A biography is a history of a person’s life. In a biography, you may find the individual’s birth, marriage, and death information and the names of parents, spouse, children, or other family members. Use the information carefully because there may be inaccuracies.
You can find biographies of individuals through the Surname Search of the Family History Library Catalog, or do a Place Search for SCOTLAND and click on the link for BIOGRAPHY.
For biographies of royalty, nobility, and those with coats of arms, see the article on Scotland Nobility.
Collections of Biographies
Thousands of biographies have been gathered and published in collections of biographies, sometimes called biographical encyclopedias or dictionaries. Usually these only include biographies of prominent or well-known British subjects. Others contain biographies of specific groups such as painters, ministers, radicals, or architects.
Search the BIOGRAPHY headings in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog if your ancestor played an important part in a group or occupation. For prominent businessmen, leaders, religious, or historical figures, the following are important sources:
- British and Irish Biographies.'London, England: Chadwick-Healey, 1986-. (On more than 1,500 Family History Library microfiche.)
This is a major, growing collection of various biographies and directories. A major portion of the collection is indexed (Family History Library fiche 6342001, 325 fiche). To find fiche numbers and index references, see Register to Family History Library Microfiche Numbers for British and Irish Biographies, 1840-1940 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Family History Library, 1989; Family History Library book Ref 942 A3cj).
You can find this collection in the Author/Title Search of the Family History Library Catalog under BRITISH AND IRISH BIOGRAPHIES.
- British Biographical Archives. New York: K. G. Sauer, Inc, 1986. Family History Library fiche 6029709-732, 1160 fiche.) This collection of biographies is taken from 324 printed sources and covers 1600 to 1900.
- Chalmers, Alexander. The General Biographical Dictionary. Rev. ed. 32 vols. London, England: J. Nichols, 1812. (Family History Library book Ref 920.042 C353g.) 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, & Co., 1885. (Family History Library book Ref 920.042 D561n; also on fiche 6051261, 278 fiche.) This series includes biographies of British subjects whose careers would be of interest to many people. It includes people who lived from 1500 to 1980.
- 'Biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen': Courtesy of the National Library of Scotland:
- Volume I. Contains names alphabetically from Abercromby to Erskine
- Volume II. Contains names alphabetically from Falconer to Lynedoch
- Volume III. Contains names alphabetically from Macadam to Young
You will usually find collective biographies listed in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
- GREAT BRITAIN - BIOGRAPHY
- SCOTLAND - BIOGRAPHY
- SCOTLAND, [COUNTY] - BIOGRAPHY
- SCOTLAND, [COUNTY], [PARISH or CITY] - BIOGRAPHY
You may find some collections under the topic GENEALOGY.
- To see a list of online biographies for Scotland, go to www.archive.org.