Finding Information about a person

Electronic Reference Databases

Some of the library's electronic databases include biographical material. When you use these, remember to put the person's last name first, e.g.,

          Gandhi, Indira
          Jordan, Michael

If that does not work, then try forward order:

          Indira Gandhi
          Michael Jordan

Discovering Collection
Has biographical material on a wide variety of persons, living and dead, real and mythical.
Gale Virtual Reference Library
Has a large biographical dictionary of women, and some biographical entries in other books.
Literature Resource Center
For biographies of writers, dead and living. Also includes illustrators, editors, and publishers.
LexisNexis Academic
For business figures and prominent persons. Click the People tab to search for names.
Oxford Reference Online Premium Collection
You can search in hundreds of reference books at once.


Reference Books


Biography Index is shelved on the index table in the Reference Index area. In it you can look up a person's name and find biographies published in magazines and books. Each volume covers a different period of publishing.

Some General encyclopedias

In Chemeketa's library, general encyclopedias are shelved in the 031s in the reference area. Older editions are available to check out in the 031 circulating section.

  • Encyclopedia Americana [R 031 En12]
  • Encyclopedia Britannica [R 031 En1]
  • World Book Encyclopedia [R 031 W89]

Biographical Dictionaries

At Chemeketa, general biographical dictionaries are found in Reference in the 920s. Most libraries will have at least some of these reference books:


  • American national biography [R 920.073 Am33]
  • Dictionary of American Biography [R920.073 D56] (covers only dead persons)
  • Great Lives from History: American Series [R 920.073 G79]
  • Notable American Women [R 920.720973 N84]
  • Notable Asian Americans [R 920.009295073 N84]
  • Notable Black American Men [R 920.7108996]
  • Notable Black American Women [R 920.7208996073]
  • Notable Latino Americans [R 920.009268 M47]
  • Notable twentieth-century Latin American women [R 920.72098 N84]
  • Notable Native Americans [R 920.00297 N84]
  • Who's Who in America [R920.073 W62; Marquis  Who's who" biographies also online on LexisNexis]


  • Current Biography [R920 C93] Covers persons who are living at the time of publication. It comes out yearly. An index volume covers the period 1940-2005.
  • Great Lives from History: Ancient and Medieval Series [R 920.009 G793]
  • Great Lives from History: Renaissance to 1900 Series [R 920.009 G79]
  • Great Lives from History: Twentieth Century Series [R 920.009 G792]
  • Dictionary of National Biography [R920.042 D56] Covers dead British persons
  • Dictionary of Women WorldWide
  • Encyclopedia of World Biography [R 920 M17; also online in Discovering Collection]
  • Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia [R 920.7203 W84; also online in Gale Virtual Reference]

Search in a score of biographical sources at the same time in Gale Virtual Reference Library

Finding Books, Articles, & More

Use the the library search.

To comment or request help, please e-mail Reference or call 503.399.5231.

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Updated: 25 November 2014