The PERSI and Genealogy
A summary of what the PERSI is and how to find it
The Periodical Source Index or PERSI contains more than 2.7 million, fully-searchable entries from articles and records in over 8,000 historical, genealogical and ethnic publications. The Periodical Source Index is compiled quarterly by the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It is currently available on the Findmypast.com website.
To search the PERSI, you'll want to keep in mind that it is a subject index of many articles throughout various publications. It's usually best to focus on place or subject searches, things like town names, city names, county names, names of churches, names of cemeteries, names of schools, surnames, etc. You're not likely to find your ancestor's name unless they were the subject of an entire article.
The main limitation of the collection is that the actual articles aren't included in the PERSI in most cases, just the index to the articles. Once you locate information in the PERSI that you want to use, you must locate a copy of the periodical itself. The Allen County Public Library can provide copies of the articles for a small fee. Some of the publications that are older may also be in the public domain and have been digitized on sites such as Google Books, the Internet Archive, Hathi Trust, or FamilySearch Books.
The quality of the articles varies from useful to useless but there is always the chance that what is included is unique and available no where else. On occasion, the local journals and historical society publications contain list extracted from original records that are either hard to locate or have long since disappeared. Using the PERSI may spark some new ideas that you haven't considered before.
Need help finding more records? Try our genealogical records directory which has more than 1.1 million sources to help you more easily locate the available records.