Look Closer... Vintage Photos That Were Never Edited
By | December 6, 2022
Take your time with these colorized photos of the forgotten past, there's a lot to take in. The nuance and depth that comes with the colorization of a formerly black and white photo makes you feel like you're in the moment, not just looking at it through a screen...
This hand picked collection of rarely seen photos from the past will 100 percent blow your mind. Not only do these photos jump off the screen with a vibrancy unmatched by their black and white counterparts, but they feature in depth stories that may not be suitable for all audiences.
⚡ Proceed with caution when looking deeper into these newly colorized photos, many of them are for mature audiences only. You've been warned... ⚡
Well this is definitely not the usual World War II photo. When two German bombers fell from the sky around August 15, 1940, the folks of Cheshire must have thought they were being invaded, but in fact they were just getting some local color.
While this many sites mark this photo as being taken on August 14, it was most likely snapped around the 15th or 16th. On August 15, 1940, a massive air engagement took place between the Luftwaffe and the RAF which ended in the German army losing 76 aircrafts. For the British this was a much needed win, but for the Germans it became known as "Black Thursday."
It's entirely possible that this plane crashed completely apropos of Black Thursday, maybe the pilot was just awful at navigation.
The King was always close to his mother and father. While most people love their parents, Elvis felt it was his duty to keep them safe and make sure he took care of them the way they took care of him.
While speaking with the New York Daily Mirror about their son, Elvis' parents noted that he was already thinking about how to care for them when he was just a child. Gladys said:
When he was hardly four he'd tell me, ‘Don't worry, baby. When I'm grown up I'll buy you a big home and two cars. One for you and Daddy and one for me.' All his life he'd say out loud what he was going to do for us, and he'd say it in front of other people. And you know, I believed him.
For what it's worth, Elvis did make sure his parents were taken care of. They lived with him throughout their lives, and after his first brush with success he made sure they were taken care of.
This couple kissing underneath the mistletoe for Christmas in 1940 are just two of the Londoners who had to be prepared for chemical warfare to break out at any time during World War II. With memories of the mustard gas of the first World War fresh in their minds, no one in England left anything to chance while at war with the Germans.
Even though gas was never used against the British during World War II, they remained prepared for anything. There was no way of knowing what Hitler was do during the war so it was a case better safe than sorry. In fact, at least one poster reminding Londoners to keep their masks with them at all times read:
Hitler will send no warning – so always carry your gas mask.
When Briggite Bardot attended the Cannes Film Festival in 1956, she made a pilgrimage to the home of notorious flirt and father of cubism, Pablo Picasso. Accompanied by a Life Magazine photographer, the two posed in Picasso's studio but he didn't paint her. He later explained:
It is my misfortune — and probably my delight — to use things as my passions tell me. What a miserable fate for a painter who adores blondes to have to stop himself putting them into a picture because they don't go with the basket of fruit!
You'd think the guy would have had someone run out and buy the right fruit.
In the final months of the Civil War, Major General Sherman led his famed "March to the Sea," a scorched Earth campaign that saw his men destroy military targets, infrastructure, and civilian property throughout the south in order to completely upend the Confederacy's economy and transportation networks.
Sherman was clearly a no nonsense guy, so when he said that he wanted to burn the south he meant it. His instructions were as follows:
No rebels shall be allowed to remain at Davis Mill so much as an hour. Allow them to go, but do not let them stay. And let it be known that if a farmer wishes to burn his cotton, his house, his family, and himself, he may do so. But not his corn. We want that.
When a bill was under consideration in the Washington legislature that would make it a misdemeanor offense to display firearms or other weapons in a manner manifesting intent to intimate others, the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party made their way to the legislature steps to voice their dissent the only way they thought would make an impact - with guns in hand.
Two groups actually came from Seattle independent of one another, and both of them had a litany of issues with the bill. Dressed in black leather jacket, black pants, dark shirt, black beret, black shoes, and dark sunglasses, the group positioned themselves on the steps with their weapons held upright reminding the legislature that the 2nd Amendment gave them the right to bear arms.
In spite of the protest, the bill was signed and the Panthers were forced to stop carrying weapons openly. Black Panther Elmer Dixon described the group that day:
They had no fear. We did not fear death and we did not fear consequences because we had our principles. We were revolutionary and ready to die for the people. That was the mindset of the revolutionary and mindset of a Panther. If you had fear, you had no business being in the Black Panther Party.
If the 21st century feels like a time without any wonder it's mostly because all of the cool discoveries were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries - and the coolest was made by Howard Carter.
In 1922 archaeologist Howard Carter dug up one of the most fascinating treasures on Earth, the tomb of King Tut. But Carter didn't just waltz into the Egyptian desert and find the sarcophagus, he spent decades excavating Egypt, and by the time he was 30 he was a chief inspector of the Egyptian Antiquities Service in particular for Lower Egypt, a position where he worked to enforce the protections of excavation sites.
The actual excavation of the Valley of the Kings didn't begin until 1917, six years of digging later he finally discovered the sarcophagus of King Tutankhamun who died in his late teens.
The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff... Herbert Niccolls, the 12 year old who shot and killed Asotin County's sheriff in 1931 ☠️
In August 1931, 12 year old Herbert Niccolls Jr. pulled a pistol on Sheriff John Wormell and shot him dead in the street as the 73 year old lawman investigated a noise at Peter Klaus’ People’s Supply Store. When deputies came to see what was happening they found Niccolls behind a vinegar barrel with $2.82, a pack of Lucky Strikes and Adams gum.
No one in Asotin County Washington knew what to do with the boy. He was too young to go to the state penitentiary, and the state believed that he had an innate criminal nature.
Eventually he was sent to prison where he was kept separate from the rest of the population, and he was thoroughly educated while in the joint. Despite protests from the people of Asotin County, Niccolls was paroled and he moved to California where he became a studio executive at 20th Century Fox.
The Christmas Truce of 1914 brought a momentary end to the gunfire and shrapnel along the Western Front during World War I. This unofficial ceasefire brought soldiers out of their trenches on both sides of the conflict and gave them time to celebrate the holiday in relative peace.
The whole thing began on Christmas Eve when German and British troops alike began singing Christmas carols to one another across enemy lines. At dawn on Christmas morning German soldiers left their trenches to shout "Merry Christmas" in English before making a momentary truce.
Each side took a breather, with soldiers decorating trees and even playing a game of soccer. German Lieutenant Kurt Zehmisch rememberd:
How marvelously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it. Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as friends for a time.
Major Charles Young in 1916. He was the third African-American to graduate from West Point, the first black U.S. National Park superintendent, and the first black man to become a Colonel ⚔️
When it comes to being impressive, that quality has nothing to do with the color of a person's skin. Colonel Charles Young knew that, which is why he made his mission in life to become one of the most successful military men and government officials of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Born out of brutal oppression, Young emerged as a distinguished soldier and officer in the United States Army, making him a role model for a generation of young people of color.
Even after he was technically retired from military duty, Young made a 500 mile horseback ride from Wilberforce, Ohio, to Washington, D.C. to prove that he was fir to serve in World War I. Prior to the 1918 armistice, he was assigned to Camp Grant to train black servicemen and then he was sent to serve as military attaché to Liberia.
In 1918 and 1919 the world faced one of its greatest tests. An outbreak of the flu spread across the world killing between 50 and 100 million people. The deadly flu didn't reach Australia until 1919, and upon arrival it took out more than 12,000 people.
Australia's death count is lower than it was in much of the world, but it still brought the continent to its knees. No one was ready for this flu.
These nurses are just following orders the best they can, they're keeping themselves covered in order to keep working and keep striving to make the country safe however possible.
It's strange to think of these two titans of film hanging out with each other, but in the 1930s Hollywood was still a small town. Guys like Chaplin and Walt Disney could just go to the race track and it wouldn't be a big deal. It's wild how things change...
According to Disney, he was a bit of Chaplin fan boy and spent his early years entering Charlie Chaplin look-a-like contests. In 1941 he told Ladies' Home Journal magazine:
I'd get in line with half a dozen guys. I'd ad-lib and play with my cane and gloves. Sometimes, I'd win $3, sometimes $2.50, sometimes just get carfare. I made the wig out of old hemp used to stuff pipes. It stunk of creosote. Later, I got wise to crepe hair.
The tradition of burial at sea has been taking place as long as men and women have been sailing the ocean blue. Long before the American army was a thing, bodies were sewn up in a weighted sailcloth before being sent over the side of a ship.
During World War II, many servicemen were buried at sea due to the fact that they were on ships that kept them away from land for weeks and months at a time. A lot of work goes into a sea burial, and the military doesn't take anything lightly. In order to properly bury someone at sea there are a litany of rules to follow both in terms of making sure the soldier receives a proper religious burial, as well as to make sure that they receive full military honors.
Frida Kahlo painting in bed, 1950s
Regardless of whether she painted in bed or standing on one foot, Frida Kahlo's work is awe inspiring. She worked through a series of illnesses that saw her in and out of the hospital for a decade between the '40s and '50s, ending with a spinal fusion surgery.
Kahlo never lost her spirit or her drive to paint, and through her time working in bed she continued with the portraits of herself and the people around, because as she said, she wanted to paint her own reality. She explained:
I paint self-portraits because I am the person I know best. I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to and I paint whatever passes through my head without any consideration.
Tuskegee airmen at Ramitelli, Italy, March 1945.
During World War II, African Americans weren't allowed to be pilots. The U.S. military thought that they were uncoordinated, or not smart enough, or that they were too afraid to fly through a war zone - honestly put whatever racist spin on it you want. Basically the military didn't want people of color flying their equipment.
