Research & Instruction Librarian (Social Sciences)

Librarian Phone

(504) 247-1785

Book Chair

Dept. Chair

Program Description

The Anthropology Department at Tulane, which offers BA, BS, MA and PhD degrees, encompasses fully the broad arena of contemporary anthropological inquiry which may be defined as "the systematic study of the nature of human beings. Since the turn of the 20th century, anthropology has developed into an increasingly complex and segmented academic discipline." Geographically, there are emphases in Latin America for prehistory and cultural studies, in Africa for evolutionary and cultural studies and in Asia for cultural studies. There is also a strong emphasis on the prehistory of the Eastern U. S., with particular attention to Southeastern native peoples. The department is staffed by 15 professors and several others with adjunct or emeritus status. There are four subdisciplines that constitute the major areas of concern and research among Tulane anthropologists:

"Physical anthropology is the study of human biology across space and time. It deals with the fossil evidence of primate (including human) evolution, comparative biology and behavior of living nonhuman primates, population and molecular genetics of humans and other primates, ecological pressures, the effects of disease on ancient and modern populations" and the relationships between biology and culture."

"Archaeology is the study of the physical remains of the cultural behavior of human beings and our hominid ancestors in the past. It comprises a set of techniques for retrieving these remains from under the earth or the sea and a body of theory about the relationship between the remains and past behavior. Such method and theory permit the interpretation of the material recovered archaeologically.

"Linguistics is the study of language across space and time. Historical linguistics attempts to trace linguistic evolution and to reconstruct ancestral language forms. Comparative or structural linguistics attempts formally to describe the basic elements of languages and the rules by which they are ordered into intelligible speech."

"Cultural anthropology includes many different specialized subfields but is primarily concerned with describing the forms of social organization and cultural systems of human groups."

Anthropology at Tulane involves the full gamut of anthropological investigation that is by history and conviction a thoroughly interdisciplinary "discipline", spanning across the traditional divisions of the intellectual realm. Some kinds of cultural anthropology are situated firmly in the humanities, whereas some kinds of physical anthropology are completely within the ranks of experimental biological science. Much of anthropology falls between these extremes, within what is considered social science.

(Quotations from Encyclopedia of Anthropology, 1976)

Subject Resource Guide


The general collection (that is, all materials outside the confines of the scope of the Latin American collection) emphasizes publications relevant to all the major subdisciplines of anthropology, as well as area studies relevant to anthropological concerns in contemporary Asia and Africa and to the prehistoric southern and eastern United States. The general collection in anthropology strives to support the curricular and research needs of undergraduate and graduate students and faculty as described. More specifically:
The Physical Anthropology General Collection: In addition to works on method and theory, there are emphases on forensic anthropology, biological anthropology, human evolution, human and primate adaptation, and variability, skeletal biology, paleoanthropology, paleopathology and human morphology. Primate studies focus on human and primate evolution, observational and research methods with non-human primates, primate behavior, ecology, and biology.

The Archaeology General Collection: In addition to works about method and theory, there are emphases on Old World prehistory, North American prehistory, human origins, geoarchaeology, paleoecology, subsistence studies, settlement studies, zooarchaeology, and ceramic and lithic analyses.

The Anthropological Linguistics Collection: Linguistics study in anthropology focuses on selected areas of linguistics scholarship including historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, structural linguistics, semantics, phonology, morphology, discourse analysis, and psycholinguistics. There is little emphasis on texts addressing single languages generally, but there is interest in African and Native American languages particularly. Texts addressing single languages or research or curricular interests of linguistics faculty outside the Anthropology Department are generally bought with book funds assigned to those departments. Texts more generally addressing anthropological linguistics or topics of more general interest to linguists in a number of departments are purchased with anthropology funds, with consideration of the coordinator of the Linguistics Interdisciplinary Program who resides, currently, in the Anthropology Department.

The General Cultural Anthropology Collection: In addition to works relevant to method and theory, there are emphases on human ecology, ethnobotany, ethnohistory, ethnopsychology, folklore, and cultural dynamics. Ethnologies and ethnographies are collected, with some emphases on African and Asian cultures. However, no culture areas are excluded from the collection; thematic and methodological interests are considered as important as geographic area when choosing titles for inclusion in the collection.


Monographs, monographic series, serials, reference works, conference proceedings, museum publications, departmental publications, and site reports are regularly sought. Media, maps, anthologies, textbooks and dissertations are selectively sought, usually upon faculty recommendation. Collections of previously published material are acquired only if other access is problematic.


To broaden accessibility, journals are sought online when this format is available. Print copies may be cancelled if necessary to reduce costs, but only when ownership of the electronic version in contractually assured. Online access that requires additional costs with a print subscription will be sought selectively. Monographs and other types are usually purchased in traditional print formats but microformats are often acceptable as a substitute, particularly for large collections not otherwise available. Digital files (online or CD) are selectively sought. Audio and video formats are sought upon faculty request.


No languages are excluded. The collection is largely English. English is primarily sought, with substantial attention to publications in French, German, and Spanish.

Chronological Period

Collection subject emphasis dates from the time of emergence of hominid forms, about five million years ago, to the present.

Imprint Date

Out-of-Print materials are sought primarily to replace lost materials considered indispensable to the collection, and upon faculty request.

Geographical Considerations

The study of anthropology assumes and requires global inclusiveness.

Cooperative Resources

The Howard-Tilton Memorial Library has purchased more than 40,000 ebooks, with records loaded into the library catalog and covering a wide range of subjects, through the SOLINET regional library consortium. The library is one of 14 members of a cooperative consortium of southern research libraries called KUDZU, which includes a shared online catalog. Loan requests through this system receive priority processing and expedited two-day delivery. The library is also a member of the cooperative Center for Research Libraries (CRL) in Chicago, through which may borrow a wide range of rare materials for our users. Undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty may borrow materials directly from the main library nearby at Loyola University of New Orleans through a reciprocal agreement. Graduate students and faculty may borrow materials at other New Orleans area academic libraries through the CALL consortium and at other academic libraries throughout the state through the LALINC consortium. Faculty may in many cases secure temporary borrowing library privileges outside the state through OCLC. For more information about cooperative borrowing privileges inquire at the library's Circulation Desk.

Supply Sources

An approval plan supplying books and book notices exists with Yankee Book Peddler (YBP) (North America). Book notification plans are in place with Blackwell Oxford (Britain), Coutts (Canada), Casalini Libri (Italy), Harossowitz (Germany), Puvill (Spain), and Touzot (France). A sizable portion of books for anthropology is firm-ordered. Anthropology materials are notably unusual in the scholarly publishing world for their substantial dependence upon museum and departmental and other small presses not normally represented in vendor-serviced profiles.

Endowed Funds

There are no endowed funds for anthropology purchases.

Selection Tools

University press catalogs, particularly those with significant commitment to anthropological publishing are reviewed regularly. Museum publications from a large variety of sources are consulted, including the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the American Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institution, and the University of Pennsylvania Museums. A guide to Africana publishing, African Ethnography Bibliographic Aids has been compiled by the anthropology bibliographer and lists major publishers and resources in both print and online forms. Catalogs from large publishers or distributors of anthropological materials such as the David Brown Book Company Peter Lang, Routledge, Walter de Gruyter, Coyote Press, Harcourt Brace, Garland and others are also consulted regularly. Most of the standard academic library reviewing resources such as Choice and Publisher's Weekly are also reviewed. Brochures from small presses are vital to the anthropology selection process, but are too numerous to mention here. Individual faculty requests are an important source of notification, particularly for small press items, conference proceedings and the like.

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