About Thomas MacEntee

What happens when a “tech guy” with a love for history gets laid off during The Great Recession of 2008? You get Thomas MacEntee, a genealogy professional who’s also a blogger, educator, author, social media connector, online community builder and more. Thomas was laid off after a 25-year career in the information technology field, so he started his own genealogy-related business called High Definition Genealogy. He also created an online community of over 3,000 family history bloggers known as GeneaBloggers. His most recent endeavor, Hack Genealogy, is an attempt to “re-purpose today’s technology for tomorrow’s genealogy.” Thomas describes himself as a lifelong learner with a background in a multitude of topics who has finally figured out what he does best: teach, inspire, instigate, and serve as a curator and go-to-guy for concept nurturing and inspiration. Thomas is a big believer in success, and that we all succeed when we help each other find success.

Genealogy Blogging Beat – Tuesday, 18 November 2014

On 18 November 1963, push button or "touch tone" telephones went into service - for an extra charge, of course.
Today is Tuesday 18 November 2014, and here is what’s available in terms of Daily Blogging Prompts and other related events in the genealogy blogosphere:

Items of Note

  • Today: Louis Daguerre’s Birthday – Anniversary, Jonestown Massacre – Anniversary, Mickey Mouse’s Birthday, Push-Button Phone Debuts – Anniversary, and US Uniform Time Zone Plan – Anniversary.

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Review: JPASS at JSTOR – A Valuable Resource for Genealogy

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

This past August, during the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in San Antonio, I stopped by the booth of a new vendor: JSTOR and discovered a wonderful new product called JPASS. I’ve known about JSTOR for some time now and have used the research service at libraries and archives.

What is JSTOR?

Before we get to my review of JPASS, here’s what you should know about JSTOR if it is unfamiliar to you. JSTOR (http://www.jstor.org) is a not-for-profit organization created to assist libraries and publishers and is comprised of a digital library created in 1995. The goal was to allow university and college libraries free up shelf space and save money by digitizing content.

There are over 2,000 academic journals on the JSTOR database covering many different topics, many which will interest genealogists and family historians. Currently, JSTOR is available for free in over 9,200 institutions worldwide.

Will you find genealogy records on JSTOR? No, but you will find articles and materials that provide you with background information and can assist your research. An example, using my own research: articles on the Huguenots that settled in New Paltz, New York. I wanted to know why they arrived in New Paltz and why they left France (migration push and pull causes) and other information about their daily life.

JPASS – JSTOR Access at Home and On the Go

JPASS (http://jpass.jstor.org/) is a product from JSTOR that allows for personal access to approximately 1,500 journals in the JSTOR database. This means not having to trek down to the library to pull that article that I need. Or, if a research question pops into my head, I don’t need to write it down and wait for my next visit to the library.

As JSTOR advertises on its site: “JPASS gives you access to more than 1,700 academic journals on JSTOR. If you don’t have access to JSTOR through a school or public library, consider JPASS your personal digital library.”

JPASS is available in one-month and one-year plans and with the one-month plan (which I was given access to for this review), you get unlimited online reading access and you can download up to 10 articles a month (120 articles with the one-year plan). You also can create a MyJSTOR account so you can access JSTOR 24/7 from any device. What I like most about the MyJSTOR feature is the ability to set up alerts for specific search terms and I can save citations as well.

The Basics

Here is what you get when you purchase JPASS from JSTOR:

  • Pricing is $19.50/month which is good for short term projects. You get unlimited reading and you can download a total of 10 PDF articles per month.
  • Save by upgrading to a one year plan at $199, with the same unlimited reading and allowing you to download 120 PDF articles per year. You can use downloads at your own pace, meaning that with the one-year plan you are not rationed to 10 PDF articles per month.
  • JSTOR provides a full refund on JPASS within two weeks of purchase if no more than 10 downloads are used.
  • The monthly plan does not automatically renew and if you don’t renew, you still have access to the PDFs downloaded via MyJSTOR.
  • With MyJSTOR (https://www.jstor.org/action/registration) you can receive free, read-only access to as many as three articles at a time for a 2-week minimum. Where available, users may purchase articles after reading.

JPASS: Easy to Use and Hard to Stop

I started using JPASS by researching my Huguenot ancestors in New Paltz, New York (Hugo Freer was my 9th great-grandfather). So I enter the search query and press the search icon:

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

There were 51 results which I perused. Results are broken down into category using the Journals, Books and Pamphlets tabs:

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

Next, I clicked on an article title to get more information and to view the PDF online.

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

Once I decided that this was an article I wanted to download, I clicked View PDF and a confirmation dialog appeared:

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

I recommend not checking the “Don’t show . . .” option since the dialog tells you how many downloads you have remaining. And here is what the downloaded PDF looks like:

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

Another great feature is ability to mark articles using Save Citations:

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

I like being able to access the articles I have already read online at JSTOR. For my recent article Hiding Out in the Open: Researching LGBT Ancestors, I read several articles related to gay history and saved them for later review.

Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers reviews JPASS by JSTOR and its uses for genealogy research

More from JSTOR

Want to use JSTOR for free at your local library or archive? Visit JSTOR’s Library – Institution finder (http://about.jstor.org/jstor-institutions) to find a location near you.

And here’s a neat feature: JSTOR Daily (http://daily.jstor.org/) is the JSTOR blog featuring unusual and interesting articles. Add it to your RSS feed reader or sign up for their bi-weekly newsletter to stay on top of the latest developments with JSTOR and JPASS.

Try JPASS for Free!

You can request a free 10-day trial by visiting http://jpass.jstor.org/freetrial. The free trial includes the following:

  • Unlimited reading access to more than 1,700 journals across the humanities, social science and science journals in the JSTOR archive for 10 days.
  • 3 complimentary article downloads that are yours to keep even after the 10 days are over.
  • Opportunity to sign up for a monthly or annual JPASS plan!


I highly recommend the JSTOR database if you are visiting a library or institution; in addition, it is well worth your time and money to try JPASS for at least one-month! I was amazed at what I found to help my research and as I’ve said, it is so easy to get lost in the many different journals and articles. As a result of using JPASS, I’ve been able to supplement my own genealogy research and better understand how my ancestors lived as well as what records they left behind.

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Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Genealogy Learning Gap: What Topics Matter To You?

genealogy tree of knowledge

For many of us, it can be overwhelming to try and stay on top of current educational topics in genealogy and to figure out where we need help. That’s why various forms of learning are popular with genealogists, including lectures at genealogy conferences, week-long institutes, webinars, and more.

What Is Your Genealogy Education Plan for 2015?

As we get nearer to the end of 2014, many of us are already focusing on 2015 and ways to improve our genealogy. Education is the key to getting the most out of the various genealogy resources available both online and by visiting archives and libraries.

Imagine you could simply “pick” from the genealogy tree of knowledge . . . what topic would you pick first? Evernote? Research logs? Research methodology? Think about the topics that matter to you, that could help improve your genealogy research and break through those brick walls.

Make a list and then make a commitment. Periodically “check in” – monthly is best – and re-evaluate your plan if necessary.

Tell Us Your Topics . . . And Get a $50 Amazon Gift Card

amazon gift card giveaway

For our upcoming Holiday Special Boot Camp (held in conjunction with Hack Genealogy), we’re looking for topics to feature during our 3 hour webinar. Let us know specific problems to solve or areas to cover including technology!

Visit http://hackgenealogy.com/bcholidaytopics and enter your topic along with your name and email. We’ll select the best topics for the webinar on Saturday 29 November (sign up here – it’s FREE) and on Monday 1 December, we’ll announce a winner selected at random from all the entries and send them a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.