Genealogy periodicals

Your Guide to Finding & Using Genealogy Periodicals

Through the years genealogists have been well served by genealogy focused periodicals which published family histories, transcribed source material, articles to help hone a researchers skills, "query" sections that located fellow researchers decades before the internet's much talked about ability to do the same and letters from genealogists offering support and helpful hints. Genealogy societies often publish quarterlies that contain information specific to a certain locality. Individuals publish family newsletters that document information on all descendants of a given individual or, sometimes, anyone of a specific surname. It can be difficult to find what all has been published, but there are indexes that help locate material on a specific locality, surname or topic. Some quarterlies provide annual every-name indexes, and sometimes these are cummulated to make it easier to search a broader time frame.

Currently Published * No longer published * Indexing * More Links

A few articles on the web will explain why you will want to use genealogy periodicals.

You may want to subscribe to one or more of these currently published periodicals:
  • Family Chronicle: The Magazine for Families Researching their Roots. The articles tend to be short and to the point and are often written by experts. A lot of news and reviews; this magazine covers a wide variety of topics. Even if you don't subscribe, you can visit their web site and get the links covered in their most recent issue and visit their archive of selected "how-to" articles. They will also mail you a free issue for which you return the invoice to pay or cancel, as you choose.
  • Family Tree Magazine (there is a downloadable 5 year index available for those of you who have subscribed and have a stash) This magazines provides the most substantial amount of links and internet information. They post online their annual list of the top 101 web sites.
  • Internet Genealogy is the newest addition to this market. It is put out by the publishers of Family Chronicle. As the name suggests, it focuses on making effective use of internet resources to find your family. You can download a sample issue at this web address.
As your research becomes more focused and you become more interested in publishing your genealogy, you may find you want to subscribe to some of the more scholarly genealogy journals. These periodicals publish well researched genealogical summaries that are valuable not just for the lineage covered, but for insights into methodology and variety of sources available to the genealogists.
  • The American Genealogist (nicknamed TAG) was founded in 1922 by Donald Lines Jacobus and has promoted careful analysis and thorough documentation through publication of articles that rise to the standards set forth by the editors.
  • NGS Quarterly (with membership in the National Genealogical Society) is another of the more scholarly magazines with articles about families that are both instructinve and interesting, even though you may not have related ancestors, as well as guides for researching localities and record types.

Some magazines are specific to a locality

One of the most well known of these is New England Historic & Genealogical Register, oftern referred to as "the Register". This contains a number of articles about New England Ancestors, but as with the NGS Quarterly and TAG, you will find the articles instructive whether they contain information about one of your families or not.

Often when you join a genealogical society, whether it covers a region, a state or a county, you will receive a subscription to a periodical as part of your membership. Check out the site of the state genealogical society and those local societies in areas you are researching.

FamilySearch Wiki provides information and links to help you find societies, many of which will offer a quarterly or other regular publication.

Some magazines are no longer published, but still may be useful to you. Some that have more recently ceased publishing are described below.

  • Ancestry.com published Ancestry Magazine for several years. It tended to describe and plug books and databases on Ancestry.com, but that didn't overwhelm the content of the magazine, which was varied and interesting.
  • The Genealogical Helper 1947-
    Everton's Family History Magazine 2002-2004
    Everton's Genealogical Helper 2004-2009
    -- The grand daddy of genealogy magazines, updated for the computer age and for several decades, the only general genealogy magazine published the U.S. The magazine struggled to keep it's own style, but compete with the newer magazines, but eventually succumbed to the inevitable. The last issue was the January/February 2009 issue.
    • The content of this magazine was always good; in the last three years of its publication, under the editorship of Leland Meitzler, it was very, very good, especially so for European content.
    • Some back issues are for sale.
    • Many libraries will have back-runs of this magazine. If you find a run, you will want to go through at least the last decade of the magazine.
    • Back issues are available on the internet through the $subscription site$ VitalRecords.com (excepting, for some reason, the January/February 2009 issue).
  • Heritage Quest ceased publication with no. 115, Fall 2005. (back issues are still available).
    • This magazine often had especially good information on foreign research; again, much credit goes to Leland Meitzler, who's contributions to the field of ancestors from Europe has been significant.
    • Earlier issues contained a more substantial magazine.. bigger in size and covering topics in greater depth. The more recent issues were ighter in both ways, evidently competing with the style of Family Tree and Ancestry, but it still remained more in-depth than either of them.
    • Of course these issues won't have useful internet information, but they contain many articles of value to the serious researcher, especially so for the genealogist who is researching ancestors in foreign countries.

Indexes to Genealogy periodicals

All multi-periodical indexes are topical; they index names, locations and topics as represented in the title of the article. None are all-name or all-place indexes, although individual periodicals often have annual or multi-volume indexes that provide that service.

  • PERSI: While not the only index, PERSI (Periodical Source Index) is the most commonly used, most up to date and largest index; created by Allen County Public Library.
    • It indexes surnames, topics and localities named in titles for articles in periodicals received by the Allen County Public Library. Note it does not index every name found in an article; only those mentioned in the title. It is available in book form, which can be cumbersome to use, and in subscription databases available on the web.
    • If you find an article you want to read, you can order a copy of that article from the Allen County Public Library.
    • On the web:
      • Many public libraries provide access to Heritage Quest. Usually you can log on to your local library site and search Heritage Quest from home as well as in the library.
        • The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library provides us with a nice guide to Using PERSI in Heritage QuestOnline. -- it will be the same, no matter what library you use.
        • Searching PERSI online is the best way to use it! If your local library does not offer the research database Heritage Quest (most do), check around for the closest library that does.
      • If you have a personal subscription to Ancestry.com, it is available there, but it is not in Ancestry.com Library Edition. I'm not sure that the Ancestry.com edition is as current as that in Heritage Quest.
    • I does exist in book form (find in a library), but it is cumbersome to use. Prefer an electronic edition.
    • The Family History Library has a copy of PERSI on microfiche, but it is not convenient to use and may no longer be current. However their PERSI Research Outline gives a thorough explanation of what is included and how it is organized.
    • If you have access to the CD version -- now out of print -- you will want to read Neill'article: Some Features of the PERSI CD.
    • These articles will provide further information on using PERSI
  • GPAI (Genealogical Periodical Annual Index) covers periodicals 1962-2001, when it ceased publishing.
    • An annual series that has not been compiled, these must be checked one by one.
    • Some volumes can still be purchased, but you are more likely to want to use them in a library.
    • It indexed many, but by no means all genealogical publications.
    • You will probably be better served by using PERSI.
    • Preview volumes are available on Google Books; there is a key to the abbrevations in each volume.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention these two older indexes:

More information about these indexes can be found in these online articles:

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This page last updated September 2, 2011