About the eHRAF Databases
We offer HTML, PDF and Excel versions of our coverage information on our Reference Materials page.
There is a link at the foot of every page in eHRAF World Cultures and eHRAF Archaeology to our up-to-date ADA/Web Accessibility compliance information.
The following is a direct link to this information: http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/ehrafe/accessibility.do (Please note that this link requires an active eHRAF session be already open. Otherwise, you may need to click the link twice to load the page).
As of October 2017:
eHRAF World Cultures
~1.9 million indexed paragraphs
~.4 million indexed paragraphs
As of 2020, eHRAF has 330 cultures included, which is well below the thousands of cultures that exist in the world. HRAF’s mission is to facilitate cross-cultural research with as much in-depth cultural coverage as we can provide for each culture rather than to have complete coverage of all the cultures of the world.
Adding cultures to eHRAF is labor-intensive. Before an ethnographic document can be added to the database, it is processed by our research analysts who index each and every paragraph to enable meaningful searching using subject codes. Our small, non-profit team is largely supported by membership dues. While we continue to add additional pages of ethnography every year (see “How often are the databases updated?“), we cannot possibly process as many cultures as people might like.
That said, if you have a particular culture you want to see in eHRAF, please write to us and let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org). Your suggestions may help us decide what to include in the future.
At this time, we do not have a system for providing updates of HRAF’s Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM) thesaurus to external users. However, we are actively pursuing creating such a system which should include distribution of an ISO-25964 version and additional services. Based on similar recent requests, our team has already assigned higher priority to this goal. The same situation applies to our Outline of World Cultures (OWC) thesaurus.
We attempt to include as much information as we can about each culture, keeping in mind that the aim of our database is to compare and contrast cultural and social life. Since the emphasis is on comparison, it is not possible to include everything about every culture.
How much of the total ethnographic literature on a culture that we include is difficult to answer because the situation has changed over time. At the outset, the plan was to have a complete list of the world’s cultures – the Outline of World Cultures) which has about 2,000 described cultures – and include in the HRAF Collection of Ethnography (then available on paper) about ¼ of the world’s cultures. The available literature was much smaller then, so the million or so pages collected could have been about ¼ of the existing literature at that time. Since then, the number of described cultures has grown as well as the body of literature, and our aims have changed somewhat. We know we cannot include everything available about each culture, so we aim to include at least two comprehensive “ethnographic snapshots” (each of a particular time and place focus) based on extensive observation and interviewing. We supplement these larger ethnographic works with more specialized articles and/or chapters.
HRAF collections are expanded and updated annually, with new cultures added to eHRAF World Cultures and new traditions added to eHRAF Archaeology typically in the spring. You can see recent and forthcoming additions to each database on the following pages:
HRAF collections are expanded and updated annually, with new cultures added to eHRAF World Cultures and new traditions added to eHRAF Archaeology typically in the spring.
eHRAF World Cultures
Currently, we add 10-20 cultures annually with approximately 20,000 pages. About 25% is new ethnographic material and the remaining material is converted from the microfiche collection. See Culture Updates for recently added and forthcoming cultures.
Currently, we add five archaeological traditions annually with approximately 10,000 pages. The focus is on archaeological tradition sequences. Some randomly selected traditions are also added from the Outline of Archaeological Traditions. See Tradition Updates for recently added and forthcoming traditions.
Currently, GIS data is not available in eHRAF. Although latitude and longitude coordinates are not yet available as coded data, location information can be found in eHRAF by searching using the OCM code for Location (OCM 131). Note that some cultures are widely dispersed geographically.