Tips for viewing Historical Images

Published: 12 November 2020
Geograph does have lots of historical images, going back to the 1800s! But in general the majority of images were taken since the project began (2005), so finding the older imagery can be a bit tricky.

Nearly all the search methods and functions on Geograph can search by date, to filter out contemporary photos, but the specifics vary. This page attempts to document them.

Quick Search box

In the basic search function, the search box top right of most site pages, you can just put a year as a keyword, e.g. search for [canal 1967], although you may want to be specific [canal year:1967] otherwise it will find mentions of 1967 in the text.

You can also enter a decade like [canal 1960s], note it only works with 0s at end. Again can be specific if need be [canal decade:1960s]

Advanced Search

... accessible via the 'Search' link in the sidebar. Can again enter a year in the keywords box (but not decade this time)
But the most flexibility comes from using the 'Advanced Search' tab. From there, you can enter arbitrary date rages.
Tip: can enter just one end of the range. e.g. enter just an End date, to find images taken before that date.

Image Browser

... accessible via the 'Browser' link in the sidebar. This combines both mapping and search functions, including categorised browsing to quickly filter.

Top left in the 'Special Filters' section is an option to configure a Date Range search. Also offers quick setup of things like last 30 days, but can change the exact dates used once you've added the filter.

Alternatively can quickly filter by year using the 'Taken Years' attribute sidebar (on the left). Once you've drilled into a year, can further drill down by month, and even day. The available options automatically adapt the currently searched query.

The browser also has a few other options that are good for displaying images by date...

Map Mode

Can change to map mode to view plotted on interactive zoom-able map. The blue coverage layer is filtered by the keywords/date selections etc used.

Date Slider Mode

In this mode, it shows just a small number of images taken closest to a selected date. Drag the slider to quickly update the displayed photos and quickly explore the images available.


This advanced mode allows you to quickly get a overview of images over a wide range. It usually defaults to a Decade breakdown when first selected, but can change the options to breakdown in other ways.
... click a decade/year(etc) in a header to view all the images in that range.

Perhaps best illustrated by a demo: Images pre-2000 grouped by decade.

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright November 2020, Barry Hunter; licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.
With contributions by Penny Mayes. (details)
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