This guide offers biographical and historical sources about people.

Finding Books about People

A biography is a book written about a notable person. That book is generally a narrative of that person's entire life, or most of it, touching on the events and accomplishments that made them famous.

A biography is written by someone other than the person who is the topic of the biography. 

If the author of the book and the person who is the topic of the book are the same, that is an autobiography. 

This page lists many of the biographical books owned by this library. Or, use the search box on the library's home page and limit the search to Books. Some ideas:

  • a notable person's name: Castro, Darwin, Lincoln, etc.  
  • Biography (limit your search to "Subject" for best results)
  • Biography AND "United States" 
  • Biography AND military
  • Celebrities AND biography
  • biography AND musicians (or: biography AND authors, or biography AND [another subject], etc.)
  • "Very Short Introduction" and biography: This leads to a series of tiny books about various people. 
  • Other SUNY Adirondack Library web pages under the Browse by Subject column: Musicians, Art & Artists, Literature & Writers, World History, American History, etc.


The SUNY Adirondack Library has hundreds of biographies you can borrow. Here's a sample:

Authors - Critical Biographies

Figures from History



Biographies: Electronic Books

The SUNY Adirondack Library has hundreds of biographies in electronic form that you can read or download. Here's a sample:

Finding Famous People's Influences

To find how your famous people have impacted future generations, combine their names with words like these in an article database search. Most words below are truncated - they use an asterisk to find all of the endings, like a wildcard: influenc* finds influential, influenced, etc. Put the name of your famous person in one search box, then one of the these words in the second search box in an article database search:   

  • influen* 
  • impact*
  • hero*  
  • admir*
  • legacy  
  • leader*
  • innovat*
  • signifi*
  • relevan*  
  • motiva*  
  • controv*
  • inspira*
  • politic*  (or whatever field they would have influenced)

Ask a librarian for help at any point.

For Ideas and Background

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