UC Berkeley Library > Library Collections > Collection Descriptions > Anthropology


Includes social-cultural anthropology (with distinct programs in folklore and medical anthropology), archaeology, biological anthropology and linguistic anthropology

Contact: Susan Edwards

Scope of Collection

The George & Mary Foster Anthropology Library houses UC Berkeley’s primary collection of books and serial publications in Anthropology and the four sub-fields that constitute it: Social-cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, and anthropological linguistics. Approximately two-thirds of the collection of 100,000 print volumes is housed on-site, with the remaining third in the Northern Regional Library Facility. The library also supports the ongoing development of a rich collection of ethnographic film, which is housed in the Media Resources Center in Moffitt Library.

Discipline-specific electronic resources available through the library include Anthropology Plus, the main anthropology abstract and indexing database; AnthroSource, a portal to the journals and newsletters published by the American Anthropological Association; eHRAF World Culture and eHRAF Archaeology databases; and Ethnographic Video Online. Several hundred more anthropology ejournals are available, many through CDL-licensed publisher packages, and a growing collection of ebooks in the field is now available through Ebrary, SpringerLink, Wiley Online Library, Oxford’s University Press Scholarship Online, UC Press Ebooks, EbscoHost (formerly NetLibrary), and the ACLS Humanities Ebook Project.

The content of the library collection hews closely to the scope, breadth, and depth of anthropological inquiry in the Department at UC Berkeley. Collecting dedicated to the social-cultural subfield aims to be comprehensive of the U.S.-based scholarly publishing output. Archaeology collections encompass anthropological archaeology and archaeometry, reflecting departmental approaches that are multidisciplinary and multi-scalar and defined, in the first instance, neither by world areas nor particular cultural traditions. Classical archaeology and archaeology of the ancient Near East (most notably ancient Egypt) is excluded from the profile and collected by the Art History/Classics Library and Main, respectively.

Biological anthropologists at UC Berkeley work from two home departments: Anthropology and Integrative Biology. Library collection coverage, accordingly, spans both the Anthropology Library and the Biosciences & Natural Resources Library—divided along the general lines assigned by Library of Congress classification and consideration of the research focus of the faculty in their respective departments.


Parallel to the subdisciplinary alignment of faculty in the department, collection strengths are in the social-cultural and archaeology subfields.

Special Collections

For on-site use only, Anthropology holds a small, special collection of semi-rare books (mid 19th century imprints), and Anthropology Department senior honors theses, mid-1970s to current. A collection of Japanese archaeology reports (the largest outside Japan) is housed at NRLF.

Primary Languages and Formats

Collections are primarily English-language, with highly selective inclusion of titles in some western European languages, particularly Spanish and French. Through a number of historic exchange agreements, the library also maintains some 100 serial titles in support of area studies, including materials in Slavic, Germanic, and East Asian languages.

Scholarly publishing in Anthropology, perhaps most especially in the social-cultural subfield and anthropological archaeology, has a strong monographic component. The book collection will be print-dominant for the foreseeable future, although ebook availability is expanding. Digital is the preferred format for the journal literature, but the library continues to have a sizable current print subscription base as well. Film is of particular importance in cultural anthropology, and the library not only licenses a large streaming film collection, but also supports the ongoing development of a rich collection of ethnographic film housed in the MRC.

Related Collections

There is some overlap between Anthropology and The Bancroft in ethnology and archaeology of California, the Western United States and Mexico. The Bancroft also has significant archival collections related to the historical work of renowned Berkeley anthropologists.

Given its uniquely wide scope and breadth as a discipline, the collections of a number of other campus libraries are of relevance to anthropology programs. In roughly descending order of demand on the collections, with selected affinity areas noted in parentheses: Doe/Moffitt, Gardner (Main) Stacks (anthropology of religion, political anthropology, economic anthropology, folklore, anthropological linguistics, semiotics, critical geography, historical archaeology, cultural history, ethnohistory, archaeology of the Mediterranean and ancient Near East, social theory, critical theory, sociology. Interdisciplinary study areas include social studies of science, women’s studies, cultural studies, media studies, tourism studies, area studies). Biosciences and Natural Resources (paleoethnobotany, palynology, zooarchaeology, human evolution, bioarchaeology, cognitive neuroscience, diet, nutrition, health and pathology of past populations, origins of agriculture). Art History/Classics (non-Western art, classical archaeology). Music (ethnomusicology, anthropology of sound). Earth Sciences (paleontology and geo-archaeology, especially remote-sensing, geophysical survey, lithics). Public Health (medical anthropology, sociology of medicine). Environmental Design (vernacular architecture, urban studies). Ethnic Studies (ethnohistory, ethnographies and folklore of ethnic groups, especially Native American and Chicano). Business (globalization studies, economic anthropology). Education-Psychology (cultural psychology, psychological anthropology, anthropology of education, cognitive psychology). Law (anthropology of law and legal systems).

For information about research tools, library guides, and related pages, visit the Anthropology Library.

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Last updated 08/29/13. Comments?