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HUM 150: American Women's Studies

A guide to using Library resources when conducting research in American Women's Studies. You'll find links to the best tools and sources available, and step by step instructions for conducting Humanities research in this topic area.

Primary Materials

In the fields of history and women's studies, you will often have to work with primary documents.  These are documents and texts that were created at the time historical events took place.

Primary Documents are used in Women's Studies to understand women's experiences through their own writing. Primary materials can include:

  • diaries
  • letters
  • articles written by women during the time period of interest
  • interviews with women
  • transcripts of speeches
  • historical documents by/about women

Find primary sources here...

Conducting an Interview

Take it step by step... 

orange icon with profile1. Set Your Goals for the Interview.

What are you trying to learn by conducting this interview? What do you already know about your candidate?  

orange icon of notebook and pencil2. Determine the Method & Prepare Your Materials.

Will you be conducting the interview by phone? Video call? Face-to-face? What materials will you need? A notepad and pen? A recording device?

A few considerations when making this decision:

  • Geography: Where does the participant live or work? Could you get there easily?
  • Schedule: When is the participant available?
  • Personal preference: Are you shy or nervous about meeting in person? Is the person you are interviewing shy or nervous? How can you make the interview comfortable for both of you?

orange icon with question mark3. Design Interview Questions.

Here are a few tips for designing interview questions:

  • ask open-ended questions -- rather than asking questions that can be answered with "yes" or "no," ask questions that spark longer and more thoughtful responses from the candidate
  • ask just one question at a time
  • avoid leading questions
    • Do you think it is terrible that this event happened? (leading question) vs. What are your thoughts on this event? (good. open-ended, objective question)
  • construct questions in such a way that makes them easy to understand and respond to 

orange icon of a list4. Conduct the interview. 

If you have never interview anyone before, the first time can be challenging, but remember: it is a conversation! Here are some tips to help you with conducting the interview, particularly if you are interview the person in person or online:

  • be curious and engaged
  • be open to surprises -- some responses you receive may surprise you so it is ok to ask clarifying questions. Even if the question is not "in the script," ask your question to better understand your candidate
  • avoid interrupting
  • keep your goal in mind -- your candidate may go on a tangent. Gently pull the candidate back to the original question.