Browse Cultures

eHRAF contains ethnographic documents from a sample of the world’s cultures. You can browse the list of the cultures covered in eHRAF World Cultures by clicking on the Browse Cultures tab at the top of the eHRAF interface, or by expanding the sidebar menu by clicking on the menu hamburger button in the top left and then clicking the Cultures button in the sidebar. The Browse Cultures page displays a list of all culture collections currently in eHRAF.


Everywhere in eHRAF World Cultures, culture names are followed by a short alphanumeric identifier. This is from the Outline of World Cultures.

How to Browse Cultures

At the top of the page, you will find a search bar. Use the Search Culture Index bar to filter the list of cultures. Begin typing a culture name into the box to see suggested culture names.

Use the controls at the top right of the culture list to sort, filter, or change the way the culture list appears on the screen.


Click the Show Filters button to open the filters sidebar on the left. There are three filter types you can select from: Regions, Subsistence Types, and Samples. Each filter has a number next to it showing how many cultures will appear with that filter. This number will change if you have performed a search or have already selected other filters. Note that every world region has more specific subregions within that region you can also select from.

Learn More

Visit Subsistence Types and Sampling to learn more about these types of filters.

Use Fors

Many cultures are known by more than one name or ethnonym. For example, the Crow people’s endonym is Absahrokee, and HRAF’s preferred name is Crow. By default, eHRAF only shows the preferred names for each culture. Click the Use Fors toggle to show the non-preferred names in addition to the preferred names. Note how the non-preferred names have additional text below the culture name: this is the preferred name for the culture. For example, Absahrokee has Use - Crow to show that Crow is the preferred name. If you click on a non-preferred name, it will open an overview box that uses the preferred name.

This functions similarly to a paper index, where one might look up Absahrokee and find the text see Crow which directs to the preferred term. This is why this functionality is called Use For, because it tells the reader to use Crow for Absahrokee. The Library of Congress also uses the terminology Use For when constructing Library of Congress Subject Headings. For both the Library of Congress and eHRAF, Use For references are terms that are synonymous or equivalent that users might search for rather than the preferred term. The Use For reference directs users to the proper term.


When Use Fors is turned on, the numbers next to the filters will increase, even though the same number of cultures appear in the result list. This is because cultures that have non-preferred names will appear in the results multiple times, as both the preferred name and the non-preferred name(s). For a more accurate count in the filters list, turn off Use Fors.

View As

There are two possible ways to view the culture list: list view or card view. List view is the default. The View As button allows you to switch between these two views. Both views display the same amount of information, so feel free to select the view that suits your needs.


You can sort the list of cultures alphabetically (written as A-Z in the interface), by region alphabetically, and by relevance to the search query. Relevance is the default, but if no search query is entered, all cultures will be listed alphabetically. You can also select whether to sort Ascending or Descending.

If you sort cultures alphabetically, you can click Browse By on the top left above the list. This will open a dropdown of each letter of the alphabet. Select a letter to only see cultures that start with that letter.

Culture Overview

Click on a culture name to expand a brief overview. Beneath the culture name and OWC, you can find the region and subregion where the culture is located. Next is a brief description of the culture. In the bottom left, there is a count of how many documents have been indexed on this culture. On the bottom right, you will find the subsistence type for the selected culture. Click on Full Profile to access the full Culture Profile.

Culture Profile

There are three components to every culture profile: a Description, Culture Summary, and Collection Documents.


All cultures collections in eHRAF contain a full culture profile. On this page, you can find a description as well as additional metadata supplied by HRAF. This includes culture location information, external links to coded data (provided by D-Place), as well as Indexing Notes and a Collection Overview from HRAF analysts. Collection Indexing Notes detail any relevant information about how HRAF’s anthropologists indexed the subject content inside the documents, such as how local cultural categories or terminologies were interpreted for analysis and subject indexing.


A Culture Summary is a brief overview of a culture. Almost all cultures in eHRAF World Cultures contain a summary.

Most of the summaries from eHRAF World Cultures were adapted from the Encyclopedia of World Cultures (1991-1996) that HRAF produced with G. K. Hall & Company (now Cengage). Other summaries appeared in the subsequent supplement. The format, outline and headings are the same for each summary. You will find a basic overview about the culture, such as its economy, history, environment and sociopolitical organization. Culture summaries are indexed for subjects and they are also searchable and browsable, which means that they will appear in search results in eHRAF (as well as in the Culture Profile in Browse Cultures).


The Collection Documents submenu of the Culture Profile lists all ethnographic documents contained in eHRAF for a given culture.

Collection Documents can be sorted by author’s last name, document title or publication date by clicking on the column headers. Clicking on the document title in this list will bring you to the Publication Information page for the document.