Biographical dictionary

A biographical dictionary is a type of encyclopedic dictionary limited to biographical information. Many attempt to cover the major personalities of a country (with limitations, such as living persons only, in Who's Who, or deceased people only, in the Dictionary of National Biography). Others are specialized, in that they cover important names in a subject field, such as architecture or engineering.


Tarif Khalidi claimed the genre of biographical dictionaries is a "unique product of Arab Muslim culture".[1] The earliest extant example of the biographical dictionary dates from 9th-century Iraq, and by the 16th-century it was a firmly established and well-respected form of historical writing.[2] They contain more social data for a large segment of the population than that found in any other pre-industrial society. The earliest biographical dictionaries initially focused on the lives of the prophets of Islam and their companions, with one of the earliest examples being The Book of The Major Classes by Ibn Sa'd al-Baghdadi, and then began documenting the lives of many other historical figures (from rulers to scholars) who lived in the medieval Islamic world.[3]

See also

References and sources


  1. ^ Khalidi, Tarif (January 1973). "ISLAMIC BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARIES: A PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT". The Muslim World. 63 (1): 53–65. doi:10.1111/j.1478-1913.1973.tb03104.x.
  2. ^ Scalenghe, Sara (2014). "Introduction". Disability in the Ottoman Arab World, 1500-1800. Loyola University Maryland. p. 16. ISBN 1107622794.
  3. ^ Josef W. Meri (2005), Medieval Islamic civilization: an encyclopedia, 2, Routledge, p. 110, ISBN 0-415-96690-6


1826 in Scotland

Events from the year 1826 in Scotland.

A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature

A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature is a collection of biographies of writers by John William Cousin (1849–1910), published in 1910. Most of the entries consist of only one paragraph but some entries, like William Shakespeare's, are quite lengthy.The book was the 5,000th e-book provided by the Distributed Proofreaders project to Project Gutenberg, where it was released on August 21, 2004.

Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie

Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (German: Universal German Biography) is one of the most important and most comprehensive biographical reference works in the German language.It was published by the Historical Commission of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences between 1875 and 1912 in 56 volumes, printed in Leipzig by Duncker & Humblot. The ADB contains biographies of about 26,500 people who died before 1900 and lived in the German language Sprachraum of their time, including people from the Netherlands before 1648.Its successor, the Neue Deutsche Biographie, was started in 1953 and is planned to be ready in 2019.

American National Biography

The American National Biography (ANB) is a 24-volume biographical encyclopedia set that contains about 17,400 entries and 20 million words, first published in 1999 by Oxford University Press under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies. A 400-entry supplement appeared in 2002. Additional funding came from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The general editors were John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes.The ANB bills itself as the successor of the Dictionary of American Biography, which was first published between 1926 and 1937. It is not, however, a strict superset of this older publication; the selection of topics was made anew.It is commonly available in the reference sections of United States libraries, and is available online by subscription (see external links).

Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians

Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians is a major reference originally compiled by Theodore Baker, PhD, and published in 1900 by G. Schirmer, Inc. The ninth edition, the most recent edition, was published in 2001 — one hundred and one years after the first edition.

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress

The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress is a biographical dictionary of all present and former members of the United States Congress and its predecessor, the Continental Congress. Also included are Delegates from territories and the District of Columbia and Resident Commissioners from the Philippines and Puerto Rico.

The online edition also includes a guide to research collections (a list of institutions where member's papers, letters, correspondence, and other items are archived) as well as an extended bibliography of published works concerning the member (a shorter bibliography is included with the member's biography). These additional resources when available can be accessed via links on the left side of the member's page on the website.

Biographie Nationale de Belgique

The Biographie nationale de Belgique (French; "National Biography of Belgium") is a biographical dictionary of Belgium. It was published by the Royal Academy of Belgium in 44 volumes between 1866 and 1986. A continuation series, entitled the Nouvelle Biographie Nationale ("New National Biography"), has been published by the Royal Academy of Science, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium since 1988. Both the Biographie nationale and Nouvelle biographie nationale were digitised by the Fonds InBev-Baillet Latour and can be freely consulted at the Academy's website.

A parallel biographical dictionary has been produced in Dutch since 1964, entitled the Nationaal Biografisch Woordenboek ("National Biographical Dictionary"). It places more emphasis on figures important to the history and culture of Flanders and is published by the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (with the co-operation of the Royal Academy of Dutch language and literature and the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium).

Browne Willis

Browne Willis (16 September 1682 – 5 February 1760) was an antiquary, author, numismatist and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1705 to 1708.

Chambers Biographical Dictionary

Chambers Biographical Dictionary provides concise descriptions of over 18,000 notable figures from Britain and the rest of the world. It was first published in 1897.

The centenary edition (ISBN 0-550-16060-4) was edited by Melanie Parry and the revised edition (ISBN 0-550-18022-2) was edited by J. O. Thorne and T. C. Collocott. The 9th edition, 2011, has biographies of over 18,000 people, most consisting of about a dozen lines in a two-column page layout. Some however run to 50 lines or more while Shakespeare covers two pages. Entries typically consist of place of birth, a summary on education or career, and achievements or publications. A single reference source is usually given.The publishers, Chambers Harrap, who were formerly based in Edinburgh, claim their Biographical Dictionary is the most comprehensive and authoritative single-volume biographical dictionary available, covering entries in such areas as sport, science, music, art, literature, politics, television, and film. The 1990 reprint is published by University Press, Cambridge.The centenary edition contained well over 17,500 alphabetically arranged articles describing the nationality, occupation, and achievements of each person, as well as 250 panels which focus on a wide variety of individuals regarded as being particularly important, influential, and interesting. Sources are given and there are thousands of suggestions for further reading.

