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Finding Biographical Information (U.S.)

Originally for HIST 3453 and HIST 3083, but still helpful for those of you looking for U.S. biographical info!

Interlibrary Loan

What if the library does not have a reference book, journal article, or book that you need? We can still get it for you via our interlibrary loan service. It's free! And articles often come electronically within a few days. For more information see the interlibrary loan page.

Tip: if you need a reference book entry put a note in the form saying that you just need the entry on X person. That way, the lending library can scan the entry and send just what you need, instead of the entire book. It will be faster and more efficient; plus, some libraries don't loan reference books.


Search Discover Local, the library's catalog, for books about or by the person you are researching. Discover Local lists all materials owned or subscribed to by the OU library.

If the OU library doesn't have anything, try searching Worldcat. Worldcat is an international catalog of books and other materials owned by thousands of libraries. You may borrow (interlibrary loan) materials through the Worldcat database.


Search newspapers for articles about the person you are researching. You may find obituaries in newspapers. See a more complete list of digital newspapers here:

Journal Articles

Search databases for articles about or by the person you're researching.

Western History Collections

If you are interested in individuals from the American west, you may want to try researching at the Western History Collections (WHC). The WHC contains materials relating to the development of the Trans-Mississippi West and Native American cultures. It is located in Monnet Hall on the north oval.

WHC has three main divisions:

  • Manuscripts - materials such as diaries, journals, personal and office correspondence, literary manuscripts, business records, and scrapbooks. View the WHC manuscript collection finding aids.
  • Library - more than 80,000 volumes, including books, scholarly journals, Reports and Bulletins of the Bureau of American Ethnology, and a collection of contemporary Native American newspapers.
  • Photographic Archives - approximately 2 million images representing a wide variety of photographic processes and subject. See the online gallery for a selection of images.

Digital Collections from the WHC that might be of interest include: