Ultimate Guide to Biographical Resources
Biographical resources aren’t simply books, articles and documents gathering dust on a shelf or rarely viewed digital collections housed online. Instead, they offer valuable opportunities for those who explore them. For example, the act of reading or writing a biography can offer indirect mentoring or expand your overall world view. Writing an autobiography or researching your lineage can promote deep self-discovery and lead to important, life-changing revelations. Whatever your interest in biographical resources – lists of recommended biographies, conducting lineage research, writing your own life story or teaching others – keep reading to discover over 40 of the best biographical resources available online.
General Biography Resources
These general biography resources are a great place to start exploring the genre. Enjoy searching for bios of famous people, learning about the difference between an authorized and unauthorized biography or discovering which biographies are considered all-time greats.
Biography.com – This well-known website allows you to search the name of famous people for a detailed biography.
20 Best Biographies and Autobiographies of All Time – Follow the link to find out which biographies and autobiographies made the twenty-best list.
12 Biographies You Should Have Read By Now – An interesting, if not eclectic, list of biographies that Reader’s Digest claims you should have read by now.
The Difference between Authorized and Unauthorized Biographies – This short Q & A informs readers about the difference between these two types of biographies.
Lineage Research Resources
Lineage doesn’t have to stay a mystery or cost you a fortune to research. All you need is a healthy supply of time, patience and the following free resources.
AfriGeneas – Find educational materials and resources for communication via this site, which is designed for those who are researching African-American origins.
Atlas of Historical County Boundaries – Unfortunately, county boundaries change over time, which can create a problem when researching the historical location of ancestors. Thankfully, this tool solves the problem.
Billion Graves – Find GPS-tagged tombstone images, upload your own tombstone images and more with the help of this site.
Chronicling America – Discover digitized newspaper pages, dating from 1836-1922, from 25 states and Washington, D.C. via The Library of Congress’ portal.
Cyndi’s List – Cyndi Howells’ site offers a list of resources for genealogy research and includes helpful tips for beginners.
Family Search.org – Literally millions of digitized and indexed records exist on this helpful site that is considered one of the best free online genealogy resources available.
Family Tree Magazine.com – This site offers a beginner’s paradise with its plethora of tools, how-tos, forms and cheat sheets.
Find a Grave – Search for ancestral burial information among the millions of tombstone images via an individual’s or cemetery’s name.
General Land Office Records Automation Site – Find images of more than five million land title records that date back to 1820 to research when ancestors purchased land from the federal government.
JewishGen – Interested in tracing Jewish roots? Find databases of Jewish surnames, family trees, Holocaust victims, burials and more.
National Archives Resources for Genealogists – This portal allows you access to most federal, immigration, military and census records in the U.S, some of which are digital.
Autobiography and Memoir Writing Resources
Interested in writing your own autobiography or memoir? Find out exactly what each type of writing project entails and how to create a successful work.
Types of Autobiographic Writing – Find out about the different types of autobiographic writing and read plenty of corresponding examples.
How to Write an Autobiography and Make the Best-Seller List – Learn not only how to write your life story but how to make it a successful seller with this quick online course.
The Format to Write an Autobiography – This article gives readers a comprehensive outline of what to include in an autobiography. It serves as a good starting point before beginning to write.
The Memoir Network – While you can sign up for paid coaching with website owner Denis Ledoux, many valuable and free resources for writing a memoir exist on the site. All it takes is signing up for a free basic membership.
How to Write Your Memoir – From Reader’s Digest comes this article about how to structure and what to include when writing a memoir.
How to Write a Memoir: 6 Creative Ways to Tell a Powerful Story – Discover six unique ways to make the most of writing your memoir and give it the power to engage others.
Career Autobiography Template – Find out the format of a career autobiography and what information to include to make it the best it can be.
What is a Memoir? – Barbara Doyen, literary agent, discusses what makes a memoir different from a biography or autobiography.
Biography and Autobiography Teaching Resources
Biography and autobiography lessons can offer a smooth transition into an exciting and informative research project for students. Check out some of the best online lessons we could find below.
Introducing the Biography Genre – This lesson for grades 3-5 lasts approximately two weeks. After introducing the genre to students, students choose a person to research and write a biography about.
Biography Project: Research and Class Presentation – This biography project is designed for students in grades 6-8 and includes plans and resources for nine 50-minute sessions.
Writing Biographies – Check out this list of various biography-writing sites that offers lesson plans, online articles and tutorials, handouts and examples of biographies written by elementary-age students.
Creating Timelines of a Life – If you want a research project that’s different than creating a paper, have students create a timeline about the life of a person of interest via their own original research.
Exploring Elements of Biography and Autobiography – Introduce and explore the genres of biography and autobiography with students. They will learn about the typical information included in each, text structure and point of view used and more.
Write Your Autobiography – This interactive lesson from TV 411 about writing an autobiography will appeal to students.
Biography Resources for Kids
The following kid-friendly resources are perfect for allowing students to pursue biographical research on their own.
Biographies for Kids – From the Library of Congress comes this kid-friendly resource that allows children to research the backgrounds of famous inventors, athletes, politicians and more.
National Women’s Hall of Fame – Children can research full biographies of women, from all periods of history, who have been inducted in the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
White House.gov – Children can utilize this site to find out biographical information for all U.S. Presidents. A link to the bios of all the first ladies is also included on the page.
Academy of Achievement – Find biographies, interviews, photographs and much more related to historical figures of the world.
Women in Aviation and Space History – Discover the details about the famous women who have made their mark in aviation and space history.
Ducksters’s Education Site – Children can search kid-friendly bios of famous leaders, heroes, explorers, artists and more on this site.
Virtual Middle School Library – Follow this link to discover a plethora of biography resources, including movie stars and religious leaders.
From a bite-sized biographies to more in-depth offerings, these podcasts will help you discover people who have made notable contributions to the world.
American Biography – Hosted by Thomas Daly, this podcast examines the lives of important Americans who are responsible for our nation’s development.
Learn Out Loud’s Biography Podcast – No notable person is off limits in this series. This podcast showcases the lives and achievements of world leaders, political activists, fascinating artists, everyday people and more subjects throughout history.
Biography – Learn about Ghandi, Frida Khalo and many more interesting historical figures via this podcast hosted by Matt Smith.
5 Minute Biographies – If you are a biography buff, but you don’t have much time, this quick and concise podcast is perfect for you.
Historically Great – Learn about the life and times of people who have made their mark on history such as Walt Disney, Elon Musk and Nelson Mandela.