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Biographical Information


Biographies and auto-biographies owned by the UB Libraries can be identified using the Catalog. Do a Subject begins with... search for the name (last name followed by first name). If you are unsure of the proper form for the first name, use just the first letter in the name. For example:

blake william
blake w

All titles found will be about the person or their work. Those that are largely biographical will have a subject heading either with no subheading (e.g. Blake, William, 1757-1827), or with the sub-heading "biography" (e.g. Blake, William, 1757-1827--Biography).

Reference Sources

Biographical Dictionaries and "Whos Who" titles in the Libraries Reference Collections. The Libraries own a large number of reference sources that deal specifically with biographical information. To identify titles, search the Catalog by constructing a keyword search (the default search option) that combines the words dictionaries (must be plural) and biography , with a broad subject area (education, literature, politics, etc.) or topic (military, presidents, poetry, etc.) For example:

biography and dictionaries and rock music
biography and dictionaries and art

Biography Reference Bank
Online Resources (UB Patrons only). This product contains the full-text of biographical entries taken from a wide range of reference sources published e H. W. Wilson and serveral other publishers.

Biography and Genealogy Master Index
Online Resources (UB Patrons only). If you are not sure where to start, this source can help. It is a master index to biographical dictionaries, who's whos, subject encyclopedias, volumes of literary criticism, and biography indexes. Search by name to identify the title of dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc., that include references to that name. The University Libraries own most of the sources covered in this master index.

Black Biography 1790-1950: A Cumulative Index
LML Ref Z 1361 N39 B52 (shelved with the reference microfiche). This is a master index to the names of persons whose accomplishments have been documented in biographical reference sources published from the early 19th century through the mid-20th century. The University Libraries owns the Black Biographical Dictionaries 1790-1950 microfiche collection that reproduces the text from these sources in their entirety.

For more contemporary materials about Afro-Americans, check Lockwood's reference shelves for titles with call number starting E185 or search the Catalog by constructing a keyword search (the default search) that combines the words biography , afro americans and, optionally, some other subject. For example:

biography and afro americans and writers

Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia
LML Ref CT103 C26 1998 . A comprehensive collection of 13,200 brief biographies which describe the life, work and achievements of each person.

American National Biography
Online Resources (UB Patrons only)
LML Ref CT213 .A68 1999. This 24 volume set contains, in one alphabetic by name sequence, over 17,500 entries that describe both well known and little known persons who had some influence over American history and culture. The time coverage is from pre-colonial days through to 1995. Each entry includes a bibliography. There are also indexes, "Index of Occupation and Realms of Renown" and "Place of Birth".

Dictionary of American Biography
LML Ref CD-ROM / LML Ref E176 .D56 1964 / LML E176 .D56 1964.
The original 10 volumes of this set contain, in one alphabetic order, biographical entries for American persons who lived from earliest times through 1935. There are 10 supplements, one for each five year period from the year 1936 through 1980 (supplements 1 and 2 are bound into a single volume that is identified as volume 11 of the original set). There is a separate comprehensive index volume covering, in one alphabetic sequence, all the names from both the 10 original and 10 supplement volumes. In addition to a name index, it also has indexes by occupation, contributor, place, subject, and school.

Dictionary of National Biography
LML Ref DA28 .D56
. The original 22 volumes of this set contain, in alphabetic order, biographical entries for British persons who lived from earliest times through 1900. For each decade starting with 1901, a volume has been added that contains biographies for persons who died in that decade. Each of these 20th-century volumes contains a cumulative index of the names of persons who have died since 1900.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Online Resources
(UB Patrons only)
LML Ref DA28 .O95 2004 . Successor of the Dictionary of National Biography , it offers 50,000 biographies, all written by experts and illustrated with 10,000 portraits from London's National Portrait Gallery, it is a complete revision of the earlier source's 36,000 articles. Seventy percent of the original articles have been completely redone, and 30% are heavily revised. Over 13,500 people have been added and coverage of women and other originally under-represented groups has been increased.

Oxford African American Studies Center
Online Resources
(UB Patrons only)
The Oxford African American Studies Center provides a comprehensive, scholarly resource for African American history and culture, and contains over 5,000 biographical entries.

General Encyclopedias

General encyclopedias, like the Britannica, contain information covering all subject areas and are an excellent place to start when looking for biographical information. They are located in the main reference area in each library with call numbers starting with AE 5 . Lockwood has the University's largest collection of general encyclopedias.


Subject Encyclopedias

The Libraries own a large variety of encyclopedias that each deal with a single topic. They are an excellent source about the contributions of an individual to a particular area of study.

