Skip to Main Content

ENG 111 & 112: Author Biographical Resources

Finding biographical information on a specific author.

Identifying different types of sources

Primary Sources:

Materials which have not been interpreted by another person.  Original document/writing created at or near the time an event occurred. Primary sources provide first hand accounts or experiences of events. Information is generally presented in its original form, whether it be a work of literature or art, or an account of an event or experience, or original documents or research products such as interviews, speeches, questionnaires, letters, diaries, manuscripts, memoirs, etc. Includes books, periodicals, and web sites.

  • Search online & print primary sources via the Library Catalog.
  • Search for online primary sources via the Library Databases.
  • Search the Internet for free primary sources.
  • Search the catalogs of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide for primary sources: WorldCat.

Secondary Sources:

Secondary sources provide second hand accounts of events.  These sources include materials that have been reported, analyzed, or interpreted by people who do not have firsthand knowledge of an event and may be found in books or periodicals, or on web sites.

  • Search online & print secondary sources via the Library Catalog.  
  • Search for online secondary sources via the Library Databases.
  • Search the Internet for free secondary sources.
  • Search the catalogs of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide for secondary sources: WorldCat.

Finding Primary Sources

Primary sources are materials produced by people or groups directly involved in the event or topic under consideration, either as participants or as witnesses.

Quoted from: A Pocket Guide to Writing History, 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007

Examples of primary sources, both print & online, include:

  • Official documents, reports and publications
  • Letters, diaries, memoirs, or published writings
  • Cartoons and advertisements
  • Newspaper or magazine articles
  • Speeches
  • Autobiographies
  • Statistical data
  • Oral or transcribed interviews
  • Artifacts & realia
  • Maps
  • Audio & Visual Materials - Photographs, film & video, digitized collections, sound recordings 

When searching Quick Search or the library databases, type the person's name and include subject terms such as:

  • autobiography
  • correspondence
  • diaries
  • interviews
  • personal narratives