All the cultures in the paper and microfiche version of the HRAF Collection of Ethnography are grouped into these eight regions.
Thus, all the documents pertaining to African cultures are grouped together and their OWC begins with “F.” Each of the major regions is then subdivided, usually on a political basis, into sub-regions designated by the addition of a second letter: “FF” designates the country of Nigeria and its component cultural units, while “SC” indicates that the culture described is in the South American country of Colombia.
Until 1958, the HRAF Collection was produced and distributed as paper files: source materials were manually reproduced on 5″ x 8″ paper slips called File pages, and then filed by subject (OCM) category and by culture.
Wider distribution of the collection was facilitated in 1958 with the development of the HRAF Microfiles Program.
The Cross-Cultural CDs were the first result of this effort, providing researchers with ten collections on such topics as old age, marriage, religion, and human sexuality, excerpted from HRAF’s 60-Culture Probability Sample Files (PSF). Using e HRAF is a relatively straightforward process.
In 1993, the first installment of the full-text HRAF Collection of Ethnography on CD-ROM (e HRAF) was issued to members with the plan of converting the entire 60-Culture PSF, plus new files covering North American immigrant groups, by the year 1999. Mechanics of use and research techniques are similar in many respects to standard library practices; searching follows the same principles and techniques, such as Boolean logic, that are used for other electronic educational collections.These five were joined within the year by the University of Chicago, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Southern California.Today, hundreds of colleges, universities, libraries, museums, and research institutions in the United States and other countries have full or partial access to the HRAF Collection of Ethnography.The development of cross-cultural and area studies requires a large mass of readily available, organized cultural information; conventional sources of such information are widely scattered and often inaccessible, and often too expensive to assemble and utilize effectively.The HRAF Collections are designed to overcome this traditional barrier to research.Then we discuss how to choose a sample, how to develop measures, and how to analyze results.The growing concern of students, scholars, and the general public to understand ethnic conflict, cultural diversity, and global problems has generated a demand for educational and research programs emphasizing the worldwide, comparative study of human behavior and society.Several thousand cultures are listed in the OWC, but not all the cultures on the list are included in the HRAF Collection of Ethnography.The cultures in the Collection are selected mainly on the basis of the following criteria: (a) Maximum cultural diversity: the cultures should represent, as far as possible, the known range and variety of cultural types in terms of language, history, economy, and social organization.(HRAF), a non-profit research organization based at Yale University.For almost fifty years, HRAF has served the educational community and contributed to an understanding of world cultures by assembling, indexing, and providing access to primary research materials relevant to the social sciences, and by stimulating and facilitating training and research in these fields.