Advice for dealing with historical dates in literature reviews/notes

I’ve just switched over from Roam Research and right now I am exploring all the awesome possibilities of Obsidian and thinking about how I’ll structure my notes. For context: I research and write in the humanities and mostly used Roam and now use Obsidian to review primary sources and literature and synthesize my summaries/review into new texts/papers.

One area I’ve in the past (in Roam) made great use of tagging/linking are historical dates: When I come across a relevant historical date in a certain book, paper or primary source, I tag the the date. This sometimes makes interesting historical parallels visible, as I can query the dates and than see, in all of which contexts they are mentioned.
In Roam I’ve used different tags for this, from something like #1990s to #1993 to [[March [[1993]]]].

I’m right now wondering what is the best approach in Obsidian for dealing with historical dates. Something like [[March [[1993]]]] (nested titles) is not possible in Obsidian. I just could use several tags, like #March #1993. I also could use the date format, although I’m not sure, if this works without choosing an exact date. So in summary, I’m a bit lost what is the best solution. The aim is to have a system I can use to tag historical dates while summarizing literature and primary sources and which enables me to query all my notes for years, months and maybe even exact dates and see what happened then. Ideally, there even would be a way to visualize that data.

I would love to hear from fellow Obsidian-Users with the same use case and get some inspiration :slight_smile:
Thanks in advance!

Not exactly the same, but I’ve tagged my journal entries with tags like #year2024 (in Norwegian that would be a little shorter #År2024), and #year2024/02, #year2024/02/24 and so on. This allows me to keep specifying a more precise date text, which Obsidian allows me to search for by any part.

This means I can search for #year2024/02 and get all notes tagged with that month, date of even with that time stamp, or just #year2024.

Sadly we can’t do #2024 since it’s all numeric, so you need to have some prefix to your date tag. I’ve used #year (or rather #År) since it’s rather short and it conveys the meaning of the tag to me clearly. If you’d rather use something else, like #d/2024 or some other letter or prefix which gives the tag more meaning in your context do so.

The main concept is that using nested tags which follows a #??YYYY/MM/DD/HH/mm format you’re allowing yourself to be as specific as you need be in a time specification. And of course you could also use #??YYYY/W08 or #??YYYY/Q1 to denote weeks or quarters and so on. They would still be found when doing a search for the year.

I’m not sure if that’s needed for you, but it could also be extended (along the lines of ISO 8601) to allow for periods directly in the tag, or you could have one prefix which was used for when it happened (or started), and another prefix for end dates. Then you could say stuff like: "My vacation started on #d/2024/06/08, and we came back #e/2024/06/20, after almost a fortnight at this lovely nature spot. " Where the #d/ would be the start date, and #e/ would mark the end date.

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You can do numeric like #2024/ and then #2024/02 and #2024/02/24 work like nested tags. It’s how I add years and dates.

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That is true, @ton, since you’ve added the / to the tag, since just #2024 isn’t a legal tag.

Personally I just recently discovered that the slash could make it a legal tag, but I’m not really liking the look of it, but that’s just my personal preference. It is indeed legal.

I agree it’s not pretty, but I accept it as the / comes in anyway to nest it with month and day.

Is it possible to also only query for months or months and days without a year using this tagging scheme? E.g. querying for every blocks taggeg with May 5th (xxxx/05/05), without specifiyng the year?

Besides that, would there be any advantage of using pages instead of tags for this information? I guess not, as pages cannot be nested? I’m asking because I have a lot of cleaning up to do, as in Roam I’ve mixed using pages and tags for historical dates, as in Roam both are functionally the same.

The most effective approach is searching for tags where you know the start. Those searches are very easily done using either the standard search engine or dataview. But you can also use either of those tools to search for parts of the tags, but then I feel dataview has a slight edge on how to do those searches.

But it can be done in either context.