To identify these use the Catalog and construct a keyword search (the default search option) that combines the word encyclopedias (must be plural) with a broad subject area (marketing, history, psychology, etc.) or topic (holocaust, women, comic books). For example:

encyclopedias and ethics
encyclopedias and vietnam war

*Another good approach to finding biographical information in subject encyclopedias is by searching a person's name in Reference Universe.

Contemporary Authors
Online Resources (UB Patrons only)
LML and UGL Ref PN 771.C66. Contains information on modern authors, including those who were active prior to 1960 and whose works continue to influence contemporary literature.

Gale Virtual Reference Library
Online Resources (UB Patrons only). Full-text collection of encyclopedias and reference works, many of them containing biographical information.

Grove Art Online
Online Resources (UB Patrons only)
LML and UGL Ref N31 .D5 1996 . Comprehensive coverage of all aspects of the visual arts worldwide, including painting, sculpture, graphic arts, architecture, photography, and the decorative arts. Great source for biographical information on artists.

Online Resources (UB Patrons only)
Music Ref. ML100 .N48. This dictionary/encyclopedia provides comprehensive coverage of music, including classical, popular, light, world and jazz. Entries include biographies of composers, performers and writers on music.

International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences
LML Ref H41.E6 . Designed to represent "a comprehensive summary of the state of knowledge in the social sciences", biographical references appear throughout the original 17 volumes published in 1968. Volume 18, published in 1979, is a biographical supplement containing approxiamtely 200 biographies of social scientists too young to be included in the original volumes.

Literature Online
Online Resources (UB Patrons only). Biographies of authors can be found by searching name, a feature of the under "Find Authors" option, or by browsing a list of names, a feature of the "Browse authors and works" option.

Journals, Periodicals and Newspapers

Current Biography
LML Ref CT100 .C8 1940 -
Online Resources - via Biography Reference Bank. This monthly periodical is an excellent source for contemporary biographies. All issues are kept in the reference collection. The issues are bound annually and each bound volume contains an index. Biography Index
LML Ref CT100.B46 (1946- ). This is an index to biographical information found in books and journals. The indexed material may be autobiographies, bibliographies, biographies, critical studies, fiction and drama, pictorial works, poetry, juvenile literature, obituaries, journals, collections of letters, book reviews, and interviews.

Online Resources (UB Patrons only). Factiva is a powerful database system which provides current and retrospective news stories, periodical articles, and financial data from thousands of sources worldwide--a good source for biographical information.


AccuNet/AP Multimedia Archive (UB Patrons only). Contains photographs of people from the news. Database allows a variety of search options.

Historical and Public Figures: A General Portrait File to the 1920s Digitized collection of portraits; includes over 60,000 portraits of a wide range of public figures.

National Portrait Gallery Portrait searches from the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

National Portrait Gallery (London) Thousands of portraits from London's National Portrait Gallery.

Portrait Gallery A selection of portraits of historical figures from the Perry-Castañeda Library, University of Texas at Austin. The images in this collection are in the public domain. You do not need to ask for permission to use these images.

Scientific Identity: Portraits from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology These scientific portraits are primarily scientists, natural philosophers, engineers, and inventors.

Maintained by the Arts and Entertainment Television network to promote their show Biography , this site contains over 20,000 brief biographies of current and historical persons.

Biographical Dictionary
Includes more than 27,000 notable men and women who have shaped our world from ancient times to the present day.

Biographical Database -- University at Buffalo Archives
Provides access to the coverage of the University Archives' biographical file of newspaper and periodical articles, photographs, and other material about the lives and careers of University at Buffalo faculty and staff, illustrious alumni, famous visitors, and benefactors of the University including famous residents of Buffalo.

Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed: An Online Reference Guide to African American History
This site "includes an online encyclopedia of hundreds of famous and lesser known figures in African America, full text primary documents and major speeches of black activists and leaders from the 18th Century to the present."

Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
A dictionary of biographical entries for individuals that have contributed to the History of Canada.

Distinguished Women of Past and Present
A growing list of links to web sites about women, past and present, who have contributed to our culture.

Eric's Treasure Trove of Scientific Biography
Locate information about famous scientists by last name or search the whole website by word or title.

Nobel Prize Winners
Biographies of prize winners can be retrieved either by using the search option to look for a name, or by browsing the laureates names under each prize category (peace, literature, physics, chemistry, and medicine); on each category use the "laureates" in the menu bar.
Directory of biographies available on the Web containing information on more than 110,000 important people from antiquity to the present time.

Scientists & Engineers Biography Guide
Guide lists University at Buffalo print resources, as well as general websites.

Well known people with disabilities
Information on the disease, the famous person, how it affected his or her life.

Brief biographical information on famous people.

Information on over 34 million business professionals.