How to Find Biographies or Autobiographies at the CSN Libraries

By Susan Gregg
Published on 15 March, 2022

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 herself 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 a person written about along 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, e.g. 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- again do a keyword search to find articles, this time use the person’s name and their profession and use the word “biography”. Other words you can use as a search term to find biographical information is “obituary”, “life” or “career”. Advanced Search works well too.
  • Recommended databases to find biographies include Gale Virtual Reference Library, Credo Reference, EBSCO, ProQuest, or Literature Resource Center.  This last database not only has biographical essays in their diverse and inclusive collections but also literary criticism of the author’s works.  Alison Bechdel is the author featured in the photo.