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Researching Individuals

This is a list of information available about individuals, and sources for accessing the information. Some of the information is easily accessible; other information requires access to specialized databases.

The list applies to a wide variety of individuals. High-profile people, including celebrities, corporate executives and politicians, have the most information available about them on the public record. Less public individuals, including low-level public officials (like clerks or cops) and unaffiliated individuals, tend to have less informative public records - but you'll be surprised what you can find on anyone:

Before you begin your research, ask yourself what you need to know about someone - and why?
For example:

- Where/how can they be contacted?
- Where did they attend college?
- What is their compensation and/or salary?
- Do they or have they served on other boards?
- Do they have connections to industry groups?
- What did they do before?
- Are they married? To whom? Are they divorced? Do they have children?
- With which political party do they affiliate?
- Who receives their political campaign contributions?
- What is their religious affiliation?
- With what organizations are they involved?
- What hobbies are they active in?
- What strong interests do they have?
- Have they ever published?
- Have they made any incriminating public statements? Or public statements that can be used against them?
- Do they have a criminal record?
- Who on their staff should you be dealing with?
- Who contributed to their campaign? Including in-kind contributions and loans.
- Are there any connections between contributions and how a politician voted on a piece of legislation?
- When are they up for re-election?
- What is their voting record? Especially with issues of concern to you.
- On which committees do they serve? Do they hold any leadership positions?
- What past jobs have they held?
- What does their spouse do?
- Who voted (or not) for him/her in the last election (voting patterns)?
- Do they or their spouse own stock? If so, in which companies?
- Other family connections? (where did the family money come from?)

HOME ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER
Sources:

Local telephone directories FREE!
If you know the person's name and city.

Marquis Who's Who FREE!
Available at public libraries. Contains biographies of well-known people, including business people, scientists and public officials.

KnowX http://www.knowx.com $
People Finder database searches residence and real estate public records to locate individuals. Good option when the phone book won't work. Search fees range from free to $1.50 per database. Charges for documents range from $1 - $7.

FEC-Info http://www.tray.com/fecinfo/ FREE!
Database of all federal election campaign donations by individuals. Search by an individual contributor's name. It will often list the individual's address, which is typically either their home or business address. At minimum, it will list a contributor's city, state and type of work (often including the company's name), which can narrow down searches using other sources.

Lexis-Nexis http://www.nexis.com FREE!/$
Often available for free at libraries (especially law libraries) or law firms, Lexis-Nexis is a massive research database. Its Public Records library includes a people locator similar to KnowX.

AutoTrackXP http://www.autotrackxp.com/ $
AutoTrackXP is an expensive database that accesses "six billion current and historical records on individuals and businesses." Only professional investigators can subscribe. It may be accessible through research organizations, private investigators or attorneys in your network of supporters.

SALARY
for corporate executives
Sources:

U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission http://www.sec.gov/ FREE!
Publicly-traded corporations must submit certain information to the Security & Exchange Commission (SEC) for the government, investors and public scrutiny. This includes revealing the salaries of top executives and board members. Compensation tables are found in SEC form DEF 14A, the company's final proxy statement. The SEC provides on-line copies of these and other financial statements.

Free EDGAR http://www.freeedgar.com FREE!
Free EDGAR is a database of corporate Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) filings. You can search by company name or ticker. Very easy to use.

Edgar Online/People http://people.edgar-online.com/people FREE!
EDGAR Online is a sister database to Free Edgar. It allows full-text searching of SEC documents. Also, with its People database, you can search SEC filings by a corporate executive's name, or you can retrieve a list of all individuals associated with a particular company.

ASSETS
businesses or stock owned, property ownership, deed transfers, vehicles and boats

Sources:

KnowX http://www.knowx.com $
Asset database searches property, deeds and other public records to locate an individuals' assets. Search fees range from free to $1.50 per database. Charges for documents range from $1 - $7.

Lexis-Nexis http://www.nexis.com FREE!/$
Often available for free at libraries (especially law libraries) or law firms, Lexis-Nexis is a massive research database. Its Public Records library searches property, deed and other records to locate assets held by an individual.

AutoTrackXP http://www.autotrackxp.com/ $
AutoTrackXP is an expensive database that accesses "six billion current and historical records on individuals and businesses." Only professional investigators can subscribe. It may be accessible through research organizations, private investigators or attorneys in your network of supporters.

COURT PROCEEDINGS
divorce, bankruptcy, liens, judgements, criminal and civil decisions
Sources:

Local courthouse

KnowX http://www.knowx.com $
Asset database searches property, deeds and other public records to locate an individuals' assets. Search fees range from free to $1.50 per database. Charges for documents range from $1 - $7.

AutoTrackXP http://www.autotrackxp.com/ $
AutoTrackXP is an expensive database that accesses "six billion current and historical records on individuals and businesses." Only professional investigators can subscribe. It may be accessible through research organizations, private investigators or attorneys in your network of supporters.

Lexis-Nexis http://www.nexis.com FREE!/$
Often available for free at libraries (especially law libraries) or law firms, Lexis-Nexis is a massive research database. Its Public Records library searches property, deed and other records to locate assets held by an individual.

DRIVERS LICENSES
Sources:

AutoTrackXP http://www.autotrackxp.com/ $
AutoTrackXP is an expensive database that accesses "six billion current and historical records on individuals and businesses." Only professional investigators can subscribe. It may be accessible through research organizations, private investigators or attorneys in your network of supporters.

PROFESSIONAL LICENSES
physicians, real estate brokers, investigators, firearms, etc.
Sources:

AutoTrackXP http://www.autotrackxp.com/ $
AutoTrackXP is an expensive database that accesses "six billion current and historical records on individuals and businesses." Only professional investigators can subscribe. It may be accessible through research organizations, private investigators or attorneys in your network of supporters.

Lexis-Nexis http://www.nexis.com FREE!/$
Often available for free at libraries (especially law libraries) or law firms, Lexis-Nexis is a massive research database. Its Public Records library searches property, deed and other records to locate assets held by an individual.

VEHICLE REGISTRATION
Sources:

AutoTrackXP http://www.autotrackxp.com/ $
AutoTrackXP is an expensive database that accesses "six billion current and historical records on individuals and businesses." Only professional investigators can subscribe. It may be accessible through research organizations, private investigators or attorneys in your network of supporters.

OTHER INFORMATION
Sources:

Employer website (www.[company name].com)

Employer's Public Relations Office

College Alumni Associations

General Press:

Northern Light http://www.northernlight.com
Search over 130 million web pages and articles of more the 5,400 full text sources. use the person's name as a search term.

Lexis-Nexis http://www.nexis.com FREE!/$
Often available for free at libraries (especially law libraries) or law firms, Lexis-Nexis is a massive research database. Its News library searches thousands of domestic and international publications, including mainstream press.

American City Business Journal http://bizjournals.bcentral.com
Search for a business person's name from the regional business press.

Search Engines:

Google http://www.google.com
Google is the best introductory search engine. It will easily and efficiently search a billion web pages for mentions of an individual's name.

Dogpile http://www.dogpile.com
Dogpile is the best multi-search engine. With one easy interface, it metasearches up to 18 search engines simultaneously, including Google and Alta Vista, both of which are good for researching individuals.

Political Records:

Project Vote Smart http://www.vote-smart.org
Voting records, campaign finance data, issue positions, performance evaluations, biographical and contact information on president and current members of congress. The amounts received by current office holders from specific interest groups, such as agriculture, as shown back to the late 1980's. Has a section on Issues that provides a background on an issue with links to organizations working on that issue.

Center for Responsive Politics http://www.crp.org
Special reports on the correlation between the sources of lawmaker's campaign funds and how they voted, as well as, industry and topical analysis to campaign contributions. Enter the representative's name in the query box.

Thomas http://thomas.loc.gov
Congressional web site that tracks bills, committee members, links to state and municipal governments.

Library Resources

Marquis Who's Who
D&B Reference Book of Corporate Management
Who's Who in Finance and Industry
Who's Who in Technology
(includes employer index)
The Almanac of American Politics

Your reference librarian!

 

RESEARCH PLANNING

General Planning & Tips
Campaign Strategy
Ten Campaign Research Steps


CAMPAIGN RESEARCH

Researching Corporations
Researching Individuals
Getting Public Records

Creating Surveys
Creando Encuestas (PDF)


RESEARCH TOOLKITS

Capturing Air Toxics 411
Challenging FTAA, NAFTA & WTO
Juvenile Justice in California


WEB RESOURCES


Company Information

Corporate Responsibility
Education & Schools
Elections 2004
Environment
Government Information
Labor
Money & Politics

Plan Puebla-Panamá (PPP) - English
Plan Puebla-Panamá (PPP) - Español
Prisons & Criminal Justice
Welfare & Economic Rights
Search Engines & Databases


INTERNET TIPS

Using Search Engines
Research & Language
Evaluating Documents

 

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