One of the lesser known sources for genealogical information is periodicals. Periodicals are published by genealogical societies, historical societies, libraries, and other organizations.
These publications often contain the most accurate of published genealogical sources since they are reviewed by editors and often have a peer review as a part of the publishing process. The articles in these periodicals are also useful in helping to develop better methodologies in your personal research.
One of the most widely circulated is the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. They publish a number of research case studies quarterly. If you are lucky enough to have an ancestor researched in one of these articles you will find a host of information on the individual, the methodology used to research them, and a wealth of source information. Even if you don’t have an ancestor in the article they are useful tutorials on research.
There are literally hundreds of periodicals and it is not possible to subscribe to each of them. Some are only available to the members of the society that publishes it. One way to access the periodicals is through libraries. The FamilySearch Family History Library in Salt Lake has one of the most extensive periodical collections.
The challenge with periodicals is knowing whether your ancestor is contained in one or more of them. The Allen County Public Library developed a product called PERSI (Periodical Source Index). PERSI is a name searchable index of genealogical periodicals and is an invaluable tool when using them.
PERSI contains more than 1.9 million citations form more than 6,500 genealogical and local history publications. The periodicals generally come from after 1800 and focus on the United States and Canada.
PERSI can be accessed from any public library that has access to Heritage Quest Online. Most libraries will allow you to access Heritage Quest from home if you have a library card. It can also be accessed from Ancestry.com, and in any family history center.
Other periodical indexes include Jacobus’s Index to Genealogical Periodicals that is available in the Family History Library as a book or can be ordered on Microfiche to family history centers, and the Genealogical Periodical Annual available in the Family History Library and on CD.
Information on learning to research is available in periodicals as well. Some of the best written research guides are found in supplements in Family Tree Magazine. These research guides detail a state each month and provide excellent information on researching in that state.
The next time you are at the family history center or at the Library take a moment to familiarize yourself with periodicals and with PERSI. You will find a wealth of information on helping you research, and just may find additional information on an ancestor for which you have been looking.