Biography Links

Why teach history through biography?

"History is people, after all, and even great social, economic, intellectual, and political forces take shape in our minds and in our historical records through the actions of people." 

--from the American Historical Association: Teach History the Old-Fashioned Way--Through Biography, by Ken Wolf. 

"Nothing gives more insight to students than to discern both the connections and the dissimilarities between their lives and the lives of others in places and/or times that seem remote and somehow unreal." 

--from the American Historical Association: Biography and Autobiography in the teaching of History and the Social Sciences, by Ann K. Warren. 

"Biographies enhance the ability of teachers to stimulate critical thinking across developmental levels."

--from Teaching American History through Biography: Lessons from Maine Educators

"One method I use to strike a balance between the "big picture" and the specific evidence that makes up history is to use biography as a teaching tool."

--from AP Central: Using Biography to Teach AP History

"Biography brings into focus not only positive attitudes and attributes, but also human foibles and flaws."

--from Education Weekly: Why Teach Biography? by Bernice Lerner (first published online: March 15, 2005)

Telling Lives

Professor Elliott West presents to 8th Grade American history students who read his book on Chief Joseph. He answers student questions and describes the process he used to write biographical history.

Biography Indexes


Subject-Specific Biography Collections

American Presidents


The Early Republic


Native American Biographies


The American West


Civil War Biographies


African American History