WHERE TO START:
LC Authority Files
Free, web-based tool developed by the U.S. Library of Congress to establish clear identification of authors and aid in the consistent use of names for persons, places, meetings, and organizations, titles, and subjects across millions of bibliographic records. The database includes 3.8 million personal names collected by LC catalogers over the last hundred years.
Free site, in beta. Examine this site with Ricardo Palma (1833-1919) Peruvian author and Librarian of the National Library of Peru, as an example. OCLC Identities page will provide among a publication timeline for the author, a list of books by and about the author, a tag cloud of subjects associated with the author and many other details about the author and his works.
ProQuest: Multiple Historical Newspaper Databases
Subscription-based database provides links to full-text of articles published in the four major U.S. newspapers. Advanced search feature allows input of data obtained from periodical indexes, including The New York Times Obituary Index, 1858-1968. Besides birth and date information, the full-text entries provide information about individuals including nationality, residences, next of kin, publishers, and titles of works. This additional data supplements birth and death dates, titles of works by and about an author cataloged by the Library of Congress or identified in OCLC. Supplementary data is not consistent from decade to decade and varies over generations as styles and conventions for obituaries and death notices changed.
OTHER ELECTRONIC SOURCES:
Biografias de Autores Brasileiros
89 biographies with b and d dates of authors (16th to 20th cent whose works appear in BibVirt the full-text collection of Brazilian literary works (over 600) compiled by students of the University of Sao Paolo
Biography Reference Bank, HH Wilson, updated daily, adds 1,000 yearly. Not all death dates actualized. Covers over 1,000 bio-sketches of Latin American personalities http://vnweb.hwwilsonweb.com/hww/shared/shared_main.jhtml?_requestid=89747
Database includes authors, composers, musicians, directors, statesmen, political leaders, government officials and people in the news. Profiles from Current Biography, the World Authors series, plus other publishers’ biographical resources like Spanish American Authors, World Authors 1900-2000, Encyclopedia of Latin American Literature, and Encyclopedia of Mexico with full-text articles, page images, and abstracts. Covers 500,000 people mostly US and UK. Substantive profiles and 36,000 images with links to 380,000 related full text articles. Good interface, pronunciation guide.
List of forty (40) authors with nationality, birth, and death dates. Part of the Alexander Street Press world Series of online full-texts of Latino and Caribbean literature. Requires subscription. Other titles include Latin Literature and Latin American Women Writers from colonial times.
Part of Gale Literary database. Covers more than 100,000 modern authors who were active prior to1960. Includes Latin American authors, nationality, birth and death dates.
Gales’ Scribner Writer’s Series
1,600 detailed bio-critical essays on the lives and works of authors from around the world.