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Biography: reference sources

This is a selective list of reference sources on the subject of biography available in the Humanities Reading Room. Electronic resources can be accessed in the Electronic Resources Room in both Humanities - Floor 1 and 2. The shelfmark of each item is given at the end of every citation.

Indexes and bibliographies | Specialised dictionaries | General dictionaries | Dictionaries of British biography

Indexes and bibliographies

The Biography and genealogy master index (BGMI) available online (onsite only) contains entries leading to 13.3 million biographical sketches in more than 3,400 English language biographical dictionaries and subject encyclopedias. It covers individuals both living and deceased from every field of activity.
Bio-Base 2000 master cumulation. Detroit : Gale, 1999. 500 microfiches. (A microfiche version of BGMI)
Biography index: a cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines.
New York : H.W. Wilson. 1946-. In progress.
 This work is indexed in BGMI and Bio-base.
The World biographical information system, formerly known as the World biographical index, is an online database produced by K G Saur, Munich. It contains 2.8 million brief biographical entries for eminent individuals from all continents. It is an index to the microfiche biographical archives available in the Humanities Reading Room. The archives are national or regional and reproduce texts from biographical dictionaries published in that country or region. (Onsite only)
Index bio-bibliographicus notorum hominum. Osnabrück : Biblio Verlag, 1973-. In progress.
A.M. Hyamson, A dictionary of universal biography of all ages and of all peoples. 2nd ed. London : Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1951.

HLR Enquiry Desk 920.02

An index to 24 biographical dictionaries most of which are available in the Humanities Reading Room.
P.M. Riches, An analytical bibliography of universal collected biography. London : Library Association, l934. (Repr. 1980)
M. Arnim, Internationale Personalbibliographie 1800-1975. Leipzig : Hiersemann, 1944-1987.
Royal Commonwealth Society, Biography catalogue of the Library of the Royal Commonwealth Society. Comp. by D.H. Simpson. London: Royal Commonwealth Society, 1961.
R.B. Slocum (ed.) Biographical dictionaries and related works: an international bibliography. 2nd ed. 2 vol. Detroit : Gale, 1986.
J.B. Gilbert, Disease and destiny: a bibliography of medical references to the famous. With additions by E. Mestler. London : Dawsons, 1962.

General dictionaries

Chambers biographical dictionary. 7th ed. Edinburgh : Chambers, 2002.
HLR Enquiry Desk 920.02
Merriam-Webster's biographical dictionary. Springfield, Mass. : Merriam-Webster, 1995.
D. Crystal, The Cambridge biographical encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1998.
HLR Enquiry Desk 920.02
International who's who. London : Europa. [Latest ed.]
Also available online in World who's who, onsite only.
The Biographical dictionary is an online work giving very brief but up to date information on over 28,000 notable men and women.

Specialised dictionaries

Biographical dictionaries of writers can be found in English literature reference sources. Biographical dictionaries relating to performing arts can be found in Performing arts reference sources. Biographical dictionaries of women can be found in Women's studies reference sources.
A. Butler, Lives of the Saints. New full ed. D.H. Farmer (General consultant ed.), P. Burns (Managing ed.) 12 vol. Tunbridge Wells : Burns & Oates, 1995-2000.
Bibliotheca Sanctorum. 12 vol. & indici. Roma : Istituto Giovanni XXIII nella Pontificia Università Lateranense, 1961-1970.
Dictionary of scientific biography. 14 vol. New York : Scribner's, 1970-1976. (v.15 Supplement 1, 1978; v.16 Index, 1980; v.17,18 Supplement 2, 1990).
Enciclopedia Cattolica. 12 tom. Città del Vaticano, 1948-1953.
Encyclopaedia Judaica. 17 vol. Jerusalem, 1972,71.
C.G. Joecher (ed.) Allgemeines Gelehrten-lexicon. 4 Tl. Leipzig, 1750,51
Fortsetzung und Ergänzungen. Von J.C. Adelung und H.W. Rotermund. 7 Bd. Leipzig : J. F. Gleditsch, 1784-1897.

