Rare Photographs You Will Never See In History Books
By | November 17, 2022
Look closer at these moments in history… no longer encased in black and white, every photo in this collection has been rendered in stunning color. They no longer feel like relics of the past, but rather vibrant moments that show the way things really were… and in some ways still are.
Some of these rarely seen photos will shock you, others will amaze, and others are not suitable for all eyes, but they all capture way more than expected. So brace yourself...
⚠️ These jaw dropping colorized photos of the past have to be seen to be believed. The moments captured here just don’t look quite the same in black and white. You will never look at history the same way again ⚠️
It’s crazy to think that Queen Elizabeth was once but a girl. We’re so used to seeing her the way she is today… older and wiser, more austere. As a girl, Elizabeth was down for anything. As a teen she was a part of the Girl Guides - basically the Girl Scouts but with less cookie selling.
In order to help Elizabeth gain her merit badges the 1st Buckingham Palace Company was formed, made up of children of royal household members and any Buckingham Palace workers whose children wanted to take part in the Girl Guides.
The young Elizabeth learned how to cook over an open fire, pitch a tent, and even worked on her bandaging skills while taking care of her sister.
A group photograph of Japanese officers taken by Felice Beato, Japan late 1860s ⚔️
This shot of Japanese officers looks incredibly grand in gorgeous color, but the thing that really brings it all out is the composition. Felice Beato was one of the first photographers to travel to East Asia and capture shots of men and women going about their every day lives.
With these officers Beato corralled them into a kind of class photo setting, allowing each of them to show their indolence while providing the through line of their heritage. It’s a really cool way of presenting the rest of the world with such a grand display of elegance.
Beato’s photographs gave the western world a peek into a place that they’d only heard about, and his work formed the basis of how we think about the Japanese to this day.
Albert Einstein was famous for wearing the same thing pretty much every day while he was working on a theorem. He felt that it took up unnecessary brain power to pick out new clothing when he woke up in the morning. In order to take it easy on his brain - and look fashionable - Einstein wore the Menlo Cossack jacket by Levi.
He was photographed wearing the jacket throughout the 1930s, a decade when he was working on some of his most important calculations - and when he became the most famous scientist in the world. In 1939 he was photographed for the cover of Time magazine, he just wouldn’t take it off.
Einstein’s colleague Leopold Infeld explained that the jacket “solved [his] coat problem for years.”
The transcendent beauty of Brigitte Bardot is even more apparent in this gorgeous colorized photograph of her early years in Paris. Born and raised in the City of Lights, Bardot started her entertainment career as aspiring ballerina.
Beginning in 1949 she studied for three years beneath Russian choreographer Boris Knyazev, but it wasn’t ballet that brought her to the world stage. She was only 15 years old when she appeared on the cover of Elle, gaining her an offer to act in the film Les Lauriers sont coupés.
Bardot didn’t get the part but it wasn’t long before she was the apple of every casting director’s eye. By 1952 she was appearing in films and gracing the covers of fashion magazines. The wild ride was about to begin…
You’re not seeing things, Nicholas II and George V are nearly the spitting image of each other. These two royal cousins were more than just lookalikes, they were two of the best friends that have ever existed in the rarified air of kings and queens.
Nicholas and George looked so similar that their family members often confused them for one another. Imagine seeing a cousin whom you think is all the way in Russia running down the hallways of England only to find out that it’s George V. That must be weird. Author Dana Schwartz said that the men were almost twins:
They were cousins who looked more like twins. [They had] the same blue eyes, same beard... when they were at events together...relatives would come up from behind with the wrong name.
Colorized photo of Eleanor Roosevelt, age 14. From a school photo in 1898
Wow, this is an entirely new way of seeing one of the most well known First Ladies in history. All of the color photographs that we’ve seen of her are from her time in office, but this shot of her as a young woman is absolutely stunning in all of its colorful glory.
Born in New York City, Eleanor wasn’t long for the city. She spent most of her teens at Allenswood Academy, a school for girls in England. While at the academy she excelled in her studies, and by the time she returned to the city she was already serving as a volunteer teacher for impoverished immigrant children at Manhattan’s Rivington Street Settlement House.
It’s clear that she had her eyes on making the world a better place, and it’s amazing and inspiring to know that she started so young.
American soldier inside a church somewhere in Europe, 1945
During World War II one of the biggest concerns - aside from taking down the Axis powers and freeing the people in concentration camps - was what to do with all of the priceless art spread throughout Europe.
