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American National Biography is a biographical encyclopedia of significant persons, no longer living, who have influenced the direction of American history. An "American" is loosely defined as someone whose significant actions occurred during his or her residence within what is now the United States or whose life or career directly influenced the course of American history. "Significance" includes achievement (superior accomplishment as judged by contemporaries), fame (celebrity or notoriety), or influence (effect on one's own time despite lack of public notice). Even some "ordinary" persons have been included if they left autobiographies, diaries, or other artifacts that attracted posthumous attention. Many of the biographies include an illustration or photograph of the person.
New biographies are added quarterly. Also, the 17,435 original biographies (with bibliographies and links to other resources) are updated quarterly to incorporate new facts and new interpretations as needed.