Create Lifespan Web Searches with the Contemporary Biography Builder

As the volume of scholarship posted on the Internet increases by the day, it gets more difficult to find information about a subject that’s contemporary to them.

Yes, research on Louisa May Alcott is extensive and important. But what were newspapers saying about her in 1854?

The Contemporary Biography Builder works for any person listed in Wikipedia, but the further back in history you go, the less you’re going to find (I would guess the big dropoff would be late 18th century.) Enter a name and the CBB looks up that person’s birth and death dates on Wikipedia (if the person is still alive it substitutes the current year), then creates searches limited to the person’s lifespan for the following resources:

  • Google Books
  • Internet Archive
  • Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)
  • Chronicling America (Historical Newspaper Database from Library of Congress)


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