for societies and the public.
It is important to know searching the PERSI database is free. A membership to Findmypast is only required to view a digitized record.
There are free ways to access the images. 
Your local LDS Family History Center and many local libraries have available for free. 
If these options are not in your area, take advantage of Findmypast's free trials and free weekends throughout the year.

How do you find PERSI on Findmypast? There are two places. 
The first is from the search drop-down list on the main page. 
Click on Search, Newspapers, and Periodicals and then PERSI.

New PERSI Landing Page
Search Button

For a better search experience use the new PERSI search landing page at
This leads you to the search button at the top right and links to tutorials on how to use the resource below.

New PERSI Landing Page
Tutorial Links

New PERSI Search Box
PERSI Search Results Screen

What can you find using PERSI?
-How to articles
-Record transcriptions
-Family Histories
-Social Histories
-Local Histories
-Military service
-Occupation information
-Family stories
-Church records
The list goes on and on. Think about the newsletters and periodicals you have seen from the areas your ancestors lived. The articles contain various topics about the area and people who lived there. Imagine being able to search them all, from everywhere your people lived. 
A bonus is getting a hit on an article you never thought of searching! Descendants may have written articles about your ancestors and placed them in their local publications.
Without PERSI, you may never have known they existed.

Here is an example of what you may find. 
A search of South Carolina records with images produced several results including this 1906 issue of The Confederate Veteran.
The column is called "The Last Roll" and contains obituaries of Confederate veterans and their widows. Many are long and include interesting details of the person's life. Photos are often included.

Confederate Veteran
Spring 1909, pg. 128

Confederate Veteran
Spring 1909, pg. 129

Imagine if one of these was your ancestor. What would it help you learn about them?

Thanks, Jen, for talking to us about this incredible source!

Take some time to go through the tutorials to get acquainted with the best practices for searching the PERSI database. The tips and tricks will help you locate information on your family that you may not be able to find anywhere else.
And who knows, perhaps break down a brick wall! 
Let me know what you find!
Thanks so much for stopping by!

Helping you climb your family tree,

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