Tyler Stahle | Jun 7, 2017

3 Uncommon Resources for New York Research

This is the second of a two part series exploring how to trace New York families online. Read part one.

In last week’s article, we took a look at some of the most popular online resources for genealogical research in connection with the state of New York. These resources include the New York Public Library, Old New York Fulton post cards, New York Heritage digital collections, New York State historical archives, and the New York State archives on ancestry.

This week, we’ll take a look at three other resources that can be helpful in New York–based research that might not be as common.

Periodical Source Index (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.

“If you have family from the Central New York area, there is an organization called the Central New York Genealogical Society, and they for many years have produced a periodical called Tree Talks,” said D. Joshua Taylor in his 2017 RootsTech presentation. “Tree Talks includes local record abstracts and family histories that you won’t find on a site like Ancestry or FamilySearch or MyHeritage. You will find them indexed in a resource like PERSI. So PERSI gives you a subject-level index of various local genealogical society periodicals.”

Currently, PERSI has more than 2.5 million subject-level entries and is updated on a quarterly basis. Within PERSI you’ll also find:

  • Illustrations.
  • Maps.
  • Vital record abstracts.
  • Compiled family trees and genealogies.

You can access PERSI by doing the following:

  1. Navigate to the homepage of FindMyPast.
  2. Under the Search drop-down list, click Newspapers and periodicals.
  3. Click on PERiodical Source Index option, and perform your search.

Read more about using PERSI for genealogy success.


According to Taylor, ArchiveGrid is one of the best-kept secrets in the genealogy industry. Similar to WorldCat, the library catalog of the world, ArchiveGrid gathers archival materials from all over the world, many of which have never been published, including the one or two pages originally released or the original deed or contracts that were created as part of a business.

“These are the things that are priceless materials. There’s usually only one in the entire world, and they’re probably not going to appear online in a complete form in the next 10 or 20 years,” said Taylor. “]They’re] probably still going to be sitting in an archive, but ArchiveGrid enables you to actually go through and find out where the records are held.”

It’s important to remember to search for collections instead of names or dates on ArchiveGrid. “You’re looking for things that have been gathered. So you might put in the name of a county or the name of someone in the individual area where they were marrying individuals—the name of a church, the name of a particular organization someone was involved with, or the name of a business,” advised Taylor. “All of those are perfectly practical things to put in ArchiveGrid compared to the exact first and last name of an ancestor; it’s just looking through different collections that are there.”

German Genealogy Group

“The German Genealogy Group is a fantastic organization that has painstakingly over many years indexed records from across New York City and the general region and made them available to you completely free on their website,” said Taylor.

Within the German Genealogy Group collection you’ll find:

  • New York City cemetery records.
  • New York City church records.
  • New York City birth and death indexes.
  • Surname databases.
  • Yearbooks.
  • Navy enlistments.

“Again, this isn’t complete coverage of every single year, but it’s a very, very substantial portion of records that are available for you to search completely free of charge,” said Taylor.

Navigate the German Genealogy Group website by browsing specific databases found on the left side of the page. Remember that you’ll have to search database by database rather than by master search.

What resources do you use for New York research? Tweet us @RootsTechConf.

Tyler Stahle

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