Genealogy in Dictionaries? Yes!
April 18, 2017
Dictionaries may not be the first place you’d look for your ancestors, but give it a try! Like standard dictionaries, biographical dictionary entries are listed in alphabetical order, but instead of word definitions, you’ll find short biographies.
The Midwest Genealogy Center’s collections include many biographical dictionaries in books and on microform. These dictionaries cover a wide range of subjects—from physicians to gold miners. Using Mid-Continent Public Library’s catalog, you can find occupation-focused dictionaries such as Biographical Dictionary of American Physicians of African Ancestry, 1800-1920 or Major League Baseball Players of 1916: A Biographical Dictionary. You can also find military biographical dictionaries such as U.S. Navy Biographical Dictionary and Black American Military Leaders: A Biographical Dictionary.
MGC also has dictionaries that could help you discover ancestors in other countries. Maybe you’ll have luck with French-Canadians of the West: A Biographical Dictionary of French-Canadians and French Métis of the Western United States and Canada, A Biographical Dictionary of Irish Quakers, or Painters in Scotland 1301-1700: A Biographical Dictionary.
You might also find your people in New Mexico: A Biographical Dictionary, 1540-1980, Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary, Russian America: A Biographical Dictionary, and many more.
Biographical dictionaries can lead to new information for your family trees. You may even find photographs of your ancestors. Share your biographical dictionary success stories!
Midwest Genealogy Center