Consult biographical dictionaries to get brief information about people, dates and events.
REF Z5301.B61 (1946-2011)
The Imperial Dictionary of Universal Biography: a Series of Original Memoirs of Distinguished Men, of All Ages and All Nations
14 volume set that looks at figures prior to World War I.
New Century Cyclopedia of Names
REF PE1625.N14 1954
Contains entries "for more than 10,000 proper names" including persons, places, and historical events. Entries vary in length from a few lines to half a page.
A definitive resource for British and Commonwealth biography.
Rulers and Governments of the World
REF D11.5.R67 1977
Three-volume set, lists the important rulers of "territories, ecclesiastical sees, dynasties and hordes".
v.1: Earliest times to 1491
v.2: 1492 to 1929
v.3: 1930 to 1975