Biographical Research

Introduction     Online Indexes and Databases     Images     Online Newspapers and periodicals     Online Census Records     Print and Microform Resources     Searching IUCAT


The collections of Indiana University Bloomington Libraries contain thousands of resources for biographical information. Some sources are general, and some are specific to a country or geographic area, ethnic group, historic era, profession, activity or trade.
Newspapers may record incidents in a person's life, depending on their prominence, and at the end of it supply an obituary.
Periodicals may include profiles of individuals and like newspapers note their contributions. They often provide a necrology for commemorating at least professional lives.
Authors or compilers of biographical reference works may concentrate on a variety of single fields, compiling entries for people in the performing arts, sculture, music, film, politics, and other areas of endeavor, including crime.


Online Indexes and Databases

Acta Sanctorum
Contains the lives of the saints as published over three hundred years by the Société des Bollandistes.

Allgemeines Kunstlerlexikon Online (Artists of the World Online)
The world's most contemporary, reliable and extensive reference work on artists. It contains authoritative, up-to-date biographical information on more than 1 million artists.

Asian American Drama
Begins with the works of Sadakichi Hartmann in the late-nineteenth century and hosts contemporary playwrights, productions, and biographical and theatrical information. Includes 252 plays by 42 playwrights, together with detailed, fielded information on related productions, theaters, production companies, and more.

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
A database of biographical information, many with photos, for all individuals who have served in the United States Congress and the Continental Congress

Biographical information on U.S. State Department officials, including ambassadors to foreign governments, with some pictures

Biographical memoirs of fellows of the Royal Society
Continues Obituary notices of fellows of the Royal Society
Generally popular figures with extra features such as celebrity news and who died today?

Biography and Genealogy Master Index
Indexes biographical entries in about 2700 reference books, covering contemporary and historical figures.

Biography in Context
Full-text biographical information on more than 185,000 people from throughout history.

Blackwell Reference Online
A collection of over 300 online reference books in the humanities and social sciences.

The Catholic Encyclopedia
Digitized version of the 1917 edition

Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography
Scientists, engineers and inventors; all periods of science from classical antiquity to modern times are represented.

Credo Reference
Cross searchable, full text suite of of encyclopedias, dictionaries, guides, companions, atlases, chronologies, and other reference resources

Current Biography Illustrated
Provides access to the full text biographies, images, and obituaries from all of the volumes of Current Biography Yearbook.

Dictionary of Literary Biography
Biographical information for literary figures

Dictionary of National Biography
50,000 biographies of people who shaped the history of the British Isles and beyond, from the earliest times to the year 2000

This free resource is a comprehensive directory of chemical research and researchers at universities in the United States and Canada.

Dun & Bradstreet's Million Dollar Database
Directory of 261,000 U.S. and Canadian leading public and private businesses. Search by various criteria, SIC or NAICS codes, or executive names. Various output options.

Encyclopaedia Britannica
The equivalent of the complete printed Encyclopaedia Britannica plus Internet links.

Encyclopaedia of Islam
The standard, authoritative encyclopedia on the religion of Islam and the Islamicate world. Online edition of print version published 1954-2003. B-Main, Reference Collection DS37.E52.

Film Index International
Contains data from the British Film Institute covering world cinema from 1930 to the present.

Gale Virtual Reference Library
Access to, among other things, The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives

Grove Dictionary of Art (Oxford Art Online)
Online version of award-winning Grove Dictionary of Art contains the fulltext of all 41,000 articles of the 34-volume print edition, including scholarly bibliographies.

International Index to the Performing Arts
Covers the arts and entertainment industry, including dance, film, television, drama, theatre, stagecraft, musical theatre, broadcast, circus, comedy, storytelling, opera, pantomime, puppetry, magic, and more.

International Index to Music Periodicals
Index of more than 300 international music periodicals from over 20 countries.

LexisNexis Academic
Search by content type, then select Biographical information. You may also search the News.

Literature Resource Center
Biographies, bibliographies, and critical analysis of authors from all time periods in many genres. Search by author, title, genre, literary movement or literary themes.

Includes full-text of poems, essays and short stories from antiquity to the present.

An index to mathematical literature with a section for biographies of mathematicians

Music Index Online
Subject and author index to more than 655 international music journals covering every aspect of classical, popular, and world music.

Nobel Prize
Information about the Nobel Prizes, the Nobel Laureates and their discoveries. It also provides information about the donor, Alfred Nobel and his will, and the Nobel Foundation.

North American Theatre Online
A database of full-text reference works in theatre, drama, and related fields, including links to full-text plays.

Oxford Classical Dictionary (OCD)
Over 6,000 entries provide comprehensive coverage of the Greco-Roman world, including early Christianity.

Oxford Music Online
Oxford Music Online incorporates Grove Music Online, the Oxford Dictionary of Music, and the Oxford Companion to Music.

Oxford Reference Online
Approximately 100 language and subject dictionaries and reference works. Each title may be searched separately and a search may also be made across all.

RILM Abstracts of Music Literature
Index with abstracts in English to all categories of literature about all genres of music. Books, theses and dissertations, articles in journals.

RILM Retrospective Abstracts of Music Literature
A music bibliography providing coverage of music literature dating before 1967

Something About the Author
Biographies of children's authors and illustrators


Online Images

AP Photo Archive
An electronic library containing the AP's current photos and a selection of pictures from their 50 million image print and negative library. International in scope

Image Collection
A searchable collection of images ranging from photographs and maps to illustrations and etchings.

League of Nations Photo Archive
This website provides access to photos from the League of Nations Archives, including individuals, Assemblies, Councils, Commissions and Committes and delegations.

Portraits of Historical Figures
A selection of portraits of historical figures from the Perry-Castañeda Library, University of Texas at Austin. The images in this collection are in the public domain. You do not need to ask for permission to use these images


Online Newspapers and Periodicals

Old News

Access World News
Full-text access to local and regional newspapers (paid advertisements are excluded).

LexisNexis Academic



Online Census Records

Ancestry Library Edition
Online genealogy resource, including manuscript census records

Related tools:

Family Search
From the Latter Day Saints. Coverage includes more than 957 million names available in searchable databases. Data output can include birth and death dates; name of parents; social security number; and city, state, and county of death.

Social Security Death Index
Search names in the Social Security Death Index. Includes the following information on each decedent, if the data is available to the Social Security Administration: first and last name, birth and death dates, social security number and state issued, and last residence/death benefit payment.


Print and Microform Resources

World Biographical Index Online
Electronic index to biographical resources worldwide. Results include references to print volumes and to the microfilm collections which the library owns.

Guide to Genealogy Research at the IUB Libraries

The collections of the Indiana University Libraries contain thousands of biographical resources. Search IUCAT for items available in print, microform or electronic text.


Searching IUCAT

Find biographical resources by searching IUCAT

You may also limit your search to Online only materials, and retrieve only items on the IU Bloomington campus (also individual libraries and collections)
For online books, remember to check the "online only" box

Search examples:

All fields     Jeannette AND Rankin AND biography

All fields     Jeannette AND Rankin
Subject         Biography

All fields     Jeanette AND Rankin
Subject         Biography
Location       Wells Library - Research Coll. Reference Dept.

All fields    Jeannette AND Rankin
Subject         Biography
Library          All Bloomington Libraries or select one

All fields         Asia
Subject        biography AND women

Online only

All Fields         Business AND biography
All fields        business AND biography AND dictionary

jg last revised July 15, 2014