The Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) is a collection of primary sources on selected cultures or societies from around the world produced by the HRAF Institute, a non-profit organization founded at Yale in 1949. The sources include books, journal articles, dissertations, diaries, legal documents, unpublished field reports, and even English translations of important materials. Representative cultures and societies from the major regions of the world have been covered, however, not all cultures and societies are included.
Subject access to these materials is provided through the use of a three-digit alpha-numeric coding system for world cultures know as the Outline of World Cultures (OWC) codes. Aspects of cultures are classified according to the Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM) codes. HRAF staff examined each document line by line and inserted the proper three-digit numeric OCM code to represent the traits being described in each paragraph. In effect this serves as a very precise and detailed subject index to materials on a culture.
The HRAF Index on microfiche is arranged by OCM (cultural trait) codes. Therefore one can see which cultural groups have information on each OCM trait (subject). This allows one to approach the files via traits rather than via a particular culture or society.
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Last updated: May 24, 2010
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