These In-Depth Records May Be Genealogy's Best Kept Secret

These 2.5 Million Records May Be Genealogy’s Best Kept Secret

This sponsored article has been provided by our partner Findmypast.

Findmypast is a leading online destination for family historians, with millions of records that you simply can’t find anywhere else. It’s also the only place online that you can access the Periodical Source Index (PERSI), an incredible resource that you may be completely unaware of.

PERSI is an index of millions of articles, how-to guides, genealogies, local histories and more that have appeared in society publications from around the world. Both family history and history societies publish regular periodicals for their members and have done for generations. These publications cover the area or subject specific to that society, and go into incredible detail – some of which may well contain information about your family.

You might find the detailed history of one family, a biography of a local figure, a history of peach-pickers in a certain area or details about early colonial communities and where they came from. There is a vast amount of information in PERSI just waiting to be discovered. You’ll find records from the USA, the UK and Ireland, Australia, Canada and more.

Articles fall under twenty-two different subject headings, or record types, dating back to 1800. These include biography, cemeteries, census records, church records, court records, deeds, institutional records, land records, maps, military records, naturalization records, obituaries, passenger lists, probate records, school records, tax records, vital records, voter records, and wills. Articles about three or fewer specific families are arranged by surname.

Available exclusively at Findmypast, and operated in partnership with the Allen County Public Library, PERSI contains 2.5 million images that allow you to read these publications online.

Here’s How to Use the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) for Your Genealogy Research

In order to begin using PERSI you can sign up for a free trial on the Findmypast site, if you don’t already have an account. Then look for the Periodical Source Index.


When searching PERSI, it’s important to remember that the articles are indexed with tags that are based on the subject of the article. Unlike other record sets, PERSI articles are not indexed by name. This means that unless someone wrote an article about a specific ancestor of yours you are unlikely to find them by searching by name. Your best approach to searching is by location and keyword.

You will have to think laterally about the search you’re conducting. If you’re looking for ancestors who you know were agricultural laborers in a specific county during the 1870s, or were early nonconformists in Yarmouth, then these are the subject areas you’d search for.

Filtering Your PERSI Search

If the above sounds daunting, don’t worry. We have a set of search filters that can help you to drill down to what you’re looking for. On the left of the screen, you’ll see a range of filter options.

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Clicking on the ‘show filters’ button will give you a list of the available filters for that category, in this case we’ve selected the USA. As you can see there are 1.4 million indexed articles available to use in your genealogical research.

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The ‘article keyword’ filter is another great way of taking the guesswork out of a search:

Using PERSI for Genealogy 4 Once you’ve set up your filters, use the search box to look for articles that might fit what you’re looking for.

Exploring Digital Issues

When you conduct your search, some results will include an icon of a camera next to them. This means that the publication is digitized and available to view online. In the example below we have pulled up some articles by location in Nova Scotia.

Click on the camera and if you have a Findmypast subscription or free trial you’ll be taken to the first page.

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From here, click ‘next page’ until you reach the contents page:

And from here, choose the page you want.

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In this case, we’ve found the biography of an early settler in Nova Scotia.

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The Periodical Source Index provides a rich trove of information that adds new information and new context to your genealogy research – something few other resources can provide.

What will you discover in PERSI? Visit Findmypast today.

Image: Newspapers and Current Periodicals Reading Room, Library of Congress. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-88126 

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