HRAF’s system of organization and classification of source material presents information in a manner that significantly increases the usefulness of original source materials.
In e HRAF World Cultures, the OWC number is de-emphasized and cultures are ordered by major geographical regions arranged in alphabetical order: Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle America and the Caribbean, Middle East, North America, Oceania, and South America.
The OWC number is listed in the Culture Profile (Browse/Cultures).
In the paper and fiche versions of the HRAF Collection of Ethnography all documents that contain information about a particular culture are grouped together in a collection for that culture.
Each culture collection is identified by a unique alphanumeric code according to the Outline of World Cultures–OWC (Murdock 1983) .
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.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.(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.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.(See the member list for institutions that are active members of the online version, e HRAF World Cultures.) The HRAF Collection of Ethnography contains mostly primary source materials – mainly published books and articles, but including some unpublished manuscripts and dissertations – on selected cultures or societies representing all major regions of the world.The materials are organized and indexed by a unique method designed for rapid and accurate retrieval of specific data on given cultures and topics. Ember and Melvin Ember This brief guide takes you through the basic steps of a cross-cultural study using the HRAF Collection of Ethnography– on paper, fiche, or online (e HRAF World Cultures).After reviewing the history of the HRAF Collection of Ethnography, we start with a discussion of the kinds of questions cross-cultural researchers investigate, and why they want to investigate them.