Europe: UK


Obituary prior to 1800 (as far as relates to England, Scotland, and Ireland) comp. by Sir William Musgrave ... and entitled by him "A general nomenclator and obituary ..." Ed. by Sir George J. Armytage ... London, 1899-1901. 6 v. (Publications of the Harleian society ... vol. XLIV-XLIX)
HOLLIS Records
HathiTrust full text
--Alphabetical index to obituaries and biographies found in some 85 works. Gives name, date of death, sometimes a characterizing word or phrase, and reference to the book or other publication where a biography or obituary notice may be found. Very useful, especially for names not included in the Oxford dictionary of national biography.  Indexes obituaries in the Gentleman's magazine.  See A. Griffiths’ “Sir William Musgrave and British biography”. British library journal, v. 18 (1992), p. 171-189.

An index to the biographical and obituary notices in the Gentleman's magazine, 1731-1780, by Robert Henry Farrar. London, 1891 [i.e. 1886-91] 677 p. ( Publications of the British Record Society, Index Society, v. 15)
Houghton | P 193.1.25*

The Gentleman's magazine biographical and obituary notices, 1781-1819: an index, by Benjamin Nangle. NY: Garland Pub., 1980, 422 p. HOLLIS Record

Oldfield, Sybil. Collective biography of women in England, 1550-1900: a select annotated bibliography. London ; New York : Mansell, 1999. xviii, 168 p.
Widener | WID-LC | CT3320.Z99 O43 1999x
--Descriptions of 365 collective biographical works. Entries usually list all included women and are annotated as to purpose, relation to other titles, and author.  Category Index lists the books by subject.  Name index lists the individuals included in the collective biographies.  Some errors in the name index: try alternative name forms. Boase’s Modern English biography not included.

Booth, Alison. 2004. How to make it as a woman : collective biographical history from Victoria to the present. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 423 p.
Widener CT 21.b515
--Appendix (pp. 351-387), Bibliography of Collective Biographies of Women, 1830-1940, lists works containing three or more biographies, with chronological index.  Annotated (sometimes with names of biographees). Searchable online version available

Simpson, Donald Herbert. Biography catalogue of the Library of the Royal Commonwealth Society / by Donald H. Simpson. London : Royal Commonwealth Society, 1961.511 p. Widener | WID-LC | CT104 .S56 1961x

An index of biographical materials contained in the Society's library about persons in the Empire and the Commonwealth, and those in the United Kingdom and elsewhere connected with British imperial affairs. Books and periodical articles are both included.  The “Collective Biography and Country Indexes” section lists works of collective biography by country or region (e.g., East Africa) and lists the persons in many of them.  Persons in these lists do not appear in the main alphabetical sequence of persons unless indicated.  The Supplementary List of Authors (pp. 437-439) lists additional autobiographical works. Index of authors.

For recent colonial figures: Kirk-Greene’s A biographical dictionary of the British Colonial Service , 1939-1966, whichs lists the nearly 15,000 names in the Colonial Office List with birth year, education, and posts held.

Kirk-Greene, A. H. M. A biographical dictionary of the British Colonial Service , 1939-1966 / compiled by A.H.M. Kirk-Greene. London ; New York : H. Zell, 1991, 403 p.  Widener | WID-LC | DA16.8 .K57 1991 F


Special Sources of Biographical Information for Great Britain and the British Empire (Duke Univ.)

The Autobiography of the working class : an annotated critical bibliography / editors, John Burnett, David  Vincent, David Mayall.   Brighton, Sussex : Harvester, c1984-1989.   3 v.   
Widener | WID-LC | HD8393.A1 Z992 x, 1984
--Entries for each of the 2144 autobiographies include brief biographies of the authors and evaluative comments.  Indexes of topics, places, occupations, type of education, and date (by decade).  Vol. 1: 1790-1900; v. 2: 1900-1945; v. 3: Supplement, 1790-1945.  Hackett’s XIX century British working-class autobiographies: an annotated bibliography 436764 provides detailed abstracts of 64 autobiographies with index of locales, occupations and major events.

