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Biographical Research   Tags: biography, mb, people  

Last Updated: Oct 30, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Getting Started

These resources are great starting points because they can take you directly to information about your person or identify information from a wide range of sources.  Pay attention to how you search.  Typing the last name first is usually a good idea.  Sometimes sources may use initials or full names or there could be variant spellings.  Allow for all possibilities in your searching. 

From the Article Databases  select Biographies as the type to see all the biographical databases.

Check the listings of the vertical files in the South Caroliniana Library.  Some of the lists are available online:  People in SC Vertical filesAfrican American History in South CarolinaArt & Artists in South Carolina (materials housed off-site), Religion/Churches .

  • Biography in Context
    Offers full text of biographies from printed sources. You can also generate lists of people based on occupation, nationality, ethnicity, gender, and birth or death years.
  • Credo Reference
    Includes Who Was Who in America, Who's Who in American, Notable American Women and other biographical reference works.
  • Biography Reference Bank
    Includes coverage of "Current Biography" and "World Authors" series, periodicals coverage of "Biography Index," and the specialist biographical content of "Junior Authors & Illustrators."
  • American National Biography
    Information on the lives of over 19,000 people from all eras who have influenced and shaped American history and culture. Ranges in time from the earliest recorded European explorations to the very recent past.
  • African American Biographical Database
    Content from "Black Biographical Dictionaries 1790-1950." Can generate a list of people based on geographical area, occupation, religion, gender, and a range of birth and death dates. More than 29,000 entries.
  • Oxford African American Studies Center
    Offers over 6,000 biographies. Can browse or search by birth and death dates or places, sex, activity or profession, era and categories.
  • Black Thought and Culture
    Contains 1,297 sources with 1,098 authors, covering the non-fiction published works of leading African Americans. Browse Subjects then click link to Persons
  • Current Biography Illustrated
    Content of the printed monthly magazine "Current Biography" in a searchable, electronic format.
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library
    Searchable collection of reference books and encyclopedias in electronic format. Titles cover arts, biography, business, environment, history, literature, medicine, multicultural studies, science, and social science.
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
    People connected to the British Isles and British history.
  • Oxford Reference
    Would tend to expect briefer entries, but convenient searching at your fingertips.
  • Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000
    Database of primary source material, but does include some biographical sources.
  • Biography and Genealogy Master Index (BGMI)
    Identifies reference books with biographical entries.
  • Biography Index Past and Present
    Identifies articles and books back to 1946.
  • Google Scholar  
    Especially if your person is obscure, you could get some leads through articles and books.

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