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Research Guides

Biography & autobiography


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)
Iranian Muslim scholar biographies > Iran--Biography. Muslim scholars
Biographies of Israeli architects > Israel--Biography. Architects
Biographical resources about Iraqi archaeologists > Iraq--Biography. Archaeologists


How can subject headings help me find biographies?

  • Select subject from the drop-down menu
  • Work your way down the list and select the link that covers your topic
    • Tip: you don't need to use capital letters, periods, or dashes as you see in the above examples
    • Tip: search [specific country] biography dictionaries to find resources that give an overview of significant national figures (E.G. israel biography dictionaries)
    • Tip: doing a subject search on middle east biography is really broad: streamline your results by specifying a topic, country, or city

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 Arabic, Hebrew, etc.)

How do I transliterate?

Robarts Library also has a translation computer, located in the Reference Department on the 4th floor.