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Biographical Information Sources

Scope: This bibliography of biographical sources provides an annotated listing of important and representational titles of general and comprehensive biographical sources available through the McKeldin Library at the University of Maryland. It is not intended to be a complete list of biographical reference sources. Please consult with a reference librarian for further information.

 NOTE: The University of Maryland Libraries have site licensing agreements (subscriptions) with databases available through the web (ResearchPort) and e-books. If you are attempting to use these resources from remote locations (off campus), you can do so by logging in with your UMD user id and password.

 Before using this source to find information determine: 1) possible name variations, 2) type of information you need, i.e. short vital statistics, an article, or monograph, 3) if the person is living or dead, 4) gender, 5) ethnic affiliation, 6) profession, subject or topic area. This information will help determine which source is best to use.

Table of Contents

 

Using WorldCat UMD

Search WorldCat UMD for full length biographies and other materials. Search first and last names to find an individual or search for an occupation, a time period, a geographical area, etc. Add the word "biography" to the search.

EXAMPLES:

  • billie holiday biography
  • russian literature biography
  • physicists biography
  • france 18th biography

Verifying a Name

  • Pseudonyms and Nicknames Dictionary. 1986.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT108.P7
    An alphabetical listing of over 55,000 pseudonyms and nicknames from all periods of history and worldwide. Includes birth and death information, nationality, and reference to original name.

Indexes to Biographical Sources

Indexes provide pointers to other sources and are an excellent place to start searching for biographical information.

  • LexisNexis Academic Universe. (Enter the first and last name in the "Research People" search boxes.)
    An index that provides full-text articles and entries from current newspapers, magazines and biographical directories.
  • Biography and Genealogy Master Index. annual. 1980- . Cumulations at five-year intervals.
    PRINT EDITION LOCATION:MCK PERIODICAL STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT210.B5
    Comprehensive index of current and retrospective entries for over six million biographical sources. Indexed sources include biographical dictionaries, who's who's, and subject encyclopedias.
  • Contemporary Authors: Cumulative Index. annual.
    PRINT EDITION LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: Z1224.C63 index
    Also available online as Literature Resource Center
    Index to the entire Contemporary Authors Series, Dictionary of Literary Biography series, Major 20th Century Writers, Something About the Author, Authors in the News, and others. See introduction for complete list.
  • The New York Times Obituaries Index, 1858-1968. New York: New York Times, 1970.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT213.N47
    Contains references to over 353,000 names of individuals.
  • The New York Times Obituaries Index II, 1969-1978. New York: New York Times, 1980.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT213.N47
    References to over 36,000 names of individuals. Contains reprints of 50 notable persons.
  • In Black and White: a Guide to Magazine Articles, Newspaper articles, and books concerning more than 15,000 Black Individuals and Groups. edited by Mary Mace Spradling. 3d ed. Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research Co., 1980.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: E185.96.S76
    Contains bibliographic references to over 15,000 individuals and groups, worldwide, from newspapers, magazines, books, pamphlets, and historical collections. Includes index to occupations.

Magazine and Newspaper Articles

  • Biography Index. quarterly. 1946- .
    LOCATIONS: MCKREF STACKS (1946-1988), MCK PERIODICAL STACKS (1988-2006)
    CALL NUMBER: Z5301.B5
    Indexes biographical information found in periodicals, current books of individuals, collective biographies, obituaries, book reviews, and others. Includes index to occupations and professions.
  • Names in the News [microform]. Stamford, CT: Newsbank, Inc. monthly. 1982-1998.
    LOCATION: MCKPER MFICHE
    CALL NUMBER: CT210.N3
    Reprints biographical information from over 450 U.S. newspapers.
  • SEE ALSO: Names in the News [index].1981-1997.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT210.N3
  • New York Times Index. N. Y.: New York Times Co. 1851- .
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: AI21.N44
  • Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature. N.Y.: H.W.Wilson, 1900-2006.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: AI3.R48
    Also available online as Reader's Guide Retrospective (1890-1982).

Bibliographies of Monographs

  • Biographical Books, 1950-1980. New York: R R. Bowker, 1980.
    LOCATIONS: MCK FOLIO and EPSL REFERENCE
    CALL NUMBER: CT104.R2
    Includes listing of biographies, autobiographies, collective biographies, letters, and diaries. Indexes include name/subject, vocation, title/author.

Bibliographies of Biographical Information

These sources list other biographical reference sources and provide pointers to other biographical sources more specific than included in this bibliography.

  • ARBA Guide to Biographical Dictionaries. Edited by Bohdan S. Wynar. Littleton, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1986.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT103.A725 1986
    Use to find biographical sources by subject area or topic.
  • Biographical Sources: a Guide to Dictionaries and Reference Works. by Diane J. Graves et.al. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 1986.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT104.C44 1986
    Use to find biographical sources by subject area or topic.
  • Guide to Reference Books. Edited by Robert Balay. Chicago: American Library Association, 1996.
    LOCATIONS: MCKREF REF DESK, CHEMISTRY REFERENCE, and PERFORMING ARTS REFERENCE
    CALL NUMBER: Z1035.1.G89 1996
    Also available online.
    Use to find biographical sources by location or country.

Biographical Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Yearbooks

These sources list basic facts about individuals. Many include address information. Information included in these sources is often provided by the subject.

Electronic Sources

  • Biographical Dictionary of Central and Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century. Edited by Wojciech Roszkowski and Jan Kofman. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2008.
    Biographical information on several thousand notable figures in twentieth century Central and Eastern Europe. Coverage includes Albania, Belarus, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Moldova, Ukraine, and the countries that made up Yugoslavia.
  • Britannica Online.
    Includes more than 23,000 full-text biographies from the current Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • Oxford African American Studies Center.
    Full-text database that provides comprehensive coverage of the African American experience. Updated quarterly, the online collection contains scholarly articles, biographies, commentaries, primary sources, subject entries, film clips, images, maps, charts, tables, web sites, and timelines.
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
    Biographies of more than 50,000 noteworthy people, no longer living, who inhabited or were connected with the British Isles. Portraits included for more than 10,000 entries.

Selected General Biographical Sources

  • The International Who's Who. biennial. 1937-.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS (latest edition), MCK PERIODICAL STACKS (1937, 1945, 1948, 1950, 1954-2009)
    CALL NUMBER: CT120.I5
    Entries include: name, occupation, vital statistics, parents, marriage, children, education, professional certifications, career, writings and creative works, civic and political activities, military, awards and fellowships, professional and association memberships, political affiliation, religion, clubs, lodges, avocations, home and office address.
  • Who's Who. London: A. and C. Black, 1849-.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS (2007), MCK PERIODICAL STACKS (1895, 1914, 1916, 1923-24, 1926-27, 1929-)
    CALL NUMBER: DA28.W6
    Entries for individuals from the United Kingdom living at the time the volume was published.
  • Who Was Who in America. updated on a four-year cycle. 1897-.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS (v.2-1943/1950-).
    CALL NUMBER: E663.W54
    Brief biographical entries for notable deceased Americans.
  • Who's Who in America. biennial. 1899-.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS (latest edition), MCK PERIODICALS ROOM (microfilm for 1899-1955), MCK PERIODICAL STACKS (1956-)
    CALL NUMBER: E663.W5612
    Brief biographical entries for notable Americans living at the time the volume was published.
  • Who's Who in American Education. biennial. 1994/1995.
    LOCATION: MCK PERIODICAL STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: LA2311.W44
  • Who's Who in the World. biennial. 1971/1972-.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS (latest edition), MCK PERIODICAL STACKS (1971-1985, 1987-2009)
    CALL NUMBER: CT120.W5
  • Who's Who Among African Americans. New York: Detroit, MI: Gale Research Inc. 1996-.
    PRINT EDITION LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: E185.96.W42 1996-1997
  • Who's Who Among Asian Americans. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Inc. 1994/1995
    LOCATION: MCK PERIODICAL STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: E184.O6W47
  • Who's Who of American Women. biennial. 1970/71-.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS (latest edition), MCK PERIODICAL STACKS (1970-)
    CALL NUMBER: CT3260.W5

Other General Biographical Sources

These sources include directory information as well as article/essay descriptions of the individual. Many include references to other sources of information. Information contained in these sources is often written by an objective biographer. Sources that are retrospective (only deceased individuals are included) are noted in the annotation.

