Collection Selector

General Purpose of the Collection

The collection consists of monographs, reference and bibliographic works, holdings of major periodicals, and the Human Relations Area Files database and microfiche set. Anthropological literature collected includes ethnographies, works on human origins, biological anthropology, anthropological theory, and the history of the discipline, as well as biographical material. The collection supports the faculty research interests and the undergraduate and graduate curriculum needs of the Anthropology Department in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The collection also supports, in part, the African American Studies program, the American and New England Studies program, the East Asian Interdisciplinary Studies program, the Muslim Studies program, the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies program, the Gastronomy program at Metropolitan College, and the Practical Theology PhD program in the School of Theology. In addition, the collection supports the broad, general and interdisciplinary interests of the Boston University community in terms of the study of human evolution and human cultures.

The Anthropology Department offers a BA in Anthropology, a minor in Medical Anthropology, a BA with a joint concentration in Anthropology and Religion, an MA in Applied Anthropology, and a PhD in Anthropology with a primary emphasis in sociocultural anthropology, biological anthropology, or anthropological archaeology. Major foci of research and instruction in sociocultural anthropology include religion, law and politics, ethnicity, gender, history and anthropology, problems of social change and economic development, culture and the environment, cognition and culture, and medical/psychological anthropology; the faculty has greatest strengths in the study of the Islamic world, East and Southeast Asia, and Africa. Major foci in biological anthropology feature the study of living and fossil human and non-human primates, including their evolutionary morphology, behavior, genomics, and sensory adaptations.  Major foci in anthropological archaeology include human-environment interactions, urbanism, households, and material culture viewed in deep historical perspective; primary regions of study include Mesoamerica, North America, and the Mediterranean. The Anthropology Department has working relationships with the African Studies Center; the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies; the Boston University Center for the Study of Asia; the Boston University Center for the Study of Europe; the  Archaeology Program; the Department of International Relations; the Division of Religious and Theological Studies; the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies; the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies; the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations; the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs; the Kilachand Honors College; the School of Public Health; and the Social Science and Religion Network at Boston University.

Scope of Coverage

Languages collected (primary and selective) or excluded:
Works are acquired primarily in English. Works in other languages are occasionally selected.
Geographical areas covered by the collections in terms of intellectual content, publication sources, or both, and specific areas excluded, as appropriate:
Works are collected for all parts of the world with the exception of Africa, which is collected by the African Studies selectors. The main emphasis of the collection, however, reflects the work of Western scholars and publications of North American and European publishers.
Chronological periods covered by the collection in terms of intellectual content, movements or schools, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate:
There are no restrictions with respect to intellectual content, movements, or schools. The library’s collection reflects trends in the history of the discipline.
Chronological periods collected in terms of publication dates, and specific periods excluded, as appropriate:
The emphasis of the collection is on current publications; historical publications are acquired very selectively.

General Subject Boundaries and Library Locations

The subject scope of the Anthropology collection is primarily determined by the following call number ranges.


  • DA-DX : Europe, Asia, Oceania (Ethnography, Social Life and Customs)
  • E 51-99 : Pre-Columbian America; Indians of North America
  • F 1201-3799 : Latin America (Ethnography, Social Life and Customs)
  • GF : Human Ecology, Anthropogeography
  • GN 1-673 : Anthropology
  • GR : Folklore
  • GT : Manners and Customs
  • Z 1201-4980 : National Bibliography
  • Z 5111-5118 : Anthropology Bibliography
  • Z 5981-5985 : Folklore Bibliography
  • Z 7161-7166 : Social Sciences Bibliography
  • Z 8001-8999 : Personal Bibliography

Collected selectively:

  • BL 256 : Anthropology of Religion
  • GV : Recreation, Leisure (Social Aspects)
  • HC-HD : Economic Anthropology; Anthropology of Work
  • P35 : Anthropological Linguistics
  • PM : American Languages
  • QL 737.P9 : Primates
  • RA 418 : Social Medicine, Medical Anthropology

All items in these subjects are housed in or are available through Mugar Memorial Library. Most works on business anthropology and the anthropology of work (HD) are housed in the Pardee Management Library.

Related subjects and Interdisciplinary Relationships

African Studies
Works pertaining to African biological anthropology, archaeology, costume, ethnography, ethnic groups, folklore, and languages are acquired by the African Studies selector.
Works on prehistoric archaeology (GN 700-890) are acquired by the Archaeology Selector. Works on the prehistory of native North America (E 51-E 78) are selectively acquired by the Anthropology Selector. Works on America – antiquities (E 61), the Mayas (F 1435) and prehistoric cultures elsewhere in the world (with the exception of Africa, noted above) are acquired by the Archaeology Selector.
Works on biological anthropology, human and primate evolution, and physical anthropology are selectively acquired by the Anthropology Selector.
The Anthropology Selector selectively acquires materials on economic anthropology.
Works pertaining to the history of native American education (E 97, E 99) are very selectively acquired by the Anthropology Selector. The Anthropology Selector, in consultation with the Education Selector, selectively acquires materials on the anthropological aspects of sports and leisure (GV).
Health Sciences
The Anthropology Selector selectively acquires materials on medical anthropology and social medicine.
The Anthropology Selector acquires anthropological works on ethnic groups throughout the world (DA -DX, E, F), with the exception of African cultures. The Anthropology Selector collects material on native American culture and history except for the history of the contacts and relationships between native and European peoples, which is acquired by the History Selector.
The Anthropology and Hospitality selectors may consult on materials specific to eating and drinking customs in the GT 2400-3390.5 range.
Materials on anthropological linguistics (P 35) and the languages of the Americas (PM) are very selectively acquired by the Anthropology Selector.
Materials on the anthropology of work and ethnographic studies of industries and workers are selectively acquired by the Anthropology Selector.
The Anthropology and Music selectors consult with regard to publications relating to the support of ethnomusicology and other works on musical life in society.
The Anthropology Selector selectively acquires materials on the anthropology of religion. The Religion selector selectively acquires works on North American aboriginal religions and native North American religions (E 59-98), native Mexican religions (F 1219.3 R38), native Central American religions (F 1434.2 R3), native West Indian religions (F 1619.3 R3), and native South American religions (F 2230.1 R3).
The Anthropology Selector is primarily responsible for Manners and Customs (GT); Theatre collects very selectively in Costume, Dress, and Fashion (GT 500-2370).

Types of Materials

Books, periodicals, and reference materials, including atlases, dictionaries and encyclopedias, handbooks, and bibliographies.
Collected Selectively
Electronic resources, proceedings, microforms, government publications, and dissertations and theses.
Not Collected
Newspapers, popular works, textbooks, juvenile literature, and maps.

Other On-Campus or Local Resources

The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, located in Mugar Memorial Library, has an Islamic Book Collection. This research and teaching collection covers Turkic studies, Islamic studies, and Iranian civilization, including neighboring areas of Central Asia and the Caucasus. The collections are in Arabic, Iranian, and Turkic, with some materials in Russian, German, and the languages of the Caucasus.