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Biographical Information: Retrospective or General

Retrospective or General Biographical Sources

These sources either do not include or are not restricted to living persons.

There are three main categories of sources, depending on whether the scope is universal and inclusive, is confined to persons in a particular country or region, or includes only persons of a particular gender, occupation, profession, or area of achievement.

Universal and Inclusive Biographical Sources

Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT103 .C26 1994)

“Designed to add a more truly encyclopedic dimension to an alphabetic work. It retains the strengths of the traditional [alphabetic] approach, presenting and A-Z section of over 15,000 entries, but it adds four kinds of information.”

Chambers Biographical Dictionary. Rev. ed. Edinburgh: Chambers, 1984.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT103 .C4 1984)

Subject indexes for Art & Architecture, Cinema, Exploration & Geography, History & Politics, Literature & Drama, Music, Nicknames & Personalities, Philosophy & Theology, Science & Industry, and Miscellanous, allow one to go from the name of a work or concept to the person(s) associated with it.

Lives, the Biography Resource
LOCATION: Internet [http://amillionlives.com/]

Links to thousands of biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, diaries, letters, narratives, and oral histories.

Merriam-Webster’s Biographical Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1995.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT103 .M47 1995)

NNDB (National Names Database)
“An intelligence aggregator that tracks the activities of people we have determined to be noteworthy, both living and dead.”

Nouvelle Biographie Général. 46 vols. Paris: Firmin Didot, 1853-1866.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT143 .N68)

Classic nineteenth-century multivolume works of international biography. Commonly cited as “Michaud” and “Hoefer,” respectively, after the editors.

National or Regional Biographical Sources

United States

American Biographical Archive. New York: K. G. Saur, 1989-1991.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref M.fiche no. 1835)

American Biographical Archive. Series II. New York: K. G. Saur, 1993.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref M.fiche no. 1835.5)

A “cut-and-paste” compilation of entries on more than a quarter million individuals that appeared in 368 biographical Reference works originally published between 1702 and 1956 (Series I). Series II complements and extends the coverage with many more 20th century sources. The entries are in one alphabetical sequence on 1,842 microfiche. The microfiche set is accompanied by a printed guide: American Biographical Index, 6 vols. (New York: K. G. Saur, 1993) (Ref CT211 .A45x 1993). A similar set, entitled British Biographical Archive, is available for the United Kingdom.

American National Biography. 24 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref E176 .D565x 1999)
LOCATION: Databases (authorized University of Delaware users only)

American National Biography (ANB) is a comprehensive biographical dictionary that largely replaces the Dictionary of American Biography (DAB). The DAB’s original twenty volumes were published by Scribner’s Sons between 1927 and 1936, and ten additional supplement volumes appeared, and were never revised. (The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives (SEAL), 2 vols. to date, covers the period after the DAB supplements.) ANB, published under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies by Oxford University Press, is in 24 volumes and consists of 17,500 biographies.

Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography. 6 vols. New York: D. Appleton, 1886-1889.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref E176 .A6 1886)

Once considered a standard work of reference, the Cyclopaedia should be used with extreme caution. Even though many of its genuine articles are valuable, it is riddled with spurious ones—perhaps amounting to about 4% of the total.

Concise Dictionary of American Biography. 4th ed., complete to 1970. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1990.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref E176 .D564 1990)

Contains condensed biographies of the over 18,000 persons treated in Dictionary of American Biography and its supplements. Includes an Occupations Index, identifying the fields in which the biographees earned distinction.

Dictionary of American Biography. 11 vols. and 8 supplement vols. to date. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1958-1964.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref E176 .D56 1958)

Formerly the standard scholarly American biographical dictionary, with signed articles and bibliographies, now replaced by the American National Biography.

Dictionary of Georgia Biography. 2 vols. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1983.
LOCATION: Morris Library (CT230 .D53 1983)

Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. 5 vols. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979-
LOCATION: Morris Library (CT252 .D5)

Falk, Byron A. Personal Name Index to “The New York Times Index,” 1851- 1974. 25 vols. Succasunna, N. J.: Roxbury Data Interface, 1976-
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref AI21 .N443)

Falk, Byron A. Personal Name Index to “The New York Times Index,” 1975-1993 Supplement. Verdi, Nev.: Roxbury Data Interface, 1995-
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref AI21 .N443 1990)

Great Lives from History. American Series. 5 vols. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 1987.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT214 .G74 1987)

One of the Great Lives from History series.

National Cyclopedia of American Biography. 62 vols. and vols. labeled A-N63. New York: James T. White Co., 1892-1984.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref E176 .N28)

Not as scholarly and authoritative as the Dictionary of American Biography, it has broader coverage (over 58,000 entries) and includes lesser figures, some with no historical interest. Photographic portraits accompany many of the entries.

