Primary Source Archives
Gale Primary Sources contains full-text archives and digitized collections that provide researchers with firsthand biographical reference articles.
Find out more about the lives of eminent Americans in a study of U.S. biography. The topic of U.S. biography covers the lives of prominent Americans from all walks of life, starting from the time when Americans were still colonists living under British rule, prior to the Declaration of Independence in 1776, up to present time. Biographies can come from the arena of politics, military, entertainment, sports, literature, education, activism, science, criminal justice—basically any field where a person has made a mark in some way.
The unique development of the United States as a country established through immigration from countries across the globe is reflected in the diversity of the subjects of American biographies. Stories of prominent Americans include a wealth of different races, ethnicities, classes, and religions. Biographies of Americans through the twentieth century will often highlight a person’s ability to transform their life within the context of a society whose democratic principles and economic opportunities allowed for comparatively greater mobility and freedom, termed “the American Dream.”
American biographies are generally about well-known figures, such as the first U.S. president, George Washington, or famous writer Edgar Allan Poe. While American biographies tend to focus on those who made notable contributions to American society, written accounts may also cover those who will go down in infamy, such as the notorious criminal Al Capone.
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