What is prosopography?

Collective biography can be called prosopography (that is, persona-writing). Prosopography has been an effective way to assemble representative personalities in social, historical, or vocational categories such as the learned men of Oxford, the founders of the United States, prominent Asian Americans, engineers. It is always a partial selection, but it can be a tool for acknowledging marginal groups as well as elites. Modern biographical collections owe a debt to classical "parallel lives" and hagiography (collected saints' legends). Classic prosopography is a research method, primarily in the field of history, to quantify standardized data about the lives of individuals in groups. CBW relates to other databases of prosopography, but we study the rhetoric and form of the books that were published about historical women in recent centuries rather than reconstructing the actual persons in their historical contexts.