The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is the national record of men and women who’ve shaped all walks of British life—from the Romans to the 21st century. Published online and updated monthly, the Oxford DNB includes more than 60,000 life stories.
1. Sheffield lives
The Oxford DNB includes more than 1,200 men and women with connections to Sheffield – from the Victorian industrialist Sir Frederick Mappin to athlete and charity fundraiser Jane Tomlinson (below).
In between you’ll find many sons and daughters of the city, including John Roebuck, ironmaster and business partner of James Watt; film pioneer James Blackton; the architect Alison Smithson, who designed some of the most original and controversial buildings in post-war Britain, including those at Sheffield University; and the comedian Jimmy Jewel.
You can also search across the city, allowing you to find 60 famous people buried in the city’s churches.
Across the ODNB’s 70 million words, you’ll also find more than 1,600 references to Sheffield, 13 to Sheffield Wednesday, and 6 to the Crucible Theatre.
It’s easy to search by place in the Oxford DNB as the following section explains.
2. How do I search?
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”.
3. Topical and local history
Try a map—from British brewers, to gardeners and seafarers
4. Listen to a life
Every two weeks the Oxford DNB releases a biography podcast. There are more than 100 episodes to choose from, including John Lennon, Madame Tussaud, Morecambe and Wise, Roald Dahl, and Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Browse the episodes by list or by place.