Start out with

  • American National Biography (ANB Online)
    "The landmark American National Biography offers portraits of more than 18,700 men and women -- from all eras and walks of life -- whose lives have shaped the nation.... The publication of the online edition makes the ANB even more useful as a dynamic source of information -- updated semi-annually, with new entries and revisions of previously published entries to enhance their accuracy and currency."

Other Significant Resources

  • African American Biographical Database: AABD
    Contains biographies and narratives of thousands of African Americans, spanning the years 1790-1950. Draws its initial content from the Chadwyck-Healey, Inc. publication: Black Biographical Dictionaries, 1790-1950.
    Provides access to a wide variety of records facilitating genealogical and local history research. Includes Census records; birth, marriage, and death records; immigration and travel records, etc. Especially strong in its coverage of records from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
  • Biography in Context
    Provides biographical entries on more than 528,000 individuals — from throughout history and around the world. Various kinds of biographical sources are included: entries from reference books, articles from periodicals, and audio or video files.
  • Biography and Genealogy Master Index
    Indexes current, readily available reference sources, as well as the most important retrospective works that cover individuals, both living and deceased, from every field of activity and from all areas of the world. The total number of biographical sketches indexed by BGMI is now more than 16.6 million.
  • The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography
    [Permanent series] (New York : J.T. White, 1891-1984 )
    Location: Butler Reference, 301 Butler
    Call Number: R041 N21
    Location Has: v.1-14,v.15a-N63
    The National Cyclopaedia aimed to include "biographical sketches of all persons prominently connected with the history of the nation," and to be "the biographical authority of the century" (Introduction). It includes biographies of persons living, as well as of persons deceased, at the time individual volumes were published. Noteworthy for providing coverage of many individuals who may not be found in the American National Biography or other sources. Entries are not in alphabetical order. Consult either the INDEX volume (shelved after vol. N63) or  Biography and Genealogy Master Index, each of which indexes the full set.
  • Oxford African American Studies Center
    Wide-ranging collection of scholarship focused on the lives and events that have shaped African American and African history and culture. Features biographies and other articles from Oxford's reference works; primary sources; images; maps; timelines; and charts and  tables. The core content includes: Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience; the Encyclopedia of African American History 1619-1895; Black Women in America; the Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature; and the ongoing project African American National Biography.
  • World Biographical Information System (WBIS) Online
    WBIS Online is the most comprehensive biographical database available, providing short biographical information on over 6 Million people from the 8th century B.C. to the present. For many of the modules, including, American Biographical Archive, records include a "View Digitized Article(s) from Archive" link that allows you to access digitized facsimile articles from biographical reference works."