7 Historical Websites That Let Us Go Back & Take Another Peek At History

Saikat Basu 02-01-2010

AncientlibraryalexAnother calendar gets consigned to the trashcan. 365 days of memories and events from here on will gather dust either in minds or in our journals. But history is enriched by what that passes. And sometimes in our present, we too are tempted to look back at what has passed and relive the moments. It is these collective experiences that offers us a chance to imbibe and learn.


The internet speeds forward with the speed of thought, but it is the same internet that also archives what has passed. Information is never dated in the true sense and isn’t the internet all about capturing those bits of data and presenting them as bytes?

This post attempts to cover seven such historical sites that are made around timelines. Timelines which take us back into history and show what happened at some point in time. These sites are not only educational but also help us to put our present tense in the perspective of the past. Even as you go through these sites, rest assured that there are many whose sole purpose is filing away facts of historical data for later use. So let’s try to turn the clock back”¦.



History is not only about historians but about the common man and the events around him. Timelines let you record, share and discover history through the site. It is about the collective experience i.e. crowd sourcing history – events are connected across timelines to other happenings around the globe by users and described using notes, quotes, links, videos and images. Events are created by users then the community takes over and adds to the event thus creating a timeline of events. You can browse by year, by date or by specific timelines too.


Anyone can view timelines and learn about the sequence of events that shaped the history behind it. Thus, it’s a great multimedia enriched learning tool.

Timeline Index


Timeline Index is, as the name suggests, a recording of momentous events in history, all arranged in a chronological order. It is less interactive and more direct in the way it records the events. Search through the index using keywords or select the timeline directly arranged in categories. Each timeline comes with a historical note and additional links. User interaction is limited to adding extra links to the timelines.




History in pictures – that’s how most of us like to catch what has happened in the past. Those faded old snapshots detail a lot and Histografica is an archive of historical pictures. The historical website Histografica aims to be an expansive source (but not expensive as it’s free) of geo- and time tagged historical pictures from around the world.

Put in a search by keyword and filter by date. The results get displayed as thumbnails and on a Google Map mashup.

History Commons [Broken URL Removed]


History Commons is a historical website that takes an open and participatory approach towards documenting events at the local, regional, or global level. So what one gets are dynamic timelines which lean more towards journalistic readings of events that have taken place. It is an issue by issue recording of opinions and viewpoints. So it is a site that’s more for the serious student of history rather than the multimedia based ones we looked at earlier.


The site is a storehouse of 15,449 archived events and 5,000 entities which are made up of individuals, organizations, businesses etc. The purpose of the site as is mentioned is to be a source for open information and act as a people’s intelligence agency.

Timelines TV


This multimedia site brings history alive through television documentaries spread out by period on an interactive historical timeline. Though you won’t find the entire history of the world, but its documentary coverage on the American Wild West and different periods of the British Period make for fascinating stuff. If you have a good web connection, catch the show.

NASA PlanetQuest



I have included this not for the breadth this NASA-developed site covers, but for the way it covers it. The timeline is restricted to a multimedia display of the search for extra solar planets, from ancient philosophical speculation to modern discoveries. The presentation is short, slick and specific. The timeline also has an insert on the effect of Star Trek on space exploration and popular culture.

Smithsonian American Art Museum


If NASA is about space, Smithsonian is about the arts. Another micro-view of an art timeline during the 1930’s”¦the historical site is a Flash presentation of eight exhibitions that take the viewer through the artwork of that decade. The viewer is taken through the virtual museum where art objects and settings are clickable for further information.

The seven websites that cover parts of our global history are not the only ones of course, but they offer an introduction of the ways that history can broaden our contemporary knowledge. They certainly prove that with enough sprinkling of history and lots of accuracy, learning history isn’t as bad as it is made out to be.

Is history among your favorite topics of interest? Do you have a bookmarked site? Let us know.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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  1. ghabuntu
    January 3, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Ok. I just left a note telling my family to sue MUO in case I get missing going back into time :-)

    Thanks guys for the post. Really breathtaking to go back.

  2. Bob Armour
    January 3, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Thanks for the inclusion of, and kind words for, our site Your description nails what we are doing - enabling the web to be used as a platform to record history. Keep up the great work!

  3. Srivatsan Venkatesh
    January 2, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Just another site, It has a Internet Wayback Machine to look at internet sites in the past. It also has other historical artifacts.

    • Saikat
      January 3, 2010 at 1:53 am

      Oh Yes, that's one of the well known ones. Plumb forgot to include it! Thanks for the mention, Venkatesh.

  4. Benjamin Barnett
    January 2, 2010 at 11:06 am

    I honestly think you guys are one of the best sites on the internet. Almost every one of your posts contain something I can use. Keep it up!