Biographical Dictionaries

Online Biographical Dictionaries

Encyclopedia of World Biography (Gale)
Includes entries of approximately 7,000 biographies on notables from every part of the world and from all time periods.

American National Biography Online (Oxford University Press)
Short biographies of close to 19,000 people who have influenced and shaped American history and culture. Each entry includes a bibliography which identifies biographies, published primary sources and archival holdings of personal papers.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press)
Close to 60,000 signed biographies of the men and women who shaped all aspects of the British past, from the earliest times to the end of the year 2000. Each biography includes a list of published and archival sources.

African American Studies Center (Oxford University Press)
Includes the African American National Biography project.

Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia
Presents biographies of women worldwide.

Dictionary of Literary Biography Complete Online (Gale)
Biographies of writers from all eras, countries and genres.

Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography
Provides information on the history of science through articles on the professional lives of scientists. All periods of science from classical antiquity to modern times are represented.

Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
Free online access to biographies previously published in The Dictionary of Canadian Biography provided by the University of Toronto and the Université Laval. Biographies are available in both English and French.

Print Biographical Dictionaries

Dictionary of Irish Biography (Royal Irish Academy)
Over 9,000 signed biographical articles.

Dictionary of German Biography
This is the English language version of the Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopädie.

Genealogical Resources

AncestryLibrary (ProQuest)
Provides access to a range of databases with biographical information. Includes census data, vital records, directories, voter lists, immigration records, images, and more.

Book-length Biographies

Falvey Library Catalog (Books & Media)
Enter the name of a person as a subject search to locate biographies in the library’s collection via the online catalog. Unfortunately, biographies are not classified separately from other types of works about a person, and it can be challenging to find the biographies of a famous person among a large set of search results. In such cases you may prefer to first consult one of the library’s biographical dictionaries to identify titles of recommended biographies or to consult with a librarian.
Subject search:  Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826
Subject search:  Wanamaker John, 1838-1922
Subject search:  Benedict XVI, Pope, 1927-
On the other hand, it is comparatively easy to find biographies for classes of people since in this case the term biography is a part of the subject classification.
Subject search:  Nurses and biography
Subject search:  Popes and biography
Subject search:  "Nobel prize" and biography
Please note that the subject autobiographies is used exclusively for theoretical works about autobiographies. An author search is the best way to locate published autobiographies. The library's biographical dictionaries generally identify published autobiographies.

WorldCat (FirstSearch)
Presents a combined catalog of the catalogs of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide. WorldCat highlights publications available at Villanova University. Other items can be requested via an inter-library loan request form.

E-ZBorrow and Interlibrary Loan
Interlibrary loans are only available for books and journals which are not owned by Falvey. The E-ZBorrow service can be used for books which the library owns, but which are currently checked out. E-ZBorrow books are provided by a local library network and tend to arrive faster than traditional interlibrary loans.


  New York Times: 1851- (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)

  Washington Post Historical: 1877- (ProQuest)

  Philadelphia Inquirer, 1981- (NewsBank)

  Times (London) Digital Archive, 1785-2012 (Gale)

  Lexis Nexis Academic  Limitations on Use

  America's Historical Newspapers (Readex)

The library's online collections of newspapers and magazines can often be limited to obituaries. Go to the Advanced Search interface and look for document type limits. More detailed information can be found in each database description above.

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