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UMW Libraries
Simpson Library | Special Collections

FSEM 100H4: Feminism in the 21st Century: Home

Meet your librarian

The Feminist Agenda project

Here are some of the assignments that you'll be completing as part of the Feminist Agenda project. This is not a complete list. I'm focusing on the assignments that require library research.

For each assignment, I've included an excerpt of the assignment description. The assignment description is subject to change; please click the links to view the up-to-date descriptions in Canvas.

Types of sources

Here are the different types of sources that you'll use in your research:

  Primary sources Secondary sources Tertiary sources
What they are




  • Photos/videos
  • Public statements
  • Memoirs/autobiographies
  • Survey data
  • Scientific studies (a type of scholarly journal article)
  • POPULAR analysis (in magazines, news articles, web articles, etc.)
  • SCHOLARLY analysis (in books or journal articles)
  • Wikipedia
  • Library encyclopedias
  • Textbooks
  • Study guides
How they help you They provide evidence to support your statements. They tell you what other people think about your topic. They introduce you to new concepts and help you find citable sources -- but are not themselves citable.


Whether a source is primary, secondary, or tertiary, it might also be either POPULAR or SCHOLARLY:

  • POPULAR sources are written for a broad, general audience.
  • SCHOLARLY sources are written for a narrow audience of scholars (experts who specialize in a certain field).

Scholarly sources are also known as "academic sources." Each stage of the Feminist Agenda project requires a certain number of academic sources and a certain number of non-academic (popular) sources.

This video explains the difference in more detail:

Video credit: Carnegie Vincent Library at Lincoln Memorial University.


Use Quest to search the library's physical collection and the contents of most of the library's electronic databases.

Quest Logo
Search articles, books, and more...

Other tools you can use

The Wikipedia logo

Background information ("tertiary sources")
"Background information"  or "tertiary sources" refers to short overviews or summaries of a topic. Wikipedia is an example of background information. For any given topic, the top Google search results are usually background information from random websites. You can also find background information in print encyclopedias in Simpson Library, such as the recommended encyclopedias below.

Background information is really useful! It's meant to be used when you're first starting your research. It helps you familiarize yourself with a new topic. However, do not cite background information. The reason why you shouldn't cite it is that it is not original. It merely repeats and summarizes what other people have said. It's better to get the information straight from the original source.

I recommend these encyclopedias, which you can find in the Reference section on the first floor of Simpson Library:



You can use Quest to search all subjects, or use individual databases to search specific subjects (such as History or Music or English). Out of the 200+ databases that UMW subscribes to, I particularly recommend these two databases:


Cartoon art of a book

Books in the library

Use Quest to discover books in the library, and then use call numbers to find those books on the shelves. Here's an explanation of how our call numbers work.

You can check out as many books as you want, and keep each book for five weeks. If you want more time, you can renew your books online.

If you want to just browse the shelves and see what books the library has, I recommend browsing in these areas of the library:

  • Women and feminism: HQ 1101 - HQ 2030.7
  • Parenthood, including reproductive rights: HQ 755.7 - HQ 759.92
  • Sexuality and gender identity: HQ 12 - HQ 449
  • Race, including race relations: HT 1501 - HT 1595
  • People with disabilities: HV 1551 - HV 3024

My presentation to your class

Here are the PowerPoint slides for my presentation to your class. Click in the lower right corner to expand the slides to full screen.



Reference Librarian

Peter Catlin's picture
Peter Catlin

Other guides

The FSEM guide gives general advice that all first-year students need to know. The Women's and Gender Studies guide gives advice for doing research in Women's and Gender Studies topics.


The Citing Resources guide gives you examples of perfectly-formatted citations. Zotero is a free app that keeps track of the sources you've found, and generates citations without any typing.