Ever since French inventor Nicéphore Niépce captured the first photograph in 1826, the ability to give history a visual record has provided people with a much clearer image of the way things were. Still, with the abundance of photos surviving into modernity, there are a great number of pictures that most people have never seen before.

Thankfully, we have cameras now and many of the most important moments in the last hundred years or so have been captured on film, as well as images that simply depict what time was like through recent history.

S.S. Normandie

The S.S. Normandie was seized by US authorities during World War II. After being renamed to the USS Lafayette, it began being converted into a troopship in New York. During this process, the ship caught fire and capsized at pier 88. The restoration proved to be too costly so it was scrapped.

Enjoying A Day At The Beach

Russian Typhoon-class ballistic missile submarine passing close by a beach but clearly these Russian holiday makers think the sight of the sun is even rarer than the submarine!

Queens Guard

A guard of honor passes out from heat exhaustion as Queen Elizabeth II rides past during the Trooping the Colour parade, 1970.

I Know That Guy

A film icon is born as a video crew films the MGM credit sequence (1928).

Warm Welcome

Actress Marlene Dietrich welcomes a soldier home from World War II with a kiss, 1945.

Looks pretty serious to me

Women boxing on a roof in L.A in 1938

From a comment by one Gill Colclough “This is from the golden age of Hollywood. They are chorus girls. The building is the Ball Building at Paramount Studios. The original photo is titled Radio Pictures Chorus Girls.”

A different side

A German soldier shares his rations with a Russian mother, 1941

Montparnasse Derailment


The Montparnasse derailment occurred at 16:00 on October 22, 1895 when the Granville–Paris Express overran the buffer stop at its Gare Montparnasse terminus. With the train several minutes late and the driver trying to make up for lost time, it entered the station too fast and the train air brake failed. After running through the buffer stop, the train crossed the station concourse and crashed through the station wall; the locomotive fell onto the Place de Rennes below, where it stood on its nose. A woman in the street below was killed by falling masonry. The engineer was fined 50 francs and one of the guards 25 francs.

Miss Hurst Golden Shifter

image source

In 1975 Linda Vaughan entered a contest for Miss Hurst Golden Shifter against 200 other girls. Vaughan won and went on to become a race sensation for the company. Although she was actually the second to win the competition, she’ll always be remembered as ‘The’ Miss Hurst Golden Shifter.

Air Hostess Uniform Check

12th January 1959: Swedish stewardess Birgitta Lindman, who is with the Swedish SAS airline, examines a showgirls costume after rumors of shorter skirts for air hostesses.


The Blue and the Gray at Gettysburg: a Union veteran and a Confederate veteran shake hands at the Assembly Tent.

The innocence of kids

A KKK child and a black State Trooper meet each other, 1992.

Tense meeting

American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell confronting Martin Luther King Jr., 1965.


Maori Battalion haka in Egypt, 1941.

This is Real!!!!

Many people have said that this picture of the King of Pop is photoshopped, however, it’s true. It was taken in 1986 during the rehearsals for the filming of Captain EO. The two girls in the photo Cindy Sorenson and Debbie Carrington play one of the characters in MJ’s flight crew in the film.

The Friendship Kiss

“The Friendship Kiss” – Russian and US soldier – Germany 1945

Effects of war

Berlin at the end of the War, 1945.


Conrad Schumann defects to West Berlin, 1961.

Trying To Get Over The Line

This now-iconic photograph of Women’s rights campaigner Kathrine Switzer being physically assaulted by race official Jock Semple made headlines 50 years ago when she became the first woman to officially enter and run the 26.2 mile race – despite the fact that women weren’t officially allowed to take part until 1972. Official Semple was trying to remove her from the race.

Concentration Camp Survivor


This is a little girl who grew up in a concentration camp drawing a picture of “home” while living in a residence for disturbed children in Poland, 1948. As you can see, she has no concept of a home.

Coming Home

Crowded ship bringing American troops back to New York harbor after V-Day, 1945.

Gas Station

A Washington, D.C. filling station in 1924.

Messy Genius

Einstein’s desk photographed a day after his death.

Elephant-mounted machine-gun

An American corporal aims a Colt M1895 atop a Sri Lankan elephant in 1914.

Feeding the locals

Feeding polar bears from a tank, 1950.

Communism at its finest

Fidel Castro smoking a cigar and wearing two Rolex watches during a meeting with Khrushchev, Kremlin, 1963.


General Patton’s dog on the day of Patton’s death on December 21st, 1945

World Changing

Harold Agnew carrying the plutonium core of the Nagasaki Fat Man bomb, 1945

The struggle was real

Job hunting in post world war 1 1930’s.


John F. Kennedy’s coffin lies in state in the Capitol Building, 1963.

Lucky guy

Lucky British soldier shows off his damaged helmet, 1918.


Motel manager pouring acid in the water when black people swam in his pool, 1964.

Muslim members of the Waffen-SS 13th division at prayer during their training in Germany, 1943.

Get us on the moon

NASA scientists with their board of calculations, 1961.

Unhappy animal

Tiffi the elephant leaps from a German monorail. It survived and went on to live another 40 years, 1950.

Eye opening

German soldiers react to footage of concentration camps, 1945


A girl who grew up in a concentration camp draws a picture of “home” while living in a residence for disturbed children, 1948.


Simone Segouin, the 18 year old French Résistance fighter, 1944.

These guys were mad!

Terry Sawchuk – The face of a hockey goalie before masks became standard game equipment, 1966.

Brave Guy

Testing a bulletproof vest, 1923.

Pre-concussion worries!

Testing football helmets, 1912.


The Kiss of Life – A utility worker giving mouth-to-mouth to co-worker after he contacted a high voltage wire, 1967.

Gulf War

Highway of Death, The result of American forces bombing retreating Iraqi forces, Kuwait, 1991.

A different era

The long walk, A British army bomb disposal specialist approaches a suspect vehicle in Northern Ireland, early ’70’s.

Animal Lover

The marine and the kitten, Korean War, 1952.


The Reichstag covered in graffiti after being seized from the Nazis by the Red Army, 1945.

A shell of itself


The ruins of Dresden, 1945.

Tragic circumstances


Theodore Roosevelt’s diary the day his wife and mother died, 1884.

The class divide


Toffs and Toughs – The photo that illustrates the class divide in pre-war Britain, 1937.

Stocking shortage


With nylon stockings scarce, women would paint their legs so it looked like stockings, 1942

Mans best friend


Wounded combat dog during action on the Orote Peninsula, 1944.

Freedom at last


Australian soldiers after their release from Japanese captivity in Singapore, 1945.

In a daze


Shell shocked soldier, 1916.


Actress and Playboy model Robyn Hilton on the Johnny Carson Show in 1974.

Vietnam Returning Soldiers

This photo captures the exact moment that this family saw their husband/son/father for the first time as he returned from Vietnam in 1975.