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Queens Memory has been incorporated into two undergraduate courses at Queens College, an English course and a Research Methods course offered through the Sociology Department. These are excerpts from the syllabi that show how oral history instruction led to the production of student interviews donated to Queens Memory.

Syllabus #1:

Social Research Methods

Queens College, CUNY

Course number: (334-2)

Syllabus, Fall 2012

Professor: Dr. Anahí Viladrich

Methods of Social Research, 4 credits

Prereq.: Sociology 205 and 212W

Course Description:

This course is intended to provide students with a comprehensive hands-on understanding of sociological research methods. During the semester, student will learn about both quantitative and qualitative techniques with a particular focus on in-depth interviewing and oral history methods. Together, the course’s topics will offer an in-depth exposure to complementary research perspectives through which sociologists describe, analyze, and hope to explain crucial social and cultural phenomena.

Course Organization:

For each new session, the instructor (and invited guest speakers) will introduce each topic and provide a general overview and critical summary of main social sciences methods. Class presentations will be followed by in-classroom activities that will resemble “natural environments,” in which students will get practical expertise in the utilization of different research techniques including focus groups, oral histories, and survey research.

Grading Grid:

Assignments Total Points
1)   Participation in Class 10
2)   CITI Certificate, completed by September 19* 20
* Important: 10 points will be automatically deducted for   certificates submitted after the due date
3)   Interviewing & Oral History Project
Component Due Partial Points
QMP consent form – interviewer 9/19 2
QMP consent form – interviewee 9/19 3
IRB consent form 9/19 3
Pre-interview questionnaire 9/19 3
Homework assignment 11/14 2
.WAV file of interview 11/28 5
.TIF file of photo of interviewee 11/28 5
QMP image submission form 11/28 2
QMP interview submission form 11/28 2
Lessons Learned: Triangulating
Methods (500 words) 12/10 4
Timecode outline 12/10 4
Oral History Total Points: 35
4)   Media Analysis 5
5)   Midterm, due on 10/24 15
6)   Final Exam, due on 12/17 15
Total: 100

CITI Training and Certificate:

The Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) is a subscription service set to provide research ethics education to all members of the research community. Queens College is a CITI participating organization; therefore, all QC members (faculty, staff and students) planning to conduct research with human subjects must complete the CITI online training and obtain a certificate.

Please follow the steps outlined below to complete your training and obtain a certificate:

  1. Log-in (or register if you are a first-time user) at:
  2. Select the curriculum which you need to complete: Human Subjects Protection Basic Course –HSR for Undergraduate Students.
  3. Save an electronic copy of your certificate on your personal computer.
  4. Bring a hardcopy of your CITI Certificate to class no later than on September 19. Failure to accomplish this task on time will lead to losing 10 points from your total grade.

Exams (Midterm 10/24 and Final 12/17):

There will be two home-take exams during the semester. For each exam students will provide essay answers to questions drawn from a list that will address the content of all previous class sessions. Students may refer to any of the readings, class discussions and additional references that may be suited to the topic under consideration. Critical analysis of the literature, as well as evidence of thorough knowledge of the subject matter, is expected. You are required to work independently on each exam.

Sessions and Readings

Most readings for each session are listed below.


WEEK 1: Introduction

Monday, August 27 — Class Requirements and Explanation of the Course’s Contents and Assignments

Wednesday, August 29 — Ethical Issues When Conducting Research With Human Subjects – Informed Consent

Required Readings

Guidelines from the QC Office of Regulatory Compliance:

Hesse-Biber, S. J. N. & Lina Leavy, Patricia. (2006). The Practice of Qualitative Research, Chapter 3: The Ethics of Social Research. Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi, Sage Publications, 83-116.



September 3 — No class, Labor Day

Wednesday, September 5 — Interviewing Project: Defining and Understanding Oral History, by Natalie Milbrodt

Required Reading

Hansen, Debra, G. (2010). Oral History in Libraries and Archive, in Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, Third Edition, 1, 4045- 4055.



Monday, September 10 — Pre-Interview Preparation and Interviewing Practice

Required Reading

Ritchie, Donald, A. (2003). Doing Oral History A Practical Guide. Oxford University Press, Chapter 3. Available at:

Wednesday, September 12 — From Community Outreach to Action Research: Experiences from the Field. Special Presentation by Sonny Singh.



Monday, September 17— Rosh Hashanah, no class scheduled

Wednesday, September 19 — Theoretical Paradigms in Sociological Research

Required Reading

May, Tim. 2001. Social Research. Issues, Methods and Process. Buckingham & Philadelphia, Open University Press, Part I, Chapter 1.



Monday, September 24 — The Basics of Research Design

Required Reading

De Vaus, David. A. 2001. Research Design in Social Research. What is Research Design, 1. The Context of Design. Thousand Oaks & London, Sage, 1-16.

