Anthropology Research Guide

The Smithsonian Libraries and Archives' Anthropology Research Guide is a select list of resources for students, teachers, and researchers to learn about different aspects of Anthropology. 

Smithsonian Resources

  • Department of Anthropology: The department website offers an overall description of staff, programs, research, collections, publications, and facilities. It also includes opportunities for volunteering, internships, fellowships, and visiting researchers. See the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) for graduate students.
  • Staff Video Interviews:
  • What Does it Mean to be Human? Visit the Human Origins Program website for a virtual tour of the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins exhibit. Learn about the latest research in “What is Hot in Human Origins” and the Human Origins Program’s archaeological research projects in Africa, Indonesia and China. The website provides an overview of the evidence for human evolution, including a 3D collection of fossils  and the characteristics that make us human. A link to the Understanding Evolution website provides lesson plans for teaching.
  • Arctic Studies Center: The Arctic Studies Center, with offices in both Washington, DC, and Anchorage, Alaska, collaborates with Native peoples and Arctic residents to study the history, cultures, biota, and ecosystems throughout the circumpolar region. Research projects address global change and human-environmental interactions, origins and relationships of Arctic cultures, European-Native contacts, heritage preservation, and community archaeology. View online exhibitions, the Arctic Studies Newsletter, and the Magnetic North blog to learn about traditional knowledge, current research being conducted and issues of concern today. 
  • Repatriation Office: Staff in this Office communicates and collaborates with representatives of Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians to determine the disposition of cultural objects and human remains in the Smithsonian's collections, as required by federal law.  Learn about the steps in the repatriation process, the collections involved and read summaries of the repatriation reports.
  • AnthroNotes: The award-winning publication of the Smithsonian’s Department of Anthropology, was published from 1979-2012 to present archaeological and anthropological research to educators and the public in an engaging and accessible style. This Digital Repository makes available pdfs of all 84 issues. A selection of these articles was published in the volume Anthropology Explored: The Best of Smithsonian AnthroNotes (Edited by Ruth O. Selig, Marilyn R. London, and P. Ann Kaupp; Illustrations by Robert L. Humphrey).  An Instructor's Guide accompanies the book.
  • Handbook of North American Indians: The Handbook is a multi-volume encyclopedia of the indigenous people of the Americas north of Mexico. This site provides a list of volumes published with chapter titles, brief descriptions of content, and publication dates, editors' names, and ISBN numbers.
  • Other Smithsonian Anthropology Publications: The publications of the Bureau of American Ethnology (1879-1965) are available online via the website of the Biodiversity Heritage Library. The series, Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology  (1965-present), is also available online.
  • Ives Goddard's Home Page: An example of a researcher's homepage is that of anthropological linguist Ives Goddard, a specialist in Algonquian languages. His page provides online access to several of his articles on Native American languages and linguistics. Among these articles are "I am a Red-Skin: The Adoption of a Native American Expression (1769-1826),"  "The Identity of Red Thunder Cloud" and "Endangered Knowledge: What can We Learn from Native American Languages."  The site also includes a link to text from "A Meskwaki Winter Story," a video presentation of his translation of a Meskwaki folktale traditionally told in winter. The story is called "The Married Couple: the Man Whose Wife Was Wooed by a Bear."
  • Recovering Voices Program: The Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices Program strives to collaborate with communities and other institutions to address issues of indigenous languages, including documentation, revitalization and sustainability. The program seeks to understand the dynamics of intergenerational knowledge transfer and to support existing community initiatives focusing on language and knowledge sustainability. 
  • Accessing Anthropology: Highlights from the Collections and Archives Program (CAP): An overview of the collections, which document world cultures, the history of anthropology and its four sub-fields– ethnology, linguistics, archaeology, and physical anthropology – is presented. 
  • African Voices: This exhibition examines Africa's people and cultures over time. Sections include global problems, local solutions, the economy, family and community,  reverence and rememberance, and history. 
  • Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th-Century Chesapeake is an example of an Anthropology Department online exhibit. It is based on anthropological investigations conducted by Smithsonian staff and other researchers to introduce viewers to daily life, material culture and perspectives of indigenous cultures, mainly from North and South America and Africa. It examines the lives of colonists in Jamestown, Virginia, through 17th-century bone biographies.
  • Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage: The Folklife Center provides images and text from its recent events and exhibitions, including the Festival of American Folklife and a description of the holdings of the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections with searchable catalogs and digital downloads of Smithsonian Folkways recordings.

General Anthropology Resources



  • Languages of the Americas: Through its homepage, the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA) gives access to a number of sources relating to American Indian languages.
  • Open Language Archive Community: The website is a partnership of institutions and individuals who are creating a worldwide virtual library of language resources.
  • SIL International: The website of this organization, formerly known as the Summer Institute of Linguistics, gives information about its publications, software packages and workshops, as well as links to electronic texts such as the 21st edition of Ethnologue (2018), a catalog of the world's languages. Ethnologue provides classifications, lists, and geographic distributions of the world's languages. The Internet version includes clickable maps, language name and language family indexes, and a bibliography. It is fully searchable by language, region, country or general keyword.
  • Yamada Language Center: Produced by the University of Oregon's Service and Technology Center for language teaching and learning, this site offers links to numerous languages.

Physical Anthropology

  • Biological Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association: Provides an extensive collection of links to information about conferences and workshops. See tab titled resources for teaching resources, blog lists, related organizations, and job search information.
  • e-Skeletons Project: The virtual images offered by this website enable one to view and compare bones of human, baboon, and gorilla skeletons. The Project also provides an online glossary of descriptive anatomical terms.
  • Institute of Human Origins (IHO): The webpage of the Institute located at Arizona State University provides information about the research and educational activities of its staff, world tours and some related websites. It also features a discussion of the famous early hominid Lucy.
  • Forensic Anthropology: Forensic anthropology is a special sub-field of physical anthropology (the study of human remains) that involves applying skeletal analysis and techniques in archaeology to solving criminal cases. 

Social/Cultural Anthropology

  • Directory of Anthropological Archives: Alphabetical list of archives worldwide, provided by Council for the Preservation of Anthropological Records.
  • Memorica: Open Access repository that provides access to digital archives and materials about cultural history and memory in Mexico.
  • Penn Museum Archival Films: Collection of free-to-watch films from the Penn Museum archives, each of which contains a large amount of ethnographic material.

Last Updated January 16, 2024