AN -- Biographies

Index bio-bibliographicus notorum hominum: IBN [Bio-Bibliographic Index of Notable People: IBN]. Osnabrück: Dietrich. [01-2-226]

Vols. 48-106. 2000. 1 CD-ROM(updated twice annually). ISBN 3-89186-039-0: DM 2,800.00, DM 500.00 (for subscribers to the print version)

It is becoming increasingly difficult to gain a clear overview of the abundant resources for historical-biographical information now available in various formats. (See RREA 6:36 for a description of Biographische Informationsmittel [Biographical Resources], which contains reviews of 836 general and specialized works produced from 1990 to 1998 alone.) In principle, researchers and libraries welcome such works in electronic format because they enhance ease of access to biographical information. Therefore, it comes as good news that the publishers of the IBN have now decided to make their massive database available on CD-ROM, parallel to the print version. The IBN, which began publication in 1974, aims to provide biographical information about one million more or less important people from all parts of the world through the ages (from approximately 2000 BCE to 2000 CE). The source of information is a broad spectrum of encyclopedias, bibliographies, and other reference works, but because these are primarily German, English, and French, the focus remains European.

The content and approach of the print version of the IBN has been discussed in IFB 99-B09-003. Although the new electronic version promises easy access to a huge database, there is a caveat. For the time being, only information about names appearing in volumes 48 to 106 is available on the CD-ROM, i.e., primarily names beginning with the letters D through H. A retro-digitization for volumes 1 to 47 will take place in stages, by means of biannual updates of the CD-ROM. However, for the time being, users must rely on the print volumes for information about names beginning with the letters A to C. Eventually, the remaining names from J to Z will also be added to the electronic database.

As far as the technical aspects are concerned, the retrieval program is functional and reliable, although somewhat outdated. Navigation within the database requires some patience and perseverance to master. A personal index allows the user to search by various criteria: name, date of birth and/or death, place of birth and/or death, profession/nationality, or source of information. Searching by variant names, spellings, and pseudonyms is also possible.

By comparison, the World Biographical Index (see IFB 99-B09-009) is much more useful, in that it already includes the whole alphabet. The WBI has been available on CD-ROM since 1993 (now in its 7th edition) and is also easily accessible online at <http://www.saur-wbi.de/wbi_eng/main.htm>. In general, it is simpler and faster to use than the IBN. However, the latter does include some sources of information not covered by the WBI and allows searching by place names. It is noteworthy that the city with the largest number of hits by far is Paris and, with the exception of New York, the next top 10 cities are also European.

The task of converting the print version of the IBN to a CD-ROM version is a laudable but possibly overly ambitious undertaking. In any case, it will be difficult to complete in a timely fashion with the resources at hand. It is still a work in progress and will be for some time. Purchase of the completed work might be justified for a handful of large libraries. [be/akb]


Harenberg-Personenlexikon [Harenberg Biographical Dictionary]. Rev. and exp. ed. Dortmund: Harenberg-Lexikon-Verlag, 2000. 1,087 p. ill. 25 cm. (Enzyklopädie des 20. Jahrhunderts). Previous title: Harenberg-Personenlexikon 20. Jahrhundert. ISBN 3-611-00893-1: DM 98.00 [01-1-015]

The first and second editions of this dictionary appeared in 1991 and 1996. According to the publisher, the number of persons treated in the three editions was first "approximately 5,800," then "over 4,000," and now "almost 4,000." The first figure was certainly an exaggeration, the latter two are closer to reality. Spot checks indicate that more names have been dropped than added. Only few entries appear to have been substantially revised. Some omissions (Claudia Schiffer, Victor Klemperer) have been corrected. One could, of course, come up with additional names that should be included (Beate Uhse, Britney Spears). The criteria for inclusion are even vaguer than in the earlier versions. This new edition has not been significantly expanded, but has increased in price by one third. Its publication seems to have been based less on actual need than on marketing strategy, as it is now bundled with two other Harenberg imprints under the ambitious title Enzyklopädie des 20. Jahrhunderts [Encyclopedia of the 20th Century]. [sh/rs]


Das Fischer-Lexikon Personen der Gegenwart: Biographien aus Politik, Wirtschaft und Kultur von 1945 bis heute [Fischer Dictionary of Contemporary Personalities: Biographies of Persons in Politics, Business, and the Arts from 1945 to Today]. Ed. Felix Rudloff. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, 2000. 832 cols. ill. 19 cm. (Fischer-Taschenbücher, 14912). ISBN 3-596-14912-6: DM 19.90 [01-1-016]

