Meet the Genealogy Gophers

Did you know that there are thousands of digitized family histories, regional and local histories, genealogy magazines along with how-to books, gazetteers, newsletters, and medieval histories freely available online? Organizations like Project Gutenberg, FamilySearch, Internet Archive, Google Books and educational institutions have been hard at work for years. That’s both good news and bad news. While there are a lot of freely-accessible publications available, finding them can be a challenge. That’s where Genealogy Gophers comes in. The Gophers have built an amazing search engine that will not only find the publication, but find – and display – the information that matches your search. In the example below, I’m looking for information about my ancestor, John Lewis Gervais, in South Carolina.

Sample Search Results


Within seconds I had two pages of results with excerpts showing the information matching my search. Clicking the title will display a screen that includes source information for that publication along with a reader opened to the page where the information on my ancestor appears.

the reader screen

In this example, there is only one page referencing my ancestor. The orange pointer you see at the bottom of the reading window is a bookmark to that page. In publications where there are multiple results, you will see additional pointers. Click on a pointer to move to that page. There are also controls to navigate forward and backward in this book, enlarge or reduce the view and more. Notice the link at the top of the reader to download a PDF copy of the publication.

Genealogy Gophers is free if you don’t mind responding to a number of surveys. If you don’t like surveys, a $19.95/year subscription will remove them.


Using PERSI for Genealogy Success

Using PERSI for Genealogy SuccessWhat Is PERSI?

PERSI, an acronym that stands for the “periodical source index,” is the largest subject index in the world for genealogy and local history periodical articles.“

It literally is your world into thousands and thousands, if not millions, of pages of published family historical work,” said Taylor. “PERSI includes all sorts of databases and data sets that have been produced by societies and other organizations for many, many years.”PERSI currently offers more than 2.5 million subject level entries and is updated on a quarterly basis. As more and more publications are indexed and as newer publications are added, the PERSI database grows.“

And PERSI isn’t just for the United States,” says Taylor. “It covers society publications in Canada, in Ireland, in Great Britain, and all over the world. So it’s a fantastic resource for you, even if you’re looking beyond U.S. genealogy.”

Learn more about Using PERSI for Genealogy Success at the FamilySearch blog.

The Periodical Source Index – PERSI

PERSI (PERiodical Source Index) has been a mainstay of genealogical research for decades. It is the largest index of periodical articles related to genealogical and local history in the world. This fabulous resource was created by the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. The problem with PERSI is that it is only an index. Once a researcher finds an article in the index, they then must find the actual article.

That is changing.

The Allen County Public Library and Findmypast have teamed up to digitize as many of these periodicals as possible and make them available online. This is a massive effort and will take time to complete, but there are already a good number of digitized articles available.

You can access PERSI at Findmypast ( You will also find a very useful article at the Findmypast blog ( discussing tips for searching the index.

Anyone can access and search PERSI, but you will need a Findmypast user account to view the metadata/digitized images. Findmypast has a 14-day trial period and offers one month, six month and annual subscriptions along with Pay As You Go credits that can be used to purchase specific records.

Findmypast has been focused on United Kingdom records (England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada and Australia) for many years. It is now expanding to include U.S. records too. If you are researching UK ancestors, a subscription could be worthwhile. If all you want to do is search PERSI, the Pay As You Go option might be a better choice. It’s nice to have options.

The Periodical Source Index has long been a valuable resource for genealogical research. This effort makes it even more valuable. It will be interesting to watch it grow.