Branching Out: PERSI Goes Pro

By Diane Haddad Premium

The low roar you heard March 26 was the cheering of researchers everywhere — that’s when ProQuest released its updated Periodical Source Index (PERSI) to libraries that subscribe to the company’s HeritageQuest Online <> genealogy databases.

PERSI is the top tool for researching the contents of genealogical journals and newsletters. It indexes articles in more than 6,000 periodicals published since 1800 in the United States and Canada. Staff at Indiana’s Allen County Public Library (ACPL) <>, which houses that impressive periodicals collection, create PERSI. ProQuest bought exclusive rights to the index in June 2003.’s < > version of PERSI is still available to subscribers while its parent company,, hashes out a distribution agreement with Pro-Quest (still pending at press time). AncestryPlus, a libraries-only cousin to, stopped offering PERSI in July 2003.

To search PERSI, you’ll need to visit a library that subscribes to HeritageQuest Online. You also may be able to access it from home through your library’s Web site — subscribing institutions can opt to purchase remote access for their members.

Our genealogy-technology guru Rick Crume gave the new PERSI a whirl, and reports that it has a pleasing interface and researcher-friendly terminology. Search capabilities appear similar to’s version, though HeritageQuest Online searches turned up more spelling variations, such as plurals (for example, missionaries in addition to missionary). HeritageQuest Online plans to link some PERSI search results to actual images of the articles referenced. (In the meantime, you can order photocopies of articles from the ACPL.) Look for a full review of PERSI in the October 2004 Family Tree Magazine.

When it purchased PERSI last spring, ProQuest announced that the index would be available to libraries before the end of the year. What took so long? Just before the release, product manager Bill Forsyth told a librarians’ mailing list that “ProQuest has been making major enhancements to the HeritageQuest Online platform.” PERSI is in print through 1985. sells the 2000 and 2002 PERSI updates on CD-ROM for $89.95 and $99.95.
From the August 2004 issue of Family Tree Magazine.