Live webinars for eHRAF databases

seminar photo

In our weekly webinars, you can learn more about the eHRAF databases, including how the culture collections are organized by regions, sub-regions, sample(s) and subsistence types; HRAF’s very detailed human curation of documents and text indexing; eHRAF’s powerful search functions; newly launched products and services; and HRAF’s ongoing development. The sessions will highlight eHRAF’s browse/search and text-display, while tying in HRAF’s 70+ year history. First developed in the 1930s by George Peter Murdock, a cultural anthropologist at Yale University, HRAF’s unique culture (OWC) classification and subject (OCM) indexing systems continue to provide the framework for eHRAF World Cultures & Archaeology, HRAF’s text-based online databases.

A typical 60-minute eHRAF webinar usually consists of the following parts:

Part I (ca. 30 minutes) – a general overview of HRAF’s ethnographic database, eHRAF World Cultures.
Intermission (ca. 5 minutes) – with Q&A and a chance to give feedback
Part II (ca. 20 minutes) – coverage customized to the specific needs of librarians, faculty, or researchers.

Part I. 30-minute overview of eHRAF highlights

– Browse Cultures (taking a closer look at eHRAF’s ethnographic collections)
– Find info in eHRAF (Basic and Advanced Search)
– Navigating and processing results
– Tips and strategies
– Resources for librarians, faculty, researchers, students and available support services

Because Part I is very general and basic overview and introduction to eHRAF, anyone can join and no previous knowledge of eHRAF is required. Faculty might consider Part I of HRAF’s weekly webinar as training resource for students to get familiar with our cross-cultural databases. They can even make the 30 minute eHRAF overview part of an assignment!  Librarians, especially those reference or subject librarians not familiar with eHRAF’s unique structure, are invited to Part I. Researchers, new to eHRAF, or interested in refreshing their knowledge of eHRAF, are also welcome to the first part I of the 60-minute eHRAF training.

Overview of eHRAF’s framework

• explanation of Outline of World Cultures (OWC) classification and Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM) classification & indexing systems
• common misunderstandings of what eHRAF is (and is not)

Browse Cultures (based on OWC)
• culture names organized by
-regions & subregions

• culture collection
-criteria for culture & document selection
-how they differ from culture to culture
-type of cultures, e.g. ethnic and minority groups, indigenous people, First Nations and Native North Americans
-culture summary
–  collection description
–  collection documents (all analyzed works for a culture)
-analysis of document and assignment of HRAF-specific meta data
-abstract of document
-culture identifier (OWC) and main subjects (OCM)
– source & author evaluation, etc.
-page focus with time & place coverage
-assignment of subjects (OCM) at paragraph-level

Searching eHRAF
• basic search
-eHRAF’s “auto-mapping” of keyword terms against OWC/OCM thesauri

• advanced search
-why use the ADD Cultures (OWC) & Subjects (OCM) functions?
-using keywords (truncation and multiple words/phrases)
-using Boolean (OR, AND) and layers (+ function)
-tips for building effective search queries

Navigating culture results
• cultures by region/sub-region name
• cultures by subsistence/sample types
• sorting vs. narrowing culture results
• comparing culture result counts of documents & paragraphs to culture collection contents

Navigating culture document results
• toggling between documents, pages, paragraphs and time periods
• evaluating the culture results for subjects/keywords at the text level
• processing the text results in culture-specific documents (permalink, cite/email/print functions)

Browse Documents  –what to consider when searching document titles by author names

Browse Subjects  how does it compare to ADD Subjects (in Advanced search)?

Tools and resources for eHRAF on HRAF’s homepage

online user guide & video tutorials
teaching & research tools, and resources specific to cross-cultural studies
culture/subject lists in interactive tables and downloadable pdf/excel files

(e)HRAF’ relevancy in the 21 Century….connecting the dots between “classical” ethnography and modern-day issues.[/expand]

Part II. 20-minute session for a specific group

After Part I, a short Q&A, feedback session, and intermission (ca. 5-10 minutes), the remaining 20 minutes in Part II focuses on any of the following specific interest groups: Librarians (L), faculty (F), or Researchers (R). Identifiers  L,F, R, simply mean that part II for these session are interest focused, but shouldn’t mean to exclude any users.  So if you are a librarian who is interested in the finer details of which search techniques, the researcher session is most appropriate, while a librarian interested in finding teaching resources might want to sign up for the faculty session. Advanced users (e.g. graduate students) usually sign up for the research session. See the appropriate identifiers on the webinar schedule below when choosing a session to attend:

Library-specific session (L)

  • Tips and tricks to determine how eHRAF can fit into an institution’s teaching curriculum and research interests
  • Defining HRAF’s (possible role) in library-faculty interaction
  • Updates on HRAF’s microfiche-to-digital eHRAF conversion schedule
  • HRAF at upcoming national and regional library conferences

Faculty-specific session (F)

  • Taking a closer look at HRAF’s 40+ online teaching assignments
  • Resources in eHRAF and on the HRAF homepage that help faculty in “customizing” eHRAF for their student needs
  • Defining HRAF’s (possible role) in faculty-library interaction
  • HRAF at upcoming national anthropological and archaeological conferences

Research-specific session (for Advanced Users) (R)

  • Discussion of ways to (systematically) break down ANY research question into manageable eHRAF parts
  • Using eHRAF’s Advanced Search for complex searching
  • Common pitfalls when approaching eHRAF
  • Useful (off-site) resources for evaluating, compiling, and processing data from eHRAF
  • eHRAF and cross-cultural studies
  • Lively and interactive with Q&A, feedback, and discussion of items not covered


If you join from various parts of the world, please make sure to convert the Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) time to fit your time zone. Please be logged on to the GoToTraining session 5 minutes prior to the session so that your host, Matthew Longcore, can start on time as there is much material that needs to be covered in the 30 minute overview. Once the training starts the session is closed and late-comers will not be permitted to join.

Help & Support

I look forward to meeting with you!

Matthew Longcore

Manager, Outreach and Member Services

Human Relations Area Files at Yale University