A biography is a history of a person’s life. A biography may give you birth, marriage, and death information and the names of parents, spouse, children, or other family members. Use the information from a biography cautiously because there may be inaccuracies.
Thousands of biographies have been gathered and published in collections of biographies, sometimes called biographical encyclopedias or dictionaries. Usually these include only biographies of prominent or well-known British subjects. However, some collections of biographies are of specific groups such as painters, ministers, radicals, or architects.
If your ancestor played an important part in a group or occupation, do a Place Search for England in the FamilySearch Catalog and select the topic of 'Biography.' For prominent businessmen, leaders, or religious or historical figures, the following are important sources:
- British and Irish Biographies. London, England: Chadwyck- Healey, 1986. (On more than 1,500 Family History Library microfiche.) This is a major, growing collection on microfiche of various biographies and directories Most of this collection is indexed (Family History Library fiche 6342001, 101 fiche ). You can find the fiche numbers and index references in:
- Register to Family History Library Microfiche Numbers for British and Irish Biographies, 1840–1940. Salt Lake City, Utah, USA: Family History Library, 1989. (Family History Library book Reg 942 A3cj.) You can find this collection in the Author/Title Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:
BRITISH AND IRISH BIOGRAPHIES
- British Biographical Archives. New York, New York, USA: K. G. Sauer, Inc., 1986. (Family History Library fiche 6029709–732, 1260 fiche.) This collection of biographies is taken from 324 printed sources and covers the 17th–19th centuries.
- The General Biographical Dictionary, Chalmers, Alexander, Revised Edition. 32 Volumes. London, England: J. Nichols, 1812. (Family History Library book 920.042 C353g. BYU Family History Library book CT 103 .C43x 1969 32 volumes.) This is a historical and critical account of the lives and writings of most eminent British persons from 1060 to 1812. It is arranged alphabetically and has an index in each volume.
- Dictionary of National Biography. London, England: Smith, Elder, & Company, 1885–1900. Reprint. London, England: Oxford University Press, 1993. (Family History Library book 920.042 D561n; on 278 fiche starting with 6051261. BYU Family History Library book DA 28 .D4 O95 2004 Index Index and 60 volumes. The HBLL also has an online subscription to this database) This series includes biographies of British subjects whose careers would be of interest to many people. It includes people who lived from 500 to 1980.
Collective biographies are usually listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:
GREAT BRITAIN - BIOGRAPHY
ENGLAND - BIOGRAPHY
ENGLAND, [COUNTY] - BIOGRAPHY
ENGLAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH or CITY] - BIOGRAPHY
You may find some collections under the localities listed above and then the subject "GENEALOGY."