Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
R.B. Bennett Receiving Nomination Convention of Conservatives, Winnipeg 1927
Postcards from the Past PC 503
This is the second of my installments about some of the subscription databases (other than Ancestry LE) that genealogists should try. This week I want to introduce you to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
In my introductions to the genealogy collection here at the Central Library, I always like to mention National Biographies as a potential resource. Many countries have them and they are the semi-official records of the people who played a role in the formation of their respective countries. The grand-daddy of these is the Dictionary of National Biography (DNB – I warned you about libraries and acronyms!) DNB is the national biography of Great Britain. Calgary Public Library owns the original 22 volume set and the 15 volumes of supplements. Sources such as these can be very useful especially if you have ancestors who were notable in some way. In Canada, sometimes being notable just meant being here early so the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, in addition to politicians and industrialists, includes, pioneers, fur traders, and First Nations leaders. The articles are written by many different, reputable authors and include extensive bibliographies of primary and secondary source material. The DCB (again with the acronyms!) covers people who died between 1000 and 1930 (it is traditional in national biographies to include only dead people and to indicate coverage by date of death)
The Dictionary of Canadian Biography was started in 1959 as a joint project of the University of Toronto and the Université Laval. It is available in English and French and has been a staple reference source, in its paper incarnation, on reference shelves in libraries across Canada for decades. Now that it is available online it is much easier to use and the full text searching pulls up names of people mentioned in articles but not necessarily the subject of an entire article themselves.
You can access the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online through our E-Library accessible through the catalogue or via the link at the top of our homepage. In the E-Library you can click on either “Canadian” or “History and Genealogy” and scroll down to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. You will be asked to sign in using your library card number and PIN. Choose your language, and off you go. You can browse the collection by name, by category or by geographic location.
You can also search the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online through the Biographi.ca site http://www.biographi.ca/index-e.html at Library and Archives Canada.