Dictionaries of British biography

General dictionaries of British biography
Specialised dictionaries of British biography

General dictionaries of British biography

Oxford Dictionary of national biography. 61 vol. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2004.
Also available online, onsite only.
Dictionary of national biography. 22 vol. [A reissue of the edition of 1885-1900.] London, 1973. With supplements to 1990.
Concise Dictionary of national biography. 3 vol. London, 1992

HLR Enquiry Desk 920.041

DNB is also available on CD-ROM
G. Fenwick, The Contributors' index to The Dictionary of national biography 1885-1901. Winchester : St Paul's Bibliographies, 1989.
HLR Enquiry Desk 920.041
C.S. Nicholls (ed.) The Dictionary of national biography missing persons. Oxford, 1993.

HLR Enquiry Desk 920.041

G. Fenwick, Women and the Dictionary of National Biography. Aldershot, 1994.
Who's Who. [Latest ed.]
Earlier editions from 1849 onwards need to be requested from the set in the bookstacks at shelfmark P.P.2504.w. See also below.
Who was who. 1897-1916 (-2001/2005). 11 vol.
[Who was who.] A cumulated index 1897-2000.
HLR Enquiry Desk 920.041
Also available online, onsite only, through Who's Who.
British biographical index. 8 vol. München : Saur, 2008.
British biographical archive. Series I - III. München : Saur, 1984- . In progress.
Humanities Microfiche Cabinet
Reproduces biographical entries from 592 source works mainly published between 1601 and 1950. Used in conjunction with British biographical index above. Series I and II also available online through the World biographical information system (onsite only).
F. Boase, Modern English biography. 6 vol. London, 1965 [A repr. of the ed. of 1892-1921]
Entries from this work can also be found in British biographical archive.
British and Irish biographies 1840-1940. 6 parts. Cambridge : Chadwyck Healey, 1985-1991.
Humanities Microfiche Cabinet
Reproduces entries from about 300 general professional and regional biographical dictionaries and directories. A partial index on microfiche together with a complete printed list of source titles can be found in a folder at HLM 920.041.

Specialised dictionaries of British biography

J. Foster, Alumni Oxonienses : the members of the University of Oxford, 1500-1714 (1715-1886). 4 vol. Nendeln, Liechtenstein : Kraus Reprint, 1968.
J. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses: a biographical list of all known students, graduates and holders of office at the University of Cambridge to 1900. 10 vol. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1922-1954.
Other lists and biographical dictionaries of university graduates are shelved nearby.
J. Campbell, Baron Campbell, Lives of the Lord Chancellors and Keepers of the Great Seal of England from the earliest times till the reign of King George IV. 10 vol. [A repr. of the 5th ed. of 1868]. New York, 1973.
R.F.V. Heuston, Lives of the Lord Chancellors, 1885-1940 (1940-70). Oxford, 1964,87.
[Munk's Roll] W. Munk, The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London 1518-1825. 2nd ed. rev. and enlarged. 3 vol. London : The College, 1878.
[Munk's Roll vol. IV-VII] Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians ...]
London : The College, 1955-1984 . (Covers 1826- 1983)
E.B. Fryde, D.E. Greenway, S. Porter and I. Roy (eds.) Handbook of British chronology. 3rd ed. London : Offices of the Royal Historical Society, 1986. (Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks no. 2.)

HLR Enquiry Desk 941.002

J. C. Sainty (comp.) Treasury officials, 1660-1870. London : Institute of Historical Research, 1972.
Part of the series 'Office-holders in modern Britain'. Other titles in the series are at the same shelfmark.
J.S. Roskell et al. The House of Commons 1386-1421. 4 vol. London, 1992.
Part of the series produced by the History of Parliament. The first volume includes an introductory survey and appendices whilst volumes two, three and four contain the biographical entries for Members. Volumes for later periods have a similar arrangement but different editors. Later periods covered are: 1509-1558, 1558-1603, 1715-1754, 1754-1790, 1790-1820. A CD-ROM version is also available, onsite only.

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