Our collections include tens of thousands of biographical dictionaries, encyclopedias, and directories. There is a very good two-volume bibliography of biographical sources by Robert Slocum, Biographical Dictionaries and Related Works (Detroit, 1986) located in the Reference Library: Q.016.92 Sl5b 1986.
In addition to individual biographical dictionaries and encyclopedias, we have a massive set of biographical sources on microfiche. These were produced for individual countries or regions, and each "biographical archive" consists of entries from hundreds of historical biographical sources arranged in a single alphabet. We have approximately forty of these “archives,” e.g., British Biographical Archive, Archives biographiques françaises, Baltisches biographisches Archiv, Polskie archiwum biograficzne, Jüdisches biographisches Archiv, Deutsches biographisches Archiv. These biographical archives are housed in the Reference Library.
In addition to a vast collection of family histories published in North America, the UIUC Library also owns published family histories from other parts of the world. To find these works, start with the “Advanced Search” in the online catalog, and do a keyword search on the last name.
Although the vast majority of historical vital records have never been published, there have been notable efforts to publish these materials (particularly in England), and our holdings are very respectable.
The Victoria History of the Counties of England (or the Victoria County Histories) is a project begun in 1899 to document the history of the 40 counties of England. Now based at the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London, the project is still underway and currently supports work on 16 counties.
The UIUC Library has an extensive collection of the publications of the English record societies. Most of these have been published annually for decades and contain transcribed records, such as wills, monumental inscriptions, court proceedings, town records, coroners’ inquests and bills, taxation lists, marriage licenses, and parish records. These can be difficult to find in the online catalog, but you can construct a Boolean search using the “Advanced Search” option, combining the name of the locality and the word “society.”
English Place-Name Society. Survey of English Place Names. (Cambridge, 1924- ) 929.4 En36s
The Place-names of Wiltshire, Their Origin and History. (Uppsala, 1917) 929.4 Ek16p