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ENG 3316 Women's Writing & Rhetoric: Biographical Sources - Encyclopedia style

Types of Biographical Sources

The boxes below divide biographies into two major categories - American and International - but within each you'll find several types or examples of sources:

National Biographies: collections of brief but authoritative biographies of people from a country or national/ethnic grouping. In addition to the biography, these sources will contain selected bibliographies and may indicate where the person's personal papers and archives are held. National biographies do not cover living people. Look for individual biographies or article-length biographies pr obituaries for people who have died within the last 12 months.

Individual Biographies: book/monograph-length studies of a person or persons. These can be popular or scholarly; distinguish by how much the biography discusses gossip and scandal versus how much they discuss influences on the person and the person's influence on society or a field. The number of photographs (more photos and it's likely popular) and the length of the bibliography (longer is more likely to indicate scholarly; absence indicates popular) will also serve as clues.

Obituaries: Influential people will have a biography in their national newspaper and likely in international newspapers. An obituary in a newspaper such as The New York Times or the Times of London or similar major newspapers will provide an overview of a person's life and major achievements. Use these for people who have died in the last 12 months or to see what someone's major influence was thought to be at the time of death.

Article-Length Biographies: with the exception of Current Biography Online, I have not included this type of source on this page since you'll use the various databases on the XXXXX tab to locate these, but would be a very acceptable source to see how your individual may have acted in a specific situation or, in popular magazines, how your individual was seen by the public at a particular point in time. 

American Women's Biographical Sources

Copy the text in bold below and paste it into the search bar to see some of the 200+ dictionaries and encyclopedias we own on American women's biographies. Be sure to include all the parentheses and double parentheses as well.

((SubjectTerms:(women)) AND (SubjectTerms:(biograph*)) AND (SubjectTerms:(dictionaries)) AND (American))

See the box to the right for other cut and paste search phrases you might want to use.

International Women's Biographical Sources

Cut and Paste Search Phrases

You can use this search phrase:

((SubjectTerms:(women)) AND (SubjectTerms:(biograph*)) AND (SubjectTerms:(dictionaries)) 

and add other terms after it in this pattern: AND ________________________) - that closing parentheses must be included!

where you fill in the blank with your keyword or keywords here are some examples:

AND Politic* (the * allows for spelling variations: politics, politicians, political, etc. and is used in most resources you'll search)

AND Music

AND Histor*

AND Business

AND (Music AND Histor*)) - you can combine two terms so long as they are in ( ) and you add a closing ) as in the example

If your search comes up with no results, try a synonym - especial for the names of countries or nations; (American or United States); (United Kingdom OR British OR England OR English)

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