Home>Search Tips> Date Searching

Appalachian State University Historical Photographs

search the collection

Enter a search term or phrase.

Contact Information

For questions about the ASU Historical Photographs, please contact Pam Mitchem.


Phone: 828.262.7422


Searching The Collection: Date Searching

Prominent Issues:

While searching by date is available, it is not recommended. Images marking an event that occured on a known day or year, such as the student forum on the Kent State shootings and Vietnam, are easily located using the CONTENTdm date search in the Advanced Options field, but only if the exact date is known. The user is far more likely to retrieve the images searching for "Kent State" or "Vietnam." And even when the date of an event is known, there is the chance the images may not have been identified as part of that event or may have been misdated.

This is because not all the available dates are accurate. Not all images in the database have known or verifiable dates, and some have been date-stamped by the News Bureau for the date of the photograph was developed rather than the date the photograph was taken. Sometimes the photographs were reproduced and then dated the day the reproduction was made, making the available date months or years off, and can result in a dated image not being retrieved.

There are many reasons image dates are simply unknown: the photographer did not write the date on the photograph or the image’s subject matter is too vague to locate in available historical sources. Also, in 1966 the Administration Building burned, taking with it the files for the campus yearbook the Rhododendron, the student newspaper The Appalachian, and many of the University’s administrative files. This eliminated many records of events before December 1966. As such, unless an image’s subject can be dated, either through newspapers, yearbooks, or available records, the date has simply been omitted. The description field for most of these images includes references to the likely decade, using terms such as "1950s," "mid-1960s," or "late 1960s." Because this is often hard to anticipate, the collection includes the ability to search by decade.

Keyword Searching by Date:

Keyword searching by date will retrieve any string of numbers matching the numbers entered into the search box. "1990" will retrieve any image file including that date, and will not necessarily be referencing the date itself. It will retrieve image number 1990, images dated 1990, and images relating to former Vice Chancellor Ned Trivette, who retired in 1990.

The Date Range field is included to provide searching by decade, so if someone is looking for an image in the 1950s, they can search by "1950-1959" and all images in that date range will be retrieved. Decades available span from 1880 to 1999, and are organized in ten year increments.

    • 1880-1889
    • 1890-1899
    • 1900-1909
    • 1910-1919
    • 1920-1929
    • 1930-1939
    • 1940-1949
    • 1950-1959
    • 1960-1969
    • 1970-1979
    • 1980-1989
    • 1990-1999

CONTENTdm also provides a date search feature in the Advanced Search Options, allowing one to search within specific date ranges or by full dates. However, because the bulk of images do not have any certain associated dates, this feature will not search and retrieve undated images.

In addition, the search feature requires the specific date to be entered into the search box as it exists in the database, otherwise it will not retrieve the image files. If an image has the full date December 29, 1966, searching only using December 1966 will not find the images. For this reason dates are also entered into the description field and the years are often in the title when they are known.




Project made possible by North Carolina: Preserving Cultural Heritage Online (NCECHO) through funds from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS).