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Biographical Information

Quest, this library's online system, is a good place to begin a search for biographies. Search for a biography by subject beginning with his or her last name (e.g., the "search by" box has LC SUBJECT and the "search for" box has the name Roosevelt Theodore); under a person's nationality (LC SUBJECT in one box and in the other United States Biography); or under a person's occupation (LC SUBJECT in one box and in the other Presidents United States Biography). Encyclopedias also often contain information about well-known people.

Online Indexes:: Print Indexes :: General Biography Titles :: Specialized Biographies

Online Indexes

The library has a subscription to Biography Reference Bank, which contains brief information.

Another subscription database is Biographical Information.

Print Indexes

Biography lndex, 1946 to 2001, (print index shelves, just before the reference book section) is a quarterly index to biographies in books and periodicals for living and deceased persons from the world over; an occupational index is part of each volume.

Almanac of Famous People, 2 vols., (REF CT104 B56) gives brief biographical facts followed by a list of information sources. Volume 2 has chronological, geographic, and occupational indexes.

Newspaper such as The New York Times and other newspapers are also helpful for finding biographical information.

General Biography Titles

A selected list of some of the library's biographical works is listed below. If you are not successful in your search, ask for assistance. Remember that the accompanying call #'s with the titles below might change, so verify them against the Quest catalog.


Current Biography and Current Biography Yearbook, 1940 to date, (REF CT 100 C8) include long biographical sketches of living persons prominent in the news. These are published monthly and cumulated at the end of the year. Articles usually contain a photograph.

International Who's Who, to 1992, (CT 120.I5) gives short biographies of living persons who have earned world recognition for their achievements.

New Century Cyclopedia of Names, 3 vols., (REF PE 1 625 C43 1954) is a dictionary of proper names of people, places, and things.

Webster's New Biographical Dictionary, 1988, (REF CT 103 W4 1988) contains brief biographies of living and deceased persons from all over the world who are noted. Pronunciation for each name is indicated.

Who's Who, 1939 to 1991, (DA 28 W6) the original "Who's Who"; includes world famous persons of foreign countries as well as prominent British citizens.

United States

American National Biography, 24 vol. and supplements, (REF CT213 A68 1999) has authoritative articles and bibliographies of prominent Americans from earliest times to the present.

Who Was Who in America (REF E 663 W54) Multi-volume set begins in 1607 and gives brief biographies of prominent Americans, many of whom were included in past volumes of "Who's Who in America".

Who's Who in America, 1899 to date, (REF E663 W56 and E663 W56) gives brief biographies of distinguished living Americans, including personal data, publications, and residence.

Who's Who in the Midwest, 1958, 1963 to 1995, (E 747 W63) is a local supplement to the above title.

Who's Who of American Women, 1973 to date, (EF CT3260 W5 and CT3260 W5) notes biographies of prominent American women, including foreign women who have had an important association with the U.S.

Who's Who among Black Americans, 1990/1991, (E 185.96 W52) has brief biographies of prominent African Americans.

Specialized Biographies


Dictionary of Art, 34 vols., (REF N 31 D5 1996) gives biographies, with bibliographies, of artists from all periods and countries.

Index to Artistic Biography, 2 vols., 1 suppl., (REF N 40 H38) this is an index to biographical sketches in books and periodicals.

Who's Who in American Art, 19-- to date (REF N6536 W5 and N6536 W5 gives concise biographies of American artists.

Authors (European & American)

Author Biographies Master Index (REF Z5304 A8 A88) is an index to biographies about living and deceased authors.

Dictionary of Literary Biography (REF PN 451 D5) includes long articles on authors, including a list of their writings and writings about them. Each volume has a cumulative index in back, so for the most complete list of authors look at the latest volume in the set.

Contemporary Authors, 1962 to date, (REF Z1224 C6) has brief biographies of 20th-century living and deceased authors from every country, giving personal data, career highlights, and avocations. It also lists writings in progress. This title is updated by Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series (REF Z 1224 C58).

Something About the Author, (REF PN 451 S6) notes facts and gives pictures about contemporary authors and illustrators of books for young people.


National Faculty Directory, 1999, (REF L901 N34) lists faculty members at American colleges and universities.


Film Encyclopedia,(REF PN 1993.45 K34 1998) includes short biographies, with lists of films, of actors, directors, producers, and writers.


Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 1992, (REF ML 105 B16 1992) notes biographies of composers, instrument makers, musicologists, performers, and publishers, from all countries and all periods.

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 29 vols. 2001 (REF ML 100 N48 and available online) includes biographies of composers, performers, instrument makers, musicologists, and publishers from all countries and all periods up to the present.

Politics and Government

Who's Who in American Politics (REF E 176 W6424 and E 176 W6424) gives brief biographies of current political leaders.

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 1774-2005 (available online at http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS69614) includes short sketches of congressmen from the Continental Congress to the present Congress. Presidents and their cabinets also are listed.

Congressional Directory (available online at http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS3999) supplements the Biographical Directory listed above.


American Men and Women of Science (REF Q 141 A472) gives biographies of leading scientists in the physical and biological sciences. Professors in the social and behavioral sciences are also listed.

Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 16 vol., (REF Q 141 D5) includes all periods from classical antiquity to the present.

World Who's Who in Science (REF Q 141 W7) gives biographical facts for about 30,000 major scientists from antiquity to 1968.


Who's Who in the Theatre (REF PN2012 W5 1981) has biographies of playwrights, performers, directors, and producers, with emphasis on the British theater, but including some Americans. Longest runs of plays in New York and London are listed.




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