Specialist databases

This guide was last updated in 2014

Many specialist biographical dictionaries can be picked up off the shelves at the British Library and theatre archives, but there are also several online databases that have been compiled by aficionados.

The Biographical Dictionary of Organists at www.organ-biography.info provides information about people from all over the world, while The Royal College of Music’s database of London Music Trades focuses on the capital in the late 18th and early-19th centuries, recording biographical details of performers, composers, publishers and instrument makers at lmt.rcm.ac.uk.

Who’s Who in The Theatre, 1922 contains biographies of people involved with the stage in the early-20th century, and the entire volume has been digitised on TheGenealogist.co.uk. Once you know where your ancestor performed, or the titles of their shows, you may find scanned programme covers at www.theatrical-scenery.info.

Leeds playbills dating from 1781 to the 1990s in the local studies collection have been digitised at www.leodis.net/playbills. There are further links to specialist databases for researching entertainment ancestors from across the globe at www.cyndislist.com/occupations/entertainment.

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