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Finding Information about People: Locate Biographies

Biographies? How do you find biographical information? It is sometimes hard to track down. Use this Guide to help.

Where to start?

When you consider a huge number of notable people of the past and the present, you will have a better idea of the enormity of the problem of finding biographical information on them.  The library has a great variety of biographical sources.  The ones you may have to consult will be determined by the type of information needed and by the following characteristics of your subject:

  • Nationality
  • Time period in which the individual lived
  • Profession
  • Fame (very famous or known only in a particular field of activity)

 If you know absolutely nothing about the person you are research­ing, use one of the sources listed in the box to the right  to identify the person by nationality, time, period, and profession. 

Then go to the sources listed in the next tab. 


Ref.                 Biography and Genealogy Master Index.  2006-2010.  4 vols.



This alphabetical index of persons both living and deceased is international in scope and covers every field of endeavor.  Entries after each name are to reference works in which a biography of the individual appears.


Indexes           Biography Index.  1946 to date.


Lists periodical articles and books on people in all fields, both living and dead.  Identifies each person by date, occupation and nationality if not American.


Ref.                 Chamber’s Biographical Dictionary.  1997.



            Useful for locating brief information about individuals of all periods and places.


Ref.                 Encyclopedias (check index volume first)


Some are more useful than others for biogra­phies, e.g. Encyclopedia Americana is particularly strong in American biographies.