Use dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks to learn quickly about the state of research on your topic. A good encyclopedia article should describe major themes, current research fronts, and controversial areas; it should also provide a brief bibliography of classic, important, or definitive works on your topic.
These dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks describe cultural groups and topics affecting those groups
These works will identify other works that include ethnographic information about cultural groups. A bibliography will list those works, often with brief annotations, and provide subject access either through indexing or layout. A literature review will discuss other works in a narrative format to describe the development and current state of the literature on the subject.
Franklin Catalog identifies bibliographies through the subject word "bibliographies". Here's a Franklin Catalog search that retrieves bibliographies of ethnographies in the Penn Libraries:
Doctoral dissertations are book-length works of original research. (Some dissertations, typically in economics and demography, are collections of article-length research reports.) Dissertations are particularly useful for several reasons:
Big Data has had a presence in ethnography since the 1950s, with the creation of the Human Relations Area Files.
eHRAF World Cultures and its not-yet-superseded microfiche predecessor Human Relations Area Files (at the Museum Library) provide cultural-attribute indexing for fulltext ethnographies about cultures around the world.
In addition to covering Native American cultures and traditional cultures on other continents, eHRAFincludes a number of US ethnic groups:
|Arab Americans||Basque Americans|
|Chinese Americans||Cuban Americans|
|Italian Americans||Korean Americans|
|North American Armenians||North American Hasidic Jews|
|North American Hmong||Puerto Ricans (Island)|
|Puerto Ricans (Mainland)||Sea Islanders|
eHRAF's Outline of Cultural Materials provides subject terms applied to individual paragraphs. By searching for an OCM term, you can quickly locate very specific information within a culture's ethnographies. By searching across several cultures, you can make quick crosscultural comparisons.
Microcard Publications of Primary Records in Culture and Personality (Van Pelt Microtext Center: Microcard 61) is a microprint collection of more than 60 reports of unprocessed and uninterpreted psychological anthropology materials for non-Western cultural groups, including Rorschach inkblot tests, Thematic Apperception Tests, sentence completion tests, life histories and autobiographies, and dream accounts, produced during 1956-1962. Two leading Penn psychological anthropologists, A Irving Hallowell and Anthony FC Wallace, were important contributors.
Individual titles within Microcard Publications appear in Franklin Catalog. Van Pelt Library's Microtext Center offers equipment to read microcards.
Microcard Publications is the subject of a recent book:• Database of dreams: the lost quest to catalog humanity / Rebecca M Lemov. (Yale Univ Press, 2015)