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JOUR 110 Fundamentals of Journalism


Utilize your research skills to find three different kinds of information to use in writing an obituary:

  • Biographical details on your subject
    • This is basic information like given name, birth date, where they lived and worked. 
    • Full Name: Margaret Eleanor Atwood
    • Date of birth: Nov. 18, 1939
    • Place of birth: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    • Occupation: novelist, poet, teacher
    • Education: Victoria College, University of Toronto; Radcliffe College; Harvard University
  • Quotes by your subject
    • The goal is to find a humorous or salient statement by the subject regarding their life and/or work. 

    I can tell you that once upon a time when I was doing public events people would ask me, ‘What do you think about the arts?, What do you think of the role of women?, What do you think of men?, What do you think of all of these things?’, and now they ask one thing, and that one thing is this, ‘Is there hope?’.  -- Margaret Atwood [Source]

  • Anecdotes on your subject
    • These are brief stories or descriptions that sum up your subject's character in a way that the simple biographical facts just cannot do.

Record your findings and the sources for that information. One of your sources should be a published biography on your subject.

Due: Nov. 7 , 2017 @ Beeghly main desk

Find a biography in CONSORT

Biographies and autobiographies are works about peoples' lives, so they will be a good source of biographical detail for your obituary.

The best place to start looking for biographies on your person is CONSORT, the library's catalog. The most effective searches for biographies will likely be keyword and subject searches.

Keyword Search

In the CONSORT search box, start by entering the full name of your person in quotes, like this: "Hillary Clinton"

The quotes will help you make sure you're searching for the name Hillary Clinton as a phrase and not just books that mention Hillary Swank and Port Clinton.

If you don't find much, ask yourself if there are variations on your person's name, like whether or not they are often referred to with a middle initial, middle name, maiden name, etc? In the example of Hillary Clinton, you might also have to search for "Hillary Rodham Clinton"


Subject Search

In the CONSORT search box, enter the person's last name first, followed by their first name, like this: "Clinton, Hillary"

Then select Subject from the left-hand drop-down menu.

Subject searches are much more specific and much more strict about how you enter your search terms.

You will get a list of all the subject headings that matched your search. Click on the general subject for your person. In this example, that would be:


You should then get a list of books that have all been tagged with this subject heading for your person so the they are more likely to be all about them.

Biographical databases

These databases search multiple reference resources, including topic-specific encyclopedias and biographical dictionaries, for in-depth profiles and extensive bibliographies of current and deceased public figures.

Note: is NOT a reputable source. Do not use it as a resource.

Books of quotations

These books have quotes indexed by topic, keyword, and giver, depending on the text. We have several of these available online and in print.

You can also find great quotes in print and broadcast interviews (see below).

Interviews, transcripts, etc.

Interviews can be good sources for quotes and anecdotes, and the databases below allow you to search magazine interviews, broadcast transcripts, speeches, and the like.

Nexis Uni 

To search transcripts, enter your keywords in the Search box on the front page and hit Enter. The search should default to News sources. 

On the results page, look from the Publication Type facet on the left-hand side of the page. Click to expand the list. Select News Transcripts from the list.

Your results should include television and radio transcripts with your keywords highlighted in yellow.

Further limit results by clicking on Sources in the left-hand column and selecting a specific news source, such as NPR or BBC. 

EBSCO Databases

For these resources, enter your keywords in the top search on the front page and then scroll down the main search page to limit by...

Publication Type to Transcript, and/or

Document Type to Interview, Letter, Speech, Transcript

Note: Not all of the databases have all of these options, but most will. 

ProQuest Newspapers Database

The National Newspapers database allows you to search transcripts, interviews, speeches, and reviews. To limit your search to one or more of those sources, click on Advanced Search on the front page: 


On the Advanced Search page, enter your subject's name in the search box, and scroll down to the Document Type box. Check the box next to each type you wish to find. Click the Search button at the bottom of the page.

Your results will show your keywords highlighted in yellow. You can further filter your results by date or publication. 



Many television programs -- decades old, as well as recent -- have found their way onto YouTube. These include news broadcasts and talk shows, and even full documentaries. 

YouTube offers just a simple keyword search of your subject. Once you have results, you can filter by date posted.