Human Relations Area Files (HRAF)
What Are the Human Relations Area Files?
Using HRAF in 6 Easy Steps
HRAF Microfiche—Physical Format & Indexing
Indexing of Individual Pages
Keys to Author Training Codes
Source Evaluation Codes
Outline of World Cultures (OWC) Geographical Regions
Helpful Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM) Categories
HRAF Files, Indexes & Reference Guides @ HSU

What are the Human Relations Area Files?

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  The sources include books, journal articles, dissertations, diaries, legal documents, unpublished field reports, and even English translations of important materials.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.

Using HRAF in 6 Easy Steps

  1. Identify the culture of interest by using the Outline of World Cultures (ref GN345.3 M87 1983).
  2. Determine the trait of interest by using the Outline of Cultural Materials (ref GN345.3 O95 1981).
  3. Check the Index to the Human Relations Area Files (ref micro 1639).
  4. Identify the source by using the HRAF Source Bibliography (ref GN316 H85)
  5. Check the HSU Library catalog and/or the Journal & Newspaper Finder to determine whether we have the book or article referenced.
  6. If we do not own the material, request it via Interlibrary Loan and cite the HRAF Source Bibliography as the source for your citation.

Send comments and suggestions about this page to: Corryn Crosby-Muilenburg
Last updated: May 24, 2010

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