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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. An archaeological tradition is defined as a group of populations sharing similar subsistence practices, technology, and forms of socio-political organization, which are spatially contiguous over a relatively large area and which endure temporally for a relatively long period. 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

eHRAF World Cultures contains ethnographic collections covering all aspects of cultural and social life. eHRAF is unique in having subject indexing at the paragraph level. This allows detailed and precise searching for concepts not easily found with keywords.

  • Ethnographic collections organized by regions, subregions, and cultures
  • Subject classification system is based on HRAF‘s Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM) thesaurus
    • Anthropologists at HRAF meticulously index each and every paragraph
    • Searches for concepts in hard-to-find places of the text.
  • Advanced Search is powerful
    • Build simple or complex searches with cultures, subjects, or keywords
    • Sort or narrow by subsistence types or cross-cultural sample
    • Precise searching for relevant matches in paragraphs and pages
  • Cross-cultural database includes
    • Indigenous peoples and ethnic groups
    • Immigrant cultures in the U.S. and Canada
    • Historical to contemporary time periods
    • Probability Sample Files designed for hypothesis testing
    • Currently over 300 cultures and over 600,000 pages
  • Comprehensive summaries in Browse Cultures include topics such as 
    • Economy
    • History and Cultural Relations
    • Family and Kinship
    • Sociopolitical organization
    • Religion

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Last updated: November 10, 2021

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 2021-2022