Members of the Axis were inclined to either steal the art or destroy it, which posed a major threat to the art lovers of the world. The Allied powers were unsure of how to go forward with the art of Europe. Many museums did their best to hide their art, but churches and monasteries had a harder time with taking their things to hiding.
Seeing this soldier take in the breathtaking majesty of this priceless art is an amazing portal into life during World War II, and thanks to the colorization it feels like we’re really there.
The grand duchesses of Russia
Finally in glorious color, the grand duchesses of Russia were born into a massive amount of wealth… although they were kept shrouded in secrecy by their father Tsar Nicholas II. These alluring sisters - Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia - have long held a place in the minds of historians.
Very little is known about the four Romanov sisters even though they feel incredibly familiar. Their white lace dresses, their beautiful hair, they each have the air of royalty about them even in this photograph.
Born into a kingdom with little regard for women - only men could ensure the survival of a dynasty - the Romanov sisters entertained one another and were educated to speak Russian French, and English. They were kind, intelligent, and devoted to one another.
Actress Betty White, born January 17, 1922. Betty has the longest television of any entertainer, spanning over 80 years
The First Lady of television, Betty White, has been performing since the days of radio, providing her comic stylings and impeccable timing to anyone who would have her. However, it’s her role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show that made audiences realize that she was a talent that wasn’t going away.
White’s legendary time in the business isn’t just do to her longevity, but her professionalism as well. According to costar Gavin MacLeod White could get a script on Thursday night and perform the whole thing with a word perfect accuracy on Friday.
Even though the business has myriad ups and downs her positive attitude has kept her going for the long run.
John F. Kennedy campaigning in the hills of West Virginia, 1960
One of the biggest issues facing John F. Kennedy during his 1960 Presidential primary campaign was overcoming religious bigotry. He was the first person of Catholic persuasion to make a real bid for the biggest office in the world and that freaked people out.
While campaigning in West Virginia Kennedy had to face this distrust of his religious beliefs head on. He went all out and did his best to shine a light on the plight of rural people, something that endeared Kennedy to the state.
Four weeks after campaigning at large and small events, Kennedy swept the state and started making his way towards the presidency.
Fidel Castro on a visit to New York
So this is pretty wild. Before he was public enemy numero uno, Fidel Castro was the toast of the town when he visited New York City in 1959. Four months after he took charge of Cuba by leading a guerrilla army into the heart of Havana he went on a victory lap to the Big Apple.
While in town, Castro hired a public relations firm to make sure that he became a darling in the press. He ate hot dogs and met the animals at the Bronx Zoo, and he even met up with a group of school children who wore fake Castro beards. It seems unreal to think that this happened, but this was before he decided himself a communist. America was smitten.
In less than a year the tide turned on Castro and President Eisenhower had placed blanket sections of the island while developing a plan to overthrow the Cuban leader. But for a while, Castro was a rock star...
Salvador Dalí, making paintings for the unfinished cartoon film "Destino" (1945), which Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney jointly conceived
Imagine a world where Salvidor Dalí, the surrealist madman, created a short film for Disney. That almost happened in 1945 when Dalí was tapped to create the short for Disney. He wrote the script and helped storyboard the film, but Walt Disney Pictures was in dire financial woes following World War II.
Disney spent the war creating propaganda for the U.S. military at cost and not making a dime… they didn’t have the cash to produce a surrealist cartoon that wasn’t going to make any money. The short was scrapped in 1946, with little more than 17 seconds of footage produced.
The short was actually completed 58 years later after Roy E. Disney unearthed the remaining footage from the project.
Babe Ruth after enlisting in the National Guard, 1924
It’s crazy to see such a famous person in such a different context than we’re used to noticing them. Babe Ruth is more often than not pictured in his pinstripes… not the olive colors of the military.
Even as a member of the military Ruth spent most of his time on the baseball diamond. In 1924 he led the Yankees into a dog fight with the Senators, where the team lost by two games.
A year later he fell ill with a mysterious ailment that saw him passing out in hotel rooms across the country. It’s believed that his diet was the root cause of the illness, but the world will never really know.
Bean Picker, 1941
In the 1940s many farms were still a family affair, with everyone chipping in to make sure that the crops were sewed and planted. When it came time to picking children were often the family members tasked with gathering the goods of the season.
