Biographical Resources Overview
October 2007; revised May 2008
Watson Library’s online resources can be found at Biographical Resources. They are listed alphabetically. Here’s another way of looking at our online biographical resources:
Allgemeines Kunstlerlexikon – AKL (World Dictionary of Artists). This is the most extensive, up-to-date and authoritative online source for artist biography. Full text up to the letter G, text in German, has citations, searchable.
Marquis Who’s Who in American Art – 14,000 biographies of the most noteworthy men and women in today’s art world. A good source for living artists.
AskArt – A source for American artists. Although primarily an auction resource, AskArt can help establish dates and location for hard-to-find artists and sometimes has bibliographies and biographies.
ULAN: Union List of Artist Names Online - basic information on 259,000 artists.
WBIS (World Biographical Information Sysem) – most comprehensive of our online sources. Biographical data on about 4.6 million people and an index for biographical articles on about 3.8 million. Access to Part I of the French Biographical Archive with over 200,000 reproduced biographical articles.
Britannica Online – Includes the complete Encyclopedia Britannica.
Marquis Who’s Who on the Web -1.3 million biographies, of mostly living persons.
Specialized Biographical Resources.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography - full text biographies of over 50,000 people who shaped the history of the British Isles. DNB has images, bibliographies, links between subjects and is fully searchable.
American National Biography - nearly 18,000 biographies of Americans with illustrations, links, and various ways of searching.
Europa Sacra – Provides biographical and historical information on Church prelates; medieval bishoprics, archdioceses and patriarchates, etc.
Lexicon des Mittelalters online – standard encyclopaedia for Medieval Studies covering 300 to 1500 AD.
New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians - includes biographies of musicians.
Dictionary of Art Historians - A biographical dictionary of art historians, museum directors and scholars of art.
Other Important Sources for Biographical Information.
All three of the following newspaper/periodical sources can be useful in biographical searching whether in obituaries or in accounts of the person’s activities.
- New York Times Historical Newspapers from ProQuest (1851 – 2004)
- The Times Digital Archive (1785 – 1985) London
- American Periodical Series Online – this is a recent subscription and includes digitized images of American magazines and periodicals from colonial days to the early 20th century. Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar are some of the journals.
Heritage Quest – this database is an American resource containing the complete set of U.S. Federal Census Records from 1790-1930 and the searchable full-text of over 25,000 family and local histories.
Timeline of Art History – a good place to check for information on persons associated, as artist or other, with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection.
Historical Clippings Finding Aid (1880 – 1980) – a finding aid to locate newspaper clippings focused on the Metropolitan Museum of Art including employees, donors and patrons.
Google Books – this free resource, which searches the full text of books that Google has digitized, is sometimes a useful last resort for persons not found elsewhere. There are other e-book collections that can be searched – see the E-Book Collections Guide.