The databases below are a good source of biographical portraits and essays. These essays may be quite brief or more extensive. Some of the databases include other types of material as well, such as primary source documents or articles that are not biographical in nature.
In OneSearch, search for books by either Keywords or Subject Headings. Start with a Keyword search and identify some relevant books. Then look at the subject headings for those books. You can follow the subject heading links in the catalog to find similar books, or you can use the terms in the subject headings to identify other keywords to try.
Example Keyword Search:
civil rights biograph*
Example Subject Headings:
African American Women Civil Rights Workers
You can use a mix of Subject Headings and Keywords in order to get more specific. For example:
Personal memoirs AND (gay rights)
Transgender people AND (biograph* OR memoir)