This kind of labor might be looked down on by some parents today, but at the time it was what needed to happen to make sure many families stayed afloat.
Planting and picking crops taught children the value of hard work and it showed them that they were just as responsible for the success of their family’s business as anyone else.
Frederick Douglass. Social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman, 1865
As a national leader of the abolitionist movement, Frederick Douglas was known far and wide as a man with a purpose. One of the greatest speakers of all time, Douglass had a hard time convincing northerners that he had once been a slave. The unfortunate truth was that Douglass was born into slavery and didn’t escape until he was 20 years old.
His early life on a plantation instilled within him deep importance of freedom, and the need to treat everyone, no matter their race, with the utmost respect. He even discussed his ideology with slave holders, much to the chagrin of other abolitionists. Douglass explained his position, saying, “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."
Okotsou Watari, 17 years old, hairdresser of the officers of the Taïcoun embassy in Paris, born in Yedo Japan.
It’s crazy to think that even the Japanese military has their own hairdressers but it totally makes sense. Aside from every military in the world requiring their soldiers to be ship shape they want them to look good and clean - in order to do that you’ve got to have someone who knows how to take care of your hair.
Not only does Okotsou Watari look like he means business, but his whole ensemble is totally together - which is exactly what you want out of your personal military barber.
The wildest part of this gorgeous colorized photo is that Watari’s outfit comes with a honking sword. Imagine getting your hair cut by this guy, you’d better like your hair cut… or else.
A farewell photo of English soldiers on the train before being sent to the front in September, 1939
The smiling faces of these young men belies the horrible predicament that they’ve been put in. Following Hitler’s invasion of Poland on September 3, 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany and sent their troops to the front for what turned out to be more than five years of growing turmoil.
However, at the onset of the war things didn’t seem like they were going to be as bad as they were. British forces were ordered not to harm German citizens, and their first act was to drop 13 tons of anit-Nazi propaganda leaflets over Germany.
A day later the British began bombing German ships, and the war effort was started in earnest.
Toronto resident, Jose Morrel Granatstein, age 3 years, in regulation service uniform. Supporting the war effort on the home front, 1914
Everyone supports the war effort in their own way, and for three year old Jose Morrel Granatstein that means dressing up in his own official uniform and keeping a very Churchillian expression plastered on his face.
During World War II the people at home did everything they could to support the boys overseas, even if they were just being vaguely patriotic, the sentiment meant everything the soldiers fighting it out on the Front.
For Granatstein, his support may have been for a parent or loved one who definitely got a kick out of seeing this toddler dressed up and ready to go.
FDR as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1913
Long before he was President of the United States, FDR served as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. In this position he played a key role in World War I and helped to implement life saving policies in the military.
Weirdly enough, the Roosevelt clan was tailor made for this position. Author Edward J. Renehan, Jr. notes that at least five members of the Roosevelt family served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy: Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., Theodore Douglas Robinson (the son of Corinne Roosevelt), and Henry Latrobe Roosevelt.
These kinds of jobs serve as stepping stones to higher office, and the Roosevelts have always moved up the political food chain with ease, still, it’s odd to see so many of them taking on this role.
William Hutchings, age 100, one of the oldest surviving American Revolutionary War veterans, photographed 1864
Today, the Revolutionary War is only something we know about from books, but even during the 19th century there were survivors of the Union’s fight for freedom roaming the country - albeit in an aged state.
William Hutchings was born in York, Maine when it was still York, Massachusetts in 1764. He enlisted in the military at the age of 15 and fought to defend his state’s coast. What little battle he saw was at the siege of Castine where he was taken prisoner by the British.
Thanks to his youth Hutchings was set free and returned home. Following the end of the war he married and his wife gave birth to 15 children. According to everyone who knew him he loved living near the sea if for no other reason than his love of fresh fish. He lived a throughout fruitful life.
James Dean, November 23, 1954. Photograph by Maurice Terrel,
Even though he only appeared in a handful of movies in his too short career, everyone knows and loves James Dean. Whether it was hound dog face in Giant that won you over, or his screen splitting role in Rebel Without a Cause, something he did touched you, it grabbed you by the soul and never let go.
Dean is still the actor that we judge most of our screen stars against. He’s effortlessly cool, and his tousled hair has long been the kind of thing that young men try to emulate while pretending that they haven’t spent days working on their look.
He may have passed away in 1955, but his legend continues. We can always watch Dean and be transported back to a time when cool was cool and there were no bones about it.
