Browse Traditions

eHRAF contains ethnographic documents from a sample of the world’s traditions. You can browse the list of the traditions covered in eHRAF Archaeology by clicking on the Browse Traditions tab at the top of the eHRAF interface, or by expanding the sidebar menu by clicking on the menu hamburger button in the top left and then clicking the Traditions button in the sidebar. The Browse Traditions page displays a list of all tradition collections currently in eHRAF.


Everywhere in eHRAF World Traditions, tradition names are followed by a short alphanumeric identifier. This is from the Outline of World Cultures.

How to Browse Traditions

At the top of the page, you will find a search bar. Use the Search Tradition Index bar to filter the list of traditions. Begin typing a tradition name into the box to see suggested tradition names.

Use the controls at the top right of the tradition list to sort, filter, or change the way the tradition list appears on the screen.


Click the Show Filters button to open the filters sidebar on the left. There are three filter types you can select from: Regions, Subsistence Types, and Samples. Each filter has a number next to it showing how many traditions will appear with that filter. This number will change if you have performed a search or have already selected other filters. Note that every world region has more specific subregions within that region you can also select from.

Learn More

Visit Subsistence Types and Sampling to learn more about these types of filters.

Use Fors

Many traditions are known by more than one name or ethnonym. For example, the Crow people’s endonym is Absahrokee, and HRAF’s preferred name is Crow. By default, eHRAF only shows the preferred names for each tradition. Click the Use Fors toggle to show the non-preferred names in addition to the preferred names. Note how the non-preferred names have additional text below the tradition name: this is the preferred name for the tradition. For example, Absahrokee has Use - Crow to show that Crow is the preferred name. If you click on a non-preferred name, it will open an overview box that uses the preferred name.

This functions similarly to a paper index, where one might look up Absahrokee and find the text see Crow which directs to the preferred term. This is why this functionality is called Use For, because it tells the reader to use Crow for Absahrokee. The Library of Congress also uses the terminology Use For when constructing Library of Congress Subject Headings. For both the Library of Congress and eHRAF, Use For references are terms that are synonymous or equivalent that users might search for rather than the preferred term. The Use For reference directs users to the proper term.


When Use Fors is turned on, the numbers next to the filters will increase, even though the same number of traditions appear in the result list. This is because traditions that have non-preferred names will appear in the results multiple times, as both the preferred name and the non-preferred name(s). For a more accurate count in the filters list, turn off Use Fors.

View As

There are two possible ways to view the tradition list: list view or card view. List view is the default. The View As button allows you to switch between these two views. Both views display the same amount of information, so feel free to select the view that suits your needs.


You can sort the list of traditions alphabetically (written as A-Z in the interface), by region alphabetically, and by relevance to the search query. Relevance is the default, but if no search query is entered, all traditions will be listed alphabetically. You can also select whether to sort Ascending or Descending.

If you sort traditions alphabetically, you can click Browse By on the top left above the list. This will open a dropdown of each letter of the alphabet. Select a letter to only see traditions that start with that letter.

Tradition Overview

Click on a tradition name to expand a brief overview. Beneath the tradition name and OWC, you can find the region and subregion where the tradition is located. Next is a brief description of the tradition. In the bottom left, there is a count of how many documents have been indexed on this tradition. On the bottom right, you will find the subsistence type for the selected tradition. Click on Full Profile to access the full Tradition Profile.

Tradition Profile

There are three components to every tradition profile: a Description, Tradition Summary, and Collection Documents.


All traditions collections in eHRAF contain a full tradition profile. On this page, you can find a description as well as additional metadata supplied by HRAF. This includes tradition location information, external links to coded data (provided by D-Place), as well as Indexing Notes and a Collection Overview from HRAF analysts. Collection Indexing Notes detail any relevant information about how HRAF’s anthropologists indexed the subject content inside the documents, such as how local cultural categories or terminologies were interpreted for analysis and subject indexing.


A Tradition Summary is a brief overview of a tradition. Almost all traditions in eHRAF Archaeology contain a summary.

The tradition summaries in eHRAF Archaeology are largely adapted from the Encyclopedia of Prehistory (2001-2002) that HRAF produced in conjunction with Kluwer Academic/Plenum. The format, outline and headings are the same for each summary. You will find a basic overview about the tradition, such as its economy, history, environment and sociopolitical organization. For archaeological traditions, you will find other important information, such as absolute and relative time periods, diagnostic material attributes and key sites. Tradition summaries are indexed for subjects and they are also searchable and browsable, which means that they will appear in search results in eHRAF (as well as in the Tradition Profile in Browse Traditions).


The Collection Documents submenu of the Tradition Profile lists all ethnographic documents contained in eHRAF for a given tradition.

Collection Documents can be sorted by author’s last name, document title or publication date by clicking on the column headers. Clicking on the document title in this list will bring you to the Publication Information page for the document.