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14 Mar 2014

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Where can I find information about Famous People?

LEVEL: Intermediate / Secondary

We're often asked for information about famous people, such as Kiri Te Kanawa, Ernest Rutherford, or Sylvia Plath.

There are some great websites for finding biographical information about New Zealanders. We like Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. When you search, put the person's name into the search box (e.g. Sir Edmund Hillary), then click on 'Biographies' on the left hand side of the results. You can also browse through the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography part of Te Ara directly by searching for the person's last name (e.g. R for Rutherford).

Another great website for famous New Zealanders is NZ Edge Legends, a website that covers amazing New Zealanders who represent our country's identity, people, stories, achievements and place in the world. It's organised by type of achievement (e.g. warriors, stars, artists, scientists).

If you're looking for biographical information for people from other countries, try the Australian Dictionary of Biography, or the Encyclopedia of World Biography, which has an American focus.

If you are using a search engine such as Google or Carrot2, type the person's name in the search box. You can also include the word biography to limit your results. Sometimes the person you are looking for will have an official website.

HOT TIP: Another place to look is Wikipedia which has great coverage of many topics, including biographies. But you need to be aware that this information is contributed by lots of different people. If you are using this site, it always pays to check the information against that on other sites or in books from the library.

Another great place to look is the Biography Resource Centre, which you can get to at EPIC. To get to the EPIC databases you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or, you can log on to between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday, and one of the librarians can help you online.

Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

The Biography Resource Centre mentioned can be found on this link:

Try to use sites that you understand.
Izzie, Faith Academy

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