Rare photos from history only tell a part of the story when they’re in black and white. Seeing them in color gives you a look into the past in a way that you won’t see in history books. Thanks to the beautiful colorization that each photo has undergone, each of these photos is like a window into the past… a window that shows just how little has changed.
These photos won’t just tell you about history… they’ll help you live it.
Each of these amazing colorized photos tells a story about where we’ve been and where we’re going.But a word of warning… some of these colorized photos may be too much for some to handle.
Proceed with caution… these rare colorized photos from history are not suitable for all ages.
Meet the most interesting woman that ever lived
The name Mata Hari dredges up any number of reactions: spy, dancer, traitor. They all hold some degree of truth, but she’s not an easy person to get to the bottom of. She began her crash course as a dancer in Paris in 1905, but by the early days of World War I she was already under suspicion of espionage.
Mata Hari was arrested in 1917 by the French authorities after they believed that they found her to be guilty of giving away information about the Allied forces. To this day no one knows if that’s how it really went down, but she was sentenced to the firing squad on October 15, 1917. She refused to wear a blindfold during the proceedings.
June 6th, 1944 – Into the the jaws of death
When the Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, they knew they were going into something intense. The Germans had the high ground during the chaotic battle, but the Allied Forces were ready to use everything in their abilities to take the beach back. The weather was treacerous, but at 6:30 am the invasion began.
There was resistance up and down the beaches of Normandy, with hundreds of thousands of casualties. However, by the end of the day there more than 150,000 Allied troops standing proud on the beaches of Normandy. Their resiliance paid off.
The most notorious side eye ever captured, look closer
This may be the most notorious photo of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Taken at a party thrown by Paramount for Sophia Loren in Beverly Hills, it shows Loren giving major side eye to Jayne Mansfield’s ample chest. It’s always been believed that Mansfield crashed the party and made sure everyone had eyes on her.
History has shown that Mansfield was definitely not supposed to be at the party, but that didn’t stop her from popping up. Long after this shot was snapped Loren admitted that she was glad that Mansfield showed up because she felt embarrassed about a party being thrown for her. When asked if she was upset about Mansfield’s appearance she said that she couldn’t take her eyes off of the blonde bombshell.
Arsenal goalkeeper Jack Kelsey peers into the fog, searching for the elusive ball. The fog was so thick the game was eventually stopped
This photo of a foggy game shows the problems inherent in playing a rollicking game of soccer in a country known for its inclement weather. Taken in 1954, Jack Kelsey was playing goalkeeper for Arsenal when a soup of moisture descended on the pitch. He was a dedicated player, which is what made what happened next so fascinating.
As Kelsey looked into the fog, prepared to stop whatever ball came his way, he had no idea that the game had been called off. The fog was so thick that everyone stopped playing and he had no idea that he was only person left on the pitch. Hopefully he won MVP.
Desperate times… October 29th, 1929 the last day of the stock market crash that would become known as Black Tuesday
The Stock Market crash on October 29, 1929, was so devastating and gut wenching that it became known around the world as “Black Tuesday.” That day saw 16,410,030 shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange and essentially deleted billions of dollars out of the world’s finances simply because there was too much trading happening. It was the last thing anyone thought would ever happen.
The Stock Market crash sent America, Europe, and the rest of the industrialized world into a tail spin that became known as the Great Depression. Less than five years after the crash tens of millions of Americans were out of work, and the nation didn’t recover until we entered World War II in the 1940s. It was a day that hopefully we’ll never have to experience again.
An angelic Marilyn Monroe in a pink dress, 1952
Long before she was Hollywood’s it girl and the template for all blonde bombshells to come, Marilyn Monroe was just another young actress with stars in her eyes. When this photo was taken she was still an up and coming gal who made small appearances in films like The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve. However, he star was about to rise thanks to her role in Niagara.
Audiences immediately flocked to the movie and they quickly flocked to her. When asked if she was the same offscreen and she was onscreen Monroe once answered:
When I work I act; when I’m home I don’t act. Do you do the same things at home as when you’re working at your job as secretary, salesgirl, teacher, clerk or whatever? Why bring your work home with you?
16 year old German soldier crying after being captured by the Allies, 1945
This shot of Hans-Georg Henke isn’t just heartbreaking, it’s one of the most investigated photos of World War II. Henke claims that this photo was taken after Soviet forces overran his German unit and that he’s crying because of the loss to the Russians. However, scholars have another theory.
American photojournalist John Florea claims that he took this photo and others of Henke in Hessen, just north of Frankfurt. Florea believes that Henke is weeping because he’s in shock, not because he was taken down by the Russians. It’s likely that Henke said he was taken down by the Soviets because he lived in East Germany after the war and the Communist Party of East Germany considered anyone who surrendered to American soldiers as a liability.
Charlie Chaplin attends the premiere of his newest film City Lights in Los Angeles, accompanied by Albert Einstein. February 2, 1931.
Charlie Chaplin and Albert Einstein were friends long before this photo was taken at the premiere of City Lights in 1931. The two men at the top of their respective fields often had dinner with one another and talked about life and philosophy. It makes sense that these brilliant Europeans would be friends with one another, especially because they were both so entertaining.
When discussing his father’s friendship with Chaplin and their distinct popularity, Einstein’s son is said to have told Chaplin:
You are popular [because] you are understood by the masses. On the other hand, the professor’s popularity with the masses is because he is not understood.
