Finding Ethnographies in the Library

What is an Ethnography?

An ethnography is a first-hand descriptive work of a particular culture or ethnic group based on the immersion and participation of the anthropologist in the culture and daily life of the people who are the subject of study. 

Where is the Section on Ethnography in the Library?

Because 'ethnography' is not a Library of Congress Subject Heading, UCR library does not have a physical section devoted to ethnographies. They are most likely scattered around the library depending on the geographical regions of the ethnic groups.

Identify an Ethnic Group for Your Research

Before starting your search you might first identify a particular ethnic group to study. Several encyclopedias in our reference collection provide overviews on ethnic group worldwide.  They are good starting point if you are having a hard time selecting an ethnic group for your research.

Searching Ethnographies in Scotty 

Finding ethnographies can be tricky and may require patience and persistence. There are several ways to search enthnographies.   

Subject Search



Subject search is an effective way for finding ethnographies because most ethnic groups have an assigned subject heading.


Start the your search by entering the ethnic group you would like to search

For example: Yoruba



 Ethnographies usually fall under the subheading of Social Life and Customs.  Click on Yoruba African People Social Life and Customs to see titles under this subheadingHowever, it is important to note that not all titles under this subheading are ethnographies. It might require getting the books physically to futher check if the work is indeed a first-hand descriptive work based on the immersion and participation of the anthropologist in the culture and daily life of the people who are the subject of study.      


Also, Some of the ethnographies might focus on narrower topic rather than the general "social life and customs." Check titles under subheading such as Kinship, ReligionRites and Ceremonies etc.  Again, you might need to locate  the book physically in order to indentify whether it fits the criteria of ethnography.



Title Search


UCR Library has over 100 ethnographies in Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology series.  To find titles in this series, perform a title search by entering "Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology."



Keyword Search


Keyword search can be tricky in finding ethnographies.  Most ethnographies simply do not have the word "ethnography" in their titles or subject fields, and doing a simple keyword search on a particular ethnic group along could result in retrieving records merely mention this particular group. 

Combine the particular ethnic group/culture with other search terms will help you to narrow your search. 

For examples

  • yoruba and social life and customs
  • yoruba and ethno* (search for ethnography, ethnographic, ethnology etc.)
  • yoruba and religi* (search for religion, religious etc.)
  • yoruba and rit* (search for rituals, rites etc.)


Searching Enthnographies in Article Databases

When ethnographies tend to be lengthy they are sometimes published as article.  To find enthographies in article databases, search, perform searches in Anthropology Plus and AnthroSource using the same strategies as if you were doing search in Scotty. 

Last modified: 1/20/2008 9:05 PM by by J. Lee