The Google Books Ngram viewer is a database that allows you to search for words or phrases in the 25 million plus books scanned in Google Books.
You can use this to search see how often your word was used in published books during a certain time period. Remember, you can click on the links below the graphs to search Google Books. See a spike in usage? Try to figure out what's going on during that time period!
NOTE: JSTOR does contain older literary journal - you need to limit by the discipline "Language & Literature" (in the Advanced Search). You may need to Google the title of an journal you are not familiar with in order to determine if it is literary journal.
Robert Unz created this archive and is a prominent libertarian. Here's a brief article about the database: http://www.openculture.com/2012/06/unzorg_a_new_vast_and_slightly_right-wing_archive_of_magazines_books_and_tv_shows.html
NOTE: North American Women & Letters covers all of N. America (hence, the name) - you may want to double check the location to make sure it's pertinent.