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Biographical Information

This guide will show you the best ways to find information about people, be they authors, scholars, historical figures or contemporary newsmakers.

Journals and Magazines

Many journals and magazines contain biographical information, including interviews and profiles.

  • Search your person as a SUBJECT in a general database (e.g., Academic Search Complete) or in a database that covers the subject and/or timeframe of your person.
  • If you are searching for a scholarly author who publishes mainly in academic journals, you can sometimes find brief biographical information at the beginning of articles written BY your author.
  • It's useful to see what articles the person has published, as well, so search for your person as an author in databases that cover the person's subject area (see Research Guides arranged by subject categories).

Biography and Genealogy Master Index (BGMI) indexes Biography Index, which covers magazine and journal articles as well as other biographical resources. For online access to many of the articles indexed in Biography Index and additional publications, search the person of interest in Biography Reference Bank (BRB), which includes biographical information from a wide range of publications, covering over 500,000 people and including over 36,000 images.

When you get a results list in BRB, select the person in whom you are interested and go to the descriptive record. Select Related Biographies: entries (if available) to see biographical full-text from selected publications.


For additional material, use the box to the left of the entry:

Select the format(s) you wish to see to get to citations and full-text material.


You can search for book-length biographies in our Libraries using InfoKat Discovery. Type the person's name into the the search box and change 'any field' to 'Subject' before submitting your search--this will get you a list of books ABOUT the person. It is not necessary to include the word 'biography' if you search the individual as a SUBJECT.

It's also useful to look in specialized encyclopedias and other reference works, e.g., like those listed in the Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL). You can use GVRL's various subject searches to find biographical reference works:

  • Biography and a subject topic (e.g., science or scientists)
  • Biography and a geographic area (e.g., Great Britain)

You can also sometimes find brief biographical information in books written BY your author. It can also be useful to examine what your author has written--search WorldCat, a collection of millions of books housed in thousands of libraries, to see what your author has written. You can also search the individual as a subject in WorldCat to find books we don't own but that you can borrow from other libraries using the Interlibrary Loan service.

Other Databases


biog (automatically searches for any word beginning with that string)

on the Databases search page in the Enter Title of Resource search box (2nd search box) -- this will produce a list of resources that have biographical content as their main focus.



in the Enter Keyword(s) search box on the same page (first search box) to find a larger group of resources that have a biographical component. (The asterisk is necessary in this search to search for any word beginning with that string of letters.)