However, when the Army Air Forces agreed to bring a small selection of black men to test their prowess in a plane the tests were so successful that the pilots - code named Red Tail Angels - began escorting bombers on their runs.
More than just a test group, the Tuskegee Airman Red Tails were pilots that soldiers looked up to during the war, literally. When they looked into the sky and saw a red tail flying above, they knew that everything was under control.
"The man who started WW1" On June 28, 1914, Gavrilo Princip, photographed in his prison cell at the Terezín fortress, 1914
If there's a defining moment of the early 20th century it's Gavrilo Princip firing the first shot of World War I as he assassinated Arch Duke Ferdinand. Born in Bosnia, Princip was a member of Young Bosnia, a group that sought to end Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina by any means necessary.
On June 28, 1914, Princip and several members of the group went to Sarajevo where they attempted multiple assassinations against the Arch Duke, but it was Princip who stumbled upon his target as if by luck... and pulled the trigger.
Did Princip know that he was changing the world irrevocably? Or was he just acting on his young, fiery impulses?
The United States Capitol in 1846
One of the most important buildings in the country, the United States Capitol has been through a lot in its long life. In 1793, the cornerstone of the building was laid by President Washington, and the North Wing was finished in 1800 - just in time for the first session of Congress on November 17.
In 1813, two more wings were built and left with a connecting wooden passageway that turned out to be much more temporary than initially believed. The building was set on fire on August 24, 1814, by British troops. Thankfully, a rain storm kept the whole thing from burning down.
The version of the building in this shot by John Plumbe shows the reconstructed version that was pieced back together by Charles Bulfinch, a Boston architect, who made the dome the centerpiece of the building.
‘Snipers in the furthermost line’ - Photograph taken in early 1917
During World War I, snipers were some of the most terrifying soldiers of the era. Trench warfare essentially sprung up because the snipers of the era were too good at picking people off - especially the Americans. According to French commander-in-chief, Gen. Philippe Petain, American snipers had no problem excelling in such a deadly pursuit.
According to a journalist of the New York Sun, some American snipers were such a necessity to their squads that their ill temper and poor behavior was tolerated simply because they were such good shots. The journalist wrote about a soldier who was a “Tennessee moonshiner” who “simply couldn’t stand discipline.” His commanding officer said:
He’s the finest shot we’ve got; can pick an eye out of a Boche at 300 yards. When he draws a bead on one. it’s good night nurse, for he never lets loose until he’s certain.
The March on Washington, August 28th, 1963
The March on Washington was one of the most important moments of the Civil Rights movement, bringing together groups of likeminded people who wanted to let the U.S. government know that they demanded equal justice for all citizens under the law.
250,000 people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. at this one day event, and championed the passage of civil rights legislation - but it's most famous for doctor Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech.
During the speech, King set aside his notes and spoke from the heart, letting everyone know that what they were doing would send reverberations out into the future. He said in part:
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream that…one day right there in Alabama, little Black boys and Black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
The original glass plate is captioned "Louis." Photographed in near a German prisoner of war camp in Douchy, France sometime in 1916.
This chilling photo of two French children in a German prisoner of war camp is hard enough to look at, but the story behind the shot is even more worrisome. According to German soldier Ernst Jünger, the two boys were obsessed with the German military and did everything they could to endear themselves to the soldiers. He explains in his memoir:
There were two French boys, orphans, one eight, and the other twelve years old, who became attached to the troops in the most extraordinary way. They wore nothing by field gray, spoke fluent German, and saluted all officers in the prescribed manner. They spoke to their fellow-countrymen contemptuously and called them 'Schangels' as they heard the soldiers doing. Their great desire was to go into the line with their company... When the Battalion went for a few weeks' training one of the two, called Louis, was by order of Colonel von Oppen, to remain behind in Douchy.
Billie Holiday and her Boxer named Mister at Downbeat club in New York, 1947
This titan of jazz, with her smoke soaked vocals and soul grasping songs wasn't just a singer, she was a dog love too. Holiday always had a fondness for animals, but dogs were closest to her heart. At one point she cared a tine poodle named Gypsy in her coat pocket, she had baby chihuahuas, and a wire-haired terrier named Bessie Mae Moocho, but it was her boxer named Mister who was her true companion.
They went everywhere together, through the cold of New York and into the warmth of the west coast. They were true friends. Author Amy Novesky writes of Holiday's relationship with Mister:
Mister and Lady Day were rarely apart. She knit him sweaters and cloaked him in a mink coat. She cooked for him and took him on midnight walks... She sang to him. Mister was Lady’s favorite. Someday, she’d have a house in the country filled with dogs. Life would be good. Mister would be there. He always was.
Union soldiers posing with a cannon, ca 1862
This is genuinely a fascinating sight. We don't get to see very many photos from the Civil War, and often the photos that we do see are so dour and black and white that it's hard to tell what's going on. Thanks to the colorization going on here it's as if we're in the middle of the action, or inaction as it may be.
