JSTOR: the Great Online Genealogy Resource that Few Genealogists Know About

Genealogy information can be found in many places. Most genealogists know about and use the various online sites that have census records, vital records, pension application files, and user-contributed family trees online. These are great resources but they are not the only ones available to us. For instance, have you used JSTOR?

JSTOR is an online library of hundreds of years of academic research and presently contains more than 1,900 journal titles in more than 50 disciplines. The web site started in 1995 as a site containing back issues of academic journals. Since then, JSTOR has grown to include books and primary sources, and current issues of journals.

A quick search for “genealogy” on the JSTOR web site produced 105,889 “hits” to that word.

As always, I searched for some of the surnames in my own family tree. Here is one that I found that can serve as a typical example of the information found on JSTOR:

Eastman’s Maternal Ancestry: Letter from Charles Alexander Eastman to H. M. Hitchcock, September 8, 1927
Studies in American Indian Literatures
Series 2, Vol. 17, No. 2, Honoring A. Lavonne Brown Ruoff (SUMMER 2005), pp. 10-17
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20737262
Page Count: 8

JSTOR provides full-text searches of more than 1,900 journals and more than a few of those are journals published by some of the most respected historical societies of our time. Most of the journals are published online on JSTOR about 3 to 5 years after publication in print. However, if a journal’s publishers agree, journals may be published even earlier.

Journals available in JSTOR typically do not contain lists of individual residents of an area. However, they are very useful for:

  • Researching historical figures, places, and events
  • Finding state- and region-specific information and history
  • Learning about immigration patterns, political movements, and social issues of the day
  • Some of the available online journals include:
    • The Arkansas Historical Quarterly published by the Arkansas Historical Association
    • Massachusetts Historical Review
    • Michigan Historical Review
    • Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
    • Wisconsin Magazine of History
    • Tennessee Historical Quarterly

The above is an abbreviated list; there are many more.

JSTOR is a subscription web site although it is possible to read up to three articles at no charge. Plans start at $9.99 per month or $99 per year if paid one year in advance. However, many libraries have subscriptions to JSTOR so it is possible to gain free access by visiting a local library in person or, in some cases, accessing JSTOR remotely by first logging onto your library’s web site and using its “gateway” to JSTOR. More than 7,000 academic institutions, public libraries, research institutions, museums, and schools in more than 150 countries have access.

JSTOR is available at: http://www.jstor.org.


JSTOR is a fabulous resource and some family history societies offer free at-home access as part of their membership benefits. The North of Ireland Family History Society offers access to the Irish Collection on JSTOR which includes many useful resources for people with Irish roots. Alongside the other articles, it’s worth searching the surname lists, and you may get lucky if an old publication contains information about your family. Overseas membership of NIFHS is only £18/year (about $25) and this includes access to JSTOR from your own computer at home.


Anther interesting site is GenealoogyInTime.com It searches many of sites and her sources as well.


David Paul Davenport January 25, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Yes, JSTOR is great, but if you expect to find it “locally” you may be out of luck. Neither of the Universities in Fresno (Fresno Pacific Un and CSU Fresno) subscribe, so to use it I have to drive 45 miles to UCD Merced.


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