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HRAF -- Human Relations Area Files

A guide to using ethnographic collections in HRAF and eHRAF

Using HRAF Microfiche



Microfiche are flat sheets of film with microphotographs of document pages.  You can view them on microform readers which can also scan to .pdf for you.

Isn't everything online?

Short answer: no.  HRAF started as a paper collection in 1949 which was eventually converted into microfiche and it wasn't until 1994 that eHRAF started developing their online repository. To find out more check out the HRAF "Microfiche vs. Online" pageIt includes the complete collection list, which shows all coverage in fiche and online.

Where do I go to find the microfiche?

The HRAF microfiche are located: in  the Government Information, Maps, and Microform Services department,(GIMMS). Find them in the 

  • Wells Library in the...
  • East Tower on the...
  • Second floor

They are shelved together as a series called "Human Relations Area Files" which librarians and staff at the GIMSS Reference Desk will be more than happy to help you find. There are several microform readers there for you to use.

If you've never visited the 2nd floor before, and/or if this seems a little overwhelming, don't panic. 

The friendly librarians on level 2 are very willing to help you find the exact item that you need!

A Friendly Librarian at the GIMMS Reference Desk:

How to use the HRAF microfiche collection:

1) Go to the second floor and find two books in the reference section: the Outline of World Cultures (OWC) and the Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM) (direct links to the catalog records for these books are in the sidebar).

2) The fiche are filed by OWC number. Use the OWC to locate the number for the culture or group you are looking for.  With this number you can browse the fiche geographically and culturally.

3) Within each culture, the fiche are divided into subjects arranged by OCM codes.Use the OCM to locate the codes for the cultural traits or subjects you are looking for. 

The reference librarian can help you learn how to use the readers and can even scan sections of microfiche into a .pdf document for you!

Finding original documents referenced in the microfiche:

Once you have the information you need from the microfiche, you can look up the original document by TITLE or AUTHOR in IUCAT.  If it is on shelf in the Wells Library, you can retrieve it from the shelves immediately.  If it is stored at the ALF (Auxiliary Library Facility) you can request that it be delivered to the circulation desk for you to pick up.