It's likely that these men weren't just posing with a cannon, they're the team that's meant to help fire of it. Cannons were manned by teams of nine, with multiple soldiers needed to sponge the barrel to prevent unplanned explosions, carry projectiles, place the powder and shell into the cannon, and a gunner to actually target and aim the piece of heavy duty machinery.
These fellows knew the ins and outs of their cannon, it was basically another member of the team.
The Statue of Liberty - Paris, France, 1886. Before it was transported to America
In order to honor the friendship between France and America, French political intellectual and anti-slavery activist Edouard de Laboulaye proposed a kind of insane idea: why not build a statue to show how much the two countries love each other?
French sculptor Auguste Bartholdi was brought on board, and in 1871 he took a trip to America to figure out where to out it. In spite of its small stature, he felt that Bedloe's Island was the "gateway to America." But first he had to build the statue.
The statue was completed in parts, with the arm holding the torch seeing completion in 1876 before it was shown at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. The torch was followed by the head and shoulders in 1878. The entire statue wouldn't be completed until 1884.
Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran & Jimmy Hoffa
So he doesn't look anything like Robert De Niro, but Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran was definitely a real guy. He was a high ranking official in the International Brotherhood of Teamster, and shortly before he passed away in 2003 he took the full credit for offing Jimmy Hoffa, which is quite the death bed statement.
De Niro has said that he'd been trying to play this real life character for more than a decade, it just took forever to get everyone together. He explained:
It's a terrific book … I read it and I said, 'Marty [Scorsese], you should read this book because I think maybe this is what we should try and [do]... We started this whole process in 2007, so it's been a long time coming. I'm excited to see it and to share it after all this time working on it.
Volunteer ambulance driver for the American Red Cross Motor Corps, 1917
In 1917 the American Red Cross needed ambulance drivers, and seeing how there was a war on they were extremely open to the idea of women taking charge and helping out whenever they could.
Because this was a volunteer position, many women couldn't take time off of work to drive so many of the earliest ambulance pilots were women women of wealth who had plenty of time to speed around for hours on end - and they usually had the correct license.
These drivers took care of anything and everything. They drove canned goods and supplies, as well as garments for he American Fund for French Wounded, and delivered supplies, patients, and personnel on behalf of the Red Cross.
Willis Winn, an ex-slave, holding the horn 'with which slaves were called'. 1936.
Taken near Marshall, Texas, this shot shows former slave Willis Winn in what must have been a strange position for him. To be a free person in the early 20th century and have in his possession the very horn that was used to wrangle people of color who were forced into servitude has to be an odd feeling.
Even though the horn is a piece of history, it must have been tough to not just throw it away or launch it into the nearest fire. The things we keep that remind us of the past can be strange, or even painful. But sometimes we need those things to remind us of how good we have it in the present.
Witches, 1875. Restored and reconstructed
Are these real deal 19th century witches? Or is it just a group of friends having fun? We'll never really know if these gals are showing their witchy ways or goofing off, but in this era people were much more superstitious and open to believing things outside of the secular world so maybe it's a bit of both.
Everyone who grew up in a rural area in the 19th century was at the very least prone to superstitious beliefs, whether it was waiting to put in fence posts by the dark of the moon, or refusing to start something new on a Friday.
This photo is definitely open to interpretation, but we'd like to think that it's a coven group photo. Wouldn't that make life more fun?
Street car conductor in Seattle not allowing passengers aboard without a mask, during Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918
As the flu pandemic of 1918 spread across America it was a well known fact that the best way to keep from spreading your own germs was to cover your mouth with a mask. This street car conductor probably had to do this multiple times a day, something that must have brought great distress to a guy who was just doing his job.
This shot is eerily similar to modern day America, where we're all just trying to do our best when we go out into the world. If you've taken public transit recently you know that the same rules that were in effect in 1918 are in effect today. That is to say: no mask, no ride.
General Francisco "Pancho" Villa in 1914, during the Mexican Revolution
Pancho Villa is one of the few real life mythological figures that we have in the west. Unlike your Paul Bunyans and Johnny Appleseeds, Pancho Villa was a larger than life desperado who was really running around and changing the world.
At different times in his life Villa was a mercenary, a bandit, and a government official. He was a friend and an enemy to America, and most of all he was bloody and inspirational. Mexican Nobel laureate Octavio Paz explained:
The brutality and uncouthness of many of the revolutionary leaders has not prevented them from becoming popular myths. Villa still gallops through the north, in songs and ballads; Zapata dies at every popular fair. … It is the Revolution, the magical word, the word that is going to change everything, that is going to bring us immense delight and a quick death.
Lyndon B. Johnson meeting with civil rights leaders Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Whitney Young, and James Farmer in the Oval Office in 1964.
In 1964, LBJ was struggling to find his place in the presidency. He was only a few months away from President Kennedy's assassination and he was trying to continue the former president's agenda of civil rights. While speaking in front of Congress he told lawmakers:
No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy's memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long... We have talked long enough in this country about equal rights. We have talked for one hundred years or more. It is time now to write the next chapter, and to write it in the books of law.
With his Oval Office meeting with civil rights leaders, Johnson was showing that he was willing to put his money where his mouth is.
Mark Twain and his long-time friend John T. Lewis, standing together at Quarry Farm, Elmira, New York - 1903
As a long time friend to Mark Twain, or Samuel Clemens if you prefer, John T. Lewis was always there for the irascible writer. The two first met when Lewis worked for Twain's father-in-law as a coachman, but their friendship continued when Twain spent time in Elmira, New York where Lewis worked as a tenant farmer.
The partnership between these two men was cemented when Lewis saved the lives of Clemens' sister-in-law, her young daughter and a nurse when a runaway horse dragged their carriage downhill toward a deadly curve in the road. Lewis received enough reward money to pay off his debts and help his ill father. Although the help was appreciated, he thought he was only doing what another person should do. He wrote:
Inasmuch as divine providence saw fit to use me as an instrument for the saving of those presshious lives, the honner conferd upon me was greater than the feat performed.
Alan Turing, "The father Artificial Intelligence"
Everyone reading this has Alan Turing to thank for the normalization of using computers in every day life. Turing wasn't just a scholar, he was futurist, and straight up war hero, although he was also and extremely tortured person throughout his life.
Turing felt that computers weren't just the future, but that they were going to take over every aspect of our daily lives. He stated:
It seems probable that once the machine thinking method had started, it would not take long to outstrip our feeble powers. They would be able to converse with each other to sharpen their wits. At some stage therefore, we should have to expect the machines to take control.
WW1 Soldiers on Leave - Soldiers were not allowed on leave until 1915 as officers believed the war would be finished by the end of 1914.
This photo shows the homey joy of a holiday away from the scourge of battle. Soldiers spent the first Christmas of the war on the Front thanks to ill planning and just plain old wishful thinking.
The British armed forces believed that World War I would be finished by the end of 1914 at the latest, so when the soldiers left for battle in August of that year there was no leave built into their schedules.
As morale dipped when the war continued, soldiers were granted leave even if it was only every 10 to 18 months. That really just isn't enough time.
Booker T. Washington - born into slavery, he put himself through school and became a teacher after the Civil War.
Booker T. Washington once said:
Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.
That's the kind of statement that you can make with conviction when you educate yourself after escaping from slavery. Aside from simply educating himself, Washington had an innate understanding of the political arena, a skill that he used to raise money for black owned businesses and charities, as well as to break the African American people free from the systemic racism into which they were born. He was a mighty man who showed what it meant to be human.
Schoolgirls design posters with women's equality themes as they compete for a prize in a suffrage poster contest at the Fine Arts Club, October 14, 1915.
What better way to get young people involved with a political movement than to have them create art? This not only helps them feel like a part of the mission, but they are actually doing something to be in the movement and not just paying lip service to a group.
The women's suffrage movement was pushing for women to gain the right to vote, something they'd been striving for since the 19th century. It makes since that these young women would be making art for the group, obviously they wanted to have their voices heard too. It's great to see young people taking up a cause in such a cool way.
Charlie Chaplin selling war bonds on Wall Street, 1918
Believe it or not, but the little tramp himself sold war bonds during World War I in spite of being from England. In 1918, Charlie Chaplin brought tens of thousands of people to Wall Street where they watched him perform in front of the United States Sub Treasury building in the name of selling liberty bonds.
It wasn't all that unusual for famous people to sell war bonds. During this era the government consistently enlisted celebrities to promote sales of these bonds, and their numbers went through the roof.
Chaplin actually went on tour promoting war bonds, he even made a film about the concept of bonds that year. He may not have been on the front lines, but he was all in.
Pauline Cushman, actress and a spy for the Union in the Civil War. Made brevet Major by President Lincoln for her efforts in the war. 1865.
This is a story that you definitely don't read about in the history books. Pauline Cushman was born Harriet Wood in 1833, but she changed her name when she moved to New York City to become an actor when she was 18. After her first husband passed away in the Civil War she was left with two children.
After moving to Louisville Cushman began working as a spy for the Union Army, although the details of her work are murky. According to a biography written about Cushman in 1865:
The career of the subject of this work, the beautiful and accomplished Miss Pauline Cushman, or ‘Major’ Cushman, as she is entitled to be called…is one so varied by patriotic incident and stirring adventure, that the ear of young or old can never become satiated by its recital.
Children in front of moving picture theater, Easter Sunday matinee, Black Belt, Chicago, Illinois. 1941.
