eHRAF World Cultures Library Info

This page provides librarians at new, trial, or current member institutions with the necessary information in setting up, maintaining and updating the eHRAF World Cultures database at their digital library. Sections include the URL and EZProxy configuration for the eHRAF database, as well as specifics about eHRAF (e.g., descriptions, subject areas, format and document types, etc.).  Feel free to make use of and copy the section contents as needed in informing patrons what eHRAF is about.

eHRAF World Cultures Database URL & Access

Database Provider Name & URL Human Relations Area Files, Inc. at Yale University
Database Name & Access URL eHRAF World Cultures
EZProxy Configuration Title eHRAF World Cultures

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IP Updates! Please check the IPs regularly to make sure that all on and off-campus locations are properly connected to eHRAF World Cultures. If your institution doesn’t have off-campus IP authentication, contact HRAF ( for an institutional password. For problems with other proxy server configurations or technical issues (e.g. access problems) contact HRAF at or call 203-764-9401.

We encourage users from HRAF member institutions and/or trial members to access eHRAF through their digital library portals to ensure automatic authentication and proper recording of usage.  We ask you to please convey this important information to your users, especially to faculty who have their students use eHRAF for teaching assignments. HRAF thanks you for your assistance.


Cross-Referencing the eHRAF World Cultures Database


This section is primarily for member institutions who still have the holdings in microfiche/paper formats. Click Microfiche vs Online Cultures for information on which cultures in the HRAF microfiche files have been converted to the online format, now referred by HRAF as “eHRAF World Cultures” database.

The following information may help in making the distinction between  eHRAF, the database with its current and former name, and HRAF, the non-profit membership organization that produces this unique online resource. If necessary, cross-referencing the names below might be necessary so that users can easily find and access the eHRAF at the institution’s digital library.

Distinguishing between eHRAF and HRAF:

Human Relations Area Files, Inc. (database provider and non-profit organization at Yale University)
HRAF (abbreviation for Human Relations Area Files)
eHRAF World Cultures (current membership-based database name-  make sure to use it when referencing the database)
eHRAF Collection of World Cultures (former name of the database-phased out in 2007)

Not sure how to list eHRAF on your library website? Feel free to contact us for assistance.

Short Description

eHRAF World Cultures is an online cross-cultural and ethnographic database that contains descriptive information on all aspects of cultural and social life. The annually-growing eHRAF database is unique in that the information is organized by cultures and ethnic groups and every document is subject-indexed at the paragraph level, facilitating precise retrieval within documents.

Long Description

The eHRAF World Cultures is an online cross-cultural and ethnographic database containing descriptive information on cultures (based on the Outline of World Cultures -OWC) and ethnic groups from around the world. eHRAF is unique because each culture contains a variety of documents (books, articles, and dissertations) that have been subject-indexed at the paragraph level by anthropologists according to HRAF’s comprehensive Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM). This feature extends search capability well beyond keyword searching, allowing for precise culture and subject retrieval, even in a foreign language. As an ethnographic database, eHRAF appeals to many academic disciplines in the social sciences, humanities, medicine, and any other area with an interest in cultural diversity.

Subject Areas (short)

Social sciences (emphasis on anthropology and archaeology, psychology, sociology, and history), humanities, ethnomedicine.

Subject Areas (long)

Mostly cultural, social, and evolutionary anthropology; archaeology (including ethnoarchaeology, experimental archaeology and comparative archaeology); cross-cultural studies; ethnology; ethnographic studies; folklore (emphasis on non-Western literature); linguistics; museum and material culture studies; ethnomedicine; ethnobotany; ethnosociology; ethnohistory; nursing and ethnomedicine, ethnopsychology; childhood studies; political anthropology; anthropology of art; and religious studies.

Please browse the list of Cultures and Topics covered in eHRAF World Cultures to determine whether HRAF’s uniquely indexed and searchable database could also benefit research in areas outside social sciences, including agricultural and animal studies, pharmacology, disease prevention and disaster response, and environmental studies and energy conservation.


An online resource that is organized by region and culture to facilitate comparisons. Ethnographic documents are searchable by subject and keywords at the paragraph level for precise retrieval of information.

Dates of Coverage

Historical to present.

Update Schedule

Currently we add 10-20 cultures annually with approximately 20,000 pages. About 25% is new ethnographic material and the remaining material is converted from the microfiche collection.

Documents Indexed

Books, dissertations, journal articles, monographs, essays, and some photo collections.

Features and Benefits

  • Designed to facilitate worldwide or other comparative studies of cultures.
  • Focus on in-depth descriptions of cultural and social life written by observers (usually anthropologists) past and present.
  • Includes standardized culture summaries covering economy, social organization and more.
  • Focus is on cultures rather than countries. For example, in the United States and Canada, Native American and First Nations are included as well some immigrant cultures.
  • Great teaching tool for high school and community college students to learn how ethnic cultures (e.g. the San) are associated with countries (e.g.Namibia), major regions (e.g. Africa), subregions (e.g. Southern Africa) and even with subsistence types (e.g. hunter-gatherers).
  • Distance learning tool with personalized webinar support to teach online undergraduate and graduate student courses.
  • Ideal for interdisciplinary, ethnographic and cross-cultural studies.

Library Contacts

Please provide us or keep us updated with names and emails of library contact to help us better serve you, the faculty, students, and researchers.

As contact(s) we are looking for librarian(s) who can channel important messages from HRAF to various other librarians and sometimes to faculty and/or department liaisons. The emails that HRAF sends occasionally (usually about 4 or 5 times a year) to librarians and faculty of our member institutions may contain info about support services such as how-to’s and suggestions for eHRAF in research and teaching. eHRAF content related emails such as culture updates and showcasing new features and improvements may also be addressed to the library and the faculty. However, emails about technical support for eHRAF such as IP settings or URL updates, are usually only addressed to the library. Very rarely does HRAF send email announcements about billing and acquisitions issues. Because of these different types of emails, we’d appreciate either a generic email address for the library (e.g. library@….edu), or for a person who decides where the emails should go to. Details on the contact info should include first and last name, title, and email address. No phone number is needed.

Because HRAF sometimes receives requests for logins to eHRAF from users of member institutions, we also like to have an (anthropology) subject librarian as additional contact person. That way we can put the users in direct contact with your library, so you can provide them with the appropriate link to eHRAF.

Please email the contact information (names, titles and email addresses) to Christiane Cunnar, HRAF Member Services at Thank you.  Your help is much appreciated.

Website update: April, 10, 2015 by Christiane Cunnar





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