Seven ladies having a bit of fun getting their photo taken dressed as men in Lagergrens photographic studio in Visby, Gotland, Sweden 1890s
Now this is just straight up adorable. IS there anything better than seeing a group of friends get together and goof off? It’s clear that this group of gals were a tight knit collective, and we’d be willing to bet that this was a normal occurrence for them.
Even if they weren’t consistently dressing up in different costumes they definitely hung out with each other and had a grand old time. We’re picturing picnics, game nights, and lots of laughs.
No matter the era or the technology, friendship is the one thing that doesn’t change. Remember to reach out to a friend today, even if it's just to say hello.
A boat crew rows out for fishing from Syðrugøta, Faroe Islands, 1898.
Take a look at these salty sea dogs, they’re ready for a long day of fishing out in the briny deep. The Faroe Islands have always been a great place to catch fish, not only is this job an essential role for the community, but it’s a past time for people who live there to this day.
These fishermen were in luck to be working off the shores of Faroe where the fish seem to be jumping out of the water and begging to be caught. The ocean is only 5 km away from the actual island, so there’s an opportunity to catch fresh water and salt water fish - both of which are in abundance.
Many of these men were likely seen as local heroes. After all, they were making big catches and feeding the entire island. It’s a big responsibility but they were up to the task.
A 20-year-old Stephen Hawking, 1962
Long before he was confined to a wheelchair and had to use a machine to speak for him, Stephen Hawking was one of the brightest members of the scientific community. By 1962 the 20 year old Hawking was already specializing in physics at University College Oxford, and a year later he was starting research in cosmology and general relativity at the University of Cambridge.
This photo was taken one year before Hawking received a diagnosis for an "incurable disease,” which was later to be known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a rare progressive disease that effects movement and speech.
Hawking didn’t let this diagnosis stop his work. He continued his research into singularities and relativity even as his body turned against him. He should serve as a joyful reminder to anyone who feels like life is just too much.
Coney Island Teenagers, 1949
There’s nothing quite like the promise of an amazing summer with your best friends. When you’re in your teens it’s as if all of your molecules are perfectly aligned for the warm sun and salty air of the coast, whether you’re at the shore or in this case, Coney Island.
Coney Island has long been the destination of young people living in New York who are looking for a change of pace from the city. This mile-long stretch of beaches and fairways calls out to people, begging them to spend all day getting blissed out in the sun.
For many people in the area, Coney Island defined the idea of summer, giving life to day dreams of being with people you love and having a wonderful time.
A soldier dances with his best girl
These two lovers, lost in thought and hoping that tomorrow never comes is how we tend to think about soldiers on leave during World War 2. Not only were many of the men like the one pictured going straight into battle, but they were leaving their homes for the first time… many of them never knew if or when they would return.
It was important for these men to get in as much time with their loved ones as possible before shipping out, who knew when they would be seeing each other again?
On the rare occasion that soldiers came back to the states for a brief period of time, they often took part in dances and get togethers just to make sure they had some time away from the boys.
A Swedish boy and his fox, 1950's
Okay, this kid definitely knows how cool he is. Wouldn’t you be mugging for the camera if you were able to have a pet fox? After all, foxes aren’t the easiest animals to domesticate. You have start them young and make sure that you stay on their training, lest their wild side break out.
To perfectly domesticate an animal like a fox you have to spend years breeding them into a more submissive animal, which isn’t just something you can do, you have to know a little something about genetics.
Still, it looks like this kid has things all figured out. Or maybe he was just lucky.
Salvador Dali stands on the deck of the S.S. Normandie as it docks in New York City, December 7, 1936
Even though Salvador Dali was one of the most wacky surrealist painters of his generation, the guy knew how to cut a cool looking figure. This shot of the artist on the deck of the S.S. Normandie shows him in all of his dandified splendor.
Dalí may have called Europe home, but he loved to travel to New York to experience the city that never sleeps. According to his patroness Caresse Crosby, Dalí preferred to sleep in a cabin near the machine rooms on his transatlantic boat rides to the big apple. When asked why he slept in such a noisy part of the ship he simply responded, “I am next to the engine, so that I’ll get there quicker.”
Free French Commandos, 1943
During World War II, Germany was in control of France, but that didn’t stop the government and members of the military from fighting back against the Axis. Following the fall of France French general Charles de Gaulle fled to London and set up shop as an all in one French resistance machine.