Here’s an odd threesome for ya… The tallest, shortest and fattest man of Europe all playing a game of cards, 1913
Now this is an interesting collection of fellows at the poker table. It’s unclear when this photo was taken, but it doesn’t look to be a normal card game. It’s most likely that this was either an ad or a post card that was sold around the turn of the 20th century.
At the time, post cards were the most common way of communicating with someone that you didn’t see on an every day basis. Most of these inexpensive postcards featured a funny image on the front because they were easier to sell. This one must have been flying off the shelves.
Unpacking Mona Lisa at the end of World War II in 1945
When the Nazis swept through Europe in World War II a group called the Monuments Men made up of servicemen and women who made it their mission to keep the great works of art safe. The Monuments Men knew that the Germans wanted to ransack the Louvre so they hatched a plan to get everything in the museum out of France. That’s everything from the Mona Lisa to 4,000 year old artifacts.
This incredibly difficult task was carried off like a heist in reverse on August 28, 1939. On that day hundreds of trucks formed a convoy to move 1,000 crates of paintings and artifacts. Over the course of three days everything in the museum was transported far away from anywhere that the Germans would expect and the items weren’t returned until after the end of the war.
Titanic Orphans, brothers Michel and Edmond Navratil, 1912. They were the only children to be rescued from the Titanic without a parent or guardian.
Michel And Edmond Navratil were just children when they boarded the Titanic for its one and only trip across the Atlantic. They had been kidnapped by their father, but they didn’t know that, they just thought that they were one a long trip. But then the ship went down after it was hit by an iceberg.
The boys survived the devastating crash, but no one knew who they belonged to. They were survivors without a home who were given to a woman who spoke their native language, French. Luckily, it didn’t take long for their mother to see their faces on the front of ever newspaper in the western world. She brought them home safe and sound.
Welcome to the Jungle….
Jungle Pam is known as the Queen of Drag Racing, but not because she was a speedster behind the wheel. She spent most of her time on the asphalt as a cheerleader and a gal that got her then boyfriend’s car into place. Fans loved it.
She first got onto the Funny Car scene after meeting rag racer Jungle Jim in West Chester Pennsylvania. She skipped her first year of college to get into the drag racing scene after Jim showed her the ropes. She became a part of his pit crew and went on to become a beloved institution in this underground world.
Night fishing in Hawaii, 1948
The brilliant colorization of this photo makes the viewer feel like they’re ankle deep in the Pacific Ocean, waiting to spear fish on the edge of the big island. The ancient practice of night fishing with a kukui-nut torch has been handed down through the generations and it’s still practived today. This practice mixes the human and spiritual.
Hawaiians wrap kukui nuts in leaves and fix them to a pole before lighting them to use as a torch. The bright light attracts shallow water fish to the fisher and bingo bango they’re able to catch dinner. It’s fascinating to see a photo of an ancient practice that occurred so recently.
Ruby Bridges escorted by U.S. Marshals to attend an all-white school, 1960
Ruby Briges was ony six-years-old when she became the first African American student to desegregate an elementary school in the south in 1960. At the time her parents were unsure about sending her to an all-white school, but her mother wanted her to have the best education possible. When Ruby’s mother made her decision it changed the world.
On November 14, 1960, Ruby was escorted to class by four federal marshalls. They continued to make sure she made it to class safely every day for the rest of the school year. In 1964, Norman Rockwell painted Ruby into his work, “The Problem We All Live With.”
Sophia Loren, Italian beauty Personified
When Sophia Loren entered the Miss Italia 1950 beauty pageant she had no way of knowing that she would become a star. She didn’t win the pageant but she did take the title “Miss Elegance 1950.” Loren was so well loved in the pageant that within a year she was hired to appeared in a small Italian film before going on to appear in a series of small parts for the next couple of years.
It didn’t take long for viewers to fall in love with Loren. by 1953, she was taking on starring roles and earning amazing reviews. While she may have gotten her start as a pageant queen it was clear within a few years that she was more than just a pretty face.
A German soldier with a saw tooth bayonet stands in a dugout wearing his brow plate slid down to his neck, World War I
This strange and pseudo threatening photo of a German soldier prepared for battle in the trenches shows just how prepared everyone had to be for hand to hand combat during World War I. Take note of the metal face and neck shield. That has to be worn in case he gets into a fight with a soldier using a knife of a bayonet.
Trench warfare made for extremely dangerous run-ins during World War I. This extremely vicious kind of fighting made for an extremely brutal and bloody war, one that we’ll thankfully never see again. Full body shielding like that seen in this photo was an incredibly necessary tool at this time.
“The Kiss of Life” – A utility worker giving mouth-to-mouth to a co-worker after he contacted a low voltage wire – 1967
In 1967, photographer Rocco Morabito was driving down West 26th Street in New York City on the way to an assignment when he passed two electrical workers precariously dangling from a pole in what looked like a mouth to mouth embrace. Utility worker J.D. Thompson was giving mouth-to-mouth to his co-worker Randall G. Champion after he came into contact with a low voltage line. Champion went unconscious and fell, his harness kept him from falling directly to the ground.
Morabito discussed catching the lifesaving moment on camera, stating:
I passed these men working and went on to my assignment… I thought I’d go back and see if I could rind another picture. I heard screaming. I looked up and I saw this man hanging down. Oh my God. I didn’t know what to do. I took a picture right quick. J.D. Thompson was running toward the pole. I went to my car and called an ambulance. I got back to the pole and J.D. was breathing into Champion. I backed off, way off until I hit a house and I couldn’t go any farther. I took another picture. Then I heard Thompson shouting down: He’s breathing!