Contemporary Authors

Contemporary Authors is an annually updated reference work published by Gale Cengage. It provides biographical details on over 120,000 writers in all genres whose works have been published in the English language. Contemporary Authors was originally released as a series of books, but is now available in an online version as part of Gale's Literature Resource Center.

Authors can submit information about themselves, but they must meet certain inclusion criteria to receive a profile in Contemporary Authors. Authors whose works have been published only by vanity presses are generally excluded.The first edition of Contemporary Authors was released in 1962. The series is held in many libraries, and was honored by the American Library Association in 1985 as one of the "most distinguished reference titles" of the preceding 25 years.

Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology

The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1849, originally published 1844 under a slightly different title) is an encyclopedia/biographical dictionary. Edited by William Smith, the dictionary spans three volumes and 3,700 pages. It is a classic work of 19th-century lexicography. The work is a companion to Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities and Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography.

Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani

The Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (English: Biographical Dictionary of the Italians) is a biographical dictionary published by the Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana, started in 1925 and not yet completed. It is planned to include about 40,000 biographies of distinguished Italians.

The entries are signed by their authors and provide a rich bibliography.

Hvem er hvem?

Hvem er hvem? (English: Who is Who?) is a Norwegian book series, presenting facts about notable persons from Norway. The first edition was issued in 1912, and the 14th edition came in 1994. In the 2008 edition, edited by Knut Olav Åmås, one thousand persons were selected for presentation. About one third of the articles are longer, signed biographies, while the rest have a shorter, more encyclopedic format.

Norsk biografisk leksikon

Norsk biografisk leksikon is the largest Norwegian biographical encyclopedia.

The first edition (NBL1) was issued between 1921 and 1983, including 19 volumes and 5,100 articles. It was published by Aschehoug with economic support from the state.Kunnskapsforlaget bought the rights to NBL1 from Aschehoug in 1995, and after a pre-project in 1996-97 the work for a new edition began in 1998. The project had economic support from the Fritt Ord Foundation and the Ministry of Culture, and the second edition (NBL2) was launched in the years 1999-2005, including 10 volumes and ca. 5,700 articles. In 2006 the work for an electronic edition of NBL2 began, with support from the same institutions. In 2009 an Internet edition, with free access, was released by Kunnskapsforlaget together with the general-purpose Store norske leksikon. The electronic edition features additional biographies, and updates about dates of death of biographees. Apart from that, the vast body of text is unaltered from the printed version.

Polish Biographical Dictionary

Polski Słownik Biograficzny (PSB; Polish Biographical Dictionary) is a Polish-language biographical dictionary, comprising an alphabetically arranged compilation of authoritative biographies of some 25,000 notable Poles and of foreigners who have been active in Poland – famous as well as less well known persons, from Popiel, Piast Kołodziej and Mieszko I, at the dawn of Polish history, to persons who died in the year 2000. The Dictionary, published incrementally since 1935, is a work in progress. It currently covers entries from A to S and its completion is expected about 2030.

The PSB is, by its own assessment, "at present... one of the world's leading biographical publications." Outside Poland, it is available at the British Library, the Library of Congress, the Vatican Library, the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, the Getty Museum, and many other national and major research libraries.

Russian Biographical Dictionary

The Russian Biographical Dictionary (RBD, Russian: Русский биографический словарь) is a Russian-language biographical dictionary published by the Russian Historian Society edited by a collective with Alexander Polovtsov as the editor-in-chief. The dictionary was published in 25 volumes from 1896 to 1918 and considered as one of the most comprehensive Russian biographical sources for the 19th and early 20th century period.


SIKART is a biographical dictionary and a database on visual art in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It is published online by the Swiss Institute for Art Research (SIAR). Conceptually and in content, it is an expanded and continually updated online version of the SIAR's 1998 Biographical Lexicon of Swiss Art, which featured 12,000 short entries and some 1,100 detailed biographical articles.

Svenskt biografiskt lexikon

Svenskt biografiskt lexicon (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈsvɛnːskt bɪɔˈɡraːfɪskt ˈlɛkːsɪkɔn]) is a Swedish biographical dictionary, started in 1917. The first volume, covering names Abelin to Anjou, was published in 1918. As of 2017, names from A to S are covered. It is renowned for its very high quality standards; all facts are thoroughly checked.

Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon 1815–1950

The Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon 1815–1950 (ÖBL), Austrian Biographical Lexicon 1815-1950, is a dictionary of biographical entries for individuals who have contributed to the history of Austria, published by the Austrian Academy of Sciences. It currently comprises 12 volumes (60 deliveries) with a total of more than 16,000 biographies. It follows the Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich (Biographical Encyclopedia of the Austrian Empire), which dealt with the period between 1750 and 1850 and which was published from 1856 to 1891 in 60 volumes, containing 24,254 critical biographies.

Types of reference works
Types of dictionaries

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