Help Text


These help pages tell you how to use this online edition of Who’s Who.

Logging in

If you have a subscription but cannot log in, please consult our subscriber services pages.

If you are using the web site within a subscribing library you will probably be logged in automatically.

Username and password

If you have been given a username and password, type them in the boxes under Subscriber login on the home page, and click on the Go button.

  • Your username and password are case sensitive
  • If you have forgotten either, contact us.

Library card

If your library subscribes, your librarian can set you up to log in to the site with your library card number from your own home. If ‘remote access’ is set up for you, type your library card number in the box under Library card number and click on the Go button.

  • Ask your librarian about remote access.
  • Some libraries need you to prefix more letters or numbers to your card number; check with your librarian.

Through Athens

If you have an Athens account or you are at an institution using an Access Management Federation please select your institution from the drop down list provided. If your institution is not listed or you have any other questions please contact us:
Outside the Americas:
Within the Americas:

Are you logged in?

If you are logged in you will see on the home page:

  • a quick search box in the red bar towards the top right of the screen; and
  • the name of the subscriber whose account you are using at the bottom right of the screen.

(The home page also shows you links to some interesting and topical biographies in the main pane.)

Do you keep being asked to log in?

Once you have logged in to the site, you remain logged in for as long as you keep using the site. If you do nothing for about ten minutes, we assume that you are no longer using the site, and so the next time you try to do something, we ask you to log in again. Once you have logged in again, you should be taken immediately to the right place in the site, and not the home page again.

  • If you use the site on your own computer, you can minimize the inconvenience by setting your browser to remember your user name and password.
  • We log you out in this way for two reasons: first, because too many sessions at once will slow the site down, and secondly, because if an account has a limited number of users, unused sessions may prevent other users logging in.

Moving around the site: the navigation bars

There are three horizontal bars at the top of every page. They contain the links and devices that take you around the site.

The white topmost bar

The thin white band at the top contains links that take you away from core content, towards pages that tell you about Who’s Who, or that help you to manage your subscription. The link to these help pages is at the right-hand end.

The red middle bar

The Who’s Who logo is a link back to the home page.

Use the Search box to find people or text in Who’s Who. You can follow the link below it to more search options, if you need them.

The gold lowermost bar

On the left, three links: Home returns you to home; Search takes you to the advanced search page, and Browse gives you a dropdown menu that allows you to choose whether you browse all the people in Who’s Who, professional qualifications and honours that appear in their entries, the clubs that they belong to, and the recreations that they list.

On the right you may see the Include Who Was Who checkbox.

  • Your subscription may be for the current year’s Who’s Who only. If so, you will not see the Include Who Was Who checkbox.

If the checkbox is ticked, all the searches and browses that you do on the site will discover both people in this year’s edition of Who’s Who and everyone in Who Was Who. The checkbox setting will stay the same unless you change it.

  • Who Was Who contains the entries for everyone who has been in any edition of Who’s Who. When a person who is in Who’s Who dies, he or she does not appear in the following year’s edition, but instead in Who Was Who.
  • There are about 90,000 people in Who Was Who, dating back to everyone who appeared in the 1898 edition of Who’s Who.

Quick search

The quick search box appears in the top right of every page. Use it to find both people in Who’s Who and to run a text search for words and phrases in the articles.

Searching for people in Who’s Who

Type the full name of the person you are looking for, in natural order. You don’t have to capitalize people’s names.

  • Glenys Kinnock; lady kinnock; bob hoskins; Admiral Leach.
  • Use initials instead of forenames: d miliband; E. Miliband.
  • If you type just one word, we assume it’s a surname, so a search just for Bruno will take you to Frank Bruno, rather than Bruno Peek.
  • Ecclesiastical and aristocratic titles also work: Bishop of Croydon; earl of essex.
  • You need not type accented characters: a search for Opik will find Lembit Öpik.

Use wildcards if you are unsure of a name.

  • You can use the asterisk character in a query to stand for any number of letters. If you don’t know whether you are searching for a Phillipps, a Phillips, or a Philips, search for phil*ps.
  • The question mark character can stand for any single letter. If you don’t know if you are searching for a Katherine or a Catherine, search for ?atherine.

Text searching for words and phrases

The quick search box is also the text search box.

If you put more than one word in the quick search box, you search for any article that contains all those words; if you want to search for a phrase, type it in double quotes.

  • For example, “table tennis” finds table tennis players, while table tennis without the quotations articles that mention both table and tennis.

Stemming – the automatic expansion of your search to include related words from the same stem as your search term – is supported where it is useful.

