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Biographical Research: Books & Encyclopedias

Print Biographies

The Library has a large collection of biographical books (including dictionaries and encyclopedias), which cover a wide range of subject areas. 

The easiest way to find these types of materials is through the Books & Media tab on our homepage.

Use the search box, below, or browse through some of the selected encyclopedias listed to the right.


Biographical Books & Encyclopedias

Finding books (or eBooks) in the library collection is easy, using our main, Books & Media search box on our homepage.  Simply enter the name of the person you're looking for and search.  One of the neat things you'll find is that this search also looks for video, audio AND articles from our many online databases.  Be sure to use the limits on the left-hand side of the screen to focus your search to Book/eBook, or whichever materials you're looking for.

You can also include other words, like biography, if you find you're getting too many results.  Just be careful not to add too much information!

Not every famous person will have an entire book dedicated to his or her life.

In these cases, biographical encyclopedias and dictionaries can be a great place to find information. *  Not only do they offer quite a bit of relevant information, it is usually condensed into a few paragraphs or pages.

Many of these sources can be found in the Reference section, on the first floor of the library, but it's always a good idea to search the catalog, rather than just wander about.  You might even find some great biographies upstairs that can be taken out!

The following boxes list some examples of subject-specific encyclopedias and dictionaries on popular topics, as well as some general resources to explore.


* - Encyclopedias tend to have more information than dictionaries, but both can be good resources.

General Biographical Encyclopedias

General biographical encyclopedias and dictionaries are good starting points, although even these sources may not include all famous individuals.  

It's also advisable to look for subject encyclopedias without limiting to biographies.  Most encyclopedias will dedicate space to important people in the field, and may provide more relevant information than general resources.

The Arts


Science & Health

CREDO Reference

Credo Reference Academic Core is a collection of online encyclopedias, many of which are also available in paper.  When looking for information on an unfamiliar topic, Credo can often give you a brief (or not so brief) overview, and help you to find what you're looking for.