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Biographical Information: Researching People

Find biographical information about a person, living or dead, recent or historical, in many different fields.


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Kristina Claunch
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From a 17th century author to the latest Hollywood starlet, biographical sources contain information about a wide variety of people. Before you start looking for biographical information, it may help to consider the person's age, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and occupation.


This guide is not comprehensive; it does not list all of the resources on this subject or in related disciplines owned by the Library or available on the Internet. This guide serves merely as a starting point for research.

General Biography of Prominent People

American National Biography - E176 .A43 1999, Reference

Chambers Biographical Dictionary [BCE to 1990s] - CT103 .C4 1997, Reference

Current Biography - CT100 .C8, Reference

Dictionary of American Biography - E176 .D56, Reference

Merriam Webster’s Biographical Dictionary - CT103 .M47 1995, Reference

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography - E176 .N28, Reference

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [Britain] - DA28 .O95 2004, Reference - Read Online

Who Was Who in America [1607-1990s] - E176 .W64, Reference

Who’s Who, an Annual Biographical Dictionary [Britain] - DA28 .W6, Reference

Who’s Who in America - E663 .W56, Reference

Who’s Who of American Women - CT3260 .W5, Reference

Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia - HQ1115 .W6 1999, Reference - Read Online

Biographies in Art & Architecture

A Biographical Dictionary of Artists - N40 .B53 1994, Reference 

Contemporary Artists - N6490 .C6567, Reference

Dictionary of Women Artists - N8354 .D53 1997, Reference

International Dictionary of Architects and Architecture - NA40 .I48 1993, Reference

Who’s Who in American Art - N6536 .W5, Reference
Artists, collectors, critics, curators, and dealers in U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Biographies in Business, Labor, & Industry

Biographical Dictionary of American Business Leaders - HC102.5 .A2 I53 1983, Reference

Business Leader Profiles for Students - HD38.25 .U6 B8 1999, Reference

Contemporary American Business Leaders - HC102.5 .A2 I 534 1990, Reference

Who’s Who in Finance and Business - HF3023 .A3W5, Reference

Biographies in Education & Social Sciences

American Educators’ Encyclopedia - LB15 .D37 1991, Reference

Biographical Dictionary of Psychology - BF109.A1 B56 1997, Reference

Directory of American Scholars - LA2311 .C32, Reference
U.S. and Canadian scholars, current through the 1990s.

National Faculty Directory - L901 .N34 2004, Reference
Faculty members from U.S. and Canadian universities.

Biographies of Authors / Writers

American Authors, 1600-1900 - PS21 .K8, Reference

Contemporary Authors - Z1224 .C6, Reference - Read Online
Writers from a wide range of media.

Contemporary Poets - PR603 .C6 2001, Reference - Read Online
English-language poets alive at time of publication.

Dictionary of Literary Biography - PS129. D5, Reference - Read Online
Comprehensive treatment of American and British authors in all literary areas.

European Authors, 1000-1900 - PN451 .K8, Reference

Biographies in Politics, Law, & Criminal Justice

American Political Leaders, 1789-2009 - E176 .A513 2010, Reference

American Political Scientists: A Dictionary - JA61 .A525 2002, Reference

American Presidents - E176.1 .A6563 2006, Reference
Includes sidebars on First Ladies and Vice Presidents.

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005 - JK1010 .U5 1989, Reference - Read Online

Cops, Crooks, and Criminologists - HV7911 .A1 A94 2000, Reference
World’s most well-known “criminals and crime-stoppers”, historical and contemporary.

Encyclopedia of World Crime - HV6017 .E54 1989, Reference
Famous criminals and law enforcement officers.

First Ladies: A Biographical Dictionary - E176.2 .S36 2001, Reference

Great American Judges: An Encyclopedia - KF8775 .A68 G64 2003, Reference

Great American Lawyers: An Encyclopedia - KF353 .G74 2001, Reference

The Supreme Court Justices: A Biographical Dictionary - KF8744 .S859 1994, Reference

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Military Biographies

American Military Leaders: from Colonial Times to Present - E181 .F84 1999, Reference

Encyclopedia of American War Heroes - E181 .N88 2002, Reference

Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography - U51 .D87 1992, Reference 

Multicultural Biographies

American Indian Biographies - E98 .A46 2005, Reference - Read Online

Distinguished Asian Americans - E184 .O6 D57 1999, Reference - Read Online

Notable Black American Men - E185 .86 .N68 1998, Reference

Notable Black American Women - E185.96 .N68 1992, Reference

Notable Hispanic American Women - E184 .S75 N68 1993, Reference

Notable Latino Americans - E184 .S75 M435 1997, Reference - Read Online

Notable Native Americans - E89 .N67 1995, Reference

Biographies in the Performing Arts

Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians - ML105 .B16 2001, Reference

International Dictionary of Theatre - PN2035 .I49 1992, Reference
Volume 2 covers well-known playwrights. Volume 3 covers actors, directors, and designers.

International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers - PN1997.8 .I58 2000, Reference - Read Online
Volume 2 covers film directors, volume 3 actors and actresses, and volume 4 film writers and production artists.

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians - ML100 .N48, Reference - Read Online

The Rock Who’s Who - ML102 .R6 H5 1996, Reference

Women Composers and Songwriters: A Concise Biographical Dictionary - ML105 .C593 1996, Reference - Read Online

Biographies in Religion

The Book of Saints: A Comprehensive Biographical Dictionary - BX4655.3 .B66 2002, Reference
Saints recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.

Oxford Dictionary of Popes - BX955.2 .K45 1996, Reference
Popes and antipopes from St. Peter to John Paul II.

Oxford Dictionary of Saints - Read Online

Religious Leaders of America - BL72 .M458 1999, Reference
U.S. and Canadian religious leaders, 1865 through the 20th century.

Who’s Who of World Religions - BL72 .W54 1992, Reference
Influential religious figures in many faiths, from BCE through the 20th century.

Biographies in Science

American Men and Women of Science - Q141 .A471 2007, Reference
Living scientists of the U.S. and Canada.

The Biographical Dictionary of Scientists - Q141 .B528 2000, Reference

Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science - Q141 .B5285 2000, Reference - Read Online

Encyclopedia of World Scientists - Q141 .O25 2001, Reference

Biographical Memoirs - Q141 .N2, Reference - Read Online
Deceased members of the (U.S.) National Academy of Sciences.


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