Biographical method is one of “several intellectual disciplines that make use of life writing” (Smith, 1994, p. 286). However, biographies are probably better described as an interdisciplinary methodology that incorporates several approaches to qualitative research including but not limited to life history, narrative analysis, case study, historical social science, grounded theory and ethnography (Marshall & Rossman, 1999; Riessman, 1993; Atkinson, 1998). In laymen’s terms, a biography can be understood as the written history of a person’s life. Thus the life history or narrative story of a person is a key biographical concept. Controversy has long surrounded life history. Runyan (1982a) stated that the terminology has subjected the method to criticism. The controversy is fueled and further complicated by the interchangeable use of the terminology related to biography. Smith (1994) delineated no less than ten (10) label variations of life writing including “portrayals, profiles, memoirs, life stories, life histories, case studies, autobiographies, journals and diaries.”

Author's Biographies

Florettta Thornton-Reid is a doctoral student currently enrolled in the joint Educational Leadership program at Columbus State University and Valdosta State University. Her research interests include equity in gender and race relations.

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