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Who Is Listed in NNDB?

  • Persons for whom the public has demonstrated a permanent interest.
  • This is by far the most important criterion. If others are not writing about the subject, there is likely little point in our listing that person in NNDB. Furthermore, it may very much matter who is writing about the subject.
  • Holders of certain public offices, civic, or business positions.
  • In some cases, people of importance may have escaped public notice yet may hold a position of substantial power. Thus, we may select a member of the board of directors of a specific company for listing.
  • Individuals that have entries in selected reference works.
  • If the person in question appears in certain encyclopedias or biographical references, particularly multiple such. Mere appearance in a reference which accepts vanity entries (Marquis Who's Who, Wikipedia, etc.) is not sufficient. At the end of a person's bibliography, NNDB makes note of these references (see Saul Bellow's bibliography).
  • Information on the person must be publicly available, preferably from multiple sources. Material published by third parties of some repute is demonstrative of public interest. If the only data on a person is available directly from that individual, it is much less likely that person will be included. But this does not mean that statements made by that individual will not be considered when filling out a dossier.

Activities Not Necessarily Meriting an Entry

  • Mere appearances in a film, or even dozens of films.
  • A major role in a film.
  • Membership in a musical group.
  • Authorship of a book, article, blog, or song.
  • Professorship or coaching position at an educational institution.
  • Spouse of someone listed in NNDB. Distinct public interest must be demonstrated. In relatively cases, to demonstrate an interesting connection, a person who would otherwise be excluded is listed -- for example, Linda Christian.
  • Military award, knighthood, or title of nobility.
  • Member of national, state or provincial legislature, Mayor, or City Council.
  • Participation in or winning of a reality show, game show, beauty pageant, centerfold, or televised singing contest. A much higher barrier exists for these highly ephemeral individuals. There must be high interest in the person outside of the sphere of people who are obsessed by these activities.
  • Advanced centenarians. The "oldest living individual" has a high turnover rate.
  • Membership on a professional sports team, participation in the Olympics or having won an Olympic Medal or other sports award, holding a world record, possessing an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. Only athletes that have entered the permanent general public consciousness merit attention.

User Submissions

  • Additions or corrections to profiles submitted by users are not included automatically. A member of the NNDB staff vets any submitted change, and applies any changes selectively and manually.
  • If a submission cannot be verified, even if the information is correct we may not be able to use it. Our standard is correctness over verifiability (the reverse of Wikipedia), and in many cases where there are questions we include footnotes to elucidate inferences made.
  • Many submissions are found to be false due to widespread misinformation -- see the explanatory note on Lyndon B. Johnson's location of death.
  • Some submissions are false due to an agenda of disinformation -- John Hanson was not a black man, and no amount of Afrocentrist propaganda will change that.
  • Providing verifiable references is extremely helpful and may speed changes.

Questions of Nationality

  • Nationality is the country with which the person is most associated with -- particularly at the time that person flourished at his or her peak. It is not necessarily the country of birth, the country of death, or citizenship. We will illustrate with some examples.
    • Lucky Luciano was born in Italy, and died in Italy after his deportation. He was an Italian citizen, but spent most of his life as a mafioso in the United States. Thus his nationality is United States.
    • Jesus Christ was born in Palestine. At the time, Palestine was under control of the Roman Empire. His nationality is Ancient Rome.
    • Gertrude Stein spent her important years in Paris. But she retained her American identity, considered herself an expatriate, and people at the time considered her to be an American living in Paris. Her nationality is United States.
  • In NNDB the nationality is given as a noun rather than an adjective. Thus we use Argentina rather than Argentine. The United Kingdom is composed of several nations -- England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Other Clarifications

  • Not all countries have a single, well-defined head of state. Some have a bifurcated or trifurcated system in which aspects of the head of state are split among several offices. For example, the United Kingdom has a monarch ("titular head of state") and prime minister ("head of government"). In such cases, we may list the head of government as head of state. Where there exist both a President and a Prime Minister, both will be listed as heads of state. In the United States, the US Congress is headed in the upper house by the US Vice President and the lower house by the Speaker of the House. We list both as politicians.
  • Race/Ethnicity means race or ethnicity. This information is collected in order to perform demographic analysis on our data. Often where an individual is of mixed race or ethnicity, a judgment call must be made as to how a person is listed. In cases where someone has mixed mixed hispanic and non-hispanic background, often one or the other is chosen based on other aspects of that individual's situation.
  • Various parties have angrily complained that we misuse the term hispanic in reference to Spaniards. Consulting any of the three top English Language dictionaries -- (a) Oxford English Dictionary, (b) Merriam-Webster, or (c) American Heritage Dictionary -- will reveal that we are indeed using the term correctly.

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