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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Anthropology 225 / Gender & Women's Studies 225: Women in Prehistory

Class guide of recommended resources and search tips for the ANTH225 writing assignment (created Fall 2015)

Human Relations Area File/ eHRAF

The Human Relations Area File (electronic version: eHRAF) contains full-text articles, books and book chapters, and unpublished manuscripts, of key historical/ethnographic resources about many (but not all) world cultures. Each culture also has a basic summary overview description. These documents are indexed and categorized at the "paragraph" level; which means that if all you need to know is how this particular culture prepared food, you can do a search for the related subject(s) within the documents of that culture, and find out which paragraphs are focused on that topic. You can read the individual paragraphs alone, or go to the page or full text context.

eHRAF World Cultures contains primarily historical/ethnographic accounts from researchers or scholars who observed or studied the people of these cultures first hand. They are often older documents, but are good sources of information about a culture or group's traditional lifeways. 

eHRAF Archaeology contains archaeological excavation and summary reports about "traditions", which generally refer to a specific geographic location and cultural group(s) during a specific time period in prehistory. Evidence is constructed and inferred from found artifacts and occasionally written records from the time period (if they existed). NOTE: Does not include historical archaeology information (mostly pre-historic, generally pre-1000 B.C.E.). Also VERY limited coverage of Europe, does not include Greco-Roman ("Classical") archaeology.

It is easiest to see how this can be useful by playing with it, and looking at the screenshots and instructions in the "how to search and browse" section.

1. For the assignment in this class, you will need to know the name of your culture as used by eHRAF. Use the Browse Cultures section to search for your culture. If you do not see any results, try checking the ethnonym index in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures for other cultural terms you could try to search. Remember, eHRAF does not include all world cultures, so this resource may or may not be helpful to you.

2. Once you find your culture, click on the culture summary (or the summary of the related culture that it directs you to use) to read a basic overview of your culture. Next to each paragraph, you will see Subject Terms which are related to the content covered in that paragraph. You can use these to decide what terms will be most helpful to you when searching the documents related to this culture.

3. Now, go to the Advanced Search section. Add the name of your culture as it appeared in the Browse section. Under Add Subjects, add any number of subject terms that relate to the aspects of the culture that you are interested in. Selecting a higher level subject category will include all sub categories, or expand the categories to select individual sub-categories and be mores specific.Then search.

4. In the results screen, click on the region and culture name to see all resulting paragraph "hits" related to your subjects.

Let's try an example:

Use advanced search to find info on the Tewa Pueblos (hint- Southwest region of North America), specifically "Marriage, Family, Kinship, and Social Organization", and "Social Relationships" subjects.