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Biographical Information: General Sources

Biographical information can be found in books, encyclopedias (general and subject), journals/magazines, newspapers (obituaries), and specialized biographical sources. This information may be divided into three categories - "current" (people included are

Finding Articles

Finding Articles in Journals & Magazines

Most of our periodical indexes and electronic databases will also provide sources of biographical information. Using the person's last name with the keyword "biography" will reveal articles about that specific person living or dead. Subject list of databases:

Finding Books

Finding Books in Online Catalogs

Use OSU Libraries Online Catalog (or Summit (Orbis) and Worldcat) to find books (biographies) about specific persons. The person's last name with the subdivision or keyword "biography" should provide biographical works about prominent persons living or dead.

General Sources

General Indexes & Sources (all subjects)

The following works, themselves, may not contain actual biographical information, but indicate where such information may be found.

  • Biographical and Genealogy Master Index - Ref: CT 213 .B51
    A consolidated index to more than 3,200,000 biographical sketches in over 350 current and retrospective biographical dictionaries.
  • Biographical Index - Ref: CT 100 .B5 - (1984-present))
    An index to biographical articles in books and magazines.
  • New York Times Obituaries Index - Ref: CT 213 .N47
    Index To the obituaries appearing in the New York Times between 1858 and 1968.
  • Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) - Ref DA28 D5
    Standard "retrospective" biography for British subjects.
  • Dictionary of American Biography (DAB)- Ref E176 D5 1964
    Standard "retrospective" biography for Americans
  • American National Biography - CT 213 A68 1999
    Important new source of "retrospective" biography for Americans
  • Current Biography - Ref CT120 C8
    Standard "current" biography for people who are in the news - all subject areas



Encyclopedias remain a good source of biographic information. Some standard ones are:

  • Encyclopedia Americana (Ref AE5 E31)
  • World Book Encyclopedia (Ref AE5 W6)
  • Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (Ref H41 E56)
  • International Encyclopedia of the Social Science (Ref H40 A2 I5)
  • Encyclopedia of Education (Ref LB15 E56)
  • Encylopedia of Philosophy (Ref B51 E5)
  • New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Ref ML100 N48)
  • Women in World History (Ref HQ1115 W6 1999)
  • Encyclopedia of World Art (Ref N31 E52)

Ask at the Reference Desk for additional information