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Michigan State University

Asian American Studies Research Guide: Biography


A collection of reference tools that identify notable Native Americans. Subscription resources come first, then reference books.

General Biography Indexes

Biography and Genealogical Master Index : An online index which helps identify which biographical tools have entries on your favorite person.  Indexes more than 2000 biographical reference sources, providing access to more than 9.2 million citations on approximately 3 million contemporary and historical figures. The database covers a wide range of current biographical sources as well as the most important retrospective sources. 

Biography Index Past and Present (1946 to date) : Search biographical material from ALL WilsonWeb periodicals databases—with just this one database!  Biography Index cites biographical articles appearing in any of more than 3,000 periodicals indexed in other Wilson databases, plus select other titles. What’s more, some 2,000 current books of individual and collective biography are cited each year, as well as biographical material in otherwise non-biographical books....Besides biographies and autobiographies, you’ll find citations to interviews, obituaries, collections of letters, diaries, memoirs, juvenile literature, book reviews, bibliographies and exhibition reviews.  People covered range from antiquity to the present and represent all fields and nationalities.

Biography Reference Books

In a hurry?  Go to the Reference Biography Alcove and look for the E184s.

Here's a list of some of the titles available:

Asian American Biography / Helen Zia and Susan B. Gall, editorsNew York : UXL, c1995.  2 volumes. Main Library E184.O6 A8253 1995 : Profiles more than 130 Americans who trace their ancestry to Asia and the Pacific Islands. Each entry includes a list of sources for further reading.

Distinguished Asian Americans: A Biographical Dictionary / edited by Hyung-Chan Kim ; contributing editors, Dorothy Cordova ... [et al.].  Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.   430pp. Reference (1 Center) E184.O6 D57 1999  (Also available online)  : Asian Americans have made significant contributions to American society. This reference work celebrates the contributions of 166 distinguished Asian Americans. Most people profiled are not featured in any other biographical dictionary on noted Asian Americans. The Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, Filipino Americans, Korean Americans, South Asian Americans (from India and Pakistan), and Southeast Asian Americans (from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam) profiled in this work represent more than 75 fields of endeavor. From historical figures to figure skater Michelle Kwan, this work features both prominent and less familiar individuals who have made significant contributions in their fields. A number of the contemporary subjects have given exclusive interviews for this work.

Distinguished Asian American Political and Governmental Leaders / Don T. Nakanishi and Ellen D. Wu.  Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2002.  229pp.  Main Library E184.O6 .N35 2002 : Asian Americans have made countless distinguished contributions to American society. Like other American racial minorities who have historically been denied opportunities within the American electoral system, Asian Americans have worked steadily to participate in U.S. politics and its judicial system. Asian Americans have a long history of seeking social justice and equal treatment by challenging discriminatory laws and practices in education, employment, housing, land ownership, immigration, and other significant public policy issue-areas. Distinguished Asian American Political and Governmental Leaders is the first-ever compilation of biographies of Asian American elected officials, major political appointees, judges, and activists. It provides information on the life histories and political accomplishments of 96 Asian Americans, who have participated in political, judicial and civil rights arenas of this nation from 1950 to the present.

Notable Asian Americans / Helen Zia and Susan B. Gall, editors ; foreword by George Takei.  New York : Gale Research, c1995.  468pp.  Reference (1 Center) E184.O6 N67 1995 : In an effort to break stereotyped images that have been shaped for centuries and to provide role models for young Asian Americans, this book provides a biographical source for 250 of the most noteworthy Asian Americans, both living and deceased, from all fields. These biographical sketches include information gathered from books, newspaper reports, and government documents, and from interviews conducted especially for the book by its editors. However, the criteria for inclusion are unclear. Although it is impossible to include all noteworthy Asian Americans, a number of relatively undistinguished people are listed. One wonders if the editors needed to fill gaps in certain areas. Most entries have photographs, and many include a brief bibliography for further reading. Besides a general subject index, the book also offers occupation and ethnicity indexes.

Need more?  Try searching  "Asian Americans -- Biography"  as a subject in the MSU Libraries online catalog.

Subject Guide

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