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Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) is internationally recognized in the field of cultural anthropology. Founded in 1949 at Yale University, HRAF is a membership-supported nonprofit organization comprised of universities, colleges, and research institutions. Its mission is to promote understanding of cultural diversity and commonality in the past and present. To accomplish this mission, HRAF produces scholarly resources and infrastructure for research, teaching and learning, and supports and conducts original research on cross-cultural variation.

eHRAF Archaeology

eHRAF Archaeology is an award-winning online database with information on the prehistory of the world. This database, modeled after eHRAF World Cultures, is unique in that the information is organized into archaeological traditions and the text is subject-indexed to the paragraph-level by HRAF anthropologists according to HRAF’s modified Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM)This comprehensive subject retrieval system extends search capability well beyond keyword searching allowing for precise subject retrieval, even in foreign language texts.

eHRAF Archaeology is organized by regions and archaeological traditions. Each tradition consists of a general summary and documents including books, journal articles, dissertations, and manuscripts. In total, we have completed nine sequences, including the Egyptian, Highland Andean, Coastal Andean, Maya, Highland Mesoamerican, Mississippian, Mesopotamian, the U.S. Southwest, and Indus Valley sequences. The Yellow River sequence is currently being processed. Learn more about the traditions covered in the database.

The archaeological database provides researchers and students access to archaeological materials for comparative studies within and across regions. Traditions are selected in two ways: 1) by random sampling from the Outline of Archaeological Traditions compiled by Peter Peregrine with the help of a distinguished Board of Advisors; and 2) to encourage historical and evolutionary analysis, we are including complete tradition sequences from the OAT. It is HRAF’s intention to include all the traditions; we currently have about 40 percent of the traditions included.

eHRAF World Cultures

The award-winning eHRAF World Cultures database contains ethnographic collections covering all aspects of cultural and social life, making it an ideal repository of cultural knowledge for anthropological and cross-cultural research within and across disciplines. It was awarded CHOICE’s Outstanding Academic Title Award as well as named a “Top 10 Internet Resource” in 2015.

eHRAF is distinctive among other databases in having subject indexing at the paragraph level provided by HRAF anthropologists. The subjects that are used in indexing and searching the ethnographic texts in eHRAF are based on the Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM), a vast thesaurus of subject terms and descriptions. This allows for detailed and precise searching for concepts not easily found with keywords. The eHRAF application offers researchers the ability to search by cultures, subjects, regions, and even subsistence types. The Outline of World Cultures (OWC) is also used to organize the eHRAF World Cultures and eHRAF Archaeology databases. First developed by G.P. Murdock in the 1950s as a classification system of cultures of the world originally organized by region and country, it is presently organized by region and sub-region and covers over 2,500 cultures.

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Last updated: October 5, 2020

Multi-Consortial Note: 

This license is made available through a national site license negotiated on behalf of Consortia Canada by the Council of Prairie and Pacific University Libraries (COPPUL).

Content Producer: 

Participating Institutions

Latest renewal: eHRAF Renewal 2020-2021