Elizabeth Taylor on the set of “Giant” in 1956
Liz Taylor’s role in the American western epic, Giant, put her in the center of a piece of genuine Americana. The film follows a Taylor’s character as she ingratiates herself into the world of Texas cattle and all of the slips and tangles of that world. The film has been heralded as a stunning portrait of the tribulations inherent in the American west, but Taylor said that they weren’t thinking about that on set.
source: Getty Images
Liz Taylor explained that it was easy to get into the world of Texas cattle in Giantbecause the cast and crew was surrounded by that world during the shoot:
The backdrop of Texas was just that. It was happening around us. But the center of our world was the family, not what was happening to Texas and the rest of the world, which is how it is with a lot of Texans. You know, [it’s about] their world, their family, their plantation, their oil, their whatever. I was once married to a Texan and I hadn’t quite believed what I’d heard before, that being a Texan was not only a religion, it was a nationality or whatever you want to call it.
Paratroopers of Easy Company aka the Band of Brothers, at Berghof – Adolf Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Alps, 1945.
As World War II wound down in the middle of the 1940s, the American troop known as Easy Company was sent to occupy Berchtesgaden, Germany, home to Adolf Hitler’s private home – Eagle’s Nest. Captured by the 101st paratrooper’s unit, the Nest became a strange kind of home to the soldiers and a feather in the cap of the Allied Forces. Shortly after it was captured it became a command post until 1960.
It must have been surreal to sit and sip cocktails in a place once owned by easily the worst person on the planet. One of the soldiers of the 7th Infantry Regiment said of his time at the former home of Hitler:
We couldn’t believe what we saw. The walls were covered with shelves and the shelves were stocked with all kinds of wines, champagnes and liqueurs. The food bins were well stocked with a variety of canned hams, cheese and two-gallon cans containing pickles.
Young Brigitte Bardot stunning under the summer sun
Brigitte Bardot never had it easy with fame. She was thrust into the spotlight from a young age and was hounded by paparazzi. That led the young Bardot to drop out of the spotlight before she really reached her peak, although it gave her more time to focus on her love of animals.
Bardot explained her problem with fame:
I am so used to people looking at me… I just don’t want them getting too intimate, that’s all. I was literally crushed by celebrity. No-one can imagine how awful it was. A nightmare. I just couldn’t live like that anymore.
Volunteer ambulance driver for the American Red Cross Motor Corps, 1917
During World War I there was a dire need of ambulance drivers and the American Red Cross felt that they could fill that need. Because so many men were taking part in the war, women were called in to fill that need. The first women to take these positions were women of leisure, after all these were volunteer jobs.
source: Sanna Dullaway
The women who were behind the wheel of these abulances did more than just take bodies to and from the battlefield. They brought supplies to soldiers, food to people who needed them, and whatever supplies were necessary. These women were the backbone of the American Red Cross.
Vivien Leigh in costume as Scarlett O’Hara
As Scarlett O’Hara, Vivian Leigh brought to life one of the most important and heartbreaking roles of the 20th century. To play a southern belle in the middle of the Reconstruction Era Leigh was put through immense hardships. She slept very little and was really only able to lean on the cast and crew to make it through the shoot.
Leigh spoke of the hard work that came with the role, and the immense sadness that she felt when it was all said and done:
When the day came that meant the film was completed, I could not help feeling some little regret that our parts were done and that the cast and the crew — who were all so thoughtful and kind throughout — were breaking up. Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, Tom Mitchell, Barbara O’Neil — fine players all. We should see each other again, of course — but never again would we have the experience of playing in Gone With The Wind.
Lyndon B. Johnson takes the oath of office aboard Air Force One at Love Field in Dallas following the assassination of JFK
After President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, there was a brief period of time where the country was without a leader – an hour and a half to be exact. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president aboard Air Force One while it sat still on Love Field. The entire process only took a few minutes but it changed the world forever.
In this shot we can see the stress and sadness of the moment. Look closer at Jacqueline Kennedy… her jacket is still stained with her husband’s blood. Members of the FBI and Johnson’s future cabinet stand in the cabin and watch on as history is made.
Charlie Chaplin in 1916, at the age of 27
In the early 20th century Charlie Chaplin brought joy to the faces of audiences everywhere with his character “The Tramp.” Chaplin created so many pieces of groundbreaking film that it’s hard to remember that he always just wanted to make a good story. For him, it was one thing to inform but he really just wanted to entertain.
While speaking with the New York Times after the release of The Gold Rush he explained:
If I go fishing. I have always the idea of a story in my mind. I can think it over while the line is in the water. Often I stay away from the studio hoping that a new situation may occur to me. When I go out for recreation in the evening it is the same. I see a different kind of life and it makes me think all the harder about my idea. I never get away from the notion that I am watching myself in the passing show. As I eat I think of changes in situations. I work while I play, with the result that I become myself, a piece of film.
Japanese-American college students during their relocation to an internment camp. Sacramento, 1942.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor more than 120,000 Asian-Americans were forcibly removed from their homes and placed in internment camps up and down the west coast. Initially, the people who were moved to Sacramento lived in a temporary camp that was formerly a detention center. Finally they were placed in camps at Tule Lake and at Manzanar.
