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Find a Contemporary Author: Getting Started

Resources for locating biographical & personal information

Finding Personal Information

Assignment: Gather background and contact information for a celebrated author or someone who knows the author

Library Resources

Looking for articles from news organizations, trade journals, or biographical reference books is a good way of finding background material on a person depending on how well known the person is in his or her field, community, city, or country.

  • Check online reference materials for biographical information.
  • Check newspaper archives in online databases.
  • Check specialty databases for career and personal data.

On the Web

  • Start with Google. Search the person by name (Note: You may need to try different variations of the name Bob might be Robert, for example).
  • Use Wikipedia or Amazon to locate quick profiles and biographical information.
  • Use social media (such as Facebook) to locate friends and collect personal information (hometown, where educated). This will depend on the privacy settings on the user’s account.
  • Check a reverse telephone directory to locate neighbors (listings are by street address rather than alphabetical by last name).
  • Look for profiles, book tours, author signings, interviews, etc. on author sites, publisher sites, or library sites.
  • Look for memberships or affiliations with organizations, clubs, hobbies, sports, and other groups.
  • Try to connect with someone who has written about or interviewed your author like a biographer, journalist, or reporter.
  • Free people finding search sites are good ways to find public records, addresses, and other contacts.

Sources: Elizabeth Tarnove & Fresno State

Get Started with Smart Search


Reference sources often provide a concise overview of an individuals contribution to the field.

News Databases

Specialized Databases

Notable Names Database

This online biographical database provides profiles of noteworthy individuals and a mapper that documents the connections between them.


Web Search Tips and Tools


Strategies for finding contact, social, and demographic information about people.


Selected sites that may help you locate personal information. Please note that results will vary and some information may not be freely available.

Using Social Media to Locate a Celebrated Author

Social Media sites are great for connecting with authors!

Social Media Considerations:

Remember: Anyone can create a fake social media account! Always verify authenticity.

Additional Resources


Large databases include many journals and magazines with a literary focus:

Blue Book

Helpful Websites: