What's in eHRAF

The documents in eHRAF that are subject-indexed at the paragraph level include books, monographs, journal articles, dissertations and manuscripts. These may include text, graphics, figures, tables, bibliographic references, indexes or appendices.

One way to think of the eHRAF databases is as finely subject-indexed online “collections” of ethnographic and archaeological texts on past and present cultures from major regions around the world. Once HRAF decides on a culture or tradition, chosen from a comprehensive list, we collect documents (e.g. books, journal articles, dissertations, etc.) to be indexed for that particular culture. Oftentimes we work with expert anthropologists or archaeologists to give us advice on which documents to include and index.

The traditions in eHRAF Archaeology are drawn from the Outline of Archaeological Traditions (OAT) compiled by Peter N. Peregrine with the help of a Board of Advisors. The OAT is considered to be a relatively complete list of prehistoric traditions. Included are a random sample of traditions plus complete tradition sequences. The HRAF Collection of Ethnography, begun in 1949 (in paper and microfiche), includes 385 societies chosen from the Outline of World Cultures (Murdock 1983).

eHRAF World Cultures contains both material from the earlier paper/microfiche version of the “Collection of Ethnography” as well as additional cultures. As cultures are chosen for conversion from paper or microfiche to digital format, they are also updated with new material.

Some documents from the microfiche are classic ethnographic works. Depending on the culture and materials found, the “Collection Documents” can include anywhere from a few to 200 documents. There may be entire monographs or articles, or selected chapters or sections from books. The ethnographic and archaeological literatures are now very large and we no longer try to include every document on that culture or tradition. Rather, we aim for comprehensive coverage on cultural and social life on at least two communities or regions, preferably for more than one temporal time period.

Every year, new cultures and documents are added to eHRAF. The result is a wideranging and ever-expanding collection of materials that have been analyzed and indexed at the paragraph level to enable comparative searching across world cultures and regions by keywords, culture names and subjects.

While the documents in eHRAF are mainly comprised of text, the distinctiveness of eHRAF as a research tool is in its meticulously indexed content and powerful search capabilities. The remainder of this guide will walk you through the various aspects of the eHRAF interface, its layout, features and functionality.