Updated: Apr 5, 2021
A few weeks ago I mentioned PERSI in a post about finding part of my Moag family in Upstate New York and I heard from some people who weren't familiar with it. PERSI stands for the PERiodical Source Index and can be found at Findmypast. It is a product of the Allen County Public Library in Indiana, which has the second largest genealogical collection in the United States. They have been indexing articles from genealogical publications since 1986 and currently have over 2.5 million records from 10,000 genealogical publications dating back into the 1800s. Each year they add more than 100,000 new citations. Someone may have published an article or even copies of letters about your family in a local genealogical magazine or journal. The index for PERSI has been on multiple websites in the past, but now Findmypast is not only providing the index to the periodicals, but is digitizing the actual articles and linking them to the index. There are limitations because of copyright, so most of what has been digitized was published before the 1920s. You will still need to write to Allen County Public Library to have them photocopy the article and mail it to you for the majority of the material if the publication isn't in a Library close to you. Still, this is a very exciting project. You’ll find PERSI on the Findmypast site by selecting Search and clicking on Newspapers and Periodicals.
You have a lot of choices for filtering your results and PERSI is not just limited to publications in the United States. You can filter by name, location, publication or date (which will be the publication year of the entry and not necessarily the date of the event).
I was recently searching for information on my Beighton family (from Derbyshire, England) and a search on PERSI turned up 17 results...
including this article on a family heirloom owned by Francis Beighton and Fanny Crisp… my 2x great grandparents.
My next step was to check WordCat.org to see if there is a library close to me that had the Journal…no luck. The closest library was Allen County. So I can order a copy of the articles from the Allen County Library. I completed the order form (here's the link to the form) and now I have to wait 6 - 8 weeks (I don’t know if that is regular or COVID time). The cost of the order is $7.50 for up to 6 requests, plus .20 a page for the copying. You send the $7.50 with your order and they will bill you the per page cost.
You don't have to search on a name. If you search on a locality you might find information about what was happening when and where your ancestors lived. A search for Mayo, Ireland returned 566 results.
If there is a picture icon on the right, it indicates that there is also an image of the document online. These are primarily from Journals published prior to the 1920s…in this case the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Journal published in 1904 and 1905. When you click on the picture icon, you get the cover of the Journal. Because of the way the material was digitized, it doesn’t take you to the individual article within the Journal, so you can use the thumbnails at the bottom to move through. Most have some type of a table of contents or index which helps get to the correct page.
If you have a large number of hits, you'll probably want to use the Keyword search to limit the results...for example I added the word "Land" as the area I'm interested in was where the Land League was founded. It listed a number of articles on the Land League, but also articles on the names of tenants on various estates, and lists of evictions. These are not likely to be online or in databases.
I encourage you to explore. If you don't have a subscription to Findmypast, check to see if your Library offers it or take advantage of their 14 day free trial (just make sure to cancel it if you decide not to continue).
Happy Hunting and Stay Safe!
Do you have a topic you'd like me to discuss? You can leave a note here or on my DonnaMoughtyGenealogy page on Facebook