Although they were known as a the Free France movement, by 1942 members of the group referred to themselves as the Fighting France movement in order to make it known that they were fighting against the Axis externally and internally before joining forces with general Henri Giraud's command in Algiers to form the French Committee of National Liberation.
Members of the Free French fought everywhere from the Middle East to Indochina and North Africa. Wherever the Axis placed its boots the Free French were ready to go to battle.
A young boy playing the banjo with his best friend, 1920
Is there anything better than the friendship between a boy and his dog? No two companions are better suited to one another than a friendly canine and a boy with nothing but time on his hands… and a banjo in this case.
This kid truly has it made. Not only does he have a ton of space to run and play with his buddy, but he looks like he’s turning into quite the hand with the banjo.
Everyone had their own best doggo pal, whether you lived-in the country or the city. Those four legged besties who ran with us through thick and thin.
Tsar Nicholas II stopping for a photo with his eldest daughter Olga while walking through the Nikitsky Botanical Gardens for their hundredth anniversary, 1912
This photo of Nicholas II isn’t just fascinating because we get a chance to see him with one of his four daughters - a photographic rarity - it’s also intriguing because he’s walking through the oldest botanical garden in Europe.
Located in Crimea, it was founded in 1812 and named after the settlement Nikita by Russian botanist Christian Steven. The gardens have been expanded over the years, and by 1912 it was home to 11 square kilometres and 50,000 species of plants, trees, saplings, and seeds.
Today it plays hosts to tourists from all over the world, but none of them are as elegant as the Romanov family.
American soldiers gazing at the Eiffel Tower with French flag restored after liberating Paris, Aug 1944
The liberation of Paris came after city of lights was nearly destroyed by the Nazis following an order by Hitler to demolish all of its landmarks and leave a smoldering crater in the ground.
Nazis occupied Paris for four years, and throughout that time the entire city was basically shut down as the area was held in the iron grasp of the German military. However, when the 2nd Armored Division made its way into Paris in the summer of 1944 it was pretty much game over.
While the German military put up a strong fight on August 22, by the morning of the 24th the Allied forces crossed the Seine and reached the Hótel de Ville in the heart of Paris - by then the German military had all but melted away.
Soldier in a trench at the Battle of the Somme, 1916
World War I is famous for trench warfare, one of the most dangerous and harrowing forms of battle thats’ ever existed. The Battle of the Somme raged from July to November 1916, an incredibly long time for a non-stop street fight between the British and the Germans.
As one of the nastiest and most expensive battles of World War I, it saw British forces suffering more than 57,000 casualties, 19,000 of those soldiers passing away on the first day of the fight.
No one got out of this battle unscathed, and by the time the last bullet was fired almost one million soldiers on both sides of the battle breathed their final breath and almost three million soldiers had taken part in the fight.
A Young Cotton Picker In The American South Photographed By Lewis W Hine, Circa 1910
In the early days of the 20th century families had to pull together and do whatever they could to take care of their crops, and one of the most important crops in the United States was cotton - not only was it in clothing, but cotton can be found in the clothing and automotive industries.
More often than not the youngest members of the family were tasked with picking the cotton crop, their hands were small enough to grab the tiniest pieces of cotton, even though they had to wake up at the crack of dawn to get to work before it the sun was directly overhead.
American Civil War Camp, 1860's
This shot from the Civil War is like looking into the past. While the black and white version of this shot is definitely a fascinating look, it’s nothing like peering nearly 200 years into the past in stunning color.
The men in this photo are unidentified, but the original photo was taken by famed Lincoln photographer Mathew Brady, and it’s believed that the soldiers are a part of the New York 7th Regiment.
It looks like these guys are taking part in some rare down time. Throughout the Civil War soldiers were constantly on the move and in the middle of battles, so any time that they could get to just hang out must have been much appreciated.
Crown Prince Olav who just returned home to Norway driving through the streets of Oslo, 13 May 1945. Sitting in the front passenger seat is Norwegian resistance fighter Max Manus
It’s tough being royalty. Not only do you have the weight of the kingdom on your shoulders, but in times of war you have to show your solidarity and get out there on the battlefield with your people… it’s just the right thing to do.
In 1939, Crown Prince Olav was appointed an admiral of the Royal Norwegian Navy and a general of the Norwegian Army, fending off the German military alongside his father. During the war he served as a civilian and military advisor.
