About Teaching eHRAF


Teaching eHRAF is an innovative, interdisciplinary teaching resource for universities, colleges, and high schools aimed at providing faculty with ideas about how to use the eHRAF World Cultures and eHRAF Archaeology online databases in their curricula.Most of the existing exercises have been written by faculty and HRAF staff, focusing on general anthropology, general archaeology, medical anthropology, and research methods ranging from easy (Level I) to difficult (Level IV).

We invite faculty to look through the various exercises to see whether they fit their teaching needs. Please note that even though some of the exercises might not fit a particular course topic, they can still be used as “templates” where the HRAF-specific topics can be interchanged.

As Teaching eHRAF grows, we hope that it will become a place of exchange for teaching materials across many disciplines. We encourage professors and instructors to submit syllabi and welcome diversity in style, theme, and level of difficulty. HRAF staff would be happy to assist with ideas in customizing the Teaching eHRAF exercises to fit the needs of your class.

Enter Teaching eHRAF








Please note: Using the exercises generally requires access to the eHRAF World Cultures/Archaeology databases. If your institution is a member, you should automatically be logged in from your campus location; if not, you might be asked for a password (get more log-in help here). For password information, to inquire about a semester-long trial, or if you want to submit a student exercise, please contact hraf@yale.edu.


Teaching eHRAF uses the following categories:


Each chapter is assigned a level of difficulty.

Level I —student reads passage of text in eHRAF and answers fixed questions (answer provided to instructors), may involve some directed searches in eHRAF.
Level II—strategic searching in eHRAF with some direction.
Level III—research oriented exercises involving eHRAF and other research materials; moderately structured with some direction.
Level IV—more independent development of research and search strategies.

Sample Types

Probability Sample Files (PSF): 60 largely preindustrial societies that meet certain data quality controls, one randomly chosen from each culture area.
Simple Random Sample (SRS): currently 28 societies randomly chosen from a compiled list of over 8 cross-cultural samples. (See also: SRS in eHRAF Archaeology)
Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (SCCS): consists of 186 anthropologically described societies pinpointed in time and space. We plan to include all the SCCS societies into eHRAF in the next few years.
Ethnographic Atlas (EA): contains over 1264 societies and intended to be an “exhaustive” list of the world’s described societies. eHRAF currently contains over 200 of these societies.


You can find testimonials from educators and researchers who use eHRAF here.

Supplemental guides and information

From time to time, selected teaching exercises will be featured on our homepage blog, eHRAF Highlights. Check this page for updates.

To become familiar with the eHRAF World Cultures and eHRAF Archaeology databases and their unique indexing and search systems, we recommend that students view the eHRAF User Guides. Lists of topics and cultures covered in eHRAF World Cultures and traditions covered in eHRAF Archaeology in HTML, PDF and Excel format(s) can be found at Reference Materials.

Contributors List

Sonya Atalay, Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA
Francine Barone, Human Relations Area Files at Yale University, New Haven, CT
Ryan O. Begley, Human Relations Area Files, New Haven, CT, USA
Vicki Bentley-Condit, Department of Anthropology, Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA, USA
Christiane M. Cunnar, Human Relations Area Files, Inc. (HRAF) at Yale University,  New Haven, CT, USA
William Divale, Department of Social Sciences, York College (CUNY), Jamaica, NY, USA
Carol R. Ember. Human Relations Area Files, Inc. (HRAF) at Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA
Douglas A. Feldman , Department of Anthropology, The College at Brockport, State University of New York, Brockport, NY , USA
Bruce Freeman, Department of Anthropology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada.
Brad R. Huber, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA
Sara E. Johnson, Department of Anthropology, California State University, Fullerton, CA, USA
Kathryn Koziol, Department of Anthropology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA
Howard Kress, Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA
Jerome M. Levi, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton College, Northfield, MN, USA
Matthew Longcore, Human Relations Area Files at Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA and University of Connecticut, Stamford, CT, USA
Thomas W. Miller, Kittatinny Regional High School, Newton, NJ, USA
Brian Mooney,  Department of Social Sciences, York College (CUNY), Jamaica, NY, USA
Dianna Shandy, Department of Anthropology, Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN, USA
Ian Skoggard, Human Relations Area Files, Inc. (HRAF) at Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA
Dan Strouthes, Department of Geography and Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, WI, USA
Nicola B. Tannenbaum, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, USA

Other resources for teaching

Rice, Patricia C. and David W. McCurdy, eds. Strategies in Teaching Anthropology, 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. 2002.

Learn & Teach – American Anthropological Association

Experience Rich Anthropology – Several different component projects and readings.

Ethnography Atlas – Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing, University of Kent.

Anthropological Index Online – online bibliographic search published by the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) .