The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives (SEAL). 2 vols. to date. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1988-
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT213 .S37 1998)

Acts as a reformated continuation of the supplements to the Dictionary of National Biography.

Sinclair, Donald Arleigh. A New Jersey Biographical Index.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT 249 .S56 1993)

“Covering some 100,000 biographies and associated portraits in 237 New Jersey cyclopedias, histories, yearbooks, periodicals, and other collective biographical sources published to about 1980.”

Who Was Who in America. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref E663 .W54)

Selected biographies of deceased individuals who originally appeared in the current volumes of Who’s Who in America.

Canada

Dictionary of Canadian Biography. 13 vols. to date. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref F1005 .D49)

Unlike the DNB and the DAB, each volume covers persons who died in a certain span of years (e.g., 1901/1910). The portion covering “persons who died between the years 1000 and 1920 or whose last known date of activity falls within these years” is available at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online Web site.

France

Dictionnaire de Biographie Française. 19 vols. to date. Paris: Letouzey et Ane 1933-
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT143 .D5)

After more than 60 years of publication, still only up to names beginning with “L.” Individual articles tend to be shorter than those found in the DNB.

Germany

Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. 56 vols. Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1875-1912.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT1053 .A5)

The German equivalent of the DNB. For 20th century individuals, consult the Neue Deutsche Biographie. There is an online Cumulated Index to the Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) and the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB).

Deutsche Biographische Enzylopädie: DBE. München: K. G. Saur, 1995-
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT759 .D48x 1995)

Neue Deutsche Biographie. 19 vols. to date. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1953-
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT1054 .N48)

There is an online Cumulated Index to the Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) and the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB).

Ireland

Dictionary of Irish Biography: From the Earliest Times to the Year 2002. 9 vols. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, Royal Irish Academy, 2009.
Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT862 .D52 2009)

Italy

Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani. 53 vols. to date. Roma: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1960-
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT1123 .D5 1960)

Netherlands

Aa, Abraham Jacob van der. Biographisch Woordenboek der Nederlanden. Amsterdam: B. M. Israel, 1969.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref DJ103 .A18 1969)

Biographical dictionary of the Netherlands. Reprint of the edition published in Haarlem, 1852-1878.

New Zealand

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
LOCATION: Internet [http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/dnzb/]

Russia

Russkii Biograficheskii Slovar'. 25 vols. New York: Kraus Reprint Corporation, 1962.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT1203 .R7)

Originally published 1886-1918.

Vronskaya, Jeanne. A Biographical Dictionary of the Former Soviet Union. London: Bowker-Saur, 1992.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT213 .V76 1992)

United Kingdom

British Biographical Archive. New York: K. G. Saur, 1984-1989.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref M.fiche no. 1448)

British Biographical Archive. Series II. New York: K. G. Saur, 1991-
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref M.fiche no. 1448.5)

A “cut-and-paste” compilation of entries from biographical Reference works. Series I covers “310 of the most important English-language biographical Reference works originally published between 1601 and 1929.” Series II complements and extendsthe coverage to 1960. The microfiche set is accompanied by a printed guide: British Biographical Index, 4 vols. (New York: K. G. Saur, 1990) (Ref CT773 .B75 1990). A similar set, entitled American Biographical Archive, is available for the United States.

The Dictionary of National Biography: From the Earliest Times to 1900. 66 vols. in 22. London: Oxford University Press, 1921-1922.

Now superseded by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref DA28 .D4 1939)

Great Lives from History. British and Commonwealth Series. 5 vols. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 1987.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT774 .G74 1987)

One of the Great Lives from History series.

Who Was Who. New York <etc.>
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref DA28 .S65)

A selection of biographies of deceased individuals who originally appeared in Who's Who.

Professional/Occupational/Etc. Biographical Sources

Professional/Occupational/Etc. Biographical Sources

Artists & Architects | Ethnic | Musicians | Performers | Physicians | Politics and Government | Scientists | University Graduates | Women | Writers Other

Artists & Architects

Colvin, Howard Montagu. A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840. 3d ed. New Haven: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press, 1995.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref NA996 .C6 1995)

Authoritative and classic work on the history of British architecture containing biographical information on some 2,000 architects who practiced in England, Scotland, and Wales.

Tatman, Sandra L. Biographical Dictionary of Philadelphia Architects, 1700-1930. Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall, 1985.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref NA735 .P5 T28 1985)

Entries are followed by a list of projects, location of drawings and papers, and a selected bibliography. Online access via the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings database, which includes additional biographical entries. Registration is free, but a personal subscription enables access to high-quality images.

Thieme, U. Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart. 37 vols. Leipzig: Seemann, 1907-1950.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref N40 .T4)

About 40 to 50,000 entries for painters and engravers, as well as some architects and sculptors.

