Qualitative research typically involves gathering evidence through surveys, interviews, and observations. At some point, qualitative researchers may consider including primary source textual documents in their studies. Depending on the study focus, textual document collection may require a visit to a United States national archive. Although preliminary investigations may provide a sense of what to expect during archival research, there is no resource that details the navigation of the U.S. national archive experience. This article will supply the reader with background knowledge related to decisions in choosing textual documents as study evidence, navigating a national archive, and employing the strategy of document sampling. The resulting description is designed to prepare researchers for a successful archival research experience.


Qualitative Inquiry Evidence, Textual Documents, Archival Research, National Archives, Document Authenticity and Credibility, Official Government Documents

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Theresa Ulrich currently serves as the Director of Language Programs in a public-school district in Illinois. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Education, and a Master of Arts degree in Literature and Linguistics from Northern Illinois University. She also holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership in Administration from Aurora University. In addition, to her standard teaching licenses she possesses endorsements in Language Arts, French, Bilingual Spanish, and English as a Second Language. She has accrued more than 20 years of experience in the field of education and has presented at local, state, and national conferences dedicated to language acquisition education. Additionally, she is the co-author of Free Voluntary Reading: A Neglected Strategy for Language Acquisition. She also anticipates the publication of a book in 2020 under the working title of The Influence of the Foreign Service Institute on US Language Education: Critical Analysis of Historical Documentation. The author declares no conflict of interested. Correspondence can be addressed directly to: TheresaAUlrich@gmail.com.


I would like to express gratitude to Dr. Jessica Heybach for her guidance and James Ulrich for his patience and support during the research and writing process.

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