Such immaculately dressed children, this photo could only be from the early 20th century... that was seriously the last era when anyone looked this nice to go to the movies. In the 1940s going to the movies was a privilege, not only was the country in a major shift from the Great Depression to World War II, but Jim Crow laws were still in effect, making life hard on all people of color.
Regardless of the major upheaval taking place all around them, these kids were definitely in for a treat at the Sunday matinee. 1940 alone saw films like The Great Dictator, Rebecca, and Kitty Foyle, although these young folks probably weren't going to see any of those.
More than likely these dapper children were checking out the animated antics of Tom and Jerry or even Stone Age Cartoons.
‘Meal Break for Teamsters and Horses’, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1900.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, an Australian frontiersman named Sidney Kidman created a cattle empire on the outback with nothing but gumption and a need to survive. He spent days riding through the wilderness with 20 head of cattle, not getting any sleep to keep the dingoes and wild dogs from making a meal of his herd.
From there he went into business for himself, hauling water and passengers to gold camps when he wasn't driving cattle hundreds of miles across the outback. It wasn't an easy life, and even when he was able to hire on a group of men to work for him things were tough. But this isn't a job you take if you're licked easily.
Martin Luther King, Jr. with Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Sammy Davis Jr , Polly Bergen, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Franciosa, Ralph Abernathy - during his 1963 visit to LA for a civil rights rally.
We don't often think of Marin Luther King Jr. as a west coast guy, but in 1963 he made a pilgrimage to Los Angeles as the keynote speaker at a Civil Right Rally held at Wrigley Field.
In front of 300,000 people including stars like Dorothy Dandridge, Rita Moreno, Paul Newman, and Sammy Davis Jr., Doctor King reminded people that no matter their color no one will be free until we're all free. Later, at a fundraiser held at Burt Lancaster's home, King explained to his listeners, "Birmingham or Los Angeles, the cry is always the same. We want to be free.”
'Watering cattle at Mount Kosciuszko,' at Blue Lake, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1900.
You've heard that you can't lead a horse to water and make it drink, well the same goes for cattle. Old sayings aside, this absolutely stunning view is in the high country of Australia where farmers and cattle drivers brought their sheep and cattle to graze every summer from 1830 to 1969, when the area's industry was switched to tourism rather than farming.
It's believed that this photo was taken by George Bell, a photographer for the Sydney based company of Charles Kerry and Co., whose work provided some of the most arresting visuals of Australia, long before we could all hop over with an international flight.
Even in black and white his work is inspiring. Doesn't it just make you want to get lost in a field of grazing cows out on the Australian highlands?
Before Tiger King there was “King of Reptiles — Rattlesnake Joe” at Westchester County Fair, New York, ca 1910
There's nothing like a country fair to get a town all giddy. Not only do you have an excuse to eat funnel cake and different kinds of food on a stick, but you get to see creatures from across the world that you'd never get a chance to come in contact with unless some oddly named stranger brought them to your town.
Fairs have been bringing strange things to small towns for generations. There's really no beginning point for the concept other than merchants getting together and agreeing to go from place to place peddling their wares for a week or so at a time.
When it comes to Rattlesnake Joe, there's not a lot of information on this fellow, but he likely brought a lot of color to whatever fair would have him. After all, it's not every day that you see someone walking around with a trailer full of snakes.
African American flood victims lined up to get food and clothing at Red Cross relief station, 1937.
the Ohio River flooded nearly every block of Louisville, Kentucky and the surrounding areas. Nearly 400 people lost their lives in the flash flood, and almost one million people were left homeless across five states.
Photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White captured the dismay and the fear on the faces of the people of Louisville. She captured the gloomy faces of these people with nowhere to go, the sign behind them reading "world's highest standard of living," is almost dripping with irony.
Even though each of these individuals has been horribly displaced they're all dressed well, they refuse to let the randomness of life get them down.
Chaplain Kenny Lynch conducts services north of Hwacheon, Korea, for men of the 31st Regiment. 1951, Korean War.
It can be hard to find a place of worship - or even a place to worship - when you're in the middle of a war zone, but Chaplain Kenny Lynch made sure the men of the 31st Regiment had a place to pray on Sundays during the Korean War.
According to his obituary, Lynch got his start as a Chaplain during World War II. He went with the 3rd Armored Division and 32nd Armored Regiment in England, into Normandy, through Belgium and into Germany. That's a scary place to be, and you need someone with faith on your side.
Lynch received the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in ground operations against the enemy in Korea, and during that time he was at the front lines on Christmas Day, 1951.
Belle Isle ferry dock, Detroit, in 1905
The Belle Isle Ferry once served the Detroit area as a means for folks in this Michigan paradise to travel between Car City and Belle Isle. The island is taken care of like it's a state park, but it's not just greenery and sea, it's got a conservatory, the the Belle Isle Nature Center, a golf course, a beach, and on and on.
In the late 19th century the state government wanted to turn the island into one giant park, but that didn't work out. Still, Belle Isle is one of the most fascinating and lovely places in the midwest to this day.
