Library of Brief Biographies from

Library of Brief Biographies from:
Offered as Developmental Reading Exercises and Resources

pictures of famous Americans featured in biosbook

Click here for Voice of America Brief Biographical Reading Resources

(Suggestion: Today's developmental students often work full time jobs as well as are involved with family responsibilities. Their available time is limited. The DEH saves time in offering a digital DVD as well as a web-based library. Language skills instructors need not dispatch students to school libraries for an "on your own" novel selection. Both the on-line website or the DVD library of the DEH offer an alternate approach. The authors reviewed hundreds of "on-line" public domain novels [ficition and non-fiction], pulps, treatises, and other works. These are categorized for student review. Rather than a journey to the library, a single mouse-click opens a book for cursory review. The technique gleans books in less time and more thoroughly than the library visit.)

Background Discussion

The authors desired to include famous Americans of diverse race and background who had contributed to the nation's history (past and contemporary). Because the Developmental Educators' Handbook is a public domain resource, most biographies had to be excluded. In order to fill the void, freely available brief biographies from Voice of America files were added to the DEH library of reading resources. All should be grateful to the staff and writers at VOA for these wonderful contributions which are in the public domain. Additionally, there are several Wikipedia biographies included where VOA biography content was not available for the DEH on-line and DVD library.

Biographical Categories

Here are some of the categories of public domain brief biographies. Click on the person's name for an .htm version or on the .pdf link for an Adobe Acrobat version. Also, there may be, in some cases, a .doc version for the text to audio reader and Bookshelf applications. (Note: Either click here or install the readability program "flesh.exe" by going to the flesh readability website to measure the difficulty of each Voice of America biographical essay. Most selections have a Flesh difficulty of eighth to ninth grade.)

1. Writers/Authors: Mark Twain (Author, Humorist, Writer), (.pdf), (.doc); F. Scott Fitzgerald (Author), (.pdf), (.doc); Ayn Rand (Author), (.pdf), (.doc); Kurt Vonnegut (Author Science Fiction), (.pdf), (.doc); Ernest Hemingway (Author), (.pdf), (.doc); Zora Neasle Hurston (African American Harlem Author), (.pdf), (.doc); Carl Rowan (African American Author, Columnist, Director of U.S. Information Agency)(, (.pdf), (.doc); James Baldwin (African American Author), (.pdf), (.doc); Michael Crichton (Author), (.pdf), (.doc); Ann Landers (Columnist, Advice), (.pdf), (.doc);

2. Musicians: Isaac Stern (Violinist) , (.pdf). (.doc); Les Paul (Guitarist) , (.pdf). (.doc); Les Paul (Jazz Trumpet and Band Leader) , (.pdf). (.doc); Louis Armstrong (Jazz Trumpet and Singer) , (.pdf). (.doc);

3.Inventors:: Robert Edison Fulton, jr. (Inventor) , (.pdf). (.doc); John Harrison (Inventor of the Chronometer), (.pdf). (.doc); Philo Farnsworth (Inventor of television), (.pdf). (.doc);

4.Stage Stars: Jessica Tandy (Stage and Movie Star), (.pdf), (.doc), (.txt);

5. Athletes: Babe Ruth (Baseball Player), (.pdf), (.doc); Jackie Robinson (African American Baseball Player), (.pdf), (.doc); Jesse Owens (African American Olympian:Wikipedia and VOA), (.pdf); Authur Ashe (African American Tennis Player), (.pdf), (.doc); Wilma Rudolph (African American Female Track Star), (.pdf), (.doc); Lou Gehrig (Baseball Player), (.pdf), (.doc); Roberto Clemente (Baseball Player), (.pdf), (.doc);

6.Comedians: Bob Hope (Comedian), (.pdf), (.doc); Jack Benny (Comedian), (.pdf), (.doc); Milton Berle (Comedian), (.pdf), (.doc); Marx Brothers (Comedians), (.pdf), (.doc);

7.Poets: Shel Silverstein (Poet, Song Writer), (.pdf), (.doc); Walt Whitman (Poet), (.pdf), (.doc);

