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Data on a large set of workplace ethnographies published from 1940 to 2002, compiled by Randy Hodson, are analyzed to show the trends over time in the production of such ethnographic work, its shifting disciplinary base, the relevance of the personal backgrounds of its authors, the contributions made by academic amateurs, the changing roles of gender and political stances, and the nature of different routes to publication. The definition of what counts as an ethnography is important to the character of the set available and has implications for its potential uses in secondary analysis. It is found that both personal and disciplinary identities and wider social factors have played roles in the production of ethnographic work that need to be understood to account for its history, though it is to be expected that the forms these take will differ for work in different subfields.