Hackett, Nan. XIX century British working-class autobiographies: an annotated bibliography. New York: AMS Press, c1985. LOCATION: Widener: WID-LC HD8393.A1 H32 1985

Jacobs, Phyllis M. Registers of the universities, colleges and schools of Great Britain and Ireland. Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 37, no. 96, pp. 185-232.1964.

Most of the registers include some biographical material.  Index of Schools under Places.  Also published in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 37 (1964), no. 96, pp. 185-232. Revision of version by H. E. R. Hart (1931-32).

Hart, H. E. R. Bibliography of the Registers (printed) of the universities... Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research.1931-32.

Hepworth, Philip. Select Biographical Sources.

Kanner, Barbara. Women in context: two hundred years of British women autobiographers, a reference guide and reader. New York: G.K. Hall; London: Prentice Hall Hall [sic] International, c1997.
LOCATION: Widener: WID-LC HQ1593.A3 Z995 1997x

Lists over 1040 largely unrecognized autobiographies by 812 women born between 1700 and 1920.  Working class authors emphasized.  Arranged by author with brief biographical sketches and summary.  Three indexes list authors by birth year in 20-year segments, biographical features (e.g., profession, activities, religion, politics, marital status), and subject.

See also Personal writings by women to 1900: a bibliography of American and British writers which includes over 4000 autobiographies, memoirs, diaries, etc, many briefly annotated and with chronological list and subject index.

Davis, Gwenn and Beverly A. Joyce. Personal writings by women to 1900: a bibliography Of American and British writers. London ; NY: Mansell, 1989, 294 p.

Matthews, William, British autobiographies; an annotated bibliography of British autobiographies published or written before 1951. [Hamden, Conn.] Archon Books, 1968 [c1955] xiv, 376 p.
HOLLIS Records

Information given includes full name of author, abbreviated title, and date of publication with brief and pithy annotations.  Arranged alphabetically by author with index under professional/occupational headings, places and regions, reminiscences, wars, and general topics.

The art of biography in eighteenth century England, Bibliographical supplement, Donald A. Stauffer. Princeton, Princeton University press; London, H. Milford, Oxford university press, 1941, 293 p.
Widener | 10469.17.2

A subject and author index of biographies and autobiographies written or translated in England 1700-1800, with a chronological table of the most important biographical works in England, 1700-1800.  A supplement to the author's The art of biography in 18th century England. Preceded by the author's English biography before 1700, which includes a bibliography of biographies published before 1700 437811 listed by author and biographee, including modern eds. (p. 289-372).

The art of biography in eighteenth century England. Princeton, Princeton University Press; London, H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1941, 572 p.
Widener | 10469.17  

Stauffer, Donald A. English biography before 1700. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1930, 392 p. Widener | 10469.15

Sweeney, Patricia E., 1950- Biographies of British women: an annotated bibliography / by Patricia E. Sweeney. London : Mansell, 1993, 410 p.
Widener | RR 1764

Lists 2,014 books, published from the 17th century through 1992, on more than 700 British women. Annotations are evaluative as well as descriptive. Includes a categorical index by occupation and other categories (relative of famous person, royalty, etc.) and an author/title index.

Collective Biography

The biographical dictionary of British feminists, by Olive Banks. Brighton, Sussex: Wheatsheaf, 1985- v.
WID-LC | HQ1123 .B36x 1985b &
--Aims "to provide biographical sketches of those women and, occasionally, men, who contributed their time, effort and money, and sometimes their health and happiness to forwarding the progress of the women's movement."-Introd to v.1. Women whose feminist careers began after 1930 or whose main work belongs to the later generation of feminists are not included in v. 1. Vol. 2 focuses on "the years between 1920 and 1945 ... . women whose feminist activity did not appear to begin until after 1945 have been excluded."-Introd. to v. 2. Articles with source lists. Alphabetical arrangement; each volume has an index of names (with cross-references) and a topical index. Volume 1 covers persons active through 1930; vol. 2 focuses on the years 1920-1945.   Indexed in Biography and genealogy master index; full text in British biographical archive . Contents v. 1, 1800-1930 v. 2, Supplement, 1900-45.

