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General Sources short articles:
Gale Virtual Reference Library is a very good source for short articles of biographical information about authors, playwrites, poets and other literary figures. These are the types of articles you would find in an encyclopedia.
General Sources longer articles:
Biography in Context is the library's largest database for biographical information. It is good for background information for your icon analysis.
Literary Databases, listed on the tab of that title, are also a good source of biographical information.
African American Studies Center is a database that is global in scope, an outstanding resource for biographies, including some primary source material. You can select to search either "African American Studies", or "Africa and Diaspora Studies."
Women and Social Movements in the United States provides biographical information on women up to the year 2000.