The usefulness of the Fischer Weltalmanach remains undisputed. The same is not true for its companion publications, the Fischer Länderatlas (1999), and the biographical dictionary under review here. It contains "more than 1,200" brief biographies. Politicians are in the majority; persons from the worlds of business and culture are included only if they were somehow active in the political realm. In addition to basic biographical information, about a third of the entries contain black-and-white photographs of the subjects. To quote the publisher's blurb, this is, of course, an "informative reference book," but not nearly as useful as the Weltalmanach. [sh/rs]


Berühmte Frauen: dreihundert Porträts [Famous Women: Three Hundred Portraits]. Ed. Susanne Gretter and Luise F. Pusch. Frankfurt am Main; Leipzig: Insel-Verlag. 22 cm [01-1-017]

Vol. 1. 1999. 383 p. ill. ISBN 3-458-16949-0: DM 32.00
Vol. 2. 2001. 379 p. ill. ISBN 3-458-17067-7: DM 34.00

The basis for this two-volume set (further volumes have already been promised by the editors) is the database Bedeutende Frauen international [Famous Women International] that is being compiled by Pusch in the framework of the Institut für feministische Biographieforschung [Institute for Feminist Biographical Research] in Hannover. The database has reached more than 30,000 entries. Each printed volume covers 300 women. Independent of her importance, every woman is assigned a space of one printed page, including a black-and-white portrait. All entries are signed. Indexes are offered for year of birth, nationality, main activity or profession (which includes a category "women as relative beings" for women as friends, mothers, sisters, etc.), and date of birth. The focus is very much on women from Germany and Austria as well as the United States and England. The database itself is available at <http://www.fembio.org> but includes only a small sample of entries with somewhat disappointing content. [sh/rs]


Deutsche biographische Enzyklopädie (DBE) [German Biographical Encyclopedia]. Ed. Walther Killy and Rudolf Vierhaus. München [et al.]: Saur. 25 cm. Vol. 1-3 ed. Walther Killy. ISBN 3-598-23160-1 (basic set, Vols. 1-10): DM 3,980.00 [01-1-018]

Vol. 12,1. Ortsregister A-M [Index of Place Names A-M]. 2000. viii, 763 p. ISBN 3-598-23172-5: DM 696.00, DM 596.00 (for subscribers to the basic set; price includes Vol. 12,2)
Vol. 12,2. Ortsregister N-Z; Berufsregister [Index of Place Names N-Z; Index of Professions]. 2000. p. 767 [sic]-1473. ISBN 3-598-23172-5

This dictionary (and in particular volume 11) was most recently reviewed in RREA 6:39. Volume12 contains indexes of place names (quite substantial at 1,178 pages) and professions (approximately 300 pages). Within the listing of place names, personal names related to those places are arranged alphabetically and distinguished typographically to indicate place of birth, death, or professional activity. For smaller places this leads to useful results; for larger ones, on the other hand, the names end up in "data cemeteries" (e.g., Berlin has 66 pages in densely printed two-column format, Vienna 45 pages, Paris 16 pages, etc.). No one seems to have thought of (or been willing to tackle) the task of further arranging this mass of data by periods and/or professions.

The index of professions is also less than satisfactory, in particular because it is based on the uncontrolled terminology of the articles. There are no cross-references between related and overlapping professions, and the editors have neglected to provide any overarching structure of broader disciplines. Overall, the indexes thus add little to the undisputed value of the DBE. A much more promising project is the cumulative digital name index for the Allgemeine deutsche Biographie and the Neue deutsche Biographie which is to be offered on the home page of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek beginning in the summer of 2001. [sh/rs]


Deutsches biographisches Generalregister: Fundstellen-Nachweis für mehr als 1000 biographische Nachschlagewerke, die zwischen 1950 und 2000 erschienen sind [German Biographical Index: A Finding-Aid for More Than 1,000 Biographical Reference Works Published between 1950 and 2000]. Comp. Willi Gorzny. Pullach im Isartal: Gorzny. 30 cm. ISBN 3-924176-21-8 (set) [01-2-227]