The barracks where they were kept formerly housed migrant workers and they were in horrible condition. The rooms had little in the way of modern necessities – both in cooking and bathing, but the Asian-Americans forced into these camps did their best to keep their heads up. Their resiliance should never be forgotten.
Rita Hayworth biking around the pool at The Beverly Hills Hotel
As one of the most popular stars of the 1940s, Rita Hayworth was often referred to as the “Hollywood Princess.” She was advertised as a goody two-shoes but that’s not how Hayworth saw herself. She felt that she was a legitimate actress who shouldn’t have had to be marketed in such a way.
While speaking about the way she was treated in the Hollywood system, Hayworth later said:
The way the studio sold me, you’d think I popped out of some package, ready made. My father’s family were all dancers. I was trained as a dancer since I was four years old. Honey, they had me dancing as soon as they could get me on my feet. It was a family tradition but the reason I had to do it professionally was that we were broke. Very broke.
A Leading Stoker nicknamed “Popeye”, with 21 years of service, on board the battleship HMS Rodney, one of two Nelson-class battleships built for the Royal Navy in the mid 1920s. Photo taken in Sep. 1940
While some people online have attributed this seaman to the creation of the cartoon character Popeye the Sailorman that’s not actually the case. This strong jawed and pipe smoking fellow may bear an uncanny resemblance to the character, but that’s just a strange coincidence. No one really knows who this guy is.
The real inspiration for Popeye was a tough bartender named Frank “Rocky” Fiegel who lived in Chester, Illinois. In 1947, the Chester Herald Tribune wrote of Fiegel’s immortalization in the funny papers:
In his younger days he performed amazing feats of strength. Because of his hardened physique he was affectionately known as ‘Rocky.’ His angular jaw and familiar corn-cob pipe apparently impressed the young “In his younger days he performed amazing feats of strength. Because of his hardened physique he was affectionately known as “Rocky.” His angular jaw and familiar corn-cob pipe apparently impressed the young [Popeye creator].
Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia
Known as Lawrence of Arabia, Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence became a hero during World War I after spearheading a series of raids in the Middle East. Lawrence is said to have destroyed at least 79 bridges belonging to the Ottoman Empire. He was so adept at destruction that he knew how to leave the structures “scientifically shattered” so they could stand but be unusable.
source: Marina Maral
As strange and impossible as it sounds that an English soldier could so endear himself to soldiers that he knew nothing about, it’s all true. His life played out like a film which is likely why Lawrence of Arabia continues to work so well. He was one person who changed the tide of history, something that we all have the ability to do.
“Adoration of a President-to-Be” – Newly engaged John F. Kennedy & Jacqueline Bouvier – Cape Cod, July 4th 1953
When John F. Kennedy and Jacquelyn Bouvier got engaged on June 24, 1953, with a 2.88-carat diamond-and-emerald ring from Van Cleef and Arpels, the world fell in love with America’s first couple. They were such a going concern that Life Magazine dedicated an entire issue to the couple’s engagement. The photos show a couple deeply in love.
source: Life Magazine
Long after their engagement, Jacqueline Kennedy said that while she knew the man, the rest of the world knew JFK as an icon:
Now, I think that I should have known that he was magic all along. I did know it — but I should have guessed that it would be too much to ask to grow old with and see our children grow up together. So now, he is a legend when he would have preferred to be a man.
Koboto Santaro, a Japanese military commander, wearing traditional armor, in 1863
Taken in 1863, this photo shows just how traditional the Japanese military was even into the late 19th century. This kind of armor first appeared in Japan around the 4th century, scholars believe that it first apppeared in either China or Korea. Although it evolved over time it remained visually very similar.
It wasn’t until the 16th century, when Japan began trading with Europe that they began incorporating more modern fabrics and weapons into their attire. Thanks to this change a new armor, called tosei-gusoki, began to be used. However, it remained a status symbol to use armor that predated the new trade.
Henry Behrens, the smallest man in the world dances with his pet cat in the doorway of his Worthing home, 1956.
Taken on October 26, 1956, Henry Behrens was the smallest man at the world at the time. To make a living, this man who stood just over two feet tall earned a living by performing in a troupe of small people who were helmed by Burton Lester. Behrens traveled the world throughout his life bringing delight to anyone who saw him perform.
At home, Behrens lived a normal life. Much of his personal effects had to be custom built so he could use them, and he wasn’t much bigger than his pet cat. But that wasn’t really a problem for Behrens because he was a great, big man in a miniscule body.
Sally Field on the set of “Gidget” (1965)
When Gidget premiered on ABC in the 1960s Sally Field was still a teenager. She fit right into the character of a surfer girl in southern California who constantly found herself in a series of wacky predicaments. According to Field, she basically was the character of Gidget at that age.
source: screen gems
Field told Oprah that when she became the star of her first prime time television show she hadn’t even traveled far beyond her home town:
When it aired in 1965, a season had 36 shows, which is huge. At 18 I didn’t see how the show was perceived. I barely had all my consciousness at that point, and I never read reviews or saw ratings. I had my own TV series, yet I’d never been on a plane or even been out of the state.
On January 27 1945, Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, was liberated by the Red Army
On January 27, 1945, the concentration camp in Auschwitz, Poland was finally penetrated by the Soviet military. As the the Red Army grew closer to the camp throughout January, SS troops began to exterminate everyone in the camps in an attempt at keeping their evil deeds a secret. By the time Soviet troops arrived at the camp their were hundreds of bodies, and the crematorium was destroyed.
The Nazi soldiers had long deserted the camp, hoping to escape the horrible things they’d done. When the Soviets arrived they found more than 7,000 Jewish survivors who were barely hanging onto life. It didn’t take long before the word was out about what was really happening in Nazi occupied Europe.
Oregon, August 1939. Unemployed lumber worker goes with his wife to the bean harvest. Social Security number tattooed on his arm identifies him as Thomas Cave.
Taken at the height of the Depression, this beautifully colorized photo shows one of the ways in which Americans adapted to the New Deal. FDR’s program that brought economic relief through a variety of means also ushered in the Social Sercurity Act, which offered welfare services to those who received a number. This man, Thomas Cave, clearly wanted to make sure he never forget his number so he had it inked onto his bicep.
source: Library Of Congress
Initially snapped by Dorothea Lange, the photographer barely made any note of Cave’s tattoo. Her writing on the photo reads: “Note social security number tattooed on his arm.” This must have been genuinely fascinating to see in the moment, not only because it was new, but because not a lot of people were being tattooed at the time.
Salvador Dali standing on the deck of the S.S. Normandie as it docks in New York City, 1936
It’s hard to imagine a time when Salvador Dali wasn’t the most famous artist on the planet. Even today he’s more well known than most contemporary artists. When this photo was taken he was still taking trips to New York City in order to find inspiration in America (as well as wealthy investors).
Traveling to the New York City for the first time, Dali took up a cabin in the Champlain. He rode across the Atlantic from France to America in the lower decks of the ship. He famously noted that he preferred to sleep close to the engines because it helped his trip go by quicker.
Homecoming Soldier, Vienna, Austria by Ernst Haas
Taken during the reconstruction era in Europe following the end of World War II, Ernst Haas photographed many of the soldiers that he worked with through the American Red Cross. Directly following the war, Haas was in Vienna teaching photography to soldiers part time and made many of these men his subjects. He not only captured their pain and suffering, but their struggle with returning to society.
The photo essay that became “Homecoming” was born while Haas was working as a tracher and scouting locations for fashion shoots. It was published in both Heute and Life magazine, where it showed the stress and excitement of the end of the war. Haas’ work not only changed photography, it showed viewers exactly what it was like to be a soldier after a long battle.
A group of bootblacks gathers around an old Civil War veteran in Pennsylvania, 1935.
The fact that soldiers from the Civil war were still alive in the 20th century is hard to wrap ones mind around even though it totally makes sense. Many of the veterans of the Civil War were incredibly young when they picked up a weapon and joined the conflict. Some men were as young as 13 when they were drafted.
The veterans who survived the Civil War and lived into the middle of the 20th century (or later) saw a myriad of strange and new accomplishments. They saw technology like the automobile and the airplane wink into existence. And many of these men were lucid enough to tell stories and provide a detailed history of an era that only they could remember.
Winston Churchill as a Cornet in the 4th Queen’s Hussar’s Cavalry, 1895. He was 21 at the time.
Winston Churchill loved the military from a young age. He spent his childhood playing with toy soldiers when he wasn’t outside learning how to build forts and catapults (seriously). He began his military career on April 17, 1888, when he began attending the Harrow School where he quickly became a member of the Harrow Rifle Corps.
By the time the young Churchill was a member of the 4th Hussars he was still a young man. He took every opportunity he could to throw himself into battle with little fear outside of never being able to speak again. This photo doesn’t just show a proud soldier, it’s someone who learned about the military inside and out before going on to lead one of the most impressive armies of the 20th century.
Albert Einstein invented bed head
Long before Albert Einstein created the theory of relativity and became easily the most famous scientist on the planet he was working as a simple patent clerk. When his son Hans was born in 1904, Einstein had to split all of his time between work and his kid and personal cleanliness went out the window. Einstein didn’t become filthy or anything, but he did stop combing his hair.
As he continued to take care of his son, Einstein shirked his hair combing duties and stopped visiting the barber. It didn’t happen overnight, but after a while Einstein had the wild hair we all know and love. It’s likely that all that time saved freed up some much needed hours to brave the worlds of theoretical physics.
Men of the Seaforth Highlanders resting with a dog in a trench, near La Gorgue, France in August 1915
Countries from across Great Britain did everything they could to stop the spread of fascism during World War I. What was meant to be a short war turned into a years long battle in the trenches of Europe. It engulfed everyone from the Brits to the Americans to the Scots.
The Seaforth Highlanders were a group of Scottish troops who were put together in 1881. Initially they looked over various counties within their country, but when the war began they were moved to India to keep a watch on the country. They later fought in France in 1914 before serving in the Middle East.
Future 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, photographed with wife, Jacqueline Kennedy on their wedding day
When John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier were married on September 12, 1953, they had a truly American wedding. The couple traveled to Rhode Island where they did everything they could to avoid the media – something that proved harder than they imagined. This was basically a royal wedding for the United States and everyone wanted a piece of this couple.
source: gavin wissigala
The couple tied the knot at Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in front of their friends and family. The nuptuals were orchestrated by Archbishop Richard Cushing, a family friend. After the wedding, the couple welcomed even more friends to their reception where they took on the role as America’s first cpuple.
Eunice Hancock, a 21-year-old woman, operates a compressed-air grinder in a Midwest aircraft plant during World War II. August 1942.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese military, men from across America were pulled away from their jobs to join the armed forces. Millions of jobs were left vacant with no one to go to work. That is, until American women said that they were not only able but willing to work these empty manufacturing jobs.
