The Periodical Source Index (PERSI) is a subject index to family and local history literature published in periodicals. Originally created in 1986 by the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) in Fort Wayne, Indiana, it is the second largest family history library in the United States, in print and fiche formats. PERSI now includes more than 11,000 genealogical, historical, and patriotic periodicals, including magazines, newsletters, journals created by societies from around the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and Ireland. The articles are indexed by place, subject, surname, ethnicity, and methodology.
FindMyPast partnered with ACPL in 2013 to publish the index on their website and include links to articles as they are digitized in an ongoing project. There are 2.7 million searchable entries describing family history articles published from 1850-present. PERSI is not an every name or full text index, but rather an index to subjects discussed within the article.
Many articles are transcriptions of tax, land, church, court, and and many other types of records. Other articles provide historical, geographical, ethnic, and religious context. Once you find an article that looks helpful, you will need to obtain the article somehow. Here are seven ways to do that.
1. Find a Digitized Copy Online
FindMyPast is currently working with periodical publishers to digitize the articles in PERSI. If a camera icon is next to the entry, that means a digitized copy of the article is available at FindMyPast. You can view this if you have a subscription or purchase pay as you go credits.
HathiTrust, Internet Archive, and Google Books may have digitized copies of older periodicals
Genealogical society websites may contain digitized copies of their periodicals
2. Contact the Publisher
Search for the website or contact information for the journal publisher. They may publish digitized versions of the journal on their website. Alternatively, if you reach out to them by email, they might send you a PDF of the article you seek, and even give you additional help.
3. Visit ACPL
Each article indexed in PERSI is located at the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Visiting the library yourself is one way to view the article.
4. Order copies from ACPL
The Allen County Public Library allows you to order copies of articles found through PERSI. Use this PERSI Order Form. The charge is $7.50 per order form (pre-paid) and allows you to request up to 6 articles at a time. You will be billed $0.20 per page copied when you receive the copies.
5. Visit a Nearby Library
Use WorldCat, https://www.worldcat.org/, to search for libraries near you that have the periodical. Often more libraries carry the journal than are listed in the repositories field in PERSI, but these additional locations may only have some of the volumes. Diana uses the Family History Library in Salt Lake City to get many of the journal articles she has found in PERSI.
6. Request through Interlibrary Loan
I live in Tucson, Arizona. Members of the Pima County Library can request periodicals with a free interlibrary loan service. Copies of articles may be emailed to users as a PDF, although you are asked to specify the library where you would like to pick up the journal article. In my experience, it takes 2-3 weeks to receive the digital copy (PDF) of the article via email, and it’s free. Simply locate an article in PERSI, then copy and paste the citation details into the interlibrary loan service.
Many library systems have an interlibrary loan program. Does yours?
7. Hire a Researcher
Find qualified genealogists who can look up articles for you at the library you need. The Association of Professional Genealogists is a great way to find professionals. Use the following URL at their website to search by location:
To find a researcher near the ACPL, search for professionals in Indiana. As you browse the list of researchers in Indiana, you can look in the city column for researchers in Fort Wayne.
More about PERSI:
Meyerink, Kory L. “General References and Guides.” Loretta Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, eds. The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy, 3d edition. Provo: Ancestry, 2006. Pages 71-97, especially page 86, Periodical Source Index (PERSI).
Petlewski, Kathy. “Using the Periodical Source Index to Improve Research.” National Genealogical Society Magazine 43 (Oct-Dec 2017): 45-49.
Taplin, Cari. “PERSIbilities: Better Research with the Allen County Public Library’s Periodical Source Index.” Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly 32 (March 2017) 21-24.
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