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Research Guides

Biography & autobiography

How do I search for thematic biographies or biographical resources?

  • Using Library of Congress subject headings is a great way to search effectively

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)
French art collectors and collections > Biography.  Art--Collectors and collecting--France
Biographical resources on Chinese scientists > Biography.  Scientists--China
Methodist clergy biographies from England > Biography Methodist Church--England--Clergy


How can subject headings help me find thematic biographies?

  • Select subject from the drop-down menu
  • Work your way down the list of results

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:

Select art resources

Select LBGTQ resources

Search tip: use biography lesbian, biography homosexual, etc. as browse subject search terms instead of biography LBGTQ (the acronym isn't a Library of Congress subject heading).

Select prosopography resources

In relation to biography, prosopography is:

Select religion resources

Select science e-resources

Select women's biographical resources

Search tip: if you're searching for political resources, try biography feminism in the browse search function.

Other thematic resources