Microfiche vs. Online Cultures

The HRAF Collection of Ethnography, which began to be built in 1949 in paper (converted to microfiche in the late 1950s), currently contains nearly one million pages of information on more than 350 cultures of the world, past and present. Each culture file contains a variety of source documents (books, articles, and manuscripts) that have been indexed and organized according to HRAF’s comprehensive culture and subject classification systems: The Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM) and the Outline of World Cultures (OWC).

Most microfiche contain about 240 file pages on each fiche. In addition to the file pages, most fiche also contain eye-readable flashers which indicate where new subject categories begin. Each microfiche also has a header strip that includes the name of the culture, its OWC code, the subject category codes for the subjects covered on the fiche, and the fiche serial number. The entire microfiche collection consists of 23,381 fiche, covering approximately 350 cultures.

From the 1950s until 1993, the annual installments of the HRAF Collection of Ethnography were distributed on microfiche. In 1993, with installment 42, microfiche production ended. Materials since 1994 (as well as retrospective conversions and updates of existing materials) are available in electronic form only.

Microfiche Versus Online Format

It is important to note that the cultures in the microfiche and electronic versions of the HRAF Collection of Ethnography are not covered in the same ways; the online version (eHRAF World Cultures) includes more recent documents materials and not all the older documents are retained. Although HRAF is planning to include all the “anthropological cultures” online, we usually have a truncated version in the eHRAF World Cultures database.

The Complete Collection list (in PDF or Excel format) provides a list of culture names, page and document counts for the online eHRAF World Cultures database and the microfiche format (HRAF Collection of Ethnography). This list may be of interest to those member institutions wishing to compare the two formats. Contact HRAF to find out whether your academic institution has the microfiche format.

HRAF Ethnography Complete Collection 201302 (Excel Format)

HRAF Ethnography Complete Collection20130219 (PDF Format)


Nature and Use of the HRAF Files: A Research and Teaching Guide

This guide, downloadable in PDF format, was published in 1974 and was used to explain the nature and structure of the HRAF microfiche files.  Although the guide focuses on the HRAF microfiche files it provides relevant information in understanding the nature of the current format — the online eHRAF World Cultures database.

Topics in Nature and Use of the HRAF Files: A Research and Teaching Guide (49 MB; 49 Pages) include:
Part I.  The Nature of the HRAF Files: An Overview
Part II. Study and Research Applications of the HRAF Files
Part III. Teaching Applications of the HRAF Files
Part IV. How to Use the HRAF Files: Principles and Techniques
Part V. Organization of the HRAF Files
Part VI. Toward A  Comprehensive, Cultural Information System

Sample Page for HRAF Paper and Microfiche Files (2 MB; 2 Pages)

Microfiche Fees

The Associate Member dues for fiche (a minimum of 50 fiche) are $11.40 US per fiche in silver halide. (Pricing subject to change without notice.)

  • 30% discount for 12,000 or more fiche.
  • 15% discount for 6000-11,999 fiche.
  • 10% discount for the whole Probability Sample Files (about 4400 fiche).

HRAF’s Collection of Ethnography on microfiche is available solely from:

UMI/ProQuest Information and Learning
300 North Zeeb Road, P.O. Box 1346
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106-1346

Tel: 734-761-4700 or 1-800-521-0600
Fax: 734-975-6271
Web: www.il.proquest.com


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