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Biographical Resources: A Research Guide: National

A selection of major sources of biographical information purchased or licensed by the Cornell University Library. Click on the TABS to access each section in this guide.

National Biographies

These national biographies cover persons no longer living who were prominent in the history of that country (often including its colonial extensions). For exact coverage dates and information on other criteria for inclusion, see the front matter of the individual title. Online versions are continually updated.


American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2000- .
(Online; also in print, Olin Ref CT 213 .A68x 1999)

The standard national biography of the United States. Profiles of more than 17,500 notable American men and women from all eras of U.S. history who are no longer alive. The ANB Online features thousands of illustrations, more than 80,000 hyperlinked cross-references, links to select web sites, and archival sources. Articles are updated and added regularly. The ANB supersedes the Dictionary of American Biography, the previous standard national biography of the United States.

For persons not listed in the ANB, check the less authoritative, older National Cyclopaedia of American Biography (Olin Reference CT 213 .N27) and the K. G. Saur index and microfiche collection of biographical dictionaries.

African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2006- .
(Online; also 8 volumes in print, Africana Ref E 185.96 .A37 2008)

"Covering African American life for almost five centuries, from the arrival of Esteban in Spanish Florida in 1528 to notable black citizens of the present day, this major reference project collects and resurrects the lives of over 5,000 African Americans." [Introduction] New biographies added regularly.
To browse an even more extensive biographical database (15,000+ entries), go to the Oxford African American Studies Center home page and click on the Biographies category at right.

Diccionario biográfico español. 50 volumes. Madrid: Real Academia de la Historia, 2009-2013.
(Olin Ref CT 1343 .D52 2009)
The premier biographical dictionary of Spain.
Browsable and searchable name index of the entries in this 50-volume set/Índice alfabético de Personajes.
Dictionary of Canadian Biography. University of Toronto and Université Laval, 1966- .
(Online: Open Access; also 15 volumes in print: Olin Ref CT 283 .D55 +)
The standard Canadian national biography. The 15 print volumes to date cover individuals who played an important role in the formation of what is now Canada who died between the years 1000 and 1930 or whose last known date of activity falls within these years. The free online version provides the entire content of the print volumes plus newer entries (currently for the 1931-1940 decade) that supplement the print version. Annotated bibliographies include substantial listings of archival collections.
Dictionary of German Biography. 10 volumes. München: K.G. Saur, 2001-2006.
(Olin Ref CT 759 .D48 2001 [English-language version])
Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopädie. 12 volumes. München: K.G. Saur, 1995-2000.
(Olin Ref CT 759 .D48 1995 [German-language version])
We have both the German-language and English-language editions. Print versions only. For an more extensive version of German biography, available online, see Elektronische Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, below. See also K. G. Saur index and microfiche.
Dictionary of Irish Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009- .
(Online; also in print in 9 volumes: Olin Ref CT 862 .D53 2009)
Contains over 9,000 signed biographical articles on the careers of Irish men and women who made a significant contribution from the earliest times to the year 2010 in Ireland and abroad in all fields of endeavor, including politics, law, religion, literature, journalism, architecture, painting, music, the stage, science, medicine, engineering, entertainment and sport. Also includes articles on people born outside Ireland who had noteworthy careers in Ireland. Articles may be searched by name, gender, birth or death place, birth or death dates, religion, occupation, contributor, or keywords. Articles will be added each year to cover people who died since the previous update.
Elektronische Allgemeine deutsche Biographie: Herausgegeben von der Historischen Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek.
Also known as Deutsche Biographie. Searchable database for Allgemeine deutsche biographie (ADB) and Neue deutsche Biographie (NDB). "Certified information on more than 730.000 personalities and families in the German speaking areas from the Middle Ages to the present; namely 50.000 biographies (ADB and NDB) and links to more than 230 online resources (literature, dictionaries, source editions etc.)." [database home page]
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.
(Online; also in print: Olin Ref DA 28 .D4 O95 2004)
A completely updated version of the standard British national biography which was originally published from 1885-1901 in 66 volumes and updated with decennial supplements. Over 50,000 biographies of people who shaped the history of the British Isles and beyond, from the earliest times to the year 2000 (newer entries in the online version). Portraits and citations to archival collections and major biographies of the subject. See also K. G. Saur index and microfiche.

Other National Biographies

Australian Dictionary of Biography. 19 volumes so far, including supplementary volumes.
(Olin Ref CT 2801 .A93). Published 1966 to date. Covers persons who died through 1990.
Biografisch Woordenboek van Nederland. 4 volumes.
(Olin Ref CT 1143 .B61). Published 1979-1994.
Dictionnaire de Biographie Française. 21 volumes plus supplements so far.
(Olin Ref CT 143 .D55). Published 1933 to date. Covers A through Le Tellier de Courtanvaux.
Dizionario Biografico degli Italiana. 90 volumes so far.
(Olin Ref CT 163 .D62). Published 1960 to date. Covers A through Saviozzo da Siena.
Polski Slownik Biograficzny. 51 volumes so far.
(Olin Ref CT 1230 .P76). Published 1935 to date. Covers A through Świrski, Krik.

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