  • The Almanac of Famous People. 2007.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT100.B551
    Volume I provides short alphabetical listings of historical and contemporary people. Includes name variations, occupation/career, one-line description, date and place of birth and death, and biographical reference sources for additional information. Volume 2 includes two chronological indexes arranged by month and day and by year.
  • The Biography Book. By Daniel S. Burt. Westport, CT:Oryx Press, 2001.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER:CT 104.B87
    A reader's guide to nonfiction, fictional and film biographies of more then 500 of the most fascinating individuals of all time.
  • Current Biography. monthly/annual. 1940-.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT100.C8
    Objective biographies of prominent individuals from national and international affairs, the sciences, the arts, sports, business, and industry. Includes photographs and index of individuals by profession and occupation.
  • Dictionary of World Biography. Chicago:Fitzroy Dearborn, 1998-1999.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT104.D54
    A ten-volume biographical dictionary of individuals from the Ancient World through the 20th Century. These volumes are a revision and reordering of the Great Lives from History series.
  • Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998.
    PRINT EDITION LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT103.E56
  • Great Lives from History: Ancient and Medieval Series. Edited by Frank Magill. Pasadena, CA, Salem Press, 1988.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT113.G74 1988
    A five volume set that provides articles on 459 individuals from the Egytian king Zoser (27th century B.C.) to Gutenberg (d. 1468). The biographies are indexed by area of achievement and by geographical location.
  • Great Lives from History: Renaissance to 1900 Series. Edited by Frank Magill. Pasadena, CA, Salem Press, 1989.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT104.G68 1989
    A five volume set that provides articles on 495 individuals who lived between the mid-fifteenth century and 1900. The set includes and index by area of achievement and a geographical index.
  • Great Lives from History: Twentieth Century Series. Edited by Frank Magill. Pasadena, CA, Salem Press, 1990.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT120.G69 1990
    Includes articles (an average of 2,500 words) on 475 people. Does not include people covered in other sets in the series, i.e. American, British or Commonwealth. Each essay includes a sections on Early Life, Life's Work, a summary, and an annotaed bibliography.
  • New York Times Biographical Service. monthly. 1979-2001.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT120.N45
    Retrospective. Reproductions of major biographical articles (both obituary and news-oriented) which have appeared in the New York Times. Use the index in the latest edition to locate an individual.
  • Webster's Biographical Dictionary. Springfield, MA: G and C. Merriam Co. 1976.
    CALL NUMBER: MCK STACKS
    LOCATIONS: CT103.W4 1976

