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Biographical Information on Scientists

This guide identifies major resources and suggestions for biographical research in the sciences.


This guide offers starting points for your research. It has been developed based on questions I have received from students, faculty, and outside UMD Libraries' users. This guide does not contain everything.

Not finding what you are looking for? Please do not hesitate to contact me with your questions, concerns, and ideas.


What is a biography?


A biography is an account of the special and important events in a person's life.

  • Not to be confused with bibliography, which is a listing of books and articles on a topic
  • Biographies may be brief and cover only basic information about a person's life such as dates of birth and death, education and vocation
  • A biography may also be very detailed, and cover the cultural background, outstanding accomplishments, and historical significance of an individual.
  • Biographical sources cover living and deceased persons, notable persons in particular countries, persons in specific occupations, celebrities, and civil and government leaders
  • It is helpful when searching for biographical information to know:
    • The person's full name and the correct spelling (for example Smith, Smyth or Smythe)
    • date of birth
    • date of death (when applicable)
    • nationality or country of residence
    • occupation or profession

Adapted from Biographical Information, University of Toledo Libraries.