Thursday, June 27, 2024

Resources for Finding People

A common question at the Law Library reference desk involves how to find contact information for various people: potential academic collaborators, government employees like court clerks or agency officials, or attorneys who participated in a particular case. A basic web search on your favorite search engine may reveal contact information for academics and other public figures. (Go beyond the usual suspects with PC Mag’s "Best Alternative Search Engines.") If contact information is omitted or behind a login wall, though, some additional free options are available:

  • SSRN contains author contact information, although researchers are restricted to accessing the email addresses of 3 contacts per day (click the author's name to access their profile, then the down arrow next to "Contact," then the link to "Email"). This can be a good method to locate contact information for academic authors whose emails are not provided on their institutional website.
  • State bar directories may include email addresses and other contact information about attorneys who are licensed to practice in a particular jurisdiction. For example, the North Carolina State Bar's Membership Directory includes a lookup feature with contact information. For additional jurisdictions, check out Justia's List of Lawyer Directories by State Bar Associations).

Premium subscription resources at Duke may also provide some access to contact and other biographical information.

  • Leadership Connect contains more than 6 million profiles for employees in the U.S. federal and state/local legislatures and government agencies, courts, law firms, lobbying organizations, the nonprofit sector, and the news media. This resource is a good option to locate email addresses and phone numbers for judicial clerks, administrative staff members, and corporate executives. Contact information may be outdated or inaccurate; however, this resources can be a helpful way to identify the email naming conventions of an organization (such as firstname.lastname vs. first initial/lastname) that could assist with composing a web search for the possible combinations of an individual’s email address to help confirm the correct one. The "Suggest Updates" link in the upper-right corner allows users to provide corrections to erroneous records.
  • Lexis Public Records "Find a Person Nationwide" database is available to current members of the Law School community. Access Public Records from the site menu in the upper left-hand corner. (Newly-registered students may not see Public Records access until their second semester; contact the Reference Desk if you require access for research work.) Database results often include email addresses used by an individual, as well as address history, real property records, and voter information.

Other useful resources for more general biographical information include:

  • Almanac of the Federal Judiciary provides biographical information about Article III judges. Contact information includes phone numbers but not email addresses; unique features of this resource include "Lawyers’ Evaluation," quoting from survey responses of attorneys who have appeared before the judge; links to financial disclosure reports and Senate questionnaire responses are also provided.
  • Ancestry Library Edition is a great resource for historical biographical research, including databases on vital records, censuses, local directories, and newspaper obituaries.
  • World Biographical Information Systems (WBIS Online) "Biographical Search" points to biographical entries from reference books published from the 16th to the 20th century, providing access points to numerous historical biographical directories like the Who's Who series. Many of these titles will be available to request in the Duke Libraries Catalog.

For help with accessing or searching these resources, or for questions related to biographical research resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.