Marquis Who’s Who on the Web – Guide
October 2007; revised May 2008
Marquis Who’s Who on the Web is a biographical database that includes over 1.3 million people “from all fields of endeavor including government, business, science, history, arts, and sports.” It is global in scope. This online resource also gives us access to Who’s Who in American Art, Who’s Who in American History and Who’s Who in American Politics. Tne database is updated daily.
A few words about the process of inclusion in Who’s Who. Marquis Who’s Who identifies candidates for inclusion through a variety of means including colleague, family, and even self-nominations that they receive though the Web site and through the mail. They also have a research staff that researches “high-profile candidates to ensure that the upper echelons in all fields are being respresented.” After the candidates are identified, the editorial staff review them and make a decision. Marquis is a good place to start looking for people, and it may serve as a springboard for further research.
Sources for Who’s Who on the Web: The information comes from 20 various Who’s Who publications, including Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in Asia, etc. The full list of the titles is under About the Database on the home page.
NOTE: If you hover the cursor over the link to each of the database segments, you will see what they cover. Who’s Who in American Art, for example, includes 14,000 biographies of most noteworthy men and women in today’s art world, including notable artists from the 20th century.
For the purpose of this class I will focus on Who’s Who on the Web and Who’s Who in American Art.
Let’s search for the video artist Bill Viola using both segments.
The interface of Who’s Who on the Web is fairly uncluttered, with many self-explanatory fields you may search by. You may choose to narrow your query to Current Biographies only, which will limit it to living people whose biographies have been recently updated.
Enter the last and first names and narrow the search by Occupation – Visual Arts, in this example.
Besides the basic information, such as date of birth, education, etc., in the case of artists, at the bottom of the page, there is usually contact information for a gallery that represents the artist. Bill Viola’s creative output is listed under Creative Works.
In Who’s Who on the Web, you are given a link to view other Marquis books in which Bill Viola is profiled.
Let’s execute the same search using Who’s Who in American Art. Here the occupation field is more specific: art dealer, cartoonist, collage artist, etc.
The information and the format in which it is presented differ. For example, there is no Creative Works section; instead, the sections are Commissioned Works, Public Works, Exhibitions.
An important feature in Who’s Who in American Art is a bibliography, which cannot be accessed from the search results in Who’s Who on the Web. I recommend you search both segments of the database. Sometimes you may find information on a person in one segment and not the other. The contemporary photographer Jill Greenberg, for example, appears in Who’s Who on the Web and not in Who’s Who in American Art.
You may wish to look not for a specific person but for a group of people sharing criteria. For example, let’s search for female artists who were recipients for the National Endowment for the Arts grant and who were born after 1940.
- Leave the name fields blank
- birth year > than 1940
- in the keyword field enter National Endowment for the Arts. You do not need to enclose tbe phrase in quotations. The keyword field allows you to search using words or phrases that appear anywhere in the biography.
To browse biographies, you can check off those that interest you and navigate through them this way instead of going back to the list every time.
NOTE: if you are looking for information on an artist who lived prior to the 20th century, you may want to try searching in Who’s Who in American History. For example, Paul Revere does not appear in Who’s Who in American Art due to his time period (18th-early 19th c.), but he does come up in Who’s Who in American History.
Who’s Who on the Web can be a useful resource for locating basic information on important contacts. Just to give you an idea of how to search for a group of people, let’s look for philanthropists in New York.
- Leave the first and last name boxes empty
- Check Search Current Biographies Only
- Select New York under State/Province of Mailing Address
- Enter philanthropist in the Occupation Keyword search box
(You may add “art” under Hobbies and Special Interests)
- Click Search
A word of caution. Only 11 people were brought up using these search criteria. Clearly, the list is far from complete; there are many more than 11 philanthropists in New York. It is not clear who exactly assigns the category of philanthropist, for example, and how it is assigned.