Biographical Information : General Resources
About this Guide
This guide provides resources for finding biographies of people. It groups resources in categories, General Resources, Professions, Places, and Populations. Some resources include only deceased or only living persons and some include both deceased and living persons.
Start with the general online resources below. When choosing a resource, it may be helpful to consider the person's profession, place of origin, and population group.
The Memorial Library Reference Collection has many more resources for finding information about persons. These can be found by searching the Library Catalog.
Online Reference Resources
Start with these online resources for locating brief biographical profiles.
- American National BiographyOnline version of the print edition (Memorial Reference Stacks, CT213 A68 1999) contains approximately 19,000 biographies of well-known deceased Americans. Search full text or by birthplace, gender, birth/death dates, and collections.
- Current Biography Illustrated1940- (updated bimonthly). 15,000+ biographies and 9,400 obituaries that have appeared in Current Biography Yearbook since 1940. Profiles and obituaries are searchable by name, profession, place of origin, gender, race/ethnicity, date of birth or death, and keyword.
- Marquis Biographies Online (Who's Who)Current (Updated daily). 1.3 million+ biographies in all fields of endeavor including government, business, entertainment, science, sports, and more from Marquis print titles since 1985. Birth and death data, education, and personal and professional histories included.
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography4th Century BCE - 2000 (update 3 times per year). 50,000+ illustrated biographies of people who were noteworthy or influential in shaping Britain's past. Updates include those who have died since 2000. Sources for biography, person's archives, illustrations, and wealth at death included.
Other Formats in the Reference Collection
A few of the general resources in the Memorial Library Reference Collection.
- American National Biography by John A. Garraty (Editor); Mark C. Carnes (Editor)Contains 17,435 biographical articles on deceased Americans. It includes men and women who were significant in politics, scholarship, science, sports, business, theater, film, and activism. Entries include name, sphere of activity, birthplace, birth and death dates, and author/compiler. See online version above.
- Biographical Archives (microfiche) by K.G. SaurMicrofiche housed in the cabinets in the back of the Reference Room. Fiche contains full text of historical biographical monographs arranged by country. Library has African; Arabian-Islamic; Baltic; British I & II; Chinese; Czech & Slovenian; European (Southeast); French I & II; German; Neue Folge; Indian (East); Italian I & II; Jewish; Russian; Scandinavian A & B; Spanish, Portugueuse, & Ibero-American I & II; Spanish, Portuguese, & Ibero-American 1960-95; Southeast Asian; and Southeast European (Balkan). Print indexes to microfiche in Memorial Library Reference Stacks, also World Biographical Index (Internationaler Biographischer Index) CD-ROM (See below.).
- Biography IndexA cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines.
- Dictionary of American BiographyThe Dictionary of American Biography was first published in 1928 and has been supplemented. It is a useful source for researching Americans of historical importance. Over 18,600 biographical essays are included, and it is indexed by name and topic in its original edition, and indexed by name in the supplementary editions.
- Encyclopedia of of World Biography & Supplement.Call Number: CT103 E56 1998 Supp.Publication Date: Detroit, MI : Gale Research, c1999-Provides biographical information on individuals not covered in the 17-volume second edition of Encyclopedia of World BIography (EWB) and its supplements. Biographical information on people who, for their contributions to human culture and society, have reputations that stand the test of time. Each original article ends with bibliographic sections. Cumulative index to names and subjects
- World Biographical Index (Internationaler Biographischer Index) by K.G. SaurCombined CD-ROM version of print indexes to national biographical archives: American biographical index, British biographical index, Deutscher biographischer Index, Index biographique francais, Indice biografico italiano, Indice biografico de Espana, Portugal e Iberoamerica, Scandinavian biographical index, Australiasian biographical index, Biograpfische index van de Benelux, and Polski indeks biograficzny. Print indexes (in Memorial Library Reference Stacks, CT (call number varies) and CD-ROM provide access to Biographical Archives (microfiche) in the cabinets in the back of the Reference Room. Fiche contains full text of hundreds of historical biographical monographs, arranged by country.
- Biography.comFrom A&E Television, this site includes short biographies of over 25,000 people. Entries also give links to related people and related Web sites.
- Infoplease.com: BiographyConcise biographies of notable public figures. The site can be searched by name and browsed by topics like "American Indians" and "Supreme Court Justices."
Library Catalog Search Tips
1. Click Advanced Search.
2. Click UW-Madison Locations, click Memorial, and choose reference locations.
3. Type Biography in Subject box.
4. Add another word (e.g., dramatists, poets, authors, women, Asian Americans (name of ethnic group), etc.) in Keywords box to make your search more specific.