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Finding Biographies of Government Employees

18 March 2003. A subscriber asked about finding biographical information on government agency employees. The person did not specify an interest in state or federal agency employees, or say whether the information sought was for a current or former employee. Therefore, I'll mention a range of possibilities.

You usually find commercially published biographies written about important or famous people. If you want a biography about someone in this category, try these three resources:

  • Amazon.com. Go to the advanced search feature for books and enter the last name (and first name, if necessary) of the employee as a subject term. Path from the Amazon home page: Do a Search, then follow the Advanced Search link. Example: search Tenet as a "subject word" to find two hearings on his nomination to be Deputy Director and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, respectively. Both, by the way, are out of print.

  • Search the library catalog of your local public, county or academic library. Use the same name-as-subject search strategy. Resources like lib-web-cats and LibDex may help you find a library catalog.

  • Search the catalog of the Library of Congress.

Next, agency Web sites sometimes provide biographical information about top-ranking employees. See, for example, George Tenet's biography at the State Department Web site. You can find these biographies by:

  • Browsing or searching the agency Web site.

  • Using a finding aid like WHO'S WHO IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT by the government library at the University of Michigan.

  • Searching Firstgov. Use the advanced search form, where you can limit the query to a particular state or the federal government, or add keywords like biography or biographical to the search.

  • Searching Google Unclesam, which restricts Google queries to sites providing federal government information.

Finally, Carroll Publishing, a long-time publisher of print directories about government, offers a fee-based online research service called GovSearch. According to information available at the Web site, GovSearch provides information about government contacts for all levels of government -- federal, state and local. However, it includes mostly higher level employees. If you double-click on a staff person's name, you may find a biography. Carroll Publishing offers a free one-week trial.


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Created: 11 April 2003
Revised: 8 December 2004 (revised)
URL: https://www.virtualchase.com/ask_answer/bios_gov.html
Suggestions: Genie Tyburski, editor [at] virtualchase [dot] com