eHRAF databases rated “highly recommended” by Choice magazine

Full-text reviews: eHRAF World Cultures; eHRAF Archaeology.


HRAF’s cross-cultural databases – eHRAF Archaeology and eHRAF World Cultures – have each been reviewed as “highly recommended” for undergraduates, researchers, faculty and professionals/practitioners in the October 2015 issue of Choice magazine.

“This electronic version of the HRAF project, associated with Yale since 1949, demonstrates the access potential of the Internet”, commented R. B. Ridinger of Northern Illinois University in Choice’s previous review of eHRAF back in 2003. We are thrilled to report that this month’s two Choice reviews continue to acknowledge the value of eHRAF in living up to that potential, and the ongoing effort put in over the years to expand our collections, databases and search applications.

Both reviews – one for eHRAF World Cultures and one for eHRAF Archaeology – contain a concise overview of eHRAF’s design, functionality and the respective database’s most useful features. With Choice magazine revisiting eHRAF after some years, the reviewers were able to draw attention to the expansion of the data collections and other improvements over recent years as well as note differences between HRAF’s current online databases and their earlier versions.

Welcome changes

Our small but dedicated team of developers and analysts at HRAF has been working steadily to improve the appearance and navigation of the databases as well as the document collections within them.

In the eHRAF databases one can refine culture and region results by subsistence and sample types

Menu for refining search results by subsistence and sample types in eHRAF

These efforts are reflected in R. B. Ridinger’s updated 2015 review, where the author points out a “number of welcome changes in content and interface design”. Ridinger continues: “search capabilities ave become more flexible too […] subsistence-type and sample-type searches (probability and simple random samples) have also been added”.

Also welcome has been the addition of 250,000 new pages of content in eHRAF World Cultures (then 350,000 analyzed and indexed pages to today’s 600,000) and more cultures covered since the last review. Similar expansions were noted for eHRAF Archaeology. Reviewer K. Cleland Sipfle, of Southern Oregon University, mentions that since the last Choice review, “the number of traditions has grown from 23 to 90, with more to be added” and highlights our recent interface improvements including the “generation of bibliographic citations in MLA, APA, Chicago, or Harvard formats and permalinks that will work at subscribing institutions. EndNote and other reference-management software tools are supported.”

Considering the database’s browse and search functions, indexing system, and auxiliary help materials, Sipfle concludes that “eHRAF Archaeology is very well designed for its intended purpose, namely comparative studies based on authoritative research in a representative sample of archaeological cultures worldwide”.

She also advises new users “to explore the helpful online tutorials and videos, taking advantage of the powerful Advanced Search to select specific traditions and subjects with the option to add keywords”. Recently subscribed and returning visitors alike can take a look at our improved user guides on the redesigned HRAF homepage ( for in-depth tutorials and search tips.

The best way to learn for yourself why eHRAF is “highly recommended” by Choice is to have a look inside. Get started by reading about eHRAF on our homepage and don’t forget to check out our latest blog posts for interesting cross-cultural examples supported with ethnographic or archaeological snippets from the database(s). Ready to start searching? Check to see if your institution is a member, or contact us at for free trial access.

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About Choice Reviews

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, published by the Association of College and Research Libraries, is the premier source for reviews of academic books and digital resources of interest to scholars and students in higher education. Choice reviews are timely, authoritative, concise and easy to use, covering over 50 subdisciplines spanning the humanities, science and technology, and the social and behavioral sciences (source).


REFERENCE – Social & Behavioral Sciences: eHRAF World Cultures Choice October 2015 53:53-0580; doi:10.5860/CHOICE.191356

REFERENCE – Social & Behavioral Sciences: eHRAF Archaeology Choice October 2015 53:53-0579; doi:10.5860/CHOICE.191348

REFERENCE – Social & Behavioral Sciences: eHRAF Collections of Ethnography/Archaeology Choice December 2003 41:41-1926; doi:10.5860/CHOICE.41-1926