Biographical Resources

Title page, with annotations, of a biographical history for Shelby and Audubon Counties, Iowa. folio E 491281 .096
Title page, with annotations, of a biographical history for Shelby and Audubon Counties, Iowa. folio E 491281 .096

This guide contains a sample of the Newberry’s resources for biographical research. To locate additional resources, please check our catalog or contact a librarian.

Catalog Search Strategies

Here some suggestions for how to search our catalog. Consult our ethnic and geographic guides for additional suggestions.

Location

Search by place of residence. Select the Search by: Subject option and enter a county, state, city, or country, such as:

  • Will County, Ill.–Biography
  • Pennsylvania–Biography
  • Chicago–Biography
  • Spain–Biography

Family Name

To find published family histories, select the Search by: Subject option and enter a family name, such as:

  • Smith Family
  • Corbett Family

Ethnic, Religious & Racial Background

Biographies of many people can be found in dictionaries or directories of the special groups to which they belong. Select the Search by: Subject option and enter a phrase or name, such as:

  • Czech Americans–Illinois–Chicago–History
  • Jews—Biography
  • Indians of North America–Biography

Occupation/Academic Discipline

Search by occupation or academic discipline. For writers, try the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Ref PN 451 .D5 (3rd floor open shelf). Works by or about an author often contain biographical information. Select the Search by: Subject option and enter a phrase or category, such as:

  • American literature–Bio-bibliography
  • Historians–Biography

Biographical Dictionaries

Select the Search by: Subject option and enter a phrase such as:

  • Biography – Dictionaries - [country]
  • Biography – [country]

The Newberry has many national biographical dictionaries.  Here are a few of the most commonly consulted.  All are on the 3rd floor open shelf.

  • Irish: Ref DA 916 .B6
  • Canadian: Ref F 1005 .D49
  • French Ref CT 143 .D5
  • German Ref CT 759 .D48 1995

Sources for Biographical Research

Dictionary of American Biography. Ref E 176 .D56 (3rd floor open shelf). Scholarly biographical dictionary includes 3600+ biographies with bibliographies.

American National Biography. Ref CT 213 .A68 1999 (3rd floor open shelf). Successor to the Dictionary of American Biography.

National Cyclopedia of American Biography. Ref E 176 .N27 (3rd floor open shelf). Comprehensive American biographical dictionary covers 1892-1984. Not alphabetical, use volume indexes and the general index.

White’s Conspectus of American Biography. Ref E 176 .W588 1972 (3rd floor open shelf).

Handbook of North American Indians. Ref E 77 .H25 (3rd floor open shelf).

Biography and History Index of American Indians Ref E 1209 .U494 Index (3rd floor open shelf).

Notable American Women. Ref CT 3260 .N57 (3rd floor open shelf). Biographical sketches of 1800+ women 1607- 1950, the majority of whom are not included in the  Dictionary of American Biography.

Notable Black American Women. Ref E 185.96 .N68 1992 (3rd floor open shelf). Biographies include bibliographies and information on archival collections. Detailed subject index, 1730-1958.

Dictionary of National Biography. Ref DA 28 .D47 (3rd floor open shelf). Biographical resource for Britain.

Biography and Genealogy Master Index. Local History Ref Z 5305 .U5 B57 (2nd floor open shelf). Index to millions of biographical sketches in 2700+ works covering figures throughout the world.

Biography Index. Local History Ref Z 5301 .B5 (3rd floor open shelf). Cites biographical material appearing in 3000+ periodicals, and 2000+ current books of individual and collective biography.

New York Times Obituaries Index. Local History Ref CT 213 .N47 (2nd floor open shelf). Alphabetical listing of obituaries from The New York Times, 1858-1978.

Personal Name Index to “The New York Times Index,” 1851-1996. Local History Ref Z 5301 .F28 1976 (2nd floor open shelf). Citations refer to the New York Times Index, not newspaper itself.

Black Biography, 1790-1950. Local History Ref Z 1361 .N39 B52 1990 (2nd floor open shelf).

Women in Particular. Ref HQ 1412 .H47 1984 (3rd floor open shelf). Index to American women from 54 works of collective biography.

American Biographical Index. Ref CT 211 .A45 (3rd floor open shelf). Index to 368 biographical reference works published between 1702-1956. Newberry holdings marked in volume one.

British Biographical Index. Ref CT 773 .C75 1990 (3rd floor open shelf). Index to 334 biographical reference works published between 1601-1929. Newberry holdings marked in volume one.

Index Biographique Français. Ref CT 1003 .I53 1993 (3rd floor open shelf). Index to 180 biographical reference works published between 1647-1986. Newberry holdings marked in volume one.

Indice Biográfico de España, Portugal e Iberoaméricana. Ref CT 1345 .I53 1990 (3rd floor open shelf). Index to 306 biographical reference works published between the 17th and 20th centuries.

Indice Biografico Italiano. Ref CT 1123 .I53 1993 (3rd floor open shelf). Index to 321 biographical reference works published between the 17th and 20th centuries.

Sources for Chicago Biographies

Chicago & Cook Co. Biography & Industry File. Index to over 40 publications on Chicago.  Search by personal or business name.  A print version of this index is available  at the 2nd floor reference desk.

Chicago and Cook County Sources. Local History Ref Z 1298 .C5 S97 (2nd floor open shelf).

The Newberry’s Modern Manuscripts collection is a source for biographical information on prominent Chicago businessmen, journalists, dancers, writers, publishers, musicians, and civic leaders. Enter a name in the search box to search our online inventories.

Index to Chicago History. Local History Ref F 548.1 C465 Index (2nd floor open shelf).

Book of Chicagoans & Who’s Who in Chicago. E 48962.1 (request at 2nd floor desk). The Newberry has the 1905, 1911, 1917, 1926, 1931, 1936, 1941 editions. Indicate year on call slip. The following editions have been digitized:

History of Chicago. Local History Ref F 548.3 .A5 1975 (2nd floor open shelf).

History of Cook County. Local History Ref F 547 .C7 A5 1973 (2nd floor open shelf).

Chicago and Its Makers. Local History Ref F 548.3 .G46 1929 (2nd floor open shelf).