Answered By: Sarah Morehouse
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2015     Views: 71

When you need to find biographical information on a person, the first place to look is the Biography Resource Center database. It contains things like newspaper articles, magazine articles, reference book articles, and primary sources all relating to the life stories of notable and famous individuals, both past and present. You can get to it by going to the library web site, and clicking Article Databases. Then either use the search box at the top to search for your database by its name, or scroll down and you will see Biography Resource Center. Inside, you will be able to search for the person by last name or first and last name. It doesn't matter which order you put the names. 

People who are prominent in business, the arts, and various professions often have biographical information on the web. Since the information is from the web, you will have to evaluate it especially carefully for quality and reliability. However if the biographical information about a business person is on the web site of their business or professional association, or the biography of a chemist is on the web site of the American Chemical Society or the university that employs her, it is probably a valid source.

Biographical information on people from the past may also be found on the web. If you are not looking for a research source, Wikipedia is actually a great starting point for your research. After scanning the article, use its bibliography to find additional information resources on the topic. 

Especially notable individuals may have a biography written about them in the form of a book. To search our Ebook Catalog, go to the library web site and click Books. Use the pull-down menu next to the search box to select Subject Words, and in the search box, type the person's name, in quotation marks. To read any book in the search results list, click the View Ebook link.

If you want to broaden your search for biographical books, your public library will probably have many biographies written for a popular audience. 

You can also go to your nearest SUNY or New York State community college library, where you will find more scholarly biographies. Empire State College students may take out books using their college photo ID. You can also check with your public library to see if you can get a regional borrower's card and use the other college libraries in your area. 

There are also scholarly biographical articles. Use a database on the subject for which the person was famous. If that is unclear, use a multidisciplinary database like Academic Search Complete or ProQuest Research Library. Search like this:

"Frederick Douglass" AND biography


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