29 April 2012

Quick Source Review: JSTOR

JSTOR presents a unique researching opportunity for genealogists and family historians. In the academic world, it is a commonly used and reliable source. From their own website, “…JSTOR is one of the world’s most trusted sources for academic content” (www.jstor.org). It is a part of ITHAKA, an academic preservation not-for-profit. So, what is it, exactly and how can it help me in my genealogy research?

Simply, it is a collection of articles. Journals covering a wide range of topics; publications on Law, Film Studies, Folklore, History, Music, Irish Studies and a vast collection of Scientific Journals… they have thousands of titles available in their database. Run a search, find an article of interest, and download in PDF format. Citation is made easy with their automated cover page for each article. A truly simple system.

The benefits to your research can be truly outstanding. A quick search for “Chicago” resulted in nearly 62,000 hits. An article dated 1867 came up within the first ten results. The historical perspective can add a wealth of knowledge and information to your family history.
The database has free content, and they have a relatively standard agreement policy. When you conduct a search, start by choosing the Advanced Search option. Enter your terms, and then select the “Include Only Content I Can Access” option. This will display only the free results.

It is most certainly a site worth exploring. 


  1. How does one gain access to the entire site? Do you have to belong to a participating library and have a code?

  2. Heather, most libraries have access through their internal systems, yes. I don't think you have to have a code, necessarily, but a library card for a participating location. There is an individual access option if your library does not participate, you can see that info on JSTOR's website: http://about.jstor.org/support-training/help/individual-access. Good questions, thank you. I hope you gain something from it; I just use the free access from home and have gained a lot of insight into the areas I am currently researching.


Please comment! I would love to hear your thoughts!