Troop 446 Boy Scouts meeting in the community center of the Ida B. Wells Housing Project, Chicago, 1942
This shot is absolutely amazing. When we think of Boy Scouts we often think of a white washed version of the group, but it's clear that there have been African American Boy Scouts since the early 20th century.
Wes Coleman, National Executive Board Member of the BSA, explains that being a Scout allows people of all colors to find a place in the world:
Scouting warmly welcomes young people, regardless of race or ethnicity, being an active participant in Scouting can break down barriers and allow our youth of all races to work together on projects and activities. This will have the result of our young people realizing there are no inherent differences in people. Working within a troop gives everyone the opportunity to see the best that we all have to offer. Scouting gives an opportunity for all young people to fully participate in activities that instill in them values that will impact them for the rest of their lives.
A busy market day at Jacques Cartier Square, Montreal, Canada in 1900
Down in the lower 48 we rarely think of Montreal as a bustling city of industry, but this Canadian town was already rocking and rolling by 1850. At two hundred years old by that point, Montreal was a major port city in North America, and by 1901 it had a population of over 267,000 - that's more than double its population in 1850.
At the turn of the 20th century there were streetcars going up and down the roads, newspapers in French and English, and merchants crawling the streets in search of their next sale. It was legitimately a city to reckon with along side Detroit and Chicago.
Couple at rollerskating rink in Southside, Chicago, Illinois. April 1941
This couple is so clearly in love that it's almost too sweet to look at. Thankfully the next picture on here will tone down the saccharine feelings just a bit.
In the 1940s if you wanted to go on a date you couldn't just open up Tinder or a myriad of other dating apps and pick someone out for the night. You had to actually try a little romance, sweet talking, etc.
The best place to go in this era was the roller rink. It was like going to a dance but there were no wall flowers - you had to be moving or you were toast. You could be the goofy guy, the couple's skate king, or just a four wheeled lothario. It was all up to you.
Edwardians riding exercise bikes whilst wearing day clothes in a gymnasium on board the Cunard line liner, RMS Franconia. Feb 21, 1911.
Exercising in the Edwardian era must have been a hassle. Not only was the machinery clunky, but you had to wear a full suit while you were doing it. If nothing else you worked up a sweat quickly. Some of the equipment of the era was similar to what we have today - there were bicycle machines and weights, but there was also whatever an "electric horse" was.
At the time you could also play racquet ball and go for a swim, which is exactly what Titanic survivor Archibald Gracie said he was doing the morning before the accident:
I was up early before breakfast and met the professional racquet player in a half hour's warming up for a swim in the six foot deep tank of saltwater heated to a refreshing temperature.
Five Malta-based pilots sitting in front of two fighter aircraft at Luqa. 1943
We don't tend to think about Malta when we think of World War II. Sites like Normandy and Pearl Harbor are much more prominent, but this archipelago in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast faced near constant bombardment by the Luftwaffe and Italian Air Force.
These pilots must have been a part of the Allied forces who helped Operation "Pedestal" come to a success. The point of the operation was to get enough supplies to Malta to help the Allies wage attacks from this small island.
In spite of massive aerial bombings from Germany and Italy throughout 1942, Allied convoys were able to deliver enough supplies to last troops through 1943, breaking the siege.
Flu ward at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C., during the influenza pandemic of 1918
The horrific flu pandemic of 1918 and 1919 took the world by surprise, but America was hit the hardest. Different cities were able to fend off the virus, but not without hard work. In October of 1918, Health Department officials issued a public health notice to wash their hands and "hold before [their] face a cloth" when sneezing or coughing and to "keep out of places where people congregate." Sound familiar?
Later that month the entire city shut down, but as cases lowered the city reopened. Unfortunately, between October 1918 to February 1919, more than 30,000 D.C. residents came down with the virus and almost 3,000 people lost their lives. That number is just a small portion of the 675,000 people who passed away in America from the disease alone.
Charlie Chaplin, a dapper tramp
A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, and one of the world's first cinematic superstars, Charlie Chaplin was a filmmaker of few words throughout his early career, and this allowed the world to see him as a blank slate - audiences could apply any belief they wanted to him.
Although Chaplin was an Englishman, he felt that he was a citizen of the world. His films allowed him to enter countries without a passport and speak to people in their language. He expounded on this belief in 1942 while giving a speech at Carnegie Hall, saying:
I’m not a citizen, I don’t need citizenship papers, and I’ve never had patriotism in that sense for any country, but I’m a patriot to humanity as a whole. I’m a citizen of the world. If the Four Freedoms mean anything after this war, we don’t bother about whether we are citizens of one country or another.
Henry Brooks was born a slave in the mid 19th century. Taken 1941
For slaves, life in the Reconstruction era was like living in an entirely new world. No longer were they forced to suffer the gruesome brutality of slave life. There were no whippings and forcible relocations of family members, and whatever hardships they faced they did so as free people.