When Axis powers finally overtook Norway, the Prince escaped to England where he rallied Norway's underground resistance movement.
Family walking between taxicabs in front of the Ufa-Palast movie theater. Berlin, 1929
This is absolutely stunning. Who knew that Berlin was so beautiful in the 1920s. Following the end of World War I there was a brief period of peace throughout Europe, leading to what’s seen now as a kind of paradise… too bad it didn’t last.
The colorization in this photo shows what could have been had the world remained at peace. What’s better than a father and mother escorting their child on a night on the town? It’s photos like these show no matter where you are in the world family values will always be important.
From the pink on the trees to the bright pastels that line the German streets, this really is a look back in time.
General Dwight Eisenhower sharing a lighter moment with four US Army soldiers in Tunisia, 18 March 1943
Even in war there has to be some levity. The constant fighting, the bombs, the loss of friends, and the possibility that you may never see your loved ones again makes the long nights and the hard battles even harder to fight. In those dark times you need to find a sense of humor and hold onto it tight.
It’s cool to see General Eisenhower having a laugh with his men. We often think of military leaders as stern lecturers ready to dole out punishment, but it’s clear that Eisenhower was just one of the guys, albeit one of the guys who was also in charge of major military operations.
What could they have been laughing about? A private joke? Or did something in the moment tickle their funny bones. We’ll never know.
Helen Hay, c.1890
The daughter of a Secretary of State, Helen Hay was a one of a kind gal who followed her bliss wherever it took her. A well known poet and author, Hay’s work was most often featured in Harper’s Magazine, and one of her poems was even featured in the opera Antony and Cleopatra.
A collector of art and an avid horse racer, Hay’s life was like something out of The Great Gatsby, which is why this photo is so fascinating. The colorization of this photo makes her look like someone you would see today on Instagram. It’s genuinely fascinating just how much a little bit of color can change your entire perspective.
If only she knew that this photo would live on forever…
Italian partisans receiving medals from the British 8th army commander, 1945
During World War II the Italian military worked as a part of the Axis to bring fascism to the rest of the world, but the people of Italy weren’t hot on this idea so they formed their own resistance movements that worked with Allied troops to rid their country of the specter of fascism.
Known as partisans, these resistance fighters took part in the Italian Liberation War, a civil war that led to the modern Italian Republic. Rather than fight straight forward battles, these resistance fighters used chaos and confusion to their advantage.
Even though many of the resistance fighters received praise from the Allied fighters, the partisans didn’t stop fighting until well after World War II ended in the rest of the world - with some battles going on until 1949.
Julia Williams Wadsworth, ex-slave, 1937.
This photo shows in total color the long way that an ex-slave like Julia Williams Wadsworth traveled by the early 20th century. Elderly African-Americans in the 1930s had survived a myriad of abuse and pain, they deserved any kind of life they wanted.
Even though the world was in the Great Depression by the 1930s, survivors of the Civil War had been through so much in their lives that it must have been a breeze to get through this era of total loss in the country. Maybe it wasn’t a breeze, but it was something they’d experienced before.
We hope that Wadsworth lived a wonderful life, that she was able to live in peace.
Navajo riders in Arizona, 1904
This shot of Navajo riders in 1904 feels meditative in a way. It’s like we’re on the plains of the southwest watching distant riders moving across the horizon, thanks to the colorization of this photo it’s as if we’ve stepped through a wormhole into another era… that’s only something that photography can do.
Where do you think these guys are going? Are they just out for an afternoon ride or are they on the hunt? It’s a mystery that’s going to sit with us for a while. Maybe the point is that we don’t need to know, you know?
Colorized photos like this are contemplative and beautiful, if only we could go back and give these fellows a wave.
Passing the Time, 1935
There’s nothing like kicking back with the boys and talking about good times. This colorized photo gives us an insight into life in the 1930s… what it looked like, how it felt, we can almost smell the air.
From the look of this photo it’s as if these guys are all getting used to the idea of having a camera on them, it’s a far cry from today when everyone’s so used to having a cell phone pointed at them. These really were better times.
What do you think this group is talking about? It could be anything… from the big fish to the dreaded politics. Whatever the case it looks engrossing.
The parking lot of a Holiday Inn in 1959
This definitely brings back memories. Long before the days of boutique hotels and monolithic buildings that dot the urban landscape, if you wanted to stay somewhere on a road trip you pulled into a motel like this and called it a night.
