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A biography is a history of a person's life. In a biography, you may find the individual's birth, marriage, and death information as well as information about parents, spouse, children, and other family members. Verify information from biographies because it may be inaccurate.
Locating Individual or Family Biographies
You can locate individual or family biographies in the Surname Search of the Family History Library Catalog under the surname you are looking for. For information on biographies of royalty, nobility, and those with coats of arms, see Ireland Nobility.
Two sources listing published biographies are:
- Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide. Dublin, Ireland: Gill and Macmillan, 1992. (FHL book Ref 941.5 D27gj.)
- MacLysaght, Edward. Bibliography of Irish Family History. 2d ed. Blackrock, Ireland: Irish Academic Press, 1982. (FHL book 941.5 D23m.)
Biographical Encyclopedias and Dictionaries
Thousands of biographies have been gathered and published in collections that are sometimes called biographical encyclopedias or dictionaries. These usually only include biographies of well-known people. Some contain biographies of people belonging to specific groups, such as ministers, artists, scholars, or martyrs.
The following collections are important sources for biographies of prominent businessmen, political leaders, and religious and historical figures:
- British and Irish Biographies. London, England: Chadwyck- Healey, 1986-. This is a major and still growing microfiche collection of biographical dictionaries. A large portion of the collection is indexed in Index to British and Irish Biographies, 1840-1940. Manchester, England: Chadwyck-Healey, 1987. (FHL fiche 6342001). The biographical dictionaries included in the collection, together with their Family History Library call numbers, are listed in the Author/Title Search of the microfiche catalog under BRITISH AND IRISH BIOGRAPHIES.
- Crone, John S. A Concise Dictionary of Irish Biography. 1937. Reprint. Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus Reprint, 1970. (FHL book Ref 941.5 D3cr 1970.) This dictionary contains short biographical summaries of famous Irishmen who lived between A.D. 350 and 1970.
- Lee, Sir Sidney, et. al., eds.Dictionary of National Biography. 63 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1885-. (FHL book Ref 920.042 D561n; fiche 6051261.) This series includes biographies of noteworthy British subjects who lived between a.d. 500 and 1985.
- Sieveking, Paul, ed. The British Biographical Archive. New York, New York: K. G. Sauer, 1986. (FHL fiche 6029709-35, 6066966.) This collection contains biographies from 324 printed sources dating from 1600 to 1900.
Specific Biographical Collections
If your ancestor played an important part in a group, occupation, or event, such as the clergy, artists, or the Boer Wars, search for specific biographical collections that may include your ancestor. Biographical collections available at the Family History Library are listed in the Place Search of the library catalog under various localities and subject headings including:
GREAT BRITAIN - BIOGRAPHY
GREAT BRITAIN - GENEALOGY
IRELAND - BIOGRAPHY
IRELAND - GENEALOGY
IRELAND - HISTORY - BIOGRAPHY
IRELAND - OCCUPATIONS - BIOGRAPHY
IRELAND, [COUNTY] - GENEALOGY
IRELAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH OR CITY] - BIOGRAPHY
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