As World War II raged on, the percentage of women in the workforce jumped from 27 percent to 37 percent – that’s something like 2 million women going to work. These women worked in warehouses that built machinery for the war effort, they picked our crops, and they drove out busses. They were a major part in the Allied Forces winning the war.
Pablo Picasso wearing a hat and holding a revolver & holster given to him by Gary Cooper – Cannes, 1958
It’s no surprise that Pablo Picasso hung out with a lot of famous people aside from Gary Cooper. Not only was Picasso one of the most popular artists of his generation, but he was a social butterfly. He hung out with everyone from American ex-pats to the beats.
When this photo was taken Picasso had long transitioned out of his cubist phase. At this point in his life he was more into making sculptures and just kind of being a known celebrity. Even so, his work of this era was still incredibly fascinating and it neve rlost its playful spark.
Sophie Scholl, teenage anti-Nazi political activist who was sentenced to death for her activism
During World War II a grass roots youth movement called the White Rose started in Germany as a way to resist Nazi occupation. Scholl and her borther Hans became founding members of this group and disseminated many pamphlets calling for students to question the regime. They typed the pamphlets before mimeographing them and sending them out to various places in the country anonymously.
Before Scholl and her brother were caught and executed they brought many young people into the anti-Nazi underground with writings similar to this one which reads:
Our current ‘state’ is the dictatorship of evil. We know that already, I hear you object, and we don’t need you to reproach us for it yet again. But, I ask you, if you know that, then why don’t you act? Why do you tolerate these rulers gradually robbing you, in public and in private, of one right after another, until one day nothing, absolutely nothing, remains but the machinery of the state, under the command of criminals and drunkards?
“West meets East” – Two german brothers , separated by The Berlin Wall, meet again during the “border pass agreement” of 1963
When the Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961 there was no going back and forth. It didn’t matter if you were separated from your loved ones or your dog, you had to stay on whatever side you chose. That sort of changed in 1963 thanks to the agreement that allowed visitors to gain a day pass into Eastern Berlin.
During Christmas 1963, some 700,000 people from West Berlin traveled to East Berlin more than one million times. The wall was shut down again on January 5, 1964, which meant that visits were full of cheer with a hint of foreboding. The agreement was deemed successful which led to further day passes being doled out.
100 years ago Mata Hari was shot after blowing a kiss at the French firing squad who executed her for accusations of being a spy
The life of Mata Hari has become quite the legend in the more than 100 years since her execution. She first found fame in 1905 as an exotic dancer in Europe who was known for performing dances inspired by her time in Asia. She quickly became a favorite of the military men who saw her during World War I, but that proved to be her downfall.
It’s unclear if Mata Hari was ever actually a spy for the Germans or a double agent for the French. While she did have daliances with people from those countries no one really knows if she was able to actually gather information. Unfortunately, she took the fall for what was bad information in 1917.
A photographer uses his own backdrop to mask Poland’s World War II ruins while shooting a portrait in Warsaw, November 1946.
Following the treaties that brought World War II to an end, Europe was in ruins. Literally, most of the country was completely destroyed whether it was a part of the Axis or the Allied Forces. However it was Poland that received some of the most harsh destruction.
Much of Poland laid in ruins for years after the end of World War II. Even so, many Polish people did their best to make the best of an untennable situation. Even in this beautifully colorized photo it’s clear that the polish people were envisioning a better tomorrow in spite of a wretched present.
American soldiers watch as the Tricolor flies from the Eiffel Tower again, August 25, 1944, Paris, France
Paris was under Nazi occupation for more than four years by the time the city of lights was liberated by the French 2nd Armored Division and the U.S. 4th Infantry Division. By the time the Allied Forces made their way into Paris the German military was ready to call it a day. Or at least General Dietrich von Choltitz was ready to call it a day.
General Choltitz was commanded by hitler to destroy the landmarks of Paris and burn the city to the ground. However, Choltitz couldn’t bring himself to do it and surrendered to the Allied Forces. By August 26 the city was once again letting freedom ring.
American troops of the 1st Infantry Division leaving the port of Weymouth, England en route to Omaha Beach in Normandy in June 1944
It’s impossible to imagine that these young men knew what they were heading towards prior to D-Day. No crystal ball and no fortune teller could have imagined the intense chaos that would occur on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Out of the first wave of soldiers to arrive 95 percent of them lost their lives in battle.
In spite of the massive losses the men of the 1st infantry division didn’t stop. They continued to push until the Battle of Normandy was won by Allied forces thanks to their ability to change directions in midstream and outthink the German military. Even though the Allied Forces came out on top, hundreds of thousands of men lost their lives.
Crow Native Americans watching the rodeo at Crow fair in Montana, 1941
Thanks to the amazing colorization of this photo of the Crow Fair it looks like it’s happening today, not 1941. The Crow Fair got its start in 1904 when the leaders of the Crow tribe invited every tribe of the Great Plains to a festial. The gathering quickly became an annual event and it’s still running today.
Every third week of August people descend on Billings, Montana to take in the culture, sights, and sounds of the indigenous people of the great Plains. Each day of the fair sees a parade which begins at 10 am that stretches on for more than a mile. The centerpiece of the Crow Fair is the rodeo which takes up an entire day.
Drought refugee from Polk, Missouri, with his son awaiting the opening of orange picking season at Porterville, California in 1931
During the Great Depression people were destitute and hungry, they were poor and trying to make a better life for themselves with very little. With no prospects they traveled west to find work wherever they could: fruit fields, orchards, anywhere that would have them. Unfortunately, much of their work was dependent on the seasons.
Many families that had good work for a few months would inevitably have to move on once the season came to an end. If they had some money saved that would be okay, if not they were once again forced to search for work. Sadly, this didn’t stop until America entered World War II.
Dutch Resistance fighters armed with captured German weapons talk in the streets of Breda, Netherlands following its liberation in 1944
After Germany invaded every country that they could reach during World War II no one knew how to handle it. They had never faced such horrific attempts on their lives and their countrymen. In the Netherlands a group of resistance fighters came together to take on the Nazis however they could.
The Dutch resistance wasn’t large but they did everything they could to help the Allied Forces with information and counterintelligence. They also carried out sabotage attempts on the German military. In 1944, their efforts were rewarded with the southern section of the Netherlands was freed. It would be nearly another year before the rest of the country was taken from the clutches of the German military.
Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde, photographed in 1882. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, the early 1890s saw him become one of the most popular playwrights in London.
Famous worsmith and poet Oscar Wilde is likely most well known for his story The Portrait of Dorian Gray. The work spoke of the way in which beauty will always be preferred over intelligence, something that Wilde was often thinking of. Much of his writing was focused on the search for leisure, something that everyone understands.
Today, Wilde remains the patron saint of people who would rather have a good time. He famously said of his extreme contempt for work:
One must have some sort of occupation nowadays. If I hadn’t my debts I shouldn’t have anything to think about.
King Ferdinand and Queen Marie of Romania arriving at Dover, England for a state visit on May 12, 1924
This stately couple is King Ferdinand of Romania and his wife, Marie, after arriving in England for a state visit following World War I. While Romania was tecnically a part of Germany’s Imperial Family, Ferdiand threw his support behind the Allied Forces. He later said that he had decided to “reign as a good Romanian.”
Even though the Romanian military wasn’t a major force during the war, Ferdiand did end up uniting Bukovina and Transylvania in 1918. He was later crowned the king of “Greater Romania” in 1922. This peaceful unification didn’t last long as a civil war broke out shortly afterwards.
Martin Luther King Jr. at the pulpit
Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t just a preacher or a civil rights leader, he was an inspiration to people across the world who sought peace. His sermons and speeches continue to inspire and he’s someone who we still think of when we imagine a better world. It’s impossible to quantify just how he changed the world.
While speaking with NPR, the Rev. James A. Ford exolained just why Doctor King’s words continue to inspire:
I think that there was a kind of magic about the cadence and the tone of his voice and the way he actually started quite frequently fairly slow, but slowly you were enveloped and you were a part of his pace; you moved along with him. He engaged you. I mean, often he would ask a question repeatedly, and even if you didn’t get a chance to answer back, you thought back an answer. It was a dialogical process. It was an interactive process.
Princess Elizabeth did her part for the war effort when she served as an ambulance driver for the Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II. 1945
During World War II everyone – and we mean everyone – pitched in to make a difference and save the world from the Axis. That includes the young Princess Elizabeth who transitioned from giving speeches to other young people on the radio to driving an amublance and working on trucks. She refused to sit around in hiding and threw herself into the action.
Years later, the Queen admitted that she slipped out of Buckingham Palace on the day that the war ended to be with the throngs of Londoners who were celebrating V-E Day:
We cheered the king and queen on the balcony, then walked miles through the streets. I remember miles of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall (the main street of British government), all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief. I also remember when someone exchanged hats with a Dutch sailor – and the poor man, coming along with us to get his cap back.
Rosa Parks & Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery, Alabama circa 1955
Known as the “mother of the civil rights movement” Rosa Parks literally changed the world when she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. That simple act in 1955 resulted in a lengthy bus boycott and a Supreme Court ruling on integrating busses. Her one brave act changed everything.
Parks later said that she didn’t know that the country would react the way they did, she just followed her heart:
I didn’t have any idea just what my actions would bring about. At the time I was arrested I didn’t know how the community would react. I was glad that they did take the action that they did by staying off the bus.
This photograph of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, considered “one of the most prolific figures in engineering history” was taken 160 years ago.
No no no, this isn’t some kind of giant chain collector, this is a colorized photo of one of the most adventurous engineers of the 19th century. In the 1800s, Brunel spearheaded the construction of a collection of tunnels, bridges, and viaducts that connected disparate sections of England. Aside from building these connecting bodies he also designed a series of transatlantic ships.
It may not sound crazy that an engineer would dedicate his life to desiging bridges and ships, but Brunel was more than that. He took his own designs and tried to figure out how they could be improved. For instance he figured out how to create tubular suspension and truss bridges that could improve bridges he’d already constructed.
The Russian author Tolstoy, regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time posing in 1908
Today Leo Tolstoy is recognized as one of the most important and nuanced authors of all time. Tolstoy was born into an aristocratic family, but a moral crisis over the class he was born into and the intensely structured Russian hierarchy led him to write groundbreaking works like War and Peace. His work not only changed the way people thought, it echoed into the civil rights movement.
By 1908, Tolstoy spent most of his time writing letters to his friends and people he admired. He wrote a letter on non-violence to one of a correspondent that made its way into the hands of a young Gandhi. The letter changed his life and steeled his resolve for peace.
