Question: What are your favorite biographical resources, online or in print?

What are your favorite sources for looking up biographies? Do you have a favorite site online, or do you swear by a particular print source?

We’re in the very early stages of planning a wiki for the National Archives and have recently been considering including a biography section on the site. Our tentative plan is to use NARA’s approved biographical notes to create wiki stubs (i.e. very brief articles that serve as topical jumping-off points and lead to future description by knowledgeable wiki readers), initially focusing on military personnel. Since this is relatively uncharted territory for us, we’d love to know what sources you find the most valuable, whether you’d be inclined to contribute to a crowdsourced resource of this type, and whether you think it would be a beneficial addition to NARA’s social media research endeavors.

3 thoughts on “Question: What are your favorite biographical resources, online or in print?

  1. 1 Wikipedia.
    2 Wikipedia
    3 Google results.

    I think the bottom line is the effort you put into writing biographies will only be rewarded if you can at least make the first page of a search engine’s results. It might be more efficient to throw in with Wikipedia than to compete with them. If I were going to join a crowdsourced effort (I’ve contributed a few items to Wikipedia) I’d go with the one which welcomes me and gives me the most readers.

  2. As an authorities cataloger, I would be hard pressed to name one or even a few of my favorite biographical resources. Because of the wide variety of people I cover in my name cataloging work, my first stop for biographical resources is most always the Biography and Genealogy Master Index (BGMI) online. With simple searching you receive a well organized and easy to use list of respected print resources. When the BGMI doesn’t get me to the source, I’m finding Wikipedia to be a good starting point for biographies.

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