American National Biography: Libraries and Institutions



if you're doing research the American national biography is such a wonderful tool because it gives you in one place access to all these amazing lives and then through those lives it links you to the larger themes in American history the American national biography is the premier biographical reference work in the United States it comprises over 19,000 entries of individuals both very well-known and some lesser-known figures and through biography it presents a comprehensive view of American history I think one of the attractions of having the american national biography available in libraries is that very often students will come in kind of a vague sense of what they need to know or who they might want to research and being able to go to one website like the a and b and be able with the guidance of a librarian to start a search identify a few people see where those links and cross-references go you've got a chance to make a connection between a specific community specific place and then this broader thing called history or biography very often is just a way of getting someone started on a project but it's all within one source where the content is reliable the scholarship is impeccable and you really know you can trust the product there's a very clear difference between the entries that are posted in America national biography and what you what you find in Wikipedia or in other sources our essays are written by a single author there's a point of view they're not written by committee and I think when you read the essay you see it has a beginning and end a final assessment and it means that you really can count on the content and that's not true of everything that's out there on the web whole idea of studying history through biography always leads one to learning new things and new resources and just new ways of thinking about history there may not be a reason why you need to know how many musicians were born in the 1920s in the state of Oklahoma but with the right search categories you can actually answer that question and sometimes that's a way of just making history become real for our students because if we can say history's not just something that happens out there let's look at the town where you live and see if it's referred to in any of these essays and if it is if you really hook someone and bring them in and I would say that's that's one of the things that you might not immediately think you could do but it's both fun and it's a very good teaching tool you

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