Selected Professional or Occupational Biographical Dictionaries

  • American Men & Women of Science. Detroit, Thomson Gale, 1971-2006.
    LOCATIONS: MCKREF STACKS (2006), MCK PERIODICAL STACKS (1971-2005).
    CALL NUMBER: Q141.A471
    Provides basic biographical data on engineers and scientists. Includes birth dates and places, field of specialty, education, honorary degrees, current position, professional and current experience, awards, memberships, research information, addresses. Some entries include e-mail address.
  • Contemporary Authors. bimonthly. 1962-.
    Available online as the Literature Resource Center
    PRINT VERSION LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: Z1224.C6
    Information on over 100,000 writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama published by commercial and risk publishers and university presses. Includes non-English writers if their works were published in the United States or translated into English. Also contains prominent print and broadcast journalists and early twentieth century literary greats. Use the Cumulative Index to determine which volume contains information. Contemporary Authors: Cumulative Index. annual. CALL NUMBER Z1224.C index Contemporary Authors: original volumes 1- 147. CALL NUMBER: Z1224.C6 Contemporary Authors: New Revision Series. bimonthly. CALL NUMBER: Z1224.C63 Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series. irregular. CALL NUMBER: PS129.C6 Contemporary Authors: Permanent Series. CALL NUMBER: Z1224.C62
  • CQ's Politics in America PRINT VERSION LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS (Current volume), MCK PERIODICAL STACKS (2000-2008)
    CALL NUMBER: JK1012.C63
    Provides profiles of all the current members of the U.S. Congress. Information includes biographical data, committee assignments, election results, CQ Key Votes, interest group ratings, CQ Vote Studies, and contact information; campaign finance, partisan caucuses, standing committees; detailed descriptions of each member's congressional district as drawn after the 2000 census, including updated maps and voting trends; and the vote for president in each of the House districts.
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography. irregular. 1978-.
    Available online as Literature Resource Center
    PRINT VERSION LOCATION: MCKREF BIOG
    CALL NUMBER: PS129.D48
    Comprehensive biographical and bibliographical information on major authors, historians, journalists, publishers, screen writers and others. Organized topically. Use the latest volume's index or Contemporary Authors: Cumulative Index to find entries.
  • Dictionary of Scientific Biography. New York, Scribner's, 1970-1989.
    LOCATIONS: MCKREF STACKS, and EPSL REFERENCE
    CALL NUMBER: Q141.D5
    Retrospective. Short articles with excellent bibliographies (to both primary and secondary sources) on deceased scientists who made a difference to the profession or scientific community. Includes people in mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and the earth sciences. Areas of technology, medicine, behavioral and social sciences are ONLY included when their work relates to the hard sciences.
  • Directory of American Scholars. Detroit, Gale, 1999
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: LA2311.C32
    A five volume set (Volume I: History, Volume II: English, Speech and Drama, Volume III: Foreign Languages, Linguistics and Philology, Volume IV: Philosophy, Religion and Law, Volume V: Index). Entries include: primary discipline, vital statistics, education, honorary degrees, present professional experience, concurrent positions, memberships, research interests, publications, and mailing address.
  • International Year Book and Statesmen's Who's Who. London : Burke's Peerage Ltd., 1953- .
    PRINT EDITION LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS (Current volume), MCK PERIODICAL STACKS (1953-2009)
    CALL NUMBER: JA51.I57
    Includes information on over 3,800 individuals of world reknown. Provides a listing of information by country, and includes listings of personnel at the United Nations and other international organizations.
  • National Faculty Directory. Detroit, MI: Gale Research.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: LB1778.N31
    Latest Edition Only.
  • Notable Sports Figures. Edited by Dana Barnes. Detroit: Gale, 2004.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: GV697.A1N68
    A four volume set that provides profiles of more than 600 individuals who have made contributions to their sport and to society. It covers people from many countries and from the 1800's up to date. There are lists of further information.

Special Groups (See also the Other Subject Guides/Resources section of this guide.)

  • African American Lives. Edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. New York: Oxford U.P., 2004.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: E185.96.A446
    A collection of 611 biographies of African Americans both living and dead that cover more than four centuries. Articles include bibliographical references.
  • African American National Biography. Edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks-Higginbotham. New York : Oxford University Press, 2008.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: E185.96 .A4466 2008
    A joint project of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University and Oxford University Press, this 8-volume set includes articles on the lives of 4,100 individuals.
  • African American Women: a Biographical Dictionary. Edited by Dorothy C. Salem. New York: Garland, 1993.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: E185.96.A45 1993
    Primarily retrospective, but also includes contemporary African American women who have made a significant contribution to social reform, politics, arts, entertainment, business, education, and professions from the Colonial era to the present. Alphabetically arranged and cross-referenced and indexed by occupations, organizations, and regions. Includes bibliographic reference for each entry and a bibliography to other sources on African American women.
  • The Continuum Dictionary of Women's Biography. Compiled and edited by Jennifer S. Uglow. New York: Continuum, 1989.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT3202.C66 1989
    Paragraph descriptions of notable women both historical and contemporary primarily from North America and Europe. Concise entries include name, relevant dates, nationality, reason for inclusion, and brief biography. Many entries include references to other sources. Excellent bibliography to biographical material on women.
  • Great Lives from History: American Women Series. Edited by Frank Magill. Pasadena, CA, Salem Press, 1995.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: HQ1412.G74 1995
    A five volume set covering 409 women. Each essay provides a section on Early Life, on Life's Work, a Summary, and an annotated bibliography.
  • Notable American Women, 1607-1950; a Biographical Dictionary. Edited by Edward T. James. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.
    LOCATIONS: MCKREF STACKS, EPSL REFERENCE
    CALL NUMBER: CT3260.N57
    Retrospective. Based on the model of the Dictionary of Literary Biography, this source includes scholarly articles on American women who died prior to 1950; therefore, most active careers do not extend beyond 1920. Includes bibliography to additional sources.
  • Notable American Women: The Modern Period. Edited by Barbara Sicherman, Carol Hurd Green with Ilene Kantrov, Harriette Walker. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1980.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT3260.N573
    Retrospective. A companion work to Notable American Women 1607-1950 (see above) includes women who died prior to 1976 and bibliography to additional sources.
  • Notable American Women: Completing the Twentieth Century Edited by Susan Ware. Cambridge, MA., Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT3260.N5725
    Retrospective. A companion work to Notable American Women (see above) that includes women who died between 1976 and 1999. NOTE: A portion of this text is available online via Google Book Search.

Selected National or Regional Biographical Dictionaries

  • American Diaries: An Annotated Bibliography of Published American Diaries and Journals to 1980. By Laura Arksey, Nancy Pries, and Marcia Reed. Detroit, Gale Research, 1983,1987.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT 214.A74
    In two volumes. Volume I covers 1492 to 1844. Volume II covers 1845 to 1980. These books provide a guide to more than 6,000 published diaries and journals. There are bibliographic citations, and subject, geographic and name indexes.
  • Canadian Who's Who. Toronto, University of Toronto Press.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS (2008), MCK PERIODICAL STACKS (1912, 1949/51, 1970/72, 1973/75, 1979-2007)
    CALL NUMBER: F1033.C23
  • Concise Dictionary of American Biography. New York, Scribner's, 1997
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: E176.C73 1997
    This two volume fifth edition provides short biographies of 19,173 people who died before January 1, 1981. This edition includes an Occupation Index and a Birthplace Index.
  • Dictionary of American Biography. New York, Scribner's, 1937.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: E176.D563
    Base Volumes I-X cover until 1936 Supplements at five-year intervals Retrospective. Scholarly signed articles about individuals who made major professional or artistic contributions while living in the United States. Includes basic biographical data, signed article descriptions of the individual's life and bibliography. Use the DAB Comprehensive Index to locate an individual. Indexes to: names of contributors, birthplaces, schools and colleges, occupations, and topical areas
  • Great Lives from History: American Series. Edited by Frank Magill. Pasadena, CA, Salem Press, 1987
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT214.G74 1987
    In five volumes, arranged alphabetically. Contains 2000-3000 word essays on 456 individuals. Each essay includes a bibliography for further reading. Volume five includes a subject index.
  • Great Lives from History: British and Commonwealth Series. Edited by Frank Magill. Pasadena, CA, Salem Press, 1987
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT774.G74 1987
    In five volumes, arranged alphabetically. Contains 2000-3000 word essays on 483 individuals. This series covers people from the ninth century to the 1980's. Each essay includes a bibliography for further reading. Volume five includes a subject index.
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. New York, Oxford University Press, 2004
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: DA28.O95 2004
    Retrospective. Primarily British subjects. Includes basic biographical data, signed article descriptions of the individual's life and bibliography.
  • Research Guide to American Historical Biography. Washington, DC, Beacham, 1988.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT214.R47 1988
    This three volume set covers the lives of 278 men and women. Each entry includes a Chronology, Activities of Historical Significance, an Overview of Biographical Sources, and an Evaluation of Principal Biographical Sources.
  • Who's Who in Germany. Munich: Intercontinental Book and Pub. Co., 1956, 1972-1976, 1980-1982/1983, 1988-1996.
    LOCATION: MCK PERIODICAL STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: DD85.W45
  • Who's Who in Russia and the CIS Republics. Vladimir Morozov, ed. 1st ed. N.Y.: Henry Holt, 1995.
    LOCATION: MCKREF STACKS
    CALL NUMBER: CT1203.W46 1995

Other Subject Guides/Resources from the UM Libraries

The following are other biography-related subject guides and resources available from the UM Libraries: