A few years ago, I received a copy of an article that transcribed a letter written by Frank E Leaphart, my 3rd Great-Grandfather and a Civil War soldier. It was unclear where the article was published - a book, a magazine? - or where the original letter was stored - an archive, by an individual? - or if there was any information in the publication aside from the letter. I've been trying to find the origins of the letter ever since receiving it.
I recently picked up the July/August issue of Family Tree Magazine which included the article "Better Together." It explains the collaboration between FindMyPast.com and the Periodical Source Index (PERSI). Before reading this article, I had heard of both of these, but hadn't used either. But I was intrigued by the idea of PERSI, which is an index of genealogical magazines and journals, many of which have been digitized. So I went to search.findmypast.com/search/periodical-source-index and did a surname search for "Leaphart," which turned up five results (I started with Leaphart because it's a local variation of Liebhardt and if I find it, I know it's my family). To my absolute surprise, one of those results was "F. E. Leaphart Civil War letter to wife Julie, 1863." My letter!
When I clicked on the article, I was met with a payment wall. Do I pay? First off, my article has not been digitized. Secondly, on the search page, I am given the name of the article, the periodical title and the publication year. This is enough to find the article, but not enough to do so easily. I could contact the periodical personally and request back issues or assistance looking up the article - but how often do they publish? Monthly? Quarterly? That's potentially a lot of issues to purchase. They might not even be in business anymore. So I went ahead and purchased a single month subscription to FindMyPast.com in order to access the full results.
As I said, particular article was not digitized, but that's ok. Now that I'm past the pay wall, I have information on the exact volume that the article is published in. I can use his information to fill out a form (pdf) to request up to six articles at a time for a fee of $7.50, plus 20¢ per page. And I very quickly found six articles to request - this is a treasure trove! I'll be waiting excited for the articles that I requested and will probably find a more to request in the mean time.