Ethnic

Black Biographical Dictionaries, 1790-1950. Alexandria, Va.: Chadwyck-Healey, 1987.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Microforms (M.fiche no. 1974)

A collection on microfiche of some 300 American collective biographies published before 1951. It is indexed by Black Biography, 1790-1950: A Cumulative Index. 3 vols. (Alexandria, Va.: Chadwyck-Healey, 1991) (Ref E185.96 B53x 1991).

Logan, Rayford Whittingham. Dictionary of American Negro Biography. New York: W. W. Norton, 1982.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref E185.96 .L6 1982)

A supplement to the Dictionary of American Biography and Notable American Women, since it includes African Americans who were influential in the development of the black community in the United States.

Spradling, Mary Mace. In Black and White: A Guide to Magazine Articles, Newspaper Articles, and Books Concerning More Than 15,000 Black Individuals and Groups. 3d ed. 2 vols. and Supplement. Detroit: Gale, 1980-1985.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref Z1361 .N39S655)

Musicians

The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. [6h ed.] 20 vols. Washington, D. C.: Grove's Dictionary, 1988.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref ML100 .N48 1988)

Has lengthy, signed, authoritative articles, including extensive work-lists and bibliographies.

Performers

Variety Obituaries: Including a Comprehensive Index. 14 vols. New York: Garland, 1988-
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref PN1583 .V35 1988)

Reproduces the obituaries as they originally appeared in Variety's regular obituary column, news stories, and other sections of the paper.

Physicians

19th Century Indiana Physicians Database
LOCATION: Internet [http://www.medlib.iupui.edu/hom/19thphysicians/]

From the Ruth Lilly Medical Library’s Special Collection, this database contains information on over 15,000 physicians.

Politics and Government

Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978. Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1978.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref E176 .B573)

Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1978-1983. Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1985.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref E176 .B5733)

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-1996. Washington, D. C.: U. S. G. P. O., 1989.
LOCATION: Internet [http://bioguide.congress.gov/]
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref JK1010 .A5 1997)

History of Parliament series:

Roskell, John Smith. The House of Commons, 1386-1421. 4 vols.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref JN673 .R67x 1993)

Bindorff, S. T. The House of Commons, 1509-1558. 3 vols. London.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref JN675 1509 .B543)

Hasler, P. W. The House of Commons, 1558-1603. 3 vols. London: H. M. S. O., 1981.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref JN673 .H68 1981)

Henning, Basil Duke. The House of Commons, 1660-1690. 3 vols. London: Secker & Warburg, 1983.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref JN673 .H684 1983)

Hayton, David. The House of Commons, 1690-1715. Cambridge; New York: Published for the History of Parliament Trust by Cambridge University Press, 2002.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref JN673 .H39 2002)

Sedgwick, Romney. The House of Commons, 1715-1754. 2 vols. London: Oxford University Press, 1970.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref JN675 1715 .S4)

Namier, Lewis Bernstein, Sir. The House of Commons, 1754-1790. New York: Oxford University Press, 1964.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref JN672 .N2)

Judges of the United States Courts
LOCATION: Internet [http://www.fjc.gov/history/home.nsf/judges_frm]

Part of the Federal Judicial Center's History of the Federal Judiciary Web site. Contains the service record and biographical information for all judges who have served on the U.S. District Courts, U.S. Circuit Courts, U.S. Courts of Appeals, and the Supreme Court since 1789.

The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Opinions. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1997.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref KF8744 .F75 1997)

Lawmaking and Legislators in Pennsylvania: A Biographical Dictionary. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991-
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref KPF421.5 .L4L39 1991)

Volume One covers the period 1682-1709. During much of this period, Delaware, the “Three Lower Counties,” was an integral part of Pennsylvania.

Mullaney, Marie Marmo. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1983-1988. Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1989.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref JK2447 .M86 1989)

Mullaney, Marie Marmo. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1988-1994. Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1994.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref JK2447 .M86 1994)

The Political Graveyard: A Database of Historic Cemeteries
LOCATION: Internet [http://politicalgraveyard.com]

“The Web site that tells where the dead politicians [of the United States] are buried,” as well as brief biographical information about them.

Scientists

Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. London: Royal Society of London, 1955-.
LOCATION: Morris Library (Q41 .R673)

Supersedes the Academy's Obituaries of Deceased Fellows, published 1932 to 1954 (not in Library). An even earlier series of obituaries, chiefly for the period 1898-1904, was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, v. 75, London, 1905 (Q41 .R685 v. 75).

Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 18 vols. New York: Scribner, 1970-1990.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref Q141 .D5 2008)

Authoritative biographical information on scientists. Includes signed articles on scientists from all periods of history (excluding living persons) and encompasses astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, mathematics, and physics. Vols. 15–18 are supplements.

