Biographical information identifies individuals who have had a significant influence on a particular field and documents their work and qualifications. The strategy for locating biographical information will depend on whether you already have a person's name or whether you are trying to identify names by occupation, ethnic group, gender, and so on.
Case 1: Researching Known Names
Step 1: Decide how much information you need. If you want a lot of material, search for full-length biographies in the library's online catalog. Full-length biographies are usually available only for more notable persons. Shorter articles or bio-sketches on a particular person can best be located by using a biographical database as explained in Step 2.
Step 2: Use biographical databases to find sources of biographical information on a particular individual. Enter the person's name in the following databases available from Stewart Library's Web site. Biographical databases may list only references to sources of the biographical information or provide the biographical information itself. To determine if a source is available in the library, check the library's catalog.
Literature Resource Center (full text articles on over 90,000 authors with additional sources listed)
Biography Reference Bank (More than 46,000 full-text profiles of authors, artists, politicians, and more. Covers ancient world to the present.
Case 2: Finding Names
Step 1: Identify possible categories or parameters to which the person(s) may be associated such as gender, occupation, ethnic group, geographical region, etc.
Step 2: Using the "General Keyword" search option in the library catalog, search for sources of biographical information which match the desired parameters. The following examples of keyword search statements illustrate the use of the parameters suggested in Step 1. Note that each statement has two parts, parameter or category (e.g. WOMEN, BLACKS), and form (BIOGRAPHY).
WOMEN AND BIOGRAPHY
SCIENCE AND BIOGRAPHY
BLACKS AND BIOGRAPHY
SPORTS AND BIOGRAPHY
Case 3: Combination Search
The following online databases can be used to research known names (Case 1) or find names of individuals by occupation, gender, etc. (Case 2):
Michigan eLibrary (MeL) (mel.org). Click "Reference Desk" and then "Biography"
Note: Much biographical information may be found on the Internet by using the various search engines such as Google.com, Yahoo.com, etc.