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E-scraps: Autobiography, Personal Accounts, & Travel Narratives

Autobiography is the story you write about your own life. It's written from the point of view of the person writing the life story. An autobiography is based entirely on the writer's experiences and memories. It might also draw on other primary resources related to the time period, but it is intended to be a factual accounting.

A memoir is a specific type of autobiography focusing on the life of a person. It often focuses on memories, feelings, and emotions. Many memoirs draw on letters, journals, diaries, and photographs.

Explore the following areas on this page:


Confessions of St. Augustine
Viewed by some as the first autobiography, this multiple book autobiography of Saint Augustine is a classic of Christian works written in c.400.

Sir Henry Bessemer
Autobiography of inventor.

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writer's Project, 1936-1938
Many narratives from American Memory.

Gerry Mulligan Collection: Oral Autobiography
Listen to an autobiography.

Mary Davison Bradford, 1856-1943
Autobiographical and historical reminiscences of education.

Narrative of William W. Brown: an American Slave
American slave narrative.

Mary E. Ryerson Butin
Active in the National American Woman Suffrage Association

Life and Adventures of Calamity Jane
The autobiography Marthy Cannary, known as Calamity Jane.

The Life and Adventures of Buffalo Bill - Colonel William F. Cody
Autobiography from 1917.

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Online autobiography transcription.

Angel DeCora: An Autobiography
Autobiography by a woman with Indian parents.

Autobiography of Frederick Douglass
Online autobiography transcription.

George Fox
The autobiography of the Quaker's founding father.

Thomas Jefferson
Autobiography of this popular president.

Autobiography of Mother Jones
Well-known labor organizer.

Elizabeth Johnson Harris: Life Story 1867-1923
Explore the original manuscript.

Geronimo: His Own Story
Transcription of autobiography.

Life on the Mississippi
Autobiographical work by Mark Twain.

Nate Love
The autobiography of a former slave and his adventures as a cowboy, an Indian fighter, a rodeo rider and finally a pullman porter.

Glenn McMurry's Autobiography
This online autobiography traces the like of Glenn McMurry from 1917 to 2003. It is titled The Autobiography of an Unimportant Important Man: From Cow Chips through Computer Chips to Damaged Chips.

James Nasmyth
Autobiography of an engineer.

North American Slave Narratives
Links to many slave narratives from Documenting the American South.

Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography
Autobiography of this U.S. president.

The Life of Harriot Stuart
Autobiographical novel.

Booker T. Washington: Up From Slavery
The autobiography of Booker T. Washington.

The Year I Was Born
Autobiographies by children.

Chapters and Excerpts

Beyond Bed Pans: The Life of a Late 19th-century Young Nurse
Autobiographical account of life in 1893.

A Chinese Immigrant Makes His Home in Turn-of-the-Century America
Autobiographical sketch published in 1903.

History Matters: Impact of Movies
Explore the impact of movies on young adults through short autobiographical stories from the 1920s.

A German Radical Emigrates to America in 1885
Excerpt from an autobiography.

“I Stumbled on the Place by Sheer Accident”: Oscar Ameringer Discovers the Cincinnati Public Library in 1888
In this selection from his 1940 autobiography, Ameringer described his discovery of American history books, translated into German, at the local public library.

Kate Richards O’Hare’s Life as a Socialist Party Organizer
Excerpt from autobiography.

“You Would Never Hear People Complain”: Elfido López Recalls Rural Mexican-American Life in the Late 19th century by Elfido López
Excerpt from memoir from 1937.

“We Are Literally Slaves”: An Early Twentieth-Century Black Nanny Sets the Record Straight
In 1912 the Independent printed this quasi-autobiographical account of servant life.

Print & Video Autobiographies

The Autobiography of Miss Jan Pittman (Book and Movie)
Explores the Civil Rights Movement.

Homesick: My Own Story by Jean Fritz (Children's Book)
Author describes her childhood in China of the 1920s.

Related Books

Arthur Books: Francine's Bad Hair Day (Grade 2-5)

Create self portraits and autobiographies

The Hundred Penny Box by Sharon Mathis Bell
Students write and construct their own autobiographies


Teaching and Learning through Autobiography

Ancient Egypt Lesson
Students construct a 3-dimensional paper pyramid, cover the inside walls with pictures representing their lives, and write an autobiography.

Beacon Lesson Plan

Digital Classroom

Educator's Reference Desk

EdSITEment Lessons

George Mason University

How to Write an Autobiography
This page provides an easy overview of the topic. Includes a sample autobiography.


ReadWriteThink Lessons

Writing an Autobiography (Grade 5)
Learn to read, list the components, critique, and research various autobiographies. Students will write their own autobiography to share orally with the class and to post on the internet.


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