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Research Guide: Locating Biographical Information

Finding Biographies

Introduction

Biographical information identifies individuals who have had a significant influence on a particular field and documents their work and qualifications.  The strategy for locating biographical information will depend on whether you already have a person's name or whether you are trying to identify names by occupation, ethnic group, gender, and so on.

Case 1: Researching Known Names

   Step 1.  Decide how much information you need.  If you want a lot of material, search for full-length biographies in the library's online catalog.  Full-length biographies are usually available only for more notable persons.  Shorter articles or bio-sketches on a particular person can best be located by using a biographical database as explained in Step 2. 

   Step 2.   Use biographical databases to find sources of biographical information on a particular individual.  Enter the person's name in the following databases available from Stewart Library's Web site.  Biographical databases may list only references to sources of the biographical information or provide the biographical information itself.  To determine if a source is available in the library, check the library's catalog.


Literature Resource Center (full text articles on over 90,000 authors with additional sources listed)
Biography Reference Bank (More than 46,000 full-text profiles of authors, artists, politicians, and more. Covers ancient world to the present)

Case 2: Finding Names

   Step 1.  Identify possible categories or parameters to which the person(s) may be associated such as gender, occupation, ethnic group, geographical region, etc.

   Step 2.  Using the "General Keyword" search option in the library catalog, search for sources of biographical information which match the desired parameters.  The following examples of keyword search statements illustrate the use of the parameters suggested in Step 1. Note that each statement has two parts, parameter or category (e.g. WOMEN, BLACKS), and form (BIOGRAPHY).


WOMEN AND BIOGRAPHY

SCIENCE AND BIOGRAPHY

BLACKS AND BIOGRAPHY

SPORTS AND BIOGRAPHY

Case 3: Combination Search

   The following online databases can be used to research known names (Case 1) or find names of individuals by occupation, gender, etc. (Case 2):

Michigan eLibrary (MeL) (mel.org/index.jsp).  Click "Reference Desk" and then "Biography"

Public Pioneer-Biography  (http://pioneer.utah.gov/biog.html)

Biography Reference Bank  (from "Database Finder" on the library home page)

  

NOTE:  Much biographical information may be found on the Internet by using the various search engines such as Google.com, Yahoo.com, etc.


Print Resources

American Men and Women of Science  (REF Q 141.A474)
American National Biography  (REF CT 213.A68)
Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians  (REF ML 105.B16, Ref. Table 3A)
Biography Index  (REF CT 100.B5)
Contemporary Authors  (REF Z 1224.C6)
Current Biography  (REF CT 100.C8)
Dictionary of American Biography  (REF E 176.D56)
Dictionary of Art  (REF N31.D5, Reference Table 3A)
Dictionary of Literary Biography  (REF PS 221.D5)
Dictionary of National Biography  (REF DA 28.D54)
Dictionary of Scientific Biography  (REF Q 141.D5)
Directory of American Scholars  (REF LA 2311.D57)
Encyclopedia of World Biography  (REF CT 103.E56)
New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians  (REF ML 100.N48, Ref. Table 3A)
Notable American Women  (REF CT 3260.N57)
Something About the Author  (REF PN 451.S6)
Webster's Biographical Dictionary  (REF CT 103.W4)
Who's Who in America  (REF E 176.W642)
Women in World History  (REF HQ 1115.W6)


Internet Resources

Ancestry.com  (www.ancestry.com)
Biographical Dictionary
  (www.s9.com/biography/search.html)
Biography.com   (www.biography.com)

Biography Reference Bank  (from "Database Finder" on the library home page)

Encyclopedia of World Biography (from "Database Finder-Reference" on the library home page)
Family Search  (www.familysearch.org)
Librarians' Index to the Internet  (www.lii.org/)
Literature Resource Center (from "Database Finder" on the library home page)
Oxford Art Online (from "Database Finder-Reference" on the library home page)

Oxford Music Online (from "Database Finder-Reference" on the library home page)


Research Tips

Updated June 11, 2008. Please send comments to Art Carpenter
Weber State University, Stewart Library. Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved.

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