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Oxford Biography Index

The Oxford Biography Index is a freely available index of notable people from British history: an authority file for people. It currently contains over 55,000 entries.
  • Each entry in the index is a page on the internet that contains a headword from an Oxford DNB biography: it is therefore an authoritative statement of a person's identity.
  • What is the Oxford DNB?
    • The Oxford DNB contains the biographies (in over 60 million words) of over 50,000 people of any significance from Britain's history (find out more)
    • You can read it at home for free, using your library's subscription (find out more)

Find a person in the Oxford Biography Index

Oxford Biography Index [web search]

A gateway to full text resources

  • The index is on the free web, so you will also find its pages with normal web searches.
  • Because every index page contains a link directly through to OUP resources, subscribers to those resources can jump straight from an index page to those resources – currently the Oxford DNB, and part of the American National Biography.
  • If you want to find out if someone is in the Oxford DNB, simply run a standard web search for their name, appending "odnb" to your query; e.g. "raym0nd chandler odnb".
    • Try it on Google. This is no substitute for the power of searching within the Oxford DNB, but it's quick and convenient.

Who should use the Oxford Biography Index?

  • Everyone who needs to refer to people in history unambiguously and definitively: archivists, cataloguers, historians, information professionals.
    • If you are creating electronic records for people, please read about Oxford Biography Index numbers below: you may find them invaluable.
  • Anyone who wants to use a standard web search to find people in the Oxford DNB.
  • Anyone who wants to establish links to Oxford DNB subjects that will lead to the articles, but also be meaningful to a reader without a subscription.

Who has an entry in the Oxford Biography Index?

What does each index page contain?

  • A person's name(s), aristocratic title (if any), vital dates, and occupation
    • See our Guide to Articles for information about the construction of the headword, the selection of names and titles for inclusion, and conventions for vital dates.
  • The Oxford Biography Index number for that person
    • This OBIN is unique to that person; it is thus an invaluable part of any authority record for that person. As we expand the Biography Index, this number should unlock an increasing number of resources, each linked directly and unambiguously through the OBIN.
    • Note how the OBINs for people from the Oxford DNB contain a prefix of 101, which identifies the Oxford DNB, followed by a version of their Oxford DNB identity number, padded to six digits.
    • We would encourage anyone compiling a database of people to include the OBIN in each database record.
  • The URL of the index page. As we expand the number of resources linked by the Biography Index, these index pages will act as gateways to those resources.
  • A statement of the primary authority for the information given on the index page.
  • The full citation for the Oxford DNB article about that person
    • This includes the article's Digital Object Identifier (DOI). Find out more.
  • A link through to the full text of the Oxford DNB article (for subscribers only)
  • Where a person is included in the American National Biography, we also include a citation and link through to the ANB biography (for subscribers only)

Please email epm-oxforddnb@oup.com if you have any comments on, suggestions for, or queries about the Oxford Biography Index.

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