North Carolina Biography

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Biographies provide useful genealogical information such as a person’s birth date and place; names of family members, including maiden names; education; occupation; and social, political, and religious affiliation. They may also contain a physical description of the person, previous residences, and immigration information. Biographies are the product of family knowledge or previous research about early settlers and prominent citizens of a state, county, or town. Local histories may contain biographical sketches of lesser-known people.

The North Carolina State Library has the most complete collection of North Carolina biographical materials. The Family History Library also has many volumes containing biographical sketches of residents of North Carolina. For an index, see Donald Hehir’s Carolina Families: A Bibliography of Books about North and South Carolina Families mentioned in the "Genealogy" section of this outline.

Representative biographical encyclopedias are:

Ashe, Samuel A’Court, ed. Biographical History of North Carolina from Colonial Times to the Present. 9 vols. Greensboro, North Carolina: Charles L. Van Noppen, 1905–17. (Family History Library book 975.6 D3a; on 6 films beginning with 1421670 item 9), Film 1425698 item10 is an index to volumes 1–8.

Powell, William S. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. 6vols. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1979–96. (Family History Library book 975.6 D36d) The biographies in this source are alphabetical.

See the "Biography" section of the United States Research Outline ( (30972) for information on nationwide biographical collections. See also the "History" and  "Genealogy"sections of this outline for additional sources.

To find biographies and published family histories on specific surnames in the Family History Library Catalog, use a Surname Search. Typing the words North Carolina in the Keyword Search will help to limit the search to families in North Carolina.

The Family History Library has many collected biographies and local county histories with biographical sketches of residents. These can be found in the Family History Library Catalog by using a Place Search under: