Today, Ancestry made the UK’s Dictionary of National Biography available online, with free searching.
Ancestry says: “The Dictionary of National Biography began in 1882 as an ambitious project spearheaded by George Murray Smith to produce a biographical dictionary of prominent British and Irish figures from the earliest of times up to 1900. The efforts of hundreds of contributors resulted in a 22 volume alphabetical series containing thousands of biographies.
“This database contains Volumes 1–20 (21 is missing), and 22 of this series, which includes the biographies of those with surnames Abbadie–Whewell. It also contains The Concise Dictionary, which is a summary guide and index to the rest of the series, as well as the Supplement, which deals with people who died too late to be included in the earlier volumes.
“The first volume of the Dictionary of National Biography appeared on 1 January 1885. A dedicated team of sub-editors and researchers worked under Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, combining a variety of talents from veteran journalists to young scholars who cut their academic teeth on dictionary articles at a time when postgraduate historical research in British universities was still in its infancy.
“While much of the dictionary was written in-house, the DNB also relied on external contributors, who included several respected writers and scholars of the late nineteenth century.
“Within this dictionary you can hope to find reasonably detailed descriptions of these “notable” individuals. A wealth of information is included from birth place and parents’ names to job history and residential information. If your ancestor is included, it is also possible that you will be able to find information about who contributed their biography as well.
“Information in this index:
- Spouse’s name;
- Parent’s names;
- Current residence (respective to the dates of the index);
- Biographical summary.
“Information that may be included:
- Christening dates;
- Schools attended;
- Children’s names.”