The PERSI Index (PERiodical Source Index)
Are you looking for more information on your families or records of a particular area and time period? Not always able to find or access what you need in a book or in an online database like Ancestry or The Periodical Source Index, or PERSI, is the largest subject index to genealogy and local history periodical articles in the world, created by the staff of the Allen County Public Library Foundation and the ACPL’s Genealogy Center. PERSI indexes articles in periodical titles (including defunct titles) published by thousands of local, state, national and international societies and organizations. It is arranged by surname or location and also by basic subject headings. 
PERSI is freely available to search from Allen County Public Library (ACPL) Genealogy Centre/ Resources.
However, there is no guide to using PERSI on ACPL’s website
Search Options available 
  1. Surname
  2. Locations
         a. United States; by state and county
         b. Canada; generally or by province, then by county or city/town
         c. British Isles; by country (includes Channel Islands, England, Great Britain, Ireland, Isle of Wight, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales), county, or town
         d. Other Countries; list of other countries covered
  3. Research Technique Articles; search by 23 record types, identified below.
  4. Article Title Keyword Search; uses an “OR” search automatically; to search a phrase, enclose it in quotation marks, e.g. “Nova Scotia Museum”
List of Record Types in Research Technique Articles
  1. Biography: more than three main people; sources for biographical research
  2. Cemeteries: listings, history, lot owners, plot maps, photos
  3. Census Records: federal, state, municipal
  4. Church Records: histories, records, directories, photos
  5. Court Records: civil, criminal, licenses
  6. Deeds: only deeds (can include slaves)
  7. Directories: city, county, atlas directories, business or manufacturing
  8. Families: Bible records
  9. History: narratives on localities, companies, houses, ethnic groups
  10. Institutions: orphanages, hospitals, poor farms, prisons, photos
  11. Land Records: anything pertaining to land that is not a deed
  12. Maps: migration trails, county boundary changes, plats
  13. Military Records: muster rolls, regimental histories, troop movements, photos
  14. Naturalization: declarations of intent, petitions, naturalizations
  15. Obituaries: full obituaries, death notices
  16. Other Records (Misc.): archaeology, extracted local newspaper items, photos and other articles not belonging to another record type
  17. Passenger Lists: ship histories, travel experiences, lists
  18. Probate Records: administrations, guardianships, apprentice documents
  19. School Records: attendance, student lists, histories, teams, photos
  20. Tax Records: personal, property, income
  21. Vital Records: births, marriages, deaths, coroner inquests, funeral homes
  22. Voting Records: lists, elections, election procedures
  23. Wills: indexes, abstracts, transcriptions (can include slaves)
Each of the 23 record types is further subdivided by geography or topic, e.g. Cemeteries – Canada or Cemeteries – Photography.
Hints for effective searching of the PERSI database
Understanding a few things about the contents of PERSI will help produce maximum success with minimum effort.
  • PERSI is a subject index to articles, not an ‘every name’ or ‘every word’ index. Entries are by:
    - Location and record type;
    - Surname as subject; or
    - “How-to” topic.
  • The article title listed in the citation may not be the actual title as it appears in the periodical. Article titles are not always descriptive, so encoders sometimes alter them to include the actual subject, location, or time period.
  • PERSI has evolved over the years. Originally limited to 50 characters, article title entries can now be 150 characters, allowing for a fuller description that can assist the researcher in identifying useful sources.
  • Abbreviations are used often, but not always. States are abbreviated by their postal codes; religious dominations may be abbreviated by standard three, four or five letter designations; and organizations such as the Grand Army of the Republic are identified by their initials.
  • Terminology and spelling can change with location. For example, a “railroad” in the United States may be a “railway” in Canada. Similarly, a large group of working people in England may be identified as “labour,” instead of the American “labor.”
  • An article title in French, Spanish, German, Dutch, etc., indicates an article in that language.
  • More than 60 people have been employed by the project over the years. Although guidelines have improved in this time, the encoding process remains a very subjective one. Encoders and editors strive to make citations as user-friendly as possible, but researchers must also exercise creativity in their searches.
What PERSI does not index
  • Surname periodicals
  • Every name in every article
  • Queries, ancestor charts, family group sheets, fiction, cartoons, or poetry
  • Society officers, membership lists, meeting notices
  • Book and computer software reviews
  • Surname journals and newsletters
  • Page numbers
Finding and Obtaining a copy of an Article
1.  In the GANS Library and webpage
Check the GANS Library Catalogue to see if we carry the periodical, and if so, if we have the issue you need.  
Non-members: On our website, click on Research Services, then Research Support, then Lookup Services. For each copy of an article you want, please add $10.00 to the shopping cart and follow the directions for payment. Once you have paid, please send your request(s) to our research team at [ ].
GANS members: Log in and check our Members Only Area to see if we have a digital copy of the periodical issue you need, which you can read or copy for free. If you require an article from one of our print publications, then log in to get the member discounted price of $8 per article and follow the procedure as outlined above for non-members. 
2.  Using Allen County Public Library Article Copy Service
The ACPL Foundation offers a fee-based article copying service for those unable to visit the ACPL or access the periodicals elsewhere. There is a link to the article request form from a PERSI search result page. 
3.  Articles at the FamilySearch Library
Articles may be found at the FamilySearch Library. With the name of the periodical, check the FamilySearch Catalog to see if there is a copy in their collection. The FamilySearch Library has collected many periodicals, with some available in digital format and accessible online. United States periodicals may be found in the FamilySearch Catalog with a title and keyword search:
  • Title: Search for the title of the periodical
  • Keyword: Search for the publishing society name.
4.  Through Other Sources
Check to see if the periodical is available on-line.  An organization close to you may provide copies of their publications in PDF format for a small fee, or free. Older publications may be available digitally through Google Books. The ability to search full text can make the on-line versions even more valuable than printed copies.
***The above information on PERSI was adapted January 2024 under a  Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license from .