8.Social Activists: Martin Luther King, jr. (African American Civil Rights Leader), (.pdf), (.doc); Rosa parks (Civil Rights Leader), (.pdf), (.doc); Julia Ward Howe (Anti-slavery Activist, Song Writer), (.pdf), (.doc); Cesar Chavez (Hispanic Social Activist), (.pdf), (.doc); Harriet Tubman (African American Abolitionist), (.pdf), (.doc); Helen Keller (Activist for the Blind and Deaf), (.pdf), (.doc);

9. Playwrights: William Shakespeare (Playwrite), (.pdf), (.doc);

10.Opera: Maria Callas (Opera Singer), (.pdf), (.doc); Marian Anderson (African American Opera Singer), (.pdf), (.doc); Todd Duncan (African American Opera Singer), (.pdf), (.doc); Beverly Sills (Opera Singer), (.pdf), (.doc);

11. Singers: Woody Guthrie (Folk Singer), (.pdf), (.doc); Ray Charles (African American Singer, Song Writer), (.pdf), (.doc); Michael Jackson (Singer, Dancer), (.pdf), (.doc); Elvis Presley (Singer of Rock and Roll), (.pdf), (.doc); Earth Kitt (Singer, Actress), (.pdf), (.doc); Janis Joplin (Singer, Rock), (.pdf), (.doc); Billie Holiday (African American Singer, Blues), (.pdf), (.doc); Shirley Horn (African American Singer, Jazz), (.pdf), (.doc); James Brown (African American Singer, Soul), (.pdf), (.doc); Johnny Cash (Country Singer), (.pdf), (.doc); Hank Williams (Country Singer), (.pdf), (.doc); Burl Ives (Folk Singer/Actor), (.pdf), (.doc);

12.Song Writers: Cole Porter (Song Writer), (.pdf), (.doc); Richard Rogers (Show Song Writer), (.pdf), (.doc);

13.Composers: Jerome Kern (Show Song Composer), (.pdf), (.doc);

14.Entrepreneurs: Mary Kay Ash (Cosmetics Sales), (.pdf), (.doc); Madam C.J. Walker (Hair Care Products), (.pdf), (.doc); Ray Kroc (Businessman Founder of McDonalds Fast Food Chain, (.pdf), (.doc);

15. Film Stars: Marilyn Monroe (Movie Star), (.pdf), (.doc); Sandra Bullock (Movie Star), (.pdf), (.doc); Charlton Heston (Movie Star), (.pdf), (.doc); Marlon Brando (Movie Star), (.pdf), (.doc); Katharine Hepburn (Movie Star), (.pdf), (.doc); Paul Newman (Movie Star), (.pdf), (.doc); Mae West (Movie Star), (.pdf), (.doc); James Stewart (Movie Star), (.pdf), (.doc);

16. Television: Lucille Ball (Television Sitcom Comedian), (.pdf), (.doc);

17. Military: The Tuskegee Airmen(African American WWII Flyers), (.pdf), (.doc);

18. Statemen:Theodore Roosevelt (President), (.pdf), (.doc); Ronald Reagan (President, Actor) , (.pdf), (.doc);

19. Miscellaneous: Walt Disney (Cartoonist, Comics, Animator, Theme Parks), (.pdf), (.doc); Doctor Seuss - Theodore Seuss Geisel (Cartoonist, Poet, Children's Book Author), (.pdf), (.doc); Clara Barton (Nurse Founder of the Red Cross), (.pdf), (.doc); Annie Oakley (Female Sharpshooter), (.pdf), (.doc); Eunice Kennedy shriver (Creator of the Special Olympics), (.pdf), (.doc); Red Adair (Fire Fighter), (.pdf), (.doc); Paul Bunyan (Fictional Folk Hero), (.pdf), (.doc);

20. Explorers and Aviators: Amelia Earhart (Aviator), (.pdf), (.doc); Bessie Coleman(Aviator), (.pdf), (.doc); Click here for a YouTube video biography of Bessie Coleman.

21. Scientists/Engineers: Robert Goddard (Rocket Scientist), (.pdf), (.doc); Jane Goodal (Animal Scientist), (.pdf), (.doc); Edwin (Astronomer), (.pdf), (.doc);

21. Media: Walter Cronkite (Newsman), (.pdf), (.doc);



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