Vol. 1. Aach-Bagusche. 2001. ISBN 3-924276-22-6: DM 198.00

Willi Gorzny is an active compiler of biographical and bibliographical indexes. His Deutsches biographisches Generalregister is an index to biographies of individuals from the German-speaking areas of Europe that appeared in biographical reference works published between 1950 and 2000. Twelve volumes, covering 1,076 biographical sources, are planned. No selection criteria are given. Included for each entry is an indicator of the length of the biography--four or more pages, one to three pages, or short entries of less than a page--an advantage in comparison with other, similar indexes. There are two indexes to the sources used: one to specialized biographies (e.g., of literary figures or women) and one to those that cover specific geographical locations. For each person covered, information is given on occupation, birth and death dates, relevant biographical sources, and primary and secondary literature. This index belongs in all larger libraries. [sh/baw]


Kürschners deutscher Gelehrten-Kalender: bio-bibliographisches Verzeichnis deutschsprachiger Wissenschaftler der Gegenwart [Kürschner's Index of German Scholars: Bio-Bibliographic List of Contemporary German-Speaking Scholars]. München: Saur. 25 cm. (Previously Berlin: de Gruyter). ISSN 1616-8399 (beginning with 18/2001) [01-1-020]

Vol. 18, Pts. 1-3. 2001 xiii, 3,008 p. ISBN 3-598-23603-4: DM 1,280.00

Structural changes, such as the separation between humanities and sciences that had been made to Kürschners deutscher Gelehrten-Kalender starting with the 17th edition in 1996 have been abandoned with this edition, now published by K.G. Saur in Munich. The current three-volume set contains the names of 66,582 scholars (of which over 12,000 are newly listed, according to the preface). The information was gathered by questionnaire, but a large number of very short entries (name, address and subject area) must have been supplied by the editorial staff with the help of college catalogs from 1999/2000. Even for those who did fill out questionnaires, the personal information is kept to a minimum, dealing only with the academic career. It is good to see that on the other hand a greater emphasis has once again been placed on the individual's publications. These are categorized in 10 different classes, including monographs, contributions to reference works and Festschriften, articles, translations, and editorial responsibilities.

The appendix contains the traditional list of scholars who died in the period of coverage, as well as noteworthy birthdays--both in chronological and in alphabetical order. Additionally, there is an index by subject area (a relatively complex classification scheme helps to keep the lists of names to a manageable length), a list of German-language universities and colleges by place name, and an alphabetical list of German scholarly publishers with address information and which subjects they cover. It is hoped that the new publisher, the German market leader in bio(biblio)graphical reference sources, will be able to guarantee the Gelehrten-Kalender a secure future. [sh/hh]


Biographisches Lexikon der Deutschen Burschenschaft [Biographical Dictionary of German Fraternities]. Helge Dvorak. Ed. Christian Hünemörder for the Gesellschaft für Burschenschaftliche Geschichtsforschung (GfbG). Heidelberg: Winter. 25 cm. [01-1-021]

Vol. 1. Politiker [Politicians], Sect. 4: M-Q. 2000. 376 p. ill. ISBN 3-8253-1118-X: DM 138.00

The purpose of this bibliography published by the Gesellschaft für Burschenschaftliche Geschichtsforschung [Society for the Study of Fraternity History] is, according to the preface, to provide historically accurate information about fraternity members who have risen to prominence in Germany since the founding of the first German fraternity in 1815. The relatively high number of members who became Nazi party functionaries in the Third Reich is acknowledged. For the sake of completeness, they are included here, along with their accomplishments.

One part of the Politicians volume has been published each year since 1996; the alphabetical sequence should be complete in six volumes. [sh/hh]


Deutsches Geschlechterbuch [The Book of German Family Genealogy]. Limburg: Starke [01-1-022]

Gesamtnamenverzeichnis [Cumulative Name Index]. 2d ed., covering Vols. 1-209 (1889-1999). 1999. 1 CD-ROM. ISBN 3-7980-0380-7: DM 68.00

The Deutsches Geschlechterbuch has been an established resource for German genealogical research for decades. Its 212 volumes contain around 20,000 different family names. Cumulative (alphabetical) indexes of the family names covered in volumes 1-119 (Main) and 120-199 (Brief) are available in printed form; with this huge amount of data, the electronic option with its capacity for storage, sorting, and rapid updating was an obvious next step. This second attempt at a CD-ROM release is tailored for use with the Windows operating system (system requirements: minimum 486 processor, 8 MB RAM, Windows 3.1). A name search results in a citation to the volume and page number where the article is to be found. This is currently only of use to libraries who own the printed set. A project is being undertaken to digitize the entire content of the over 200 volumes beginning with the early out-of-print ones; each CD-ROM is to contain 10 volumes. It would be desirable in the next generation of CD-ROMs to include more powerful options for complex combination searches. [be/hh]

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Last update: August 27, 2002 [GC]
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