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Article posted: January 23, 1998

THE PERSI - The Periodical Source Index.
By: Ryan Taylor, Biography and Archived Articles

The great advantage of CD-ROMs is that they compress a great deal of information on one disk and present it in a format that is inexpensive to own.

For the uninitiated, CD-ROM means Compact Disk-Read Only Memory. The small disk can be used in computers with suitable fittings and can contain many thousands of bytes of information.

A new CD-ROM which every genealogist will want to look at has recently been published by Ancestry, Inc. of Orem, Utah. It contains all of the indexes produced in the PERSI project up to the end of 1996.

PERSI stands for Periodical Source Index. It is produced at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where I work. The project is more than ten years old. In that time, indexers have extracted all the current genealogical and historical journals received at our library, and also gone back in a retrospective indexing of materials as far distant as 1845. There are now many thousands of entries, which were published in a series of 27 large books.

Such books are expensive to buy (about 2000.00 US$) and few individuals could afford the set. Even instititutions may have hesitated to expend the funds for such a large ongoing project. (A few early volumes are available at the Kitchener, Ontario library, in the Waterloo-Wellington genealogical group’s library.)

All these volumes are now accessible on a single CD-ROM and in one alphabetical sequence. The result is that, in a few minutes, researchers can look through thousands of magazines to turn up references to a particular place or family.

The Allen County library’s periodicals collection now has about 6500 titles, all of them indexed in PERSI. These include not only journals published in the United States, but all the Canadian genealogical societies’ publications as well, both French and English, and also a great many from Britain and Ireland. There are even some from as far as Australia.

The index is by key word, with an indication of what kind of record is involved in the article indexed (Land, Tax, Probate, Vital Statistics and so on). The initial division is between places and family names.

If your search turns up items in Canadian journals, local researchers will perhaps be able to find the periodical they need nearby. The Kitchener library has a large collection, and there are a great many more available at the Metro Reference Library in Toronto.

However, all of the references cited are available in Fort Wayne, and researchers at a distance can obtain copies of the articles through the mail from the ACPL research center. Since genealogical magazines have long been recognized as a valuable but greatly underused source of information, PERSI was a big step forward in making them more accessible. The first PERSI CD-ROM brings this research into the modern technological age.

The PERSI disk comes with a useful booklet which describes its Windows environment and how to get around in it. The remarkable setup even allows researchers to attach notes to references they find, which will enable them to collate findings later and speeds the process of obtaining the full articles. This really is technology for the benefit of individuals.

The PERSI disk is available in Canada from Global Genealogy & History Shoppe's web site or phone toll-free at 613-257-7878 (North America).

Books By Ryan Taylor

Across The Waters, Ontario Immigrants Experiences 1820 - 1850 - by Frances Hoffman & Ryan Taylor, 1999. Riveting first-hand accounts of the immigration and settlement experience, taken from the diaries and letters of 150 immigrants.

Routes To Roots, The Best of Ryan Taylor's columns from the Kitchener Waterloo Record, by Ryan Taylor 1997

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