I have an ancestor born Edith Cromwell who married Christopher Gist in the 1600s.  Many people believe that she was a close relative of the famous Oliver Cromwell.  But long ago, I read a convincing article in a genealogy magazine claiming that the relationship, if any, is distant and unknown.

I would like to find that article again.

For what it's worth: There is an organization dedicated to "the" Oliver Cromwell: olivercromwell.org/wordpress/… Their website has genealogical data on hundreds, maybe thousands of individuals. But it does not contain the surname "Gist" nor does it mention an Edith Cromwell. I asked them whether they knew of such an article.

2 Answers 2


There isn't enough detail in your question to definitively find the article in question. However, we can give general advice to address "Looking for article..."

PERSI, the PERiodical Source Index, is maintained by Allen County (Indiana) Public Library. PERSI "provides more than 3 million citations to readily-available periodical sources." These periodicals include international, national, and regional (state or county within the US) genealogy publications. The time frame covers current issues of extant periodicals as well as back issues of defunct ones.

You can use PERSI to search for articles by surname, geography, or keyword. Note that PERSI does not index the full text of an article, but merely the subject terms that are associated with the article. Therefore, if the surname of interest is merely mentioned in an article and isn't the main focus of the article, it probably won't be indexed for that article, so you may find that a geography search yields better results.

For your example, since Oliver Cromwell is a well-known historical figure and you're looking for an article you have read before, this would be a good case where a surname search would be useful. You could perform a surname search for "Cromwell," optionally filter the results, and then skim the remaining article titles to see if anything rings a bell.

Once you have found an article that looks interesting, you probably want to locate the periodical. I usually search in these locations in this order:

  1. My local genealogy library's catalog
  2. My local genealogy library's periodicals finding aid (because many of the bound periodicals are not in the catalog)
  3. FamilySearch catalog
  4. FamilySearch books
  5. WorldCat

If your library has a physical copy of the periodical that you can access, it helps to know how periodicals are shelved at the library. Here's one way to do it; your library may arrange its holdings differently:

  • Current periodicals usually arrive at the library a single issue at a time, as they are published. These might be displayed in a vertical rack with other unrelated current periodicals and not necessarily near the other materials about that country/state/county/surname.

  • Once the library has accumulated a certain number of issues (a year, two years, ...), the library has the issues bound into a book, which may be shelved in the stacks with other books about the country/state/county/surname.

  • The bound periodicals may or may not be cataloged in the main library catalog like regular books. If they are not, your library may have a separate resource that lists the periodicals. Ask a librarian at your local genealogy library if they have a "periodicals finding aid."

If you have access to a genealogy library whose catalog or finding aid says it has an issue of a periodical you want to access but you can't find the issue, take note of all the information in PERSI and in the catalog or finding aid and take that information to the library reference desk for assistance. That's what they're there for. At a minimum, you'll want to jot down the following information:

  • The title of the journal, e.g. "Genealogical Journal" or "Ansearchin' News"
  • The publisher or country/state/county of publication, e.g. "Ohio Historical Society" or "Randolph County, North Carolina." Genealogy societies are not always creative with their journal names, and there is a lot of duplication, so having the publisher or location will help narrow down the journal.
  • The volume and issue number, e.g. "volume IX, number 3" or "16:2"
  • The date of the issue, e.g. "Winter 1987" or "July 13, 2002"
  • The article title and/or page number(s), if provided

For more information about PERSI, the FamilySearch Wiki page on PERSI has instructions and tips for using PERSI effectively and for obtaining articles you've located. Cyndi's List also links to some how-to articles about PERSI.

  • Thanks, I had forgotten about PERSI, but was reminded earlier today. Took a quick look, and will have to look further. Yes, "Oliver Cromwell is a well-known historical figure" which means just about any search yields a difficult-to-handle mountain of results. Having lived in Fort Wayne twenty years and worked two years for a library, I knew some of what you said. If only I could remember the title of the periodical, it would be much easier.
    – WGroleau
    Oct 5, 2022 at 2:39
  • 1
    Unfortunately, the question contains all the detail I am able to dig out of my mental files. Edith Cromwell's FindAGrave entry mentions "The two most prominent researchers of the Cromwell family found no basis for this relationship" without naming them. I'll try to figure out their names as that would be another good way to search.
    – WGroleau
    Oct 5, 2022 at 2:46
  • @WGroleau Oh! Your Edith Cromwell appears to have two findagrave pages: findagrave.com/memorial/114203404/edith-gist (the one you're quoting) and findagrave.com/memorial/238051566/edith-beecher . The latter cites a reference of "Miller & Barnes, 1987" but I can't find a relevant book or article with authors Miller and Barnes and published in 1987 in my university library's catalog, Worldcat, Hathitrust, or the Internet Archive.
    – shoover
    Oct 5, 2022 at 4:25
  • But here's Maryland Genealogies 1980 with an introduction by Barnes that has your Edith. msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc3500/sc3520/015800/…
    – shoover
    Oct 5, 2022 at 4:27
  • And what I mean to say is that perhaps your two prominent researchers are named Miller and Barnes.
    – shoover
    Oct 5, 2022 at 4:29

This is intended as a supplement to the previous answer.

As previously noted, PERSI, the Periodical Source Index, can now be accessed for free on the ACPL Genealogy Center's website. PERSI indexes genealogical periodicals, but it is not an every-name index. It indexes topics and title keywords. Keep this in mind while searching for articles.

When you find an article, and would like to get a copy:

  1. Contact the publisher, if they are still in business. Often articles in genealogy publications have follow-on articles. The publisher may be able to supply you with all the parts of the article.
  2. If the author is living and still active in genealogy, check their website to see if the publisher allows them to share the article on their website.
  3. Check your local public libraries, genealogical societies, historical societies, or Family History Center to see if they have copies of the publication. You can use WorldCat.org to check participating libraries near you.
  4. If the publication is older, check online digital repositories such as Google Books, Hathi Trust, The Internet Archive, and other digital collections.
  5. Hire someone to retrieve a copy of the article in a far-away library.
  6. If all else fails, you can order copies from the Genealogy Center. They recommend contacting the publisher first and looking in nearby libraries before ordering a copy from the Genealogy Center itself because it is likely to be much faster.

For tutorials on the new PERSI, see their YouTube channel:

Other recent tutorials:

For more on PERSI:

  • Finding Periodical Articles about Your Geographic Area of Interest Using PERSI video and handout Feb 25, 2022

Search strategies from pre-2022 tutorials for PERSI may still work, but keep in mind that the new search engine may not work the same way as the versions shown in older demos.

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