North Dakota Biography Index

North Dakota Biography Index search page The North Dakota Biography Index (NDBI) is the best place to begin a search for information about North Dakotans, both living and deceased. Searching NDBI will enable you to quickly determine which publication to consult for biographical information. The total number of biographical sketches indexed by NDBI is now over 243,000 found in  832 publications. The North Dakota Biography Index began as a unique card file index to published biographies found in 314 publications that was compiled by Allen Petersen of Fargo, N.D. and acquired by the Institute for Regional Studies Archives in 1980. In 1993 the Institute staff began to automate the card file. Only in 1999 was the data from all the cards entered, making the public release of NDBI possible. Since then the Institute staff has continued to expand the data file by indexing all books published after 1980. All North Dakota county histories have been indexed and work is nearing completion to include all North Dakota community histories. Scope Publications indexed in NDBI are of several types:

  • Biographical dictionaries and who's who
  • County and community histories
  • WPA biography files
  • Church and business histories, atlases, and special historical newspaper editions
  • Several periodicals rich in biographical material including The Record and Western Womanhood
  • Annual proceedings of organizations and church denominations

Sources not indexed in NDBI:

  • Family histories and genealogies
  • Periodical and serial articles
  • Books of biography about a single individual
  • Newspaper obituaries

NDBI indexes only actual biographical sketches. The mere mention of a name does not warrant inclusion in the index. However, biographical sketches do vary widely in content, length and quality. While every effort has been made to ensure the reliability of the information presented in this index, the Institute cannot guarantee the accuracy of the data contained herein. The Institute staff is well aware that there are errors in the publications being indexed and in the transcription process. We encourage individuals to report any errors and missing data. We strive to make the North Dakota Biography Index as accurate as possible. Future Indexing The addition of page numbers and life dates to entries will be an ongoing project by the Institute staff, as will be proofing and editing all entries and verifying the card data with the actual publications. As well, indexing of newer publications will be included as time and funds allow. Should users of NDBI find pre-1981 North Dakota publications that have not been indexed, please let the Institute staff know about them so they may be included in this database. Volunteers wanting to index additional publications are welcome and should contact the Institute staff before beginning. Ordering copies Users may make copies of desired biographical sketches from publications located at the Institute for Regional Studies Archives. Other North Dakota libraries or archival repositories also may have copies of the cited publications. Please consult their catalogs for availability. The Institute does offer a fee-based copy service for the public. The cost is $5.00 per biographical sketch (not per person) which includes mailing and handling. You can obtain copies of the biographies found through the index by contacting the Institute via e-mail ( or regular mail. If a request is sent via e-mail be sure to include your postal address.  Also include the full citation of the biographical sketch as listed in the index. To place an order, please consult our ordering information page.

Update history

  • First mounted February 2000.
  • Expanded and enhanced, January 2001.Expanded and enhanced, September 2002. 
  • Expanded and enhanced, October 2003.(160,516 records) 
  • Expanded, sketches from 66 county atlases, mounted Dec. 2004 (171,057 total records found in 623 publications) 
  • 14,221 new entries from 38 publications added, mounted Sept. 2005 (185,278 total records in 661 publications) 
  • 7,467 new entries from 29 publications added, mounted February 1, 2006 (192,735 total records in 690 publications) 
  • 10,170 new entries from 19 publications added. Mounted June 27, 2006 (202,905 total entries in 719 publications) 
  • 8,891 new entries from 22 publications added. Mounted Oct. 4, 2006 (211,796 total entries in 741 publications) 
  • 3,718 new entries from 1 publication "People of Bottineau County" added. Mounted March 19, 2007 (215,514 total entries in 742 publications) 
  • 3,717 new entries from 20 publications added. Mounted Aug. 20, 2007 (219,231 total entries in 762 publications) 
  • 11,740 new entries from 25 publications added. Mounted June 2008 (230,971 total entries in 787 publications) 
  • 9,923 new entries from 32 publications added. Mounted Sept. 24, 2008 (240,894 total entries in 819 publications) 
  • 9,321 new entries from 10 publications added. Mounted May 20, 2009 (250,215 total entries in 828 publications) 
  • 1,534 new entries from 2 publications added. Mounted May 28, 2010 (251,749 total entries in 830 publications) 
  • 922 new entries added, and 9,244 duplicate entries deleted. Mounted Sept. 20, 2010 (243,427 total entries in 832 publications) 
  • 5,095 new entries from 33 publications added. Mounted on Sept. 28, 2011 (248,522 total entries in 865 publications) 
  • 7,955 new entries from 22 publications added. Mounted on Sept. 24, 2014 (256,477 total entries in 887 publications)