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Research Guides

Biography & autobiography

Finding Autobiographies

How do I find someone's biography or autobiography?

  • Select subject from the drop down 'field' menu
  • Type in the person's name, starting with the last name first

Subject headings

Below are subject headings that cover a range of autobiographical resources. 

  • Click on the links below and scroll through the results to see if any of the hits fit your topic
  • Or, begin a new search:
    • Select subject from the drop down 'field' menu
    • Combine these subject headings with your topic or region

Find more: search using subject headings

What are subject headings?

  • The vocabulary librarians use to describe and organize items in the collection
  • Subject headings may be different from the natural language used to describe topics:
Natural language   Library of Congress subject headings (controlled vocabulary)
Biographies on African kings (all countries)     >     Africa--Kings and rulers--biography                                              
Biographies from Communist Germany     > Germany (East)--biography
Biographical resources on the 2003 Iraq War      > Iraq War, 2003-2011--biography


How can subject headings help me find international biographic resources?

  • Select subject from the drop-down menu
  • Type in your topic, beginning with the theme or country, and then biography (E.G., politicians biography)
  • Work your way down the list and select the link that covers your topic

Hey!  Sometimes the language in LC subject headings is offensive!

Yes.  Library of Congress subject headings can sometimes demonstrate cultural or gender bias.  This is a growing field of research in library & information sciences.  Here's an interesting article on changes in subject headings:

Transliteration tables

Why transliterate?

  • You can search the catalogue for sources in languages that don't use roman scripts (such as Malayalam, Japanese, etc.)

How do I transliterate?

Robarts Library also has a translation computer, located in the Petro Jacyk Central & East European Resource Centre on the 3rd floor.

International biographical resources

National biographical resources






Middle East


Subject-based biographical resources



In relation to biography, prosopography is the collective study of a group of non-famous people, to learn about their profession, social origin, etc. It aims to learn about patterns and relationships, not individual achievements or life experiences. 




World Biographical Information Systems (WBIS)

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


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!

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