Ireland, Norma Olin. Index to Scientists of the World, from Ancient to Modern Times: Biographies and Portraits. Boston: Faxon, 1962.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref Q141 .I74)

National Academy of Sciences. Biographical Memoirs. 65 vols. to date. Washington, D. C.: National Academy of Sciences.
LOCATION: Morris Library (Q141 .A1N37)

Each volume contains about 12 to 15 biographies of leading American scientists.

New Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 8 vols. Detroit: Charles Scribners Sons/Thomson Gale, 2008.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref Q141 .N45 2008)

“While not neglecting key figures in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics, [the editors] have endeavored to make sure that [they] had a crucial number of pioneers in the new sciences that are playing pivotal roles in today’s society. Thus, [the editors] appointed special editors for ecology, ethology, computer science, decision theory, and space science. [They] also highlighted traditional disciplines that have matured and become more important, such as climatology, psychology, and physical anthropology.”

Nobel Prize Winners: An H. W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1987.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref AS911 .N9N59 1987)

Contains profiles of 566 men, women, and institutions that have received the Nobel Prize between 1901 and 1986. Entries include a list of selected writings and a brief bibliography of secondary sources. Also has a listing of Nobel Prize winners by prize category and year.

Poggendorff, Johann Christian. J. C. Poggendorffs Biographisch-Literarisches Handwörterbuch für Mathematik, Astronomie, Physik mit Geophysik, Chemie, Kristillagraphie und Verwandte Wissensgebiete. Leipzig: J. A. Barth, 1863-
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref Q141 .P64)

University Graduates

Alumni Cantabrigienses: A Biographical List of All Known Students, Graduates, and Holders of Office at the University of Cambridge, from the Earliest Times to 1900. 2 parts in 10 vols. Cambridge: University Press, 1922-1954.
LOCATION: Morris Library (LF124 .A2 1900A)

Referred to as “Venn,” after its compilers, John Venn and J. A. Venn.

Emden, Alfred Brotherston. A Biographical Register of the University of Cambridge to 1500. Cambridge: University Press, 1963-
LOCATION: Morris Library (LF113 .E4)

Emden, Alfred Brotherston. A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A. D. 1500. 3 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1989.
LOCATION: Morris Library (LF525 .E52x 1989)

Die Matrikel der Universität Zürich 1833 bis 1910 (-1914)
LOCATION: Internet [http://www.matrikel.unizh.ch/pages/0.htm]

Princetonians: A Biographical Dictionary. 5 vols. to date. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1976-
LOCATION: Morris Library (LD4601 .P75 1976)

Sibley, John Langdon. Sibley’s Harvard Graduates: Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College. 17 vols. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1873-1975.
LOCATION: Morris Library (LD2139 .S5)

Includes Harvard College students from 1642 to 1771.

Watt, Donald Elmslie Robertson. A Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Graduates to A.D. 1410. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977.
LOCATION: Morris Library (CT813 .W37 1977)

Women

Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary. 3 vols. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT3260 .N57)

Notable American Women, the Modern Period: A Biographical Dictionary. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT3260 .N573)

The four volumes of Notable American Women follow the approach and format of the Dictionary of American Biography and are the most comprehensive and authoritative biographical reference works for the history of women in America.

Writers

Dictionary of Literary Biography.
LOCATION: Databases (in LION database)

The scope of DLB encompasses American, British, Commonwealth, and modern European writers, and includes writers of non-fiction, such as historians and journalists. The essays are “career biographies, tracing the development of the author's canon and the evolution of his reputation.” Each volume is separated cataloged under its individual title. For a complete list of all the printed volumes in this series, consult the endpapers of Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook, 1994, shelved behind the Reference Desk, or do a title keyword search (dictionary of literary biography) on DELCAT.

Other

Great Lives from History series:

Great Lives from History. American Series. 5 vols. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 1987.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT214 .G74 1987)

Great Lives from History. Ancient and Medieval Series. 5 vols. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 1988.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT113 .G74 1988)

Great Lives from History. British and Commonwealth Series. 5 vols. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 1987.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT774 .G74 1987)

Great Lives from History. Renaissance to 1900 Series. 5 vols. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 1989.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT104 .G68 1989)

Great Lives from History. Twentieth Century Series. 5 vols. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 1990.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Reference (Ref CT120 .G69 1990)

Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army from its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903. Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1903.
LOCATION: Morris Library - Government Documents (U. S. DOC W3.11:789-903)

Subject Guide

Carol Rudisell
Contact:
Librarian
Reference & Instructional Services Dept.
(302) 831-6942

Subjects:African American Studies, Caribbean Studies, Ethnic Studies, Foundations and Grants, History, Sexuality Studies, Women and Gender Studies

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