Take a look at the classic cars, all that red brick, it’s like stepping into a time machine and coming out in one of the coolest eras in American history.
The heyday of roadside motels has come and gone, but in the 1950s and early ‘60s it was in full swing. These places had all you needed. A clean bed, some breakfast in the morning, and maybe even a TV. Ah, the good life.
Soviet marines, 1942
They may not have had the financial backing or the technical machinery of the U.S. military or the Germans, but during World War II the Soviet marines were some of the hardest fighting soldiers on the planet. They routinely undertook missions that meant certain death and they came out on top.
Soviet marines fought in the brutal cold, in harsh landscapes, and against armies that were trained from birth, even then they didn’t stop fighting until the battle was at a complete standstill.
Most notably the Soviet military fought for months at Stalingrad, forcing the Nazis to fully admit defeat, proving themselves to be one of the most fearsome armies in the world.
Wax bullet duel outside of Carnegie Hall in New York, 1909
So this is definitely one way to pass the time, although we don’t recommend it. Before people had the internet, TV, or a myriad of distractions, they had to make their own fun. One extremely painful way of doing that is by loading up a pair of dueling pistols with wax bullets and pelting one another.
This dangerous and ouch filled past time began in Paris before making its way to New York, where the “bloodless duel” became the thing to do at the Carnegie Sword and Pistol Club and the New York Athletic Club.
Even though the practitioners of this “sport” wore leather protective cloaks and face masks there was still an element of real danger involved. One man had a wax bullet pass through his hand.
Soviets charging Leningrad (1943)
During World War II the city of Leningrad was besieged by the German military. They stared civilians, with thousands of them losing their lives from hunger and hypothermia. This prolonged military blockade lasted for more than 800 days, ending with the Red Army pushing German forces from the southern outskirts of the city.
Russian forces fought hand and foot to create a space where they could enter the city and regain control of their homeland inch by inch. It wasn't a pretty fight... but it rarely is.
Even though the Soviets were eventually successful in regaining the city, the cost of the lives lost was insurmountable. Many of the civilian diaries discovered after the Soviets brought relief to their city were used in the Nuremberg trials as a way to show the evil that the Nazis did even outside of their concentration camps.
Teenage Meet-Up on Main Street, Caldwell Idaho, summer 1941
This is the kind of thing that we just don’t see anymore, teens meeting up in broad daylight to hang out and have fun. There are no phones, no social media, just a few kids having a good time and being themselves.
Back in the good old days this was what kids got up to, meeting up on the street corner or at the soda shoppe before going off to the local swimming hole. These kids may not know it but they’re in the halcyon days of America, when all they had to worry about was what was for dinner and if they could get a game of stick ball going.
Without the need to show off online or be someone else, teens in the 1940s could just have fun without the worries of the world creeping in.
Wartime Selfie, 1940s
Selfies from the early 20th century are endlessly fascinating, and this colorized version of a photo taking during World War II is especially cool. Thanks to the gorgeous color job performed on this photo it looks like we’re scrolling through a Facebook feed today.
People have always loved to take photos of their loved ones and themselves, but in the early days of photography it wasn’t as easy to put those two things together as it is today.
Nowadays people can use their phone to point and click, but in the 1940s a photographer had to innately understand lighting and focus without any help or digital trickery.
Woman in a rowboat on Lake Louise c.1910
Isn’t it amazing to see this woman rowing across Lake Louise in Albert, Canada in full color as well as full dress? If we were going rowing today it’s likely that we’d in any state of undress, and even the most modest of people wouldn’t be wearing a petticoat and long sleeves…
Even though this outfit seems like a bit much for our taste it was the fashion of the day so we shouldn’t judge too harshly.
That being said, imagine hitting some choppy water and going overboard in that outfit. The weight on the fabric alone is enough to weigh you down to the bottom. Hopefully this lovely lass didn’t have to deal with any of that.
YPF Gas Station, 1950
Now this is a shot from when gas stations really were pieces of art. When you pulled into a gas station in the 1950s you weren’t just filling up your tank, you were getting full service with a smile.
A service technician would pop your hood, check your oil, wash your windows, and make sure that you had enough gas to get from point A to point B. Those were the days…
On top of the immaculate service, service stations were once places that were designed to look modern and spiffy, a far cry from today’s hum drum gas stations that are a dime a dozen. Take us back…