Biographical Directory of the United States Congress

For those who are researching U.S. politicians, I always recommend visiting the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. This amazing resource is a must visit for anyone tracking down political papers (primary sources!), or obtaining a quick biography (Wikipedia typically uses this resource). Researchers can search by name, position, state, party, or year/congress. The images below was taken from their web page. The image below is the search engine that is displayed on the home page. I recommend researchers utilize the directory early on in their research as a way to identify and locate primary sources.

Biographical Directory Search Box

Biographical Directory search box

The image below depicts a sampling of the research collections that contain correspondence from Indiana politician E. Ross Adair. The biographical directory provides a short biography of the politician first. One much click on the link “Research Collections” to identify the repositories of Adair papers. The site typically lists the repository with the largest quantity of correspondence along with a brief overview of the collection. In this example, the Indiana State Library contains the largest of E. Ross Adair manuscripts. The findings are listed by collection, so the at the Indiana State Library, there are four different collections than contain correspondence from Rep. Adair. Also include (when applicable) is a link to the politician’s published bibliography.

Directory Guide to Research Collections

Biographical Directory guide to research

This government resource provides a wealth of research value for anyone needing to locate primary sources. The biographical directory includes information for Representatives, Senators, Delegates, Vice Presidents, Presidents, Resident Commissioners, Speakers of the House, and the Continental Congress. It should be noted that the biographical directory is not a 100% complete, as it relies on the originating repository to have processed the collection. I also do not know how frequent (if at all) this site is updated. Regardless of its limitations, the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress remains as a valuable research tool for locating primary sources.