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EN 104 - "Up Close and Personal": Autobiographical Literature in 19th Century America (Finding Author Biographies in the Geisel Library)


The guide below highlights some of the best biographical resources available at the Geisel Library and online, and explains how to locate biographies about specific authors. It will also serve as a 'reality check', reminding you of the search tips you picked up during the library segment of your EN 103 class last term, providing helpful examples.


Reference Resources

Many reference resources contain medium to long-length biographies of authors. To find a biography in an online reference resource, try a keyword search of the person's name. In most reference book sets, biographies will be organized alphabetically by last name. Here is a selected list of reference resources that contain substantial biographies of 19th century American authors.

Print Reference

African American Writers
     Ref PS153.N5 A344

American National Biography
     Ref CT213 .A68

American Writers
     Ref PS129.A55

Dictionary of American Biography
     Ref E176 .D564

Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism
     Ref PN761 .N56
See also Literature Resource Center for online content.

Notable American Women
     Ref CT3260 .N574

Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives
     Ref CT213 .S37

Electronic Reference

Gale Literary Index (GLI)
Use the GLI to see if your author or work is discussed in Gale's Literary Criticism Series. Within this series is the set titled Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism.

Literature Resource Center
This database contains lengthy biographical essays that examine the lives and works of authors from all countries and time periods. On the Basic Search screen, enter the author's name, tick the "Person - By or About" limiter, and limit the Content Type to "Biographies". See also Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism for print content.

Louisa May Alcott Encyclopedia

Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature

Oxford Reference Online
This collection includes biographies taken from several hundred reference sources. It is strongest in history and the humanities. After running a Quick Search on a person's name, click the "Subject Reference: Longer Entries" tab to view more the more substantive entries.

Women in World History: a Biographical Encyclopedia


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More Biographical Resources

There's lots of biographical material in Geisel books and journals.

For books and book chapters, try the following:

Geisel Library Catalog
To find biographies at Geisel Library on a specific individual, do a subject search for the name of the person of interest. For most individuals, you should enter their name as follows: Last name, First name. Examples:

  • Alcott, Louisa May
  • Jacobs, Harriet A.
  • Thoreau, Henry David
  • Twain, Mark

Use WorldCat to search the collections of libraries worldwide for additional biographical books. Conduct a Subject search on the person's name, using the same form as described above. If you find a book of interest, click on the title. Is it owned by Saint Anselm College? If not, click the "Request via Interlibrary Loan" link to have the book delivered to Geisel Library for your use.

For journal articles, try the following databases and perform subject searches (Last name, First name):

Academic Search Premier

America:  History and Life



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Citing Sources

MLA is the citation style required in this class. The library has both print and electronic versions of MLA citation guides; or ask a Librarian for assistance


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Book cover image for Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women

Arlene Quaratiello

Library Liaison
Nancy "Sam" Urtz

Reference Resources
More Biographical Resources
Citing Sources

Subject Guide