McGraw Hall

About Us

Cornell’s Department of Anthropology is one of the most respected programs in the world with a long tradition of innovation and a legacy of leadership in the discipline. The work of its faculty traces the human career from the emergence of the species to the contemporary global moment.

Historically, the department has drawn together anthropological traditions of ethnographic and archaeological analysis to forge investigations deeply committed to collaboration and engagement. Today, our faculty conduct ethnographic and archaeological as well as biological research that brings hard-won fieldwork to the development of cutting edge social and cultural theories.

Our students and faculty work around the globe: from Ithaca, India and Indonesia to the Caribbean and Central America; from Japan, Africa and Nepal to China and the Caucasus; and from the circumpolar North to the Global South.

Perhaps our most unique resource is the Anthropology Collections, housed in McGraw Hall and used in a range of courses.  The Collections include over 20,000 ethnographic and archaeological objects whose origins span the globe and represent over 500,000 years of human history.


necklace from Anthropology Collections


The Anthropology Collections include approximately 20,000 items representing human activity around the world from the Lower Paleolithic to the present. Archaeological and ethnographic materials are about equally represented.

Located in 150 McGraw Hall, part of the original University Museum, the Collections are primarily a teaching and research tool and are not open to the public but can be visited by appointment by individuals and groups. Classes of up to 20 students can easily arrange sessions in the Collections to work with particular materials; many items can be signed out by faculty for use in their classes when a full visit to the Collections is not warranted.  Click here for more information on the Anthropology Collections.


Kurt Jordan working in a field setting

A long tradition of research and learning

The Cornell Department of Anthropology, as a separate entity, was formed in 1962. However, anthropology has been practiced at Cornell nearly from the founding of the university. 

The department history page details our rich past, including the first century, the Cornell totem pole and the cross-cultural methodology project.