This page introduces the collection and provides search tips for efficient and easy use of the database. The database offers a living bibliography that provides the latest results of our ongoing research. We encourage our users to revisit the page for updated information about our data collection, methods, database features, and more search tips. Please Contact Us for questions and comments. For an overview of the scope and aims of the project, please see About Us.



The collection includes biographical volumes published in Turkish since the early 1800s. 

The dataset is an outcome of a research in progress. In the months to come, we will keep enhancing it, adding new titles, new information about existing titles, and introducing new statistics. Please revisit for updates.

At the moment the collection only includes works published in book form.

We aim to be as comprehensive about the Ottoman-Turkish setting of life-writing as possible, therefore we include as many traditional genres that were produced during the 19th century as possible. These include, but are not limited to, tezkire, menakıbname, siyer, tabakat, tercüme-i hal, and ansiklopedi.

At the moment the 20th century collection mainly includes titles that pertain to the genre of “modern biography” (i.e. chronological, objective and realistic accounts of individual life stories written by biographers) and intralingual translations of the traditional products of life-writing into modern Turkish. It does not include autobiography, memoir, biographical fiction, travel writing, interview, or other related historical accounts.

The titles in the bibliography are categorized under three main collections:

1) Translation Collection, which includes:

  • titles with a statement of translation/translator. 
  • intralingual translations of Ottoman publications into modern Turkish
  • retranslations (these are offered in the content details page of the initial translation or the earliest translation found)
  • further editions (these are offered in the content details page of the initial edition or the earliest edition found)

2) Original Collection, which includes:

  • titles originally written in Turkish
  • further editions (these are offered in the content details page of the initial edition or the earliest edition found)


3) Unidentified Collection, which includes:

  • titles that do not offer any author and translator information

The scope of the project encompasses a wide time-span (1800-2020) that witnessed several social reforms implemented by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk following the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Three of these reforms that have been a major concern of our project include:

  • 1928 Alphabet Reform: the official replacement of Arabic script with Latin Script
  • 1926 Calendar Reform: the official replacement of Hijri and Rumi Calendar with Gregorian Calendar
  • 1934 Surname Law: the implementation of the law that requires all Turkish citizens to adopt the use of fixed surnames.

The digitization of data about publications predating these reforms has required us to formulate some standards in regards to how we consistently record the book titles, proper names and publication years. For example:

The book titles might change due to the several possible transcriptions of the Ottoman script publications into the Latin alphabet. When there is a variety amongst the source catalogues, we record the most recurrent title for the publication. If we have the access to the book cover, we record our own transcription of the book title.

The same procedure is applied with uncommon proper names.

If the author/translator acquired a last name after the Surname Law, we record her/his name with the “Surname, Name” library format throughout the catalogue for consistent results: e.g. “Altınay, Ahmed Refik” (not “Refik, Ahmed” or “Ahmed Refik”)

If the author/translator passed away before the Surname Law, we record his/her full name without applying any library format: e.g. “Ebüzziya Mehmed Tevfik” (not “Mehmed Tevfik, Ebüzziya”), “Bursalı Mehmed Tahir (not “Mehmed Tahir, Bursalı”)

If the year of publication is given in the Hijri Calendar format, we convert the date to the Gregorian Calendar, adopting the 1st of January of the noted year. When the year of publication is cited in Rumi format, the calculation is done accordingly. The Hijri/Rumi year is recorded under the Researcher’s Notes.


Simple Search & Advanced Search


If titles with special characters (i.e. Turkish characters, accents, hyphen, apostrophe, dash etc.) do not bring any results, please retry your search with plain characters. For example:

“Ataturk” for “Atatürk”

“Mesahirun nisa” for “Meşahirü’n-nisa”

“Tercumei hal” for “Tercüme-i hal”

If you are looking for a specific author/biographer or translator, type the name of the person in surname-name order in the simple search box. For example:

Type "Zweig, Stefan" for Stefan Zweig, or "Yeğinobalı, Nihal" for Nihal Yeğinobalı

If you are looking for a specific volume with a long title, type the first few words of the title in the simple search box. For example:

Type “Sultan Abdülmecid ve Prusyalı ressam” for “Sultan Abdülmecid ve Prusyalı ressamı Constantin Johann Franz Cretius : kısa bir monografi denemesi”

For the fastest results, we encourage you to specify your search using the “Advanced Search” field. It is found on our homepage right next to the simple search button. The Advanced Search feature allows the users to filter the dataset by several parameters related to the publication and/or biography subject. For example:

For biographies of North American political figures published between 1980 and 1990 you can filter by: 

[Year of Publication>1980-1990] + [Region> North America] + [Field> Political Figure]

For biographies of Atatürk you can filter by:

[Keyword> type `Ataturk`] + [Choose ‘Subject’ (instead of “in any field”)]   

**If you type "Ataturk" in the simple search box, the system will bring out not only the biographies of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, but all publications that have the keyword "Ataturk" anywhere in the records including the source catalogue, publisher, subjects, notes etc.

You can also use the “Further Filter” bar on the left hand side of the search results page. This bar helps you filter the results of your simple search according to the biography subjects’ “region”, “field”, and “century”; and the publications’ “year of publication”, “collection” (translation, original, unidentified), “original language” (if translation), and “genre of life-writing”. 

Please check your browser settings for the most efficient use of the database. Several of our features, i.e. advanced search, cite item, report error, read more, utilize pop-ups.

Search Results Page

This page displays:

  • The option to “Export” reference details of the selected titles (max 20) in an Excel format
  • The option to “Further filter” the search results
  • Tools for sorting and rearranging search results according to year of publication, title, author, translator, biography subject, and last added

Content Details Page

This page displays:

  • Reference details of the selected biographical volume
  • Meta-data about the selected biographical volume (e.g. retranslations, further editions, summary, contents) and “Researcher’s Notes” that share additional information about the entry
  • Visuals of the publication
  • Information about the biography subject (e.g. dates, region, field of work)
  • An additional “You May Also Like” list for other publications in the collection that relate to the same biography subject, field, and biographer.

© 2020 Lives in Turkish