  • For example, the phrases “bird-watching”, “watching birds” and birding” all appear as recreations in Who’s Who. A search just for bird finds them all.

The wildcards * and ?, and the support for special character searching, described above, also work in text search. Boolean searching is supported, and is described below.


The results page presents your search results, showing, in alphabetical order, the headwords of the entries that you have found, each person’s vital dates, and short statement of their occupation. If appropriate, you are also shown excerpts from each article, showing the matches.

These results are shown in the main part of the screen (D).

Where a result is an article about a person who is dead, that result is shown with a light background tint (note too that the date of the person’s death will also appear).

At the top is a description of exactly what you are seeing (A). You can navigate around large results sets by using the Next and Previous buttons ( Previous and Next icons), the First and Last icons ( First and Last icons), jumping to particular letters of the alphabet using the letter picker, or jumping straight to a name starting with the letters you type into the navigation box (C).

image of site screenshot

Tabs above your search results (B) enable you to focus on results of particular interest. Each tab represents a section of a Who’s Who article, and shows in brackets how many hits there are within that section. Click on the tab to see only the results from that section.

  • When the search results screen first appears, it will usually show the results from the Names section, the first tab.
  • If there were no hits in the name section, it will show all the results, using the last tab, All.

You can change the order of the results by using the options in the left hand pane (E; death date order is generally only appropriate when you are searching Who Was Who).

If your results set is too big you can refine it using options on the left hand pane (F). Again, each option shows in brackets how many results you will get if you choose to see only female or male, or alive or dead people. Alternatively, you can refine by choosing a broad category from the Occupation dropdown (G; see further Advanced Search).

The article display

Click on a result to see the complete article. A typical article shows the person’s full name first, and then decorations (professional qualifications and honours). This is followed by a short family statement about his or her birth and immediate family, and then a statement of the person’s current occupation. Different sections then show the person’s education, career, recreations, clubs, and contact details.

image of site screenshot

Once you are on the article page, you can return to your results list, or navigate to the next or previous hits in it, by using the links in the bar immediately above the article text (A).

  • The Highlight toggle in the same bar turns on and off highlighting of the match-point.
  • The Look it up button fires up a search for any word or phrase on this page that you highlight with your mouse.

A straightforward, but precise, form for citing the article is provided at its foot (B). You will find more citation forms (MLA, Chicago notes, Chicago bibliography) in the Cite pop-up in the bar at the top of the left-hand pane (C).

Facilities for printing and emailing the article are also at the top of the left-hand pane (C).

  • Use this Print button to print; the result will be better than simply printing the normal window.
  • Our emails may easily be mistaken as spam emails. If you believe that you have emailed a Who’s Who article, and it has not been received, the recipient should check whether it has been diverted into a spam folder.

Many people in Who Was Who have biographies in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. You will find direct links to their Oxford DNB biographies in the left-hand pane (there are reciprocal links from the Oxford DNB articles).

Finally, each article offers further avenues of investigation. The left hand pane gives links that find other people similar to the person described in this article.

  • You can jump to a list of people born on the same day, or same year as this person (D).
  • You can jump to a list of contemporaries (born up to three years before or after this person) in the same sphere as this person (E).
  • If this person belongs to any clubs, you can discover other members of those clubs (F). 

The final link on the left-hand pane opens the list of abbreviations used in Who’s Who.

  • You will find this useful both to explain the meaning of abbreviations that you meet in each article, and also to search for those abbreviations elsewhere in Who’s Who: click on any abbreviation to search for it.
  • Navigate around the abbreviations list by clicking on a letter of the alphabet at its head.


The search page offers advanced search features. Access it through the search link on the gold bar on every page, or from the More search options link underneath the quick search box.

You can use the different sections on the search page to build up complicated searches. The search that you run will return articles in which all your search terms are found.

As you fill in the simpler filters you will see how many search results your search will return at the top and bottom of the main pane – a convenient indication of whether you need to add more search terms.

Sex, Living, Age

Simple filters that allow you to discover, for example, women in Who Was Who who were over 100 when they died; or how many people your age are in Who’s Who; or, how many people younger than you have already been included (use a hyphen before your age: - 45, for example).

Birth and death dates

You can find people who were born or died on a specific date (defined by year, year and month, or year, day and month) or between two specific dates. You can also find people who were born or died on a specific day and month, without specifying a year – the search for people who share a birthday.


Choose a value from the dropdown list. These are very broad categories that give only an indication of the area in which someone is or was active or conspicuous. Not everyone in Who Was Who has yet been given an occupation for this index.


