How to Find Biographies & Autobiographies

This Steve Jobs book is one of many biographies available through CSN Libraries

What is a biography?

A biography or autobiography is an account of the special and important events in a person’s life along with the basic facts such as date of birth, date of death, nationality, profession, or reason for celebrity. An autobiography is written by the individual themself and a biography is written by an author interested in the individual.

A biography may be a short entry in an encyclopedia or a full length, very detailed account of a person’s life. A book or article will talk about the individual’s accomplishments, cultural background and their historical significance.

How can I find a biography?

When you search for a biography it helps to know the person’s full name or alternate name, along with the general time period of their life. If the person has a common name you might want to include their profession in the search terms. Here are some places to search for biographies on the CSN Libraries website:

  • Find Books: Do a keyword search by name for a comprehensive book on the person’s life. Or to find information about a person included with others in their discipline use keywords such as “notable women scientists” or “Latino writers.” Your results may contain print books or ebooks. If you use Advanced Search (click the magnifying glass once, click advanced search, and use the subject field) you can type the person’s last name followed by their first name (ex. Jobs, Steve). You’ll find books where he is the main subject. I found 7 books this way, some in print and some in electronic format.
  • Find Articles: Do a keyword search to find articles using the person’s name and their profession and use the word “biography.” Other words you can use as search terms to find biographical information are “obituary,” “life” or “career.” Advanced Search works well too.
  • Browse Databases: Recommended databases to find biographies include Gale Virtual Reference Library, Credo Reference, EBSCO, ProQuest, Hoover’s Company Profiles, and Literature Resource Center.

If you need help using any of these resources, just ask a librarian.