January 18, 2022

Reference: U. of Virginia Press Releases ‘People of the Founding Era’ Online Biographical Dictionary, Free Access During Beta

Note: The ‘People of the Founding Era’ Biographical Dictionary will become a fee-based resource. However, free access (no registration required) is available to all during the beta period that began about a week ago. 

From the University of Virginia Press:

UVa Press announces the release of a new online resource, People of the Founding Era, a digital biographical dictionary that will be open to the public during its beta release.

Developed in collaboration with Documents Compass, a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, People of the Founding Eraprovides biographical information for thousands of individuals active during a crucial period in American history. [Our emphasis] Beginning with 12,000 but eventually expanding to over 60,000 people born between 1713 and 1815, the subjects include members of many of the most important families of the era, as well as individuals—such as artisans, merchants, slaves, and Native Americans—whose lives are not typically documented in historical archives.

Finding information on such a large population, and covering such a broad area of history, would have once required access to hundreds of volumes of historic documents. People of the Founding Era makes that information immediately accessible and offers entirely new ways of discovering connections between individuals.


An innovative “faceted browsing” approach allows users to search across the resource or to access populations by groupings such as place, gender, occupation, or enslavement. All entries include some biographical data, and many have a complete profile—full name, birth date, place of birth, death date, place of death, occupation, gender, and nationality. The relationships between subjects, including kinship, are driven by structured tagging and presented within each entry. Information in many of these entries has been extracted directly from the Papers projects in Rotunda’s American Founding Era collection: in these cases, People of the Founding Era links back to the original references within their respective editions, so users may explore more fully the context in which the individual was originally documented.

Read the Complete Announcement

Direct to People of the Founding Era Biographical Dictionary (Free Access During Beta)

See Also: A Major U.S. History Resource Launches: “Founders Online” (June 13, 2013)
Also from the University of Virginia Press (and NARA). A free resource.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.