16 February 2014

Applause! Cheers! Whistles!

I’ll be honest, sitting in a session at RootsTech is not where I expected to hear all of that. But I did, and it was brilliant!

I had a great week at RootsTech, and although I was unable to attend a large quantity of sessions due to other commitments, one that I did get to was Curt Witcher’s talk on PERSI, “PERSI 3.0 The Next Generation of the Periodical Source Index”. I had never seen Mr. Witcher speak before, and that was a treat all on its own; he was full of energy and excitement, and it was absolutely contagious. His subject matter, the recently announced partnership between the Allen County Public Library and findmypast.com, and the progress of how the PERSI project is developing and the goals they have for it, was certainly enough for me to jump up and down. (And I would have, but I was sitting in the very front, and didn't think it was perhaps the most professional thing to do...)

Here’s the scoop.

PERSI, or Periodical Source Index, was created just over twenty years ago by ACPL so that researchers would have a searchable resource for the wonderful articles published on a local level in society and organization newsletters and publications. Good idea, right? If you are not a member of a particular society, you can use the index to determine if anything was ever written about a family line of interest or just about anything else. Very smart.

The project got big – 2.5 million entries big – and although ACPL has other partners in the past, this one with findmypast.com is unique. It is unique because of two key elements: 1) findmypast.com has committed to updating the index every quarter beginning in 2014 (did you know that the index we've all been using forever was last updated in 2009? I didn't, so learning that findmypast.com has already updated the index through 1 Jan 2014 was a big step in the right direction right from the get-go), and 2) findmypast.com has a goal of digitizing all of these articles and putting them online for simple click-through access. 

Disclaimer. Yep, right in the middle of my post.

I work for findmypast.com. There were many surprised to find me in findmypast.com blue working the stand at the conference. However, I was not asked to write this post, I am not being paid to write this post, and will not benefit in any way at all from this post… other than just sharing the great news about PERSI with my readers.

These publications simply have so much information in them, from long winded fully researched and cited family genealogies to maps to cemetery transcriptions. The possibilities are really pretty endless here. So the research that is becoming available to us in a more convenient fashion is really engaging and has the potential to provide many of us with a great deal more information on our ancestors and the social history we all love so much.

Where does the cheering come in? Get to the best stuff already! 

It happened when, about 3/4 of the way through his presentation, Mr. Witcher showed the audience that findmypast.com already has over 7000 images online from the New York Genealogical & Biographical Record! What a great moment, and I am so glad I was there to see it, or I might not have believed it. His grin said it all; how awesome was that?

Screenshot: The New York Genealogical & Biographical Record
as seen on findmypast.com.

And I’ll go ahead and say it; it’s pretty awesome to be involved in a company that is willing to take on a project like this and do it right.

Here's a couple more items I found within the PERSI collection, just to tempt you further... and if this doesn't work, let me know what will. I'll find it. Why? Because I know that this resource is incredible, will be extremely valuable to a great many of us, and because flipping through the pages of the NYG&BR is fun!

All above images are screenshots taken from the findmypast.com PERSI collection