Skip to Main Content


This guide includes online resources as well as print-format materials owned by the ISU University Library as well as a small selection of authoritative, free online websites. It also provides search tips for locating additional biographical resources.

Searching for Books about a Person

The best way to locate biographical books in the ISU Library Collection is to use Quick Search - Advanced Search.

  • Change the first drop-down menu to search by SUBJECT.
  • Change the Material Type dropdown to Books

Two of the most common types of biographical searches are personal name search and search for biographies in a specific subject area.

To search by personal name:

  • Type the person's name (last name first - e.g., Kennedy, John F.)
  • If you find zero results, try leaving out the middle name/initial
  • If you still find zero results, ISU Library may not own a book about that person - try using WorldCat and borrowing a biography from another library using through Interlibrary Loan.

To search for biographies in a subject area:

  • Type the subject area and truncate it to ensure you get both the topic and the professionals - e.g., biolog* will retrieve both biology and biologists.
  • and add the word "biography" - e.g., biolog* AND biography
  • to eliminate autobiographies - use the second line of the search box. Change AND to NOT and type autobiography in the box

Additional Resources

pre-set to find only books.

Try your searches here!!


Beyond basic searches, it is also possible to combine different types of searches into one. Using Quick Search - Advanced Search page. Type in your topic(s), then add AND biograph* to the end of the search. For example: "Indians of North America" AND Women AND biograph*

Examples for multi-topic searches - remember to add AND biograph* to the end of the search:

  • Lesbians AND actors
  • "African Americans" AND politicians
  • Women AND (scientist* OR science)
  • Minorities AND "armed forces"
  • Muslims AND women

If you get too many results, change the first dropdown search box from "any field" to "subject."