Unseen History Photos That Leave Nothing To The Imagination
By | November 24, 2020
Chief John Smith a.k.a. White Wolf, reportedly the oldest Native American to ever live photographed in 1920. He claimed to be 137 years old
This collection of unseen photographs capture more than expected. Originally captured in black and white, these colorized photos show a different side to history than you already know.
You won't find these photos in history books...you might think they've been hidden away because they have rarely been seen in full vibrant color. The photos leave nothing to the imagination...take a closer look.
Warning, these photos and their stories may be mature in nature. This collection of rarely seen snapshots tells the real story of history, but it may not be suitable for all viewers.
Living to any age beyond your 60s was a feat in the early 20th century. It was an era marked with famine, illness, and war, and while there are people managed to live through it, Chief John Smith claimed to be 137 years old when he passed away in 1922.
Hailing from the northern woods of Minnesota, Smith was a member of the Chippewa tribe who was allegedly born in 1785, a year that's a little hard to wrap your head around. Referred to as "Wrinkled Meat" by his tribespeople, it's more likely that he was closer to 100 years old when he passed. Thanks to a man named Paul Buffalo who lived with the Chippewa as a child we know that Smith claimed that he was between eight and ten years old when "the stars fell."
This mysterious claim is likely in reference to the Leonid meteor shower of 1833 which would make Smith 99, if not a nice round 100. When Minnesota's Star Tribune attempted to validate his age they just found more questions. Smith's family said that the claimed to remember the war of 1812, that he was married eight times, and never had children. His adopted son, Tom Smith, maintained that his father 137 years old when he passed away.
Otherwise considered a mild mannered American, Robert Wadlow was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest man alive. His final measurement by the twins who collected the records noted that he was 8ft 11.1 inches tall. By the time he was eight years old Wadlow was 5' 11", a towering height for a child.
Wadlow intended to study law, but in 1936 he went on tour with the Ringling Brother Circus and found fame as a gentle giant. This photo of Wadlow comparing shoe sizes with Clarence Howerton was sponsored by the International Show Company (now INTERCO) who offered to make their shoes for free.
This was a blessing for Wadlow as his shoe size was 37AA, which required special shoes to be made at a cost of $100, the equivalent to $1,500 today.
We're hard pressed to think of a more notorious photo from the golden era of Hollywood than this shot of Sofia Loren throwing some serious side eye at Jayne Mansfield and her dual talents. Every photo from this event, a party thrown to welcome Loren to Los Angeles, shows Loren casting a glance at Mansfield... can you blame her?
According to Loren, even though she looks annoyed with the blonde bombshell she's just astounded by Mansfield's ability to spill out of her dress regardless of whether she's sitting or standing. She told Entertainment Weekly:
Listen. Look at the picture. Where are my eyes? I'm staring at her nipples because I am afraid they are about to come onto my plate. In my face you can see the fear. I'm so frightened that everything in her dress is going to blow -- BOOM! -- and spill all over the table.
A Dutch Medic photographed wearing an improvised gas mask during World War I
During World War I there were a number of different gas masks used on the front. Not only was gas mask technology changing throughout the war, but there were times when soldiers had to put together something quick to keep themselves safe during a gas attack.
From the time of American involvement in World War I, around 2,000 U.S. troops were harmed by poison attacks, and members of the Allied powers suffered an even bigger hit in numbers.
Gas was initially used on the battlefield by releasing it from canisters and pushing it downwind. Over the course of the war, tear and chlorine gas were released on the Eastern Front and it quickly induced fear in troops from across the world. To keep safe, troops used cloth soaked in their own urine to protect their lungs from the poison. Why urine? They believed the ammonia in their urea would neutralize the chlorine, and chlorine dissolves in water so it had trouble passing through the wet cloth.
The most beautiful spy in the world
No figure in history has received quite the same brand of unfair treatment as Mata Hari. As a professional dancer and mistress, this sultry babe enticed men from across the world to kneel at her feet, but when she was hired by George Ladoux as a spy for France in 1916 she sealed her fate. A reporter in Vienna wrote of Mata Hari:
[She is] slender and tall with the flexible grace of a wild animal, and with blue-black hair. [Her face] makes a strange foreign impression.
It was this "strange foreign impression" that made her the perfect spy for the French, for a time that is. Mata Hari insisted that she wanted to use her skills to get in with the Germans, pretend to spy for them, and then turn around and provide information for the French. That didn't really work and she was seen as a German double agent.
In just a few months Mata Hari was mixed up in a tangle of European intrigue and she was arrested for espionage on February 13, 1917. After investigators found out that she accepted 20,000 francs to gather information for the Germans (something that she claimed she wouldn't follow through on) she was put on trial, found guilt, and sentenced to death. On October 15, 1917, she was executed by a firing squad. She refused a blindfold and blew a kiss to the soldiers.
It's not entirely clear where this photo of Lars Söderberg and Roman Antczak was taken, but it's possible that it was snapped after a hard fought battle at the fourth edition of the European Boxing Championships held in Budapest, Hungary. Held between April 11 and 15th, the championships used the same weight classes as the Los Angeles Olympic Games, allowing boxers to fight for titles in classes between flyweight and heavyweight.
We know that Antczack fought in the European Boxing Championships because he lost the light heavyweight title to Hans Zehetmayer, a boxer from Austria. Aside from that there's not much information about him online, and very little about Lars Söderberg. Still, it's cool to see two bloodied and bruised fighters shaking hands like this after what was clearly an intense battle.
Taken in 1952, this photo shows Monroe as her ascent to Hollywood is just beginning, a full decade before her mysterious and sad death. At this moment, everything is possible for Monroe and there's no end in sight to possibilities that await her.