A biographical encyclopedia of early modern Englishwomen: exemplary lives and memorable acts, 1500-1650, ed. by Carole Levin, Anna Riehl Bertolet, and Jo Eldridge Carney. London : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2017, 630 pages
--Organized by field of endeavor. Entries with source lists.

Bellamy, Joyce M. Dictionary of labour biography [edited by] Joyce M. Bellamy and John Saville. London, Macmillan [1972 -<2007>- v.  1-13
Widener | Soc1345.15.1   NIS

Ambitious biographical dictionary which intends to include "not only the national personalities of the British labour movement but also the activists at regional and local level." Introd. Indeed, "everyone who made a contribution, however modest, to any organisation or movement, provided that certain basic details of their career can be established," is to be included. The period of coverage is from 1790 to the present, excluding living persons. It is expected that 15 to 20 volumes will be required to treat figures down to 1914. Each volume is alphabetically arranged and includes biographies without regard to date of the biographee's activity. A consolidated index appears in each successive volume; a system of cross-references is also provided, referring to both earlier and later volumes. Vol. 6 includes a list of additions and corrections for v. 1-5. Online consolidated index currently unavailable but expected to reappear soon.

Biographical dictionary of modern British radicals / edited by Joseph O. Baylen and Norbert J. Gossman. Hassocks, Sussex : Harvester Press ; Atlantic Highlands, N.J. : Humanities Press, 1979- v. ; Widener | WID-LC | HN400.R3 B56 x, 1979-88  3 v in 4.

Covers “(1) those who hoped to change in some fundamental way the old order in which Britain was dominated by the landed aristocracy and the established Church; and (2) those who sought to alter the social and economic structure of society through positive state action, to achieve a more equitable distribution of wealth and social welfare legislation." Introd.  Complements the Dictionary of labour biography and provides cross-references to individuals who also appear in that work. Articles are of substantial length, are signed, and include source lists and locations of personal papers.  Contents: v. 1, 1770-1830; v. 2, 1830-70; v. 3, 1870-1914, pt. 1, A-K, pt. 2, L-Z. Full text in British biographical archive.

Biographical dictionary of British radicals in the seventeenth century / ed. by Richard L. Greaves and Robert Zaller. Brighton, S: Harvester Pr, 1982-1984. 3 v.
Widener | WID-LC | HN400.R3 B55 x, 1982 
--Offers similar features for the earlier era.

A dictionary of obituaries of modern British radicals / Floyd D. Barrows, David B. Mock. NY: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1989, 490 p.
Widener | WID-LC | HN400.R3 B37 1989x    NIS

Reprints contemporary obituaries of those included in Biographical dictionary of modern British radicals. Sources of obituaries include Gentleman's magazine, Western mail, the Times, the New York times, and Spectator. Each entry concludes with a few source citations.

Biography database [computer file] : 1680-1830 / directed by John Cannon & Frank Robinson.
Widener | CD-ROM RR 55

Raw biographical data culled from British and U.S. city and trade directories, book subscription and society membership lists, Gentleman's Magazine obituaries and birth/death/marriage/bankruptcy notices (1731-1770), and other sources. Numerous search criteria: name, dates, gender, occupation, address, religion, etc. Projected CD-ROMs 4 and 5 abandoned.

