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Biographical Research Resources

The following resources are very useful in identifying artists and pertinent information about their careers:

BMI – This source is available through

Davenport’s Art Reference & Price Guide – Ed. R. J. Davenport. This is an expensive but extremely useful tool. The Artfact Pro Decorative Arts CD-Rom sells for $1,295; the Artfact Pro Fine Arts CD-Rom also sells for $1,295; Leonard’s Annual Price Index CD-Rom (1999) covers 1980-1998 art auction prices and costs $995. It is published by Gordon’s Art Reference, Arizona, Inc. ( They also publish a hardcover book (ref. 700.75 DAV) which is not as extensive but is very good for identifying basic information about approximately 200,000 artists.

Currier’s Price Guide to American Artists at Auction by William T. Currier (1994 – 6th Edition), published by Currier Publications, 241 Main Street, Stoneham, MA 02180, 1-800-344-0760 (Ref. 700.75 Cur).

Index to Artistic Biography, Vols. I, II, & Supplement, by Patricia Pate Havlice; published by The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Metuchen, NJ (1973) – (Ref. 709.22 HAV).

Dictionary of Women Artists, Vols. I & II – Ed. Delia Gaze, published by Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 70 East Walton St., Chicago, IL 60611 (Ref. 709.22 DIC)

Art Index, Vols. I-48 – Ed. Ruta Butkus Vanderheide; published by The H.W. Wilson Company, 950 University Avenue, Bronx, NY 10452 (Ref. 700.02 ART)

Who’s Who in American Art – by Marquis Who’s Who, 121 Chanlon Road, New Providence, NJ 07974 (Ref. 709.22 WHO). Note: The older editions of Who’s Who in American Art have more information about WPA artists; the later editions tend to condense information and sometimes drop a name.

Who Was Who in American Art – (Ref. 709.22 WHO)
ARTISTS IN CALIFORNIA 1786-1940 II – by Edan Milton Hughes (1989); this is a great source for California artists.

Social Security Death Index – If you have information about the date of birth, etc., you might be able to track down an artist through the SSDI.

Mantle Fieldings Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers – Ed. Glenn B. Opitz; published by Apollo Book (1986), 5 Schoolhouse Lane, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603 (915-462-0040) – (Ref. 709.22 FIE)

St. James Guide to Black Artists – Ed. Thomas Riggs; published by St. James Press (1997), 835 Penobscot Building, Detroit, MI 48226 (Ref. 709.2396 STJ)

Americans 1942 – 18 Artists From 9 States, Museum of Modern Art, New York (1942, New York City, NY)

Artist/USA – Bicentennial Issue, published by Artists/USA, Inc. (1976, Philadelphia, PA)

A Biographical Dictionary of Painters and Sculptors in Illinois, Ph.D. Dissertation, Esther Sparks, Northwestern University (709.773 S736B)