Monroe was beautiful before her surgeries and weight loss dilemmas, but her entree into Hollywood wasn't guaranteed. As a child she wasn't allowed to watch movies, she claimed that her first foster family believed it was a sin and they made sure to remind her every day. She told Life Magazine:
To go to a movie was a sin. Every night I was told to pray that I would not wake up in hell.
If this instilled anything in Monroe it was a rebellious sense that no matter what she would be in pictures. And she was right.
Gladys Roy and Ivan Unger play tennis on the wings of a Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" biplane over Los Angeles, California in 1925
In an era where so much is Photoshopped and hard to believe, it's amazing to see a wild photo like this that's absolutely what it presents itself as. These two daredevils playing tennis high above the sky are Gladys Roy and Ivan Unger, two barnstormers who routinely performed aerial stunts over state fairs and huge events.
Here's the thing about this photo - it may look Unger and Roy are playing tennis, they have the necessary accoutrements, they just aren't using a ball. It would be hard to enough to play tennis on a moving vehicle. Let alone a Curtis JN-4 "Jenny" with a top speed of 80 mph.
The game was staged but the stunt was real, and there are multiple photos of the event that show Roy and Unger holding different positions to make the "game" look all the more intriguing.
This may look like a lecherous old clown getting a beautiful young woman to apply his makeup, but it's really an old family friend working with the daughter of the man who trained him in clowning.
Griebling was introduced to the circus business while growing up in Germany, and after the death of his father he moved to the United States where he studied clowning under Albert Hogdini in Baraboo, Wisconsin, before joining Hogdini's act as a high flyer.
After suffering a serious fall in 1930, Griebling changed his entire act and began working as a silent tramp clown who walked through a crowd searching for "Miss Jones" while holding a block of ice as it melted away. He continued to work with the Hogdini family, including Harriet, before he passed away in 1972.
A man examining the Codex Gigas, the largest extant medieval illuminated manuscript in the world at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm, 1906
Known as the "Devil's Bible," Codex Gigas literally means "giant book," which is fitting for a collection that runs 620 pages at about three feet. Constructed in the 13th century and originally held in the Benedictine monastery at Podlažice, the book contains both the New and Old Testaments as well as a collection of essays on exorcism, medical works, grammar, and a calendar.
Handwritten by a single anonymous monk, this massive undertaking make the book a stunning work of art. However, the one piece of the book that holds sway over most viewers is the full page that shows the Devil out at the viewer. As wild as the demonic figure is, the National Library of Sweden states that it's the construction that's really fascinating. They write:
If the scribe worked for six hours a day and wrote six days a week this means that the manuscript could have taken about five years to complete. If the scribe was a monk he may only have been able to work for about three hours a day, and this means that the manuscript could have taken ten years to write. As the scribe may also have ruled the lines to guide the writing before he began to write (it probably took several hours to rule one leaf), this extends the period it took to complete the manuscript. The scribe also decorated the manuscript, so this all means that the manuscript probably took at least 20 years to finish, and could even have taken 30.
Paul Newman's mugshot at the age of 21. He was arrested along with five others for making trouble during a night of drinking at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio
Just when you think Paul Newman can't get any cooler, he shows that he's an absolute hunk in this mugshot from his time at Kenyon College. Newman's piercing blue eyes are unmistakable in this police photo, even if you've never seen Cool Hand Luke you know who this guy is.
Newman attended Kenyon on the G.I. Bill after serving in the Navy during World War II. After returning to Ohio following the war he studied drama and economics, earning a B.A. even though he was picked up for being a little too rowdy with his university chums.
After graduation, Newman went on to appear in several summer stock companies before attending the Yale School of Drama for a year before moving to New York City.
Albert Johan Kramer and Josef Fassler in London, England in 1935. Kramer and Fassler were a performing duo known as "Lofty the Dutch Giant and Seppetoni The Swiss Midget"
Double acts have long been one of the most lucrative ways to get ahead in the comedy world. You've got a straight man and the screw up, or in this case you've got the seriously huge giant and his partner who barely comes up to his waist.
"Lofty" claimed to be nine feet and three inches tall, but in actuality he was only 7' 9", so he wore thick soled shoes to at least pump him up a few extra inches. Kramer worked with little man Josef Fassler, who was just over three feet tall.
Their act saw Kramer carry Fassler onto stage in an attaché case, and in that way they brought joy to every corner of the U.K. The two men weren't just partners, after performing together for a few years, Kramer actually married Fassler's sister. Hopefully she at least a little taller than her brother.
There's something mysteriously gorgeous about the foggy streets of New England on a night like this. It's gloomy yet romantic, and as long as you keep your wits about you it's the perfect evening to take a stroll.
This colorized shot actually makes you feel like you've stepped back in time to Massachusetts at the onset of America's early days in World War II. The empty, ramshackle streets show the hollow nature of a place where many of its men have up and left for the European and Asian fronts.
Maybe we're goths at heart, but nothing makes us want to take a late night stroll like a shot of a misty downtown street in the early 20th century.
A Finnish soldier showing off his wood carving. Photo by Vänrikki H. Harrivirta. April, 1942
Not much is known about the Finnish soldier in this photo who's proudly displaying his wood carving (and rightfully so, it's a beauty), but the Finnish have always been a people who take great pride in working with their hands.
The Finnish people find great pleasure in working with their hands, whether it's through crafting a fine piece of art, or building home, they find a comfort in their work that many cultures have cast aside in order for a cheap knock off.
It's not just amazing to see what this soldiers was capable