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Early modern history (British & W European c. 1500-c. 1800): Biographical sources

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Biographical resources

World Biographical Information System (WBIS). WBIS, the online version of the World Biographical Archive, is one of the most comprehensive biographical databases available, providing short biographical information on 4 million people with a historical coverage from the 4th century BC to the present. It contains 3.85 million digital facsimile articles from more than 3,700 reference works, including biographical information on 2.3 million people worldwide. The microfiche version stands in the LRR, Bodleian Library.

National Biographies


Dictionnaire de biographie française. 19 vols. (Paris, 1929-). Incomplete and only goes up to letter L at the moment.


Allgemeine deutsche Biographie / Neue deutsche Biographie.

Great Britain

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. New ed. An illustrated collection of 50,000 specially written biographies of the men and women who shaped all aspects of Britain's past, from the fourth century BC to the year 2000. Remarkable people in any walk of life who were connected with the British Isles - excluding living people. It includes not just the great and good, but people who have left a mark for any reason, good, bad, or bizarre.


Dictionary of Irish Biography. An important reference work, it offers biographical information about Irish men and women who made a significant contribution in Ireland and abroad. It also includes information about the lives of people born outside Ireland, but who made a significant contribution in that county. You have a choice of full-text searching, advanced searching, browsing or trying the lucky dip (“Read a random life”).


Dizionario biografico degli italiani. Currently runs from A to M and publishes two volumes each year, with ca. 300 entries in each volume. Also available online.


Biografisch Portaal van Nederland


Diccionario Biográfico Electrónico (Español). 50 vols. Spain : Real Academia de la Historia, 2009-


Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz. (Basel, 2002-).



There are similar lists for colleges, schools, etc. Search SOLO under their name.

Clergy, etc.