Skip to main content
UMW Libraries
Simpson | Stafford | Special Collections

Biographical Information: Reference Books

A guide to finding biographical resources

Reference Books

Some of these sources (and hundreds more) are indexed in the Biography and Genealogy Master Index (see Web Resources listing). Many biographical research works are shelved in the CT section of Simpson Library's reference collection. They include:

American National Biography. REFB CT 213 .A68 1999
Includes some 18,000 scholarly essays on deceased individuals who have influenced American history and culture.

The Biography Book. REFB CT 104 .B87 2001
A one-volume work that identifies and assesses biographies of "more than 500 of the most fascinating individuals of all time." Each entry includes a brief biographical paragraph. 

Current Biography. REFB CT 100 .C8
Since 1940 this popular reference set has striven to provide "objective, accurate, and well-documented biographical articles about living leaders in all fields of human accomplishment."

Dictionary of World Biography. REFB CT 104 .D54 1998
Each volume is devoted to a historical era, and biographical essays are divided into the sections Early Life, Life's Work, Summary, and Bibliography. 

Encyclopedia of World Biography. REFB CT 103 .E56 1998
An excellent multi-volume reference set that provides biographical information on some 7,000 individuals whose "reputations stand the test of time."

Notable American Women. REFB CT3260 .N57
Covers the lives of "exceptional women" throughout U.S. history.

Research Guide to American Historical Biography. REFB CT 214 .R47 1988
Useful for its critical commentary on principal biographical sources published up to the late 1980s.

Research Guide to European Historical Biography. REFB CT 759 .R47
This set, like its American companion series, above, furnishes well-written overviews on major biographies of historical figures.

St. James Guide to Biography. REFB CT 101 .S24 1991
As the introduction points out, the editors do not supply biographical data on the persons included in the book, "but rather bibliographical and critical analysis of biographies already available."