There was certainly difficulty. Across the south Jim Crow laws were enacted, keeping African Americans apart from the white community in meaningful ways that were meant to remind people of color of their former status.
Many southern black Americans lived in poverty in rural areas. Even so, a strong community formed all over the country, based on faith and hardship, former slaves endured.
Listen to what she has to say — British Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst addressing crowd on Wall Street, New York in 1911
This maverick political activist made her name organizing the UK suffragette movement and helping women win the right to vote. Political from a young age, Pankhurst became a suffragette at the tender age of 14 and formed the Women's Franchise League.
Rather than dictate what her followers did from her gilded cage, Pankhurst sold her home in England and went on the road to give speeches throughout England and the United States.
While acting as a firebrand speaker she was dealing with true sadness at home. Both of her sons passed away at a young age, and her husband Richard passed away in 1898 just as she was becoming a focal point of the national political spotlight.
Rural mailman transfers letters and packages to another postman's saddlebags — he will ride further up the side road and creek beds where no wagon or car can go. In the mountain section near Morehead, Kentucky, 1940
Rural mail carriers were one of the most important parts of the growing United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. Even as late as 1940 not everyone lived in an area where mail was easy to be delivered, they either had to travel to a distant Post office to pick up their mail, or else pay for delivery by a private carrier.
In order to make it easier for rural dwellers to receive their mail the United States Postal Service began a five route service in 1891 that c covered 10 miles in Jefferson County, West Virginia, near Charles Town, Halltown and Uvilla.
It took about five years, but rural postal deliverers became an official service in 1896 under President Grover Cleveland. He instituted 82 rural routes and by 1901 mileage had increased to over 100,000 with over 37,000 carriers under his employ.
Texas cowboys having a chuck wagon lunch during a cattle roundup in 1900
The chuck wagon lunch has kind of become a thing of southwest mythology thanks to the world's love of the cowboy. Even as late as the 1900s, cowboys out on the range were stopping off on the trail to heat up a rudimentary meal of beans, bread, and maybe some bacon if they were lucky.
The simple meal may not have been four star dining but it was definitely much needed after a long morning of travel and wrangling animals. These cowboys look like they have quite the collection of cookery going on, so they were probably able to make quite the feast while out of the range.
The daughters of a Prussian Garde-Landwehr officer pose happily with their fathers helmet and sword during the hot summer days in July 1914.
Who hasn't put on their dad's military gear and played around the house? These young girls wearing their dad's helmet and sword are exceedingly cute, even if they're wearing the garb of an infantry unit who fought in the first World War.
Most members of the Guards Fusiliers of the Prussian Army were members of nobility, which is why their outfits were so incredibly fancy.
Following the end of the World War I the regiment was disbanded, although elements of the group were later used to form the Reichswehr, but these girls aren't interested in that. They're just having a good time in the German summer.
The delegations signing the Treaty of Versailles in the Hall of Mirrors, 28 June 1919.
This is truly a fascinating piece of history. Signed on January 10, 1920, it officially brought an end to World War I, making it one of the most important peace treaties that's ever been signed.
Meeting at the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, the pact brought together members of the Allies so they could break down exactly what was expected in the treaty, no one from Germany or any of the other defeated powers attended the conference.
When everything was said and done, the European Allies imposed harsh peace terms on Germany, forcing the nation to surrender around 10 percent of its territory and all of its overseas possessions. On top of that, the treaty forced Germany to take total responsibility for starting World War I and pay huge reparations for Allied war losses.
The Schienenzeppelin in Berlin, June 1931. A train on the way to Hamburg passes the newly arrived rail zeppelin at Spandau main station.
We don't know if this train is taking off in time, but it definitely looks like it's going to get the job done. The Schienenzeppelin was an experimental railcar built to resemble a zeppelin by the German aircraft engineer Franz Kruckenberg.
We're actually looking at the back of the train, as the propellor acts as a means of propulsion. The train was able to reach speeds of 143 mph, setting the land speed record for a rail vehicle. As fast as this bad boy was, only one was built because it was just too dangerous to operate. In 1939 the train was finally scrapped.
General Merchandise, 1940, by Russell Lee
General stores have long been a must have for small towns and communities, and while they've mostly disappeared in the 21st century there's something quaint about seeing them today. These stores got their start when the country was first forming. The smart money was on setting up a trading post in the middle of nowhere and making sure that you were well stocked.
As time went on those stores popped up more and more, and by the middle of the 20th century these stores were all over the street corners of America.
In 1940, there was still a limited amount of material to go around, but brands did whatever they could to get shoppers to notice them, be it with a colorful sign or with a prominent display. This shop looks like it's got everything a cowboy needs as long as what he needs is Beech Nut (which is gum) or Tinsley's Natural Leaf, what more could a guy want?