Tsar Nicholas II of Russia photographed at the location of the 1st Army General Alexander Ivanovich Litvinov in the Dvinsk district. Taken on January 30, 1916
It’s strange to think that just a year after this photo was taken Tsar Nicholas II and his family was taken by a group of Bolsheviks. Nicholas fell out of favor with his people and the army refused to support him. He and his family were taken to different locations, it was as if they no longer existed.
In March 1918, Russia fell into pure chaos as a civil war broke out across the country. That July, Nicholas II and his famiyl were taken out of the world after the leader of the Bolsheviks offed them in order to make a lesson of them. It’s one of the most brutal and visceral ends ever recorded in history.
U.S. athlete Jesse Owens salutes during the presentation of his gold medal for the long jump, after defeating Nazi Germany’s Lutz Long, during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
At the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Jesse Owens found himself in the middle of an international controversy when he absolutely trounced all comers in the long jump, 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and the 4×100 meter relay. Taking place in Nazi occupied Berline, the Olympics were a horror show that year and Owens was told to boycott. But he wanted to race.
While speaking about the games after his multiple gold medal wins he explained:
People come out to see you perform, and you’ve got to give them the best you have within you. A lifetime of training, for just 10 seconds.. I wanted no part of politics. And I wasn’t in Berlin to compete against any one athlete. The purpose of the Olympics, anyway, was to do your best.
Winston Churchill & Charlie Chaplin, on the set of “City Lights,” 1929
You may not think that these two English gentlemen would be friends, and intiially they weren’t. When Churchill first met Chaplin they were both on the opposite end of the political spectrum. While they remained that way for the rest of their lives, both men developed a respect for one another based on a series of lengthy conversations.
The two men became so close that Churchill became comfortable enough with the star to pitch him film ideas. The military man famously tried to get Chaplin to produce a film on the rise and fall of Napoleon to no avail. He said:
Think of its possibilities for humour. Napoleon in his bathtub arguing with his imperious brother who’s all dressed up, bedecked in gold braid, and using this opportunity to place Napoleon in a position of inferiority. But Napoleon, in his rage, deliberately splashes water over his brother’s fine uniform and he has to exit ignominiously from him. This is not alone clever psychology. It is action and fun.
A young Iranian woman hits the beach, 1960s
Iran of the 1960s was nothing like the Iran of today. Before the revolution women were allowed to go outside without their hair covered and they dressed similarly to Americans at the time. It was an entirely different world that went away in an instant in 1979.
Speaking about the change with the BBC, Professor Haleh Afshar explained:
This is a scene you would no longer expect to see in Iran – but even after the Islamic Revolution, hairdressers continued to exist. Nowadays you wouldn’t see a man inside the hairdressers – and women would know to cover up their hair as soon as they walked out the door. Some people may also operate secret salons in their own homes where men and women can mix.
In Grace Kelly’s earliest gigs she was told that her chin was “too wide”
Grace Kelly was only 24 years old when she became one of the most famous women on the planet. All it took was a star turn in Mogambo and she was on the cover of every magazine and on top of mind for every film goer in the country. She had no idea that she why everyone loved her so, they just did.
Kelly later spoke about why she felt like she was never going to be a success, stating that more often than not she was simply not exactly what casting directors were looking for. She said:
I was in the ‘Too’ category. Too tall, too leggy, too chinny.
Presidential Candidate, Senator John F. Kennedy, talking to his brother and campaign manager, Robert F. Kennedy, in a hotel room in Los Angeles during the Democratic National Convention in July 1960
This photo, taken in a hotel room during the 1960 Democratic National Convention, shows a young Senator John F. Kennedy debating his VP choice with Robert Kennedy, his brother and campaign manager. At the time, Kennedy was fending off older members of the Democratic party. He knew that he needed to find the right person to stand by his side and make Americans feel like a steady hand was on the wheel.
Photographer John Loengard snapped this very tense photo, and he later explainedthat he realized he had no business being in the room. He said:
I was doing a story on Bobby Kennedy. The morning after Jack was nominated, we went up to his room. The brothers talked very quietly, and Jack told Bobby he wasn’t going to choose [labor union leader] Walter Reuther for Vice President. . . . I waited outside for Bobby to come out. When he did, he was furious. We were walking back down the stairs, and Bobby was hitting his hand like this, saying ‘Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t.’ You know, he really hated [Lyndon] Johnson.
Geologist Thomas Griffith Taylor and Meteorologist Charles Wright photographed on the 5 January 1911 at the entrance of a grotto in the side of an iceberg with the Terra Nova ship in the background
This shot of Thomas Griffith Tayor and Charles Wright was snapped after a long journey to Antarctica from England. At the time there were multiple explorers trying to be the first person to reach the South Pole. Robert Falcon Scott, Shackleton, and Norwegian explorer Roald Amundesen were all in competition with one another.
Scott’s group roughed it over Terra Nova through sub-freezing temperatures and intense hunger. All they wanted to do was the recognition of being the first group to the South Pole, it was so bad they could taste it. The group made it to their destination but Amundsen was already there…
Hitchhiking was a common way of getting around in life during the ’60s and ’70s
There was something magical about hitchhiking in the 1960s. It was an era when America was still young, when people still felt safe hopping into a car with a stranger… or letting a stranger hang out with you in your front seat. While some people hitched for long trips others just used their ol’ thumb to get around town.
This was a time when it was entirely acceptable to just hang out with strangers in a car. For every weirdo that you picked up you were more than likely to meet someone nice and forge a lifelong friendship. Or maybe you’d just have a nice conversation. Either way it’s sad that hithchhiking has gone to the wayside.