Contents of CD-ROMs 1-3:

Available through subscription to  Free contents information available

Boase, Frederic. Modern English biography. Truro, Netherton and Worth, For the author, 1892-1921. 6 v.
Widener | WID-LC | CT 773 .B6 1965bx 

A useful work, particularly for minor 19th-century names. Includes many names not in the 278305 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  Brief, paragraph-length articles.  Each article has sources, often including periodical articles. Good subject index, including such interesting headings as Deaths under peculiar circumstances, and Names, fancy (i.e., sobriquets), as well as the more usual categories. Contents: v. 1-3, A-Z, Index; v. 4-6 (Suppl. v. 1-3), A-Z. Supplement title varies slightly. Full text in British biographical archive. Reprinted: N.Y.: Barnes & Noble, 1965.   See also Bell’s Index to Biographies of Women in Boase's Modern English biography.

Bell, Peter. Index to biographies of women in Boase's Modern English biography / [compiled by Peter Bell] Edinburgh : P. Bell, 1986. [31] p. ; Widener | WID-LC | CT3202 .B45 1986x

British and Irish Biographies, 1840-1940


Contains 272 biographical dictionaries (1,200 volumes), reproduced on microfiche and arranged in six parts.  The biographical works, many of them multivolume sets, annuals, etc., are reproduced in full as published; the biographical sketches are not cumulated into a single alphabet as in the British biographical archive. Alphabetical name index to parts 1-3 (dictionaries with serial numbers 1-138) on microfiche; parts 4-6 (serial nos. 139-272) unindexed.  List of sources accompanies the microfiche index. British Library web site lists the sources alphabetically and gives their serial numbers (termed “Fiche numbers”). Includes many scarce sources.  Individual sources, as well as whole set, are available from ProQuest Information and Learning Some of these works are in the British biographical archive, which includes only selected volumes of series, whereas British and Irish Biographies includes whole sets.

Some of the sources included are discussed in H. J. Hanham’s “Some Neglected Sources of Biographical Information: County Biographical Dictionaries, 1890-1937” (Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, vol. 34 (1961), pp. 55-66) which describes several series of county biographical dictionaries and who’s whos.  Includes list by county. The Pike’s New century series biographies (1898-1912), included in British and Irish Biographies, 1840-1940, has been reprinted as A Dictionary of Edwardian biography with a separate index including names for all the volumes.

A Dictionary of Edwardian biography. Edinburgh : Peter Bell, 1983- v.  + index (192 p.)
Microforms (Lamont) | Microfiche W 3044
Widener | WID-LC | CT782 .D52x 1983

British biographical archive

Oxford dictionary of national biography : in association with the British Academy : from the earliest times to the year 2000 / ed. by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford; NY: Oxford University Press, 2004. 60 v.
HOLLIS Record Print and online access

Preeminent source for biographies of deceased Britons and for significant travelers or resident foreigners.  Over 55,000 articles, with substantial source lists including references to archival collections. Includes revised or rewritten entries for all 38,500 persons in the original Dictionary of National Biography (DNB), and its supplements. Full text of all old DNB articles are linked from ODNB articles.  Each January about 200 persons dying five years previously are added. In May and October new persons from all eras are added.  Includes many more women and representatives of unusual occupations (e.g., snooker player) than the old DNB. About 10,000 (18%) entries have portraits.  Wealth at decease indicated and known portraits enumerated.  People  search offers searching by name, fields of interest (elaborate list at Open Full List), sex, places, dates, life events, religious affiliation.  Searches may be limited by presence of image.  Full text search available.  Oxford dictionary of national biography also available in print covering persons dying through 2000.  Contributor index only.  The old DNB and its supplements are indexed in Biography and genealogy master index.  Original DNB (without supplements available full text in Internet Archive.  For background on the old and new DNB see R. Faber and B. Harrison’s The Dictionary of National Biography: A publishing history (pp. 171-192 in Lives in print: biography and the book trade from the Middle Ages to the 21st century 508955) and Harrison’s 'A Slice of Their Lives': Editing the DNB, 1882-1999. (English historical review, vol. 119 no. 484 (2004), pp. 1179-1201).  See also

Guide to reference books, 11th ed.; J. Scherrer’s “’The most amusing book in the language’: The Dictionary of National Biography” in Distinguished classics of reference publishing; K. Thomas, Changing conceptions of national biography: the Oxford DNB in historical perspective.

The British establishment, 1760-1784; an eighteenth-century biographical dictionary, by Alan Valentine. [Norman, University of Oklahoma Press [1970] 2 v. (xii, 960 p.)
Widener | Br 2060.572   NIS
--About 3,000 entries on the governing class, the aristocracy and other influential persons, during the era of the loss of the American colonies and of the Industrial Revolution.  Intended to elucidate names found in primary documents.  Nearly half the persons are not in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Uses numerous scholarly sources, often archival, but not individually cited. Useful for much of the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Men of the reign; a biographical dictionary of eminent persons of British and colonial birth who have died during the reign of Queen Victoria; ed. by Thomas Humphry Ward. London, New York, G. Routledge and sons, 1885. Widener | Harvard Depository | Br 2226.35
--Full text in Saur

History of Parliament ... 1439-1509, by Colonel the Right Honourable Josiah C. Wedgwood ... in collaboration with Anne D. Holt ... London, H.M. Stationery Off., 1936- v. front. (v. 2) fold. map, facsims., col. coats of arms.
--Widener | Br 208.21   NIS

Who was who, a companion to "Who's who", containing the biographies of those who died during the period 1897-1916. London, A. & C. Black, 1920. xiv, 788 p.

For the most part the original sketches as they last appeared in Who's who 98183 are reprinted with the date of death added, but in a few instances additional information has been incorporated. Entries for those whose death came to the editors' attention after previous editions of a volume were published are found in an addendum preceding the main alphabet. Indexed by Who was who: a cumulated index, 1897-2000 which provides an index to v. 1-10 of the series. Death dates which did not appear in Who was who have been added in the index when available. Dates for each volume appear in the title. Contents: v. 1, 1897-1915 (6th ed., 1988); v. 2, 1916-28 (5th ed., 1992); v. 3, 1929-40 (2nd ed., 1967); v. 4, 1941-50 (5th ed., 1980); v. 5, 1951-60 (4th ed., 1984); v. 6, 1961-70 (2nd ed., 1979); v. 7, 1971-80 (1981); v. 8, 1981-90 (1991); v. 9, 1991-95 (1996); v. 10, 1996-2000 (2001); v. 11, 2001-2005. Also published in a New York edition by St. Martin's. Full text in British biographical archive (v. 1-3, 1897-1940 only). More information at A. C Black web site

Who's who in British history: Beginnings to 1901. Ed. Geoffrey Treasure;


"Who's who"

The pioneer work of the who's who type and still one of the most important. Until 1897, it was a handbook of titled and official classes and included lists of names rather than biographical sketches. With 1897, called "First year of new issue," it changed its character and became a biographical dictionary of prominent persons in many fields. It has been developed and enlarged along these lines ever since. It is principally British, but a few prominent names of other nationalities are included. Biographies are reliable and fairly detailed; they give main facts, addresses, often telephone numbers and, in case of authors, lists of works. For a compilation of biographies of deceased persons selected from the volumes 1897-2000, see Who was who . Online access with print/online package Reference Indexed in Biography and genealogy master index (1974- ) 160047.  See L. K. Simon’s “Afternoon tea, Parliament, and…Who’s who” in Distinguished classics of reference publishing.    More information at A. C Black web site

The Catholic who's who. London : Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1936-1952. 6 v.  18- St John's Seminary | CAB
Widener | CP 410.55    Full text in Saur (1910, 1926, 1930)

Ireland, Northern

Collective Biography

Dictionary of Ulster biography / compiled by Kate Newmann for the Ulster History Circle from research funded by the Cultural Traditions Group and the International Fund for Ireland. Belfast : Institute of Irish Studies, Queen's University of Belfast, 1993, 278 p.
Widener | WID-LC | DA990.U452 A14 1993In
--Paragraph-length biographies of deceased persons associated with, but not necessarily born in, Ulster. Terminal bibliography. Full text in British biographical archive.

Modern Irish lives : dictionary of 20th-century Irish biography / general editor, Louis McRedmond. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, c1996. xix, 328 p.
Widener | WID-LC | CT862 .M63 1996bx NIS


Who's who in Northern Ireland: 2002. 3rd ed. Ayrshire: Inglewood Books, 2002. 239 p.
Widener | WID-LC | CT862 .W56 2002x (Series)
Includes (3rd ed., 2002) over 1400 entries. Earlier eds. 1998, 2000.
--Earlier coverage in: Who's who in Northern Ireland, 593688 1937, 1938, 1939-40. 1938 ed. included in British and Irish biographies 1840-1940. 


Collective Biography

Anderson, William, 1805-1866. The Scottish nation, or The surnames, families, literature, honours and biographical history of the people of Scotland. Edinburgh, etc., A. Fullerton & Co., 1876-77. 3 vol. in 9.

Widener | Br 11000.8.89

Frequently republished during the 1800s, often in three volumes. Fairly long articles giving the histories of families and biographies of individuals, illustrated by woodcuts and steel engravings and often with facsimiles of autographs. Full text of 1862 ed. in British biographical archive.

Chambers Scottish biographical dictionary / editor, Rosemary Goring. London ; New York : Chambers, 1992. xl, 468 p. ;

Widener | WID-LC | CT813 .C48 1992x

Biographical sketches of some 2,500 figures, both living and deceased, with an emphasis on the 20th century. A subject index precedes the biographical entries. Full text in British biographical archive.  Previous ed.: {i}Lives of illustrious and distinguished Scotsman{/i}, by Robert Chambers (Glasgow : Blackie & Son, 1932-1935).

Ewan, Elizabeth, et al. eds.  The biographical dictionary of Scottish women : from the earliest times to 2004. Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press, c2006, 403 p.

Covers 830 deceased women in wide range of occupations.  Articles have sources and locations for personal papers.  Subjects were born in Scotland, lived an appreciable part of their lives in Scotland, or significantly influenced Scottish life.  Includes Scottish diaspora.  Effort was made to include little-known but significant figures. Thematic index of over 70 fields of endeavor.  List of names, dates, and occupations of about 150 additional women not included in the published work due to lack of space is available at the publisher's

Web site

Donaldson, Gordon, and Robert S. Morpeth. Who's who in Scottish history. Oxford, Blackwell [1973], 254 p.

Widener  |  Br 11000.89

The New companion to Scottish culture / edited by David Daiches. Rev. and updated ed. Edinburgh : Polygon, 1993, 385 p.

Widener  |  WID-LC    |  DA772 .N39 1993


Who's who in Scotland. Ayr : Carrick,

Widener | RR1567.2 Latest

About 4500 entries (2006 ed.) most with contact information. Full text (2002 ed.) in British biographical archive.


Collective Biography

Welsh Biography Online.  NIS

Includes 4325 biographies, with substantial source lists, of persons deceased between the 4th century and 1970. In English and Welsh. Online version of the print Dictionary of Welsh biography down to 1940 and The Dictionary of Welsh biography, 1941-1970: together with a supplement to The Dictionary of Welsh biography down to 1940. Full text of Dictionary of Welsh biography down to 1940 in British biographical archive.

The Dictionary of Welsh biography down to 1940. Under the auspices of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. [Editors: John Edward Lloyd, R. T. Jenkins] London, 1959. lvii, 1157 p. map. Widener | Br 7740.23

Jenkins, R. T. (Robert Thomas). The Dictionary of Welsh biography, 1941-1970: together with a supplement to "The Dictionary of Welsh biography down to 1940" London, Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. [2002?}