Australian Dictionary of Biography

Australian Dictionary of Biography
Country Australia
Language English
Subject Biographies of notable Australians
Genre Encyclopedia
Published Carlton, Victoria
Publisher Melbourne University Press
Publication date
Media type Hard copy
ISBN 978-0-522-84459-7

The Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB or AuDB) is a national co-operative enterprise founded and maintained by the Australian National University (ANU) to produce authoritative biographical articles on eminent people in Australia's history. Initially published in a series of twelve hard-copy volumes between 1966 and 2005, the dictionary has been published online since 2006.

The ADB project has been operating since 1957. Staff are located at the National Centre of Biography in the History Department of the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. Since its inception, 4,000 authors have contributed to the ADB and its published volumes contain 9,800 scholarly articles on 12,000 individuals.[1] 210 of these are of Indigenous Australians, which has been explained by Bill Stanner's "cult of forgetfulness" theory around the contributions of Indigenous Australians to Australian society.[2]

Similar titles

The ADB project should not be confused with the much smaller and older Dictionary of Australian Biography by Percival Serle, first published in 1949, nor with the German Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (published 1875–1912) which may also be referred to as ADB in English sources.[3]

Hardcopy volumes

To date, the ADB has produced eighteen hard copy volumes of biographical articles on important and representative figures in Australian history, published by Melbourne University Press. In addition to publishing these works, the ADB makes its primary research material available to the academic community and the public.

Volume(s)Years publishedSubjects covered
1 and 21966–67Covered those Australians who lived in the period 1788–1850
3 to 61969–76Covered those Australians who lived in the period 1851–1890
7 to 121979–90Covered those Australians who lived in the period 1891–1939
13 to 161993–2002Covered those Australians who lived in the period 1940–1980
17 and 182007–2012Covered those Australians who died between 1981 and 1990
Supplement2005Dealt with those Australians not covered by the original volumes
Index1991Index for Volumes 1 to 12

Online publication

On 6 July 2006, the Australian Dictionary of Biography Online was launched by Michael Jeffery, Governor-General of Australia, and received a Manning Clark National Cultural Award in December 2006.[4] The website is a joint production of the ADB and the Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, University of Melbourne (Austehc).


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