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Research Guides

19th Century Resources

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Biographies are an excellent tool for locating information on important historical figures.

Categories of resources on this page:

  • Biography
  • British biography
  • Canadian biography
  • U.S. biography


Biography Resource Center (BioRC) 

  • Comprehensive database of biographical information on over 335,000 people from throughout history, around the world, and across all disciplines and subject areas

World Biographical Index

  • Microfiche sets of this vast system are available in the Reference Department, Robarts Library
  • Search the library catalogue by the title of the individual archive that interests you

British biography

Historical Directories: Searchable Digital Archive 

  • Historical Directories is a digital library of local and trade directories for England and Wales, from 1750 to 1919
  • Contains high quality reproductions of comparatively rare books, essential tools for research into local and genealogical history
  • Produced by the University of Leicester

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 

  • An illustrated collection of 50,000 specially written biographies of the men and women who shaped all aspects of Britain's past, from the 4th century BCE to 2000 CE

Canadian biography

Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online - Dictionnaire bibliographique du Canada en ligne 

  • Provides access to the 14 volumes already in print and to a selection of biographies from unprinted volumes
  • Biographies are fully searchable by keyword and volumes 2, 4-8, and 11-15 are accessible by identity/profession and volumes 2, 5-8, and 11-15 are accessible by geographic region

U.S. biography

The New York times obituaries index 

  • E176 .N4
  • Coverage: v. 1(1858-1968)-2(1969-78)