TDGR 289: Intro to Doctoral Studies: Biographical Resources

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Separate from Oxford Reference Online (see below), which is a collection of several hundred reference sources, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is the premiere scholarly resource for information about British subjects, including those who lived in British colonies. It contains biographies of almost 58,000 individuals, including performers, playwrights, and some major directors, designers, impresarios, etc.

Oxford Reference Online: Performing Arts

A huge amount of biographical information is available in the Oxford Reference Online: Performing Arts collection, which can be searched as an entire collection, within one of the 14 individual titles, or in the entire Oxford Reference Online collection of over 215 titles.   

Information about Scholars

Who's Who in Research: Performing Arts . Bristol, UK: Intellect Books, 2012. UCSD only. 

Reference: Biographical Information

NOTE: The books in this box are related specifically to people in theater, dance and other performance fields. See the side boxes for some broader resources that include performers. The sources below are arranged alphabetically by title.


African American Dramatists: An A-to-Z Guide. Ed. Emmanuel S. Nelson. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 2004. UCSD: Geisel Reference PS 338 .N4 A69 2004; UCI use Melvyl to request.

African Americans in the Performing Arts. Rev. ed. compiled by Steven Otfinoski. New York: Facts on File, 2010. Biographical sketches, with credits, of 192 performers. UCSD online; UCI print: PN 2286 .O88 2010 / Langson stacks.

Archer, Stephen M. American Actors and Actresses: A Guide to Information Sources. (Performing Arts Information Guide Series, v. 8). Detroit: Gale Research, 1983.UCI: Z 5784 .M9 A7 1983 / Langson stacks;  UCSD use Melvyl to request. 

Wearing, J.P. American and British Theatrical Biography: A Directory. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1979. (Balay/Smith BH129) Indexes works of collective biography, theater yearbooks, encyclopedias, etc.

               UCSD & UCI:  PN 2285 .W42 Reference 

Highfill, Philip H., Kalman A. Burnim, and Edward A. Langhans. A Biographical Dictionary of  Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers & Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1973-1993. 16 vols

              UCSD: PN 2597 .H5 Geisel Reference

UCI:     PN 2597 .H538 1973 Langson Reference GV1785.A1 B74 1999   

Lacy, Robin Thurlow. A Biographical Dictionary of Scenographers, 500 B.C. to 1900 A.D.  NY: Greenwood Press, 1990. 

            UCI:  PN 2096 .A1 L33 1990 Reference; UCSD: Use Melvyl to request. 

Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television. Detroit: Gale Research, 1984- Several volumes are published each year. Use the cumulative index at the back of the most recent volume to identify the volume(s) that have information on the person you are seeking.  Note: Ceased publication with v. 123, 2013.  

UCSD: Indexes Collection, Geisel 1 East. UCI : PN 2285 .C58 Reference;

UCSD is complete through v. 123; UCI stopped with v. 66.

               Continues: Who’s Who in the Theatre.  

Mapp, Edward. Directory of Blacks in the Performing Arts. 2nd ed. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1990. 

            UCSD & UCI: PN 1590 .B53 M3 1990 SSH Reference / Langson Stacks 

Billman, Larry. Film Choreographers and Dance Directors: An Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia, with a History and Filmographies, 1893 through 1995. Jefferson NC: McFarland, 1997.

   UCSD and UCI: GV 1779 .B55 1997 Geisel Reference / Langson Reference

50 Contemporary Choreographers. 2nd ed. Compiled by Martha Bremser and Lorna Sanders. NY: Routledge, 2011. This online edition at UCSD only; 1999 edition (print) at Langson GV1785.A1 B74  

Fifty Key Theatre Directors. Ed. Shomit Mitter and Maria Shevtsova. London; NY: Routledge, 2005.

Fifty Modern and Contemporary Dramatists. Ed. Maggie B. Gale and John F. Deeney. London; NY: Routledge, 2014.

