The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is the national record of people who’ve shaped British history, worldwide, from the Romans to the 21st century. The ODNB currently includes the life stories of 60,000 men and women who died in or before 2016.
Of these 60,000 people, nearly 3,000 have close ties to Lancashire—through families, education, work or residence.
Here you’ll find some famous (and some less familiar) Lancashire faces, including Frank Whittle, whose pioneering gas turbine was manufactured at Barnoldswick (above), the singer Kathleen Ferrier, and James Maxwell, architect of the Blackpool Tower (below).
As well as looking for people by name, you can also search by place, for example:
- which famous people were born in Lancaster?
- who were the Pendle witches?
- how many times is Morecambe Bay mentioned in the Oxford DNB?
- how many people in the ODNB died and were buried in Preston?
- which famous people have links to Accrington?
(NB: You'll need to be logged into your library's subscription for these searches.)
The Oxford DNB includes the life stories of more than 60,000 men and women. Online you can search for where they were born, baptized, lived, died or were buried, by date range or location.
- The advanced search ‘life event’ feature can be used to find people near you—be they men and women baptised in Edinburgh (189), those born in Whitby (28), or those buried in Exeter (133). Used in this way the ODNB is an excellent resource for school projects or family history.
- Text searching across the Oxford DNB’s 68 million words, you can also make links between people and places: for example, we’ve 102 references to “Clapham Common”, 27 to the “River Trent”, and 51 to “Snowdonia”.
- Free biography podcast: as well as 60,000 life stories, the ODNB publishes a twice monthly biography podcast featuring some popular entries from the collection. There are now over 250 episodes in the archive. Recent highlights include Diana, princess of Wales, George Orwell, John Lennon, and Bobby Moore.
- Follow us on Twitter for more historical figures in the news.
- Don’t forget: the ODNB online is available free—anywhere, anytime—via Lancashire libraries: just type your library membership number in the box here.