Human Relations Area Files Guide

Human Relations Area Files

What are the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF)?

HRAF covers the cultures of the world. The files are a valuable research tool for archaeologists, anthropologists and sociologists. Researchers in geography, ethnomusicology, fine arts, and ethnobotany may also find relevant sources in this database.

World Cultures ( formerly the Collection of Ethnography), established in1949, currently contains nearly one million pages of information on over 360 cultures of the world, past and present. Each culture case contains a variety of source documents (books, articles, and manuscripts) which have been indexed and organized according to HRAF's comprehensive culture and subject classification system (Outline of World Cultures, OWC, and Outline of Cultural Materials, OCM). Published in annual instalments, HRAF is a full-text, fully-indexed (indexed according to the Outline of Cultural Materials, OCM) collection. The electronic collection currently consists of documents pertaining to 48 culture groups, covering both North American immigrant groups and cultures from around the world.

From the 1950's until 1993, the annual instalments of the HRAF Collection of Ethnography were distributed on microfiche. In 1993, with instalment 42, microfiche production ended. Annual instalments, beginning with 43, are now available on the World Wide Web. Lists of cultures by instalment or by region are available. More than 25% of each instalment is new material not already in the microfiche files. New and recent documents are added to each culture to provide the researcher with a broader, more current selection of source material.

It is important to note that cultures in the microfiche and electronic versions of the HRAF Collection of Ethnography are not covered in the same ways; the online version (eHRAF World Cultures) includes more recent source materials and not all the older sources are retained.

Guides to searching HRAF


HRAF on microfiche