Wells, Stanley. Great Shakespeare Actors: Burbage to Branagh. NY &Oxford: Oxford UP, 2015. Print copy also available at PR 3112 .W45 2015 / 7th floor.

Leiter, Samuel L. The Great Stage Directors: 100 Distinguished Careers of the Theater. NY: Facts on File, 1994.  

UCI:  PN 2205 .L44 1994 Reference; UCSD copy at SRLF, use Melvyl to request.

International Dictionary of Theatre. Ed. Mark Hawkins-Dady. Chicago: St. James Press, 1992- .

            Volume 2: Playwrights. Volume 3: Actors, Directors, and Designers, ed. David Pickering. 

UCSD & UCI: PN 2035 .I49 1992 Reference  

Notable Names in the American Theatre. New and revised edition. Clifton, N.J.: James T. White & Co., 1976. A revision of Walter Rigdon’s Biographical Encyclopaedia and Who’s Who of the American Theatre (1966).

            UCSD & UCI:  PN 2285 .N6 1976 Reference 

Notable Women in the American Theatre: A Biographical Dictionary. Ed. Alice M. Robinson, Vera Mowry Roberts, and Milly S. Barranger. NY: Greenwood Press, 1989.

UCI:  PN 2285 .N65 1989 Reference. UCSD has online version and print edition in the stacks.  

Peterson, Bernard L. Profiles of African American Stage Performers and Theatre People, 1816-1960. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 2001.

UCSD & UCI:  PN 2286 .P46 2001 Geisel Reference  / Langson Stacks  

Bryan, George B. Stage Deaths: A Biographical Guide to International Theatrical Obituaries, 1850 to 1990. (Bibliographies and Indexes in the Performing Arts, no. 9). NY: Greenwood Press, 1991. 2 vols. 

UCSD: PN 2205 .S762 1991 Geisel Stacks (7th floor)

UCI:     Z 5781 .S76 1991 Langson Stacks  

Bryan, George B. Stage Lives: A Bibliography and Index to Theatrical Biographies in English. (Bibliographies and Indexes in the Performing Arts, no. 2). Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 1985. 

UCSD: PN 2205 .S78 1985 Geisel Reference

UCI:     Z 5781 .S78 1985 Langson Stacks

Theatrical Designers: An International Biographical Dictionary. Ed. Thomas J. Mikotowicz. New York: Greenwood Press, 1992. Available online on both campuses.           

Theatrical Directors: A Biographical Dictionary. Edited by John W. Frick & Stephen M.Vallillo. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994.     UCSD: PN 2205 .T54 1994 Geisel Reference; UCI:  Available through ILS.  

Perry, Jeb H. Variety Obits: An Index to Obituaries in Variety, 1905-1978. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1980.    

UCSD:  PN 1583 .P4   at SRLF (Request from Melvyl)

UCI:     PN 1583 .P4 Langson Stacks  

Who Was Who in the Theatre, 1912-1976: A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Directors, Playwrights, and Producers of the English-Speaking Theatre. [Compiled from Who's Who in the Theatre, volumes 1-15 (1912-1972).] Detroit: Gale Research., c1978.

               UCSD & UCI:  PN 2597 .W52 Reference 

Who's Who in Contemporary World Theatre. Second Ed. Daniel Meyer-Dinkgrafe. London; NY: Routledge, 2002.  First edition is also available in print format: PN 2035 .W485 2000 / Geisel 7th floor

The World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre. Ed. Don Rubin. London & New York: Routledge, 1994-2000. 6 vols.  v. 1 Europe, v. 2 The Americas, v. 3 Africa, v. 4 The Arab World, v. 5 Asia/Pacific, v. 6 Bibliography/Cumulative Index.

                UCSD: PN 2035 .W67 1994 Geisel Reference

                UCI:     PN 1861 .W67 1994 Langson Reference 

Young, William C. Famous Actors and Actresses on the American Stage. NY: Bowker, 1975. 2 vols. 

UCSD & UCI: PN 2285 .Y6 1975b Reference