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Research Guides

Biography & autobiography

What is the 'WBIS'?

  • A database of biographical profiles
  • WBIS features global coverage, from 8th century BCE to the 21st century
  • The database provides an index to 57 Biographical Archives containing short biographies
  • The information comes from printed reference works published in the 16th century onwards

How do I use it?

Click the link: World Biographical Information Systems

Choose your language and click start:

WBIS in an index to 57 Biographical Archives. To locate a particular WBIS set, search the title in the library catalogue.

Some biographical profiles in the Biographical Archives are available on microfiche and some are available electronically. Access to digitized profiles is subscription based. To check University of Toronto's electronic subscription details, click this link that appears under the search box.  A pop-up window will tell you which Biographical Archives we have access to electronically: 

Enter your search terms in the box and hit search.  You might want to limit your search by a specific biographical archive if you're using a common name:

The next screen displays your results.  Click on any of the search hits to show brief biographical information, and the source citation (if applicable):

When you click on a name, you'll see this screen:

The Fiche Location lets us know that we can find more information about W.T. Robb:

  • On frame 144 of microfiche number 512;
  • In series II of the American Biographical Archive

Where can I find the microfiche?

The WBIS microfiche are located in Robarts reference room, located on the 4th floor of Robarts Library. The PDF gives detailed call number information so you know which fiche cabinets to look in.

Robarts Reference has two microfiche readers.  There are additional microfiche readers on the 5th floor, and in the Media Commons.

If you have any problems locating or using the microfiche, speak with a librarian at the Ask Us! Desk - we are more than happy to help!