Skip to main content

MeL Minute

MeL Minute: Fine Tuning Your Biography Search

by Sonya Norris on 2019-03-21T09:48:00-04:00 in Humanities | Comments

MeL faviconWhile the obvious place to search for great biographies in MeL’s eResources may seem to be Biography Reference Center, we’ve found that Explora, History Reference Center, and Literary Reference Center are options rich in content as well. 

Biography Reference Center provides thousands of reliable full-text biographies, including the complete full text run of Biography Today and Biography, plus narrative and historical biographies not available in other databases. In addition to keyword search, users can locate biographies by subject, occupation, nationality, activity, gender, lifespan and more. 

Explora is the best option for biographies of present-day individuals, such as celebrities.  The search results include video clips, primary source documents, reviews, conference materials, reports, encyclopedias (including Funk & Wagnall’s New World Encyclopedia 2018), trade publications and eBooks.  Additionally, there are hundreds of newspaper, academic journal, and magazine articles to consider.

History Reference Center provides biographies of historical figures, documents, photos, maps, film, and video from leading history journals.

Literary Reference Center includes biographies of literary figures, plot summaries, literary criticism, book reviews, reference books, magazine articles and author interviews.


When researching biographies, take into consideration the occupation and time period of the person you’re investigating.  Is he an historical figure or a 2019 pop star?  Is she an author or an actor?  The best eResources for historical biographies are Biography Reference Center and History Reference CenterExplora is a great eResource to use when learning about pop stars, actors or any present-day politician or mover and shaker.  Literary Reference Center not only offers biographies about authors and poets, but it also gives users access to items such as author interviews and book reviews.  All these details inform which eResources to use to get the most out of your search. 

If your library provides the advanced search option, think about utilizing it to fine-tune your results.  For example, if you are searching for biographical information on Ron Howard, add actor or director in the second or third search box. When you do this, only the information relevant to his work as an actor or director shows up in your results.

Learning about each eResource and choosing the one (or two or three…) best equipped to help you with your research (or satisfy your curiosity) may seem daunting at first.  Take heart!  Ann Kaskinen (K12) and Theresa Runyan (Public), MeL’s Engagement Specialists, are here to help.  When you need assistance or additional training, just reach out:


Brought to you Engagement Specialists Ann Kaskinen and Theresa Runyan of the MeL Team.

Supporting Michigan Libraries by Putting You First.

MeL eResources are available to Michigan residents or for Michigan library or school access only.


 Add a Comment



Enter your e-mail address to receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.


  Back to Blog Home
This post is closed for further discussion.