Wednesday, September 26 — Yom Kippur, no class scheduled



Monday, October 1 — Focus Groups: Theory

Wednesday, October 3 — Focus Groups: Practice

Required Readings

Duggleby, Wendy. 2005. What About Focus Group Interaction Data? Qualitative Health Research, 15. 832-840. MacDougall, Colin & Fudge, Elizabeth (2001). Planning and Recruiting the Sample for Focus Groups and In-Depth Interviews. Qualitative Health Research, 11, 117-126.

O’Donnell Amy B. et al. 2007. Using Focus Groups to Improve the Validity of Cross-National Survey Research: A Study of Physician Decision Making. Qualitative Health Research, 17, 971-981.

Recommended Readings

MacDougall, Collin & Baum, F. 1997. The Devil’s Advocate: A Strategy to Avoid Groupthink and Stimulate Discussion in Focus Groups. Qual Health Res 1997; 7; 532-541.



Monday, October 8 — Columbus day, no class scheduled).

Wednesday, October 10— Quantitative Methods for Health Research. Special Presentation by Dr. Ming-Chin Yeh.

Required Readings

Yeh, Ming-Ching et al. 2007. Understanding Barriers and Facilitators of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among a Diverse Multi-ethnic Population in the USA. Health Promotion International, 23, 42-51.

Yeh, Ming-Ching et al., 2010. Validity of a Competing Exposure Construct Regarding Fruit and Vegetable Consumption among Urban College Freshman. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 42, 321-327.



Monday, October 15— Oral History Project: Listening & Questions, Using Equipment Required Reading

Thompson, Paul (2000). The Voice of the Past: Oral History, Oxford University Press, Life Story Interview Guide, 309-323.

Wednesday, October 17— Oral History Project: Practice and Reflection



Monday, October 22 — Qualitative Research & Ethnography: Theory

Wednesday, October 24 — Qualitative Research & Ethnography: Practice

Midterm Due

Required Readings

Marshall, Catherine & Rossman, Gretchen B. (2006). Designing Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks & London, Sage Publications, Chapter 4.

Nunes Silva, C. (2008). Book Review. Catherine Marshall & Gretchen B. Rossman (2006).

Designing Qualitative Research.

Reeves, Scott. Kuper, A., Hodges, Brian, D. (2008). Qualitative Research Methodologies: Ethnography, BMJ, 337, 512-514.

Suggested Reading

Newton Sutter, William (2012). Introduction to Educational Research: A Critical Thinking Approach. Sage Publications, 2005. Chapter 12.


10 Secrets of Successful Qualitative Research Part 1



Monday, October 29 — Documentary Research Methods

Required Readings

Hine, Christine. 2011. Internet Research and Unobtrusive Methods. Social Research Update. 61, 1-4.

Lee, Raymond, M. (2000). Unobtrusive Methods in Social Research. Buckingham & Philadelphia: Open University Press, Chapter 1.

Suggested Readings

Ahmend, Jashim U. 2010. Documentary Research Method: New Dimensions. Indus Journal of Management & Social Sciences, 4, 1-14.

Mogalakwe, Monageng. 2006. The Use of Documentary Research Methods in Social Research. African Sociological Review, 10, 221-230.

Wednesday, October 31 — Survey Research: Theory

Required Readings

Aldridge, Alan & Levine, K. Surveying the Social World. Principles and Practice in Survey Research. Buckinghan & Philadelphia, Open University Press. 2001. Chapter 1, Why Survey?

Rourke, Diane P. Questionnaire Design. Survey Research Laboratory. Seminar Series,



Monday, November 5 — Survey Research: Practice

Wednesday, November 7 — Applied Mixed Methods Research

Required Readings

Morgan, David L. (2008). Practical Strategies for Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Methods: Applications to Health Research. Qualitative Health Research. 1998 8(3):362-376.

Trotter, Robert T. et al. 2001. A Methodological Model for Rapid Assessment, Response, and Evaluation: The RARE Program in Public Health. Field Methods, 13, 137-159.

Viladrich et al. 2009. Do Real Women Have Curves? Paradoxical Body Images among Latinas in New York City. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 11, 20-28.

Recommended Readings

Creswell, John, W. & Plano Clark, Vicki L. 2006. Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. Sage Publications, Chapter 6.

Hussein, Ashatu. 2009. The Use of Triangulation in Social Sciences Research: Can Qualitative and Quantitative Methods Be Combined? Journal of Comparative Social Work, 1, 1-12.



Monday, November 12— Testimonials: Rigoberta Menchu film.

Wednesday, November 14 — Oral History Project: Looking Closer at Your Subject



Monday, November 19 — Oral History Project: Interview Processing and Follow-up With Interviewees

Wednesday, November 21 — Fieldwork Day



Monday, November 26

Wednesday, November 28 — Innovative Approaches to Sampling, Field Management and Data Collection. Early Findings from an Ethnically Diverse Sample. Special Presentation by Dr. Diana Romero.

Required Readings

Edin, Kathryn & Kefalas, Maria. 2005. Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. Selected Chapters.



Monday, December 3 — Framing & Media Analysis: Theory

Wednesday, December 5 — Media Analysis: Practice

Required Readings

Chang, Shih-Fu. 2002. The Holy Grail of Content-Based Media Analysis. IEEE Multimedia, 6-11.

Herring Susan C. 2004. Content Analysis for New Media: Rethinking the Paradigm. New Research for New Media: Innovative Research Methodologies Symposium Working Papers and Readings, 47-66.

Johnson, Kimberly R. 2009. Contradictory Messages: A Content Analysis of Hollywood Produced Romantic Comedy Feature Films. Communication Quarterly. 57, 352-373.

Wodak, Ruth and Busch, Brigitta. 2006. Approaches to Media Texts in The Sage Handbook of Media Studies. Ed. By Philip Schlesinger and Ellen Wartella. Chapter 5, 105-122. Thousand Oaks & London: Sage Publications.



Monday, December 10 — Writing Social Research I

Wednesday, December 12 — Writing Social Research II

Required Readings

Babbie, Earl. 2010. The Practice of Social Research, Chapter 17: Reading and Writing Social Research, Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 505-528.

Neuman, Lawrence W. Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Chapter 16, Writing the Research Report and the Politics of Social Research, Boston, Allyn & Bacon. 542-574.

Final Exam due on Monday, December 17

Syllabus #2:

Theory & Practice of Oral History

Queens College, CUNY

English 395W (5134) Spring 2012

Professors Bette S. Weidman and Ben Alexander

This page is an online resource for the students and other participants in this course.

Course Description:

Oral History is the practice of recording interviews with narrators who wish to preserve significant life experience. In this class we will prepare ourselves to be effective interviewers by learning research methods, developing productive questions, indexing our work with finding aids to make it searchable, and connecting individual interviews to larger projects. We will look at academic and popular models of oral history and frame our hands-on approach with readings about the philosophy and politics of oral history work, the art and science of memory, legalities associated with interview preservation and dissemination, the contribution of new technologies and the development of archives. Our own practice interviews will be eligible for inclusion in the Queens Memory Project, a digital archive established in the Rosenthal Library of Queens College.

Oral History has been present in the American academy since 1945 when the historian Allan Nevins founded the Oral History Office at Columbia University. In the last fifty years it has spread to college libraries and historical societies throughout the country. Throughout this period there has been an international presence with some philosophical differences influential to contemporary American oral history practice. More recently the populist approach to oral history has been developed by organizations like StoryCorps, a project in which relatives or friends are empowered to interview each other in recording booths outfitted with professional recording equipment and trained facilitators. All recordings are deposited at the Library of Congress as well as in local repositories such as Queens Library so they are both preserved and freely accessible to the public. Excerpts from these interviews are broadcast on National Public Radio and on the StoryCorps website. Thus oral history has loosened the bonds of the university and become a popular art form.

A special collaboration between the Cultural Studies concentration of the English Department, The American Studies Program, and the Archival Certification Program of the Library and Information Studies Graduate School, the curriculum for this course has been developed through a federal grant from the Queens College Asian American Center. This course is uniquely positioned between academic and popular oral history, as the Queens Memory Project has established a partnership with StoryCorps. This may be the only oral history course in the country in which a student’s work could be entered into the permanent collections of a massive public library system like Queens Library alongside StoryCorps interviews and interviews conducted by professional folklorists documenting life in New York City.

As each student will produce three practice interviews which will be audited and critiqued by the instructor, enrollment will be limited to fifteen students and will include undergraduates from a variety of disciplines and graduate students in Library and Information Studies. Students who successfully complete this course will receive a detailed letter affirming their readiness to participate in professionally established oral history projects. This credential may provide an advantage in applying for jobs in teaching, in local history societies, in libraries and in government.

For more information contact or


Course Readings:

Donald A. Ritchie. Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide.  Second Edition Oxford University Press, 2003.

Paul Thompson. The Voice of the Past: Oral History. Second Edition.Oxford University Press, 2000.


Plus excerpts from the following*:

David Isay, Listening is an Act of Love
Ronald Blythe, The View in Winter
John Egerton, Generations, An American Family
George Ewart Evans, Where Beards Wag All and Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay
Studs Terkel. Hard Times and Working
Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor
Theodore Rosengarten, All God’s Dangers, The Life of Nate Shaw
Onnie Lee Logan, Motherwit
Sarah Rice, He Included Me
Linda Wagner, Interviews with William Carlos Williams
Studs  Terkel, The Good War and American Dreams Lost and Found
Ann Banks, First Person America
William Montell, The Saga of Coe Ridge
Ronald Blythe, Akenfield, Portrait of an English Village
Warren Lehrer and Judith Sloan, Crossing the Blvd.
Susie Tanenbaum, Underground Harmonies: Music and Politics in the Subways of New York


* These readings are available electronically to students enrolled in the class.  To access them:

1. Visit Queens College Library’s homepage

2. Click the “Course Reserves” link in the Quick Links list on the left

3. Select the first option in the list, “Course Reserves & Reserves Pages”

4. Search the name, “Weidman” to get a link to the readings

5. You will need the password provided by Professor Weidman in class to access the readings.

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