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Annette Gordon-Reed, Writing Early American Lives as Biography, 71 Wm. & Mary Q. 491 (2014).

Abstract: This essay is a meditation on the role that biography can play in shaping our understanding of early American history. It grew out of a WMQ-EMSI workshop, “Early American Biographies,” convened at the Huntington Library in 2012. Workshop participants presented papers discussing lives from a broad cross section of North American society from the late seventeenth century to the early part of the nineteenth century. Gordon-Reed's essay discusses the mechanics of writing the biographies of obscure figures, gives a brief history of modern biography, and addresses criticism of biography as a form of history writing.