Welcome to American National Biography Online

  • Over 19,000 biographies of significant, influential or notorious figures from American history written by prominent scholars
  • Life of the day now available as an email to your inbox or by RSS feed
  • Have questions about how to use the redesigned website? Check out our Help page for a video demo and detailed instructions or read through our FAQs.

Learn more

Letter from Susan Ware, Editor

November 2018

This update includes nine new essays, with a particular emphasis on writers, poets, and journalists. Highlights include poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou; CBS journalist Mike Wallace; Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler; lesbian pulp fiction writer Valerie Taylor; and novelist and essayist Gore Vidal. Subscribe by RSS feed for updates.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was one of the most notable writers of the twentieth century. Through her memoirs, such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), she offered dramatic insight not only into her own life but also into African American culture. Her work found an audience among black and white readers. Angelou was also a celebrated poet. Her collection Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1971, and she read her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993. She was also a civil rights activist who worked with both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X during the 1960s. Her body of work offered a strong rebuke to the nation’s long history of racism and inspired countless African American writers to follow in her footsteps.




NOVEMBER 29, 2018

What's new: November 2018

Explore new biographies from the intersecting histories of writers and poets. 

OCTOBER 25, 2018

What's new: October 2018

Discover significant figures from the world of sports.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2018

What's new: September 2018

 Discover lives across money and politics.