Some of them took interest in giving vivid descriptions just out of curiosity.
Thus, a substantial amount of ethnographic material was collected within forty-fifty years. However, it was only when the pioneer anthropologists like Morgan started using this material for comparative analysis that this wealth of information gained some academic respectability. Earliest Cross-cultural Works:It is important to note that the earliest anthropologists of the nineteenth century were ‘arm chair scholars,” they did not go to the field to collect the data themselves. They used to send questionnaire to the administrator or missionary within whose jurisdiction the particular tribe or any other human group under study was living. Obviously, they based their theory on the data collected by others. Among such works are L. H. Morgan’s Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family (1870) and Ancient Society (1877), Sir Henry Maine’s Ancient Law (1861) E.
B. Tylor’s Primitive Culture (1871) and R. R. Merit’s The Threshold of Religion (1909). Importance of Data Collection:The ideal way was the collection of data by the researcher himself (which became the usual practice in anthropology form the first quarter of the twentieth century), the long-term aim of even the earlier anthropologists (who relied upon others for the ethnographic data) was to generate meaningful, scientific “laws” which describe the behaviour of people everywhere. This ultimately, relies on the systematic comparison and analysis of data from a vast number of cultures. Comparative Method in Real Shape:A landmark in comparative method was reached in 1937 when G. P.
Murdock initiated the Cross- Cultural Survey later converted into the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF). The main objective of this project is systematic collection of ethnographic information from all the known human societies for making comparisons. A World Ethnographic Sample has already been compiled, based upon a representative sample of cultures. This sample provides information for cross-cultural study of a large number of anthropological topics.