Periodicals indexed in PERSI include magazines, newsletters, journals, and other publications produced as a series that deal with topics of interest to genealogists and family historians. Each year, these publications add thousands of records, histories, articles, pedigrees, and other materials that can point researchers to new or obscure sources, record types or repositories, or family histories. PERSI gives family historians a way to learn of and access these materials, which otherwise may not be easy to find.
PERSI has been produced by the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana since 1986 with new additions being made monthly.
The first volumes of PERSI were printed as books, eventually published as about 30 volumes that went from 1996 back to 1847. The Allen County Public Library later switched to publishing on CD, which dropped the price dramatically, making it affordable to individuals. While the price dropped dramatically, the increase in sales made up for the lower prices.
About the same time, the library began working with what was then a small startup company called Ancestry. Most of us know that the company has since grown into a genealogy powerhouse. PERSI was Ancestry’s first product. Ancestry paid ACPL for the index, then charged its customers for access to it.
In 2006, the library contracted with Heritage Quest to publish PERSI. While still available to the general public, Heritage Quest is only available through participating libraries.
According to an article by Dan Stockman, published in the (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette, the Allen County Public Library is working with Brightsolid, an online publishing firm in the United Kingdom. Brightsolid is the parent company of FindMyPast and a number of other genealogy sites. Dan Stockman's article also states that Brightsolid hopes to do something no American firm has been able to do: Link the index to the full text of the article.
The library’s collection is so big, the index now contains about 2.5 million citations, and ACPL adds about 100,000 more a year.
You can read a lot more about the beginnings of PERSI and especially about the work of Michael Clegg, associate director of the Allen County Public Library, at http://goo.gl/Wo9I1.