Many people listed in Who’s Who give a contact address. For UK addresses, we have three fields that allow you to search for these addresses, which search the different lines of the address as it might appear on an envelope: house and street (House name or street); then village, town, or city (UK place name), and finally county (UK county).

  • If you are searching for a London address, type London in the county field.
  • Remember to use quotation marks if the place name you seek has more than one word
  • When you search for a village, town, or city, we actually search our data for the postcodes within that place. You may among your results find addresses in, say, the neighbouring village, if they are in the same postal sector. (We do not use the fourth, most detailed element in any postcode, the final two alphabetical characters.)

Use the Outside the UK text field to search for addresses everywhere in the world outside the UK.

Text search

The text search boxes enable you to limit text searches to particular sections of the entries. You can, say, restrict your search for Winchester to the education sections of the entries, so you find only people who went to Winchester college, and not other mentions of the place.

By then filling in another row you can combine searches – for example, add Garrick in Club to the search above to find people who both went to Winchester and are members of the Garrick club.

  • Remember to use quotation marks if you are looking for a phrase and not just a word.

You can use Boolean operators in these text fields.

  • cats OR bats finds mentions of either
  • bats NOT cats finds you mentions of bats in articles where there is no mention of cats
  • cats NEAR furniture finds mentions of cats near mentions of furniture.

You can even use brackets to group your search terms: ("Glasgow City Council" OR "Glasgow District Council") (mp OR "scottish parliament") finds people who have been members of the Glasgow City Council, formerly called the Glasgow District Council, and also either MPs or members of the Scottish Parliament.

First appearance in Who’s Who

You can discover when someone was first included in Who’s Who using the values on this dropdown menu. This information is generally only available for the current edition of Who’s Who.


Use the Browse link to consult Who’s Who when you do not have a precise goal in mind. It will open a dropdown menu that lets you choose between four different browses.

Browse people

Everyone in Who’s Who and Who Was Who, in alphabetical order. As with search results, people who have died are shown with a light tint. This list includes some cross-reference entries.

You can navigate the browse list with features in the bar above the list.

  • Use the Next and Previous buttons (‹ and › icons) and the first and last icons (| › and ‹ | icons) to move from page to page.
  • Jump to particular letters of the alphabet by picking a letter from the alphabet array.
  • Jump straight to a name starting with the letters you type into the navigation box

You can reorder your list so that it is in birth date or death date order using the links in the left hand pane.

  • When you change to a chronological order, the navigation tools in the bar enable you to jump from year to year
  • You see fewer results when you use chronological order, because we do not know all vital dates, and because cross-references do not appear.

You can refine your browse list by using the left-hand pane of the browse window. Choose to see only men or women, or only living or dead people, or choose an occupation from the Occupation dropdown menu.

  • These are very broad categories that give only an indication of the area in which someone is or was active or conspicuous.
  • Not everyone in Who Was Who has yet been given an occupation for this index.

Browse decorations

At the very beginning of each Who’s Who entry, we give each person’s ‘decorations’, by which is meant:

  • military honours;
  • British and Commonwealth honours;
  • fellowships of academic societies; and
  • fellowships of professional societies.

Choose Decorations from the browse menu to see a complete classified list of these decorations, and then click on any decoration to find all the people in Who’s Who to whom it has been awarded.

  • Where an order comprises several ranks, click on the name of the order to see all members, whatever their ranks.
  • When you are seeing the list of all members of an order, you can return to the Browse Decorations screen by following the Back to Decorations browse link in the left-hand pane.

Browse recreations

Many people in Who’s Who record some recreations. You can browse a complete list of all given recreations by choosing Recreations from the Browse menu.

The default order of recreations is not alphabetical, but order of popularity, with the most frequently given recreation first.

You can jump to (for example) the fiftieth most frequently cited recreation by typing 50 in the Go to number box in the bar above the list, or you can click on a number in the number picker.

  • About 3/4 of all the recreations are only listed once in Who’s Who. These are listed in alphabetical order.

You can reverse the order so that the least popular recreations come first, or reorder alphabetically by using the links in the left-hand pane.

Click on each recreation to see the people who give that recreation. You can return to the recreations list from that list of people by following the Back to Recreations browse link in the left hand pane.

Browse clubs

Many people in Who’s Who record the clubs to which they belong. You can browse a list of all given clubs by choosing Clubs from the Browse menu.

Clubs browse behaves in exactly the same way as recreations browse. The default ordering is in descending order of popularity, but you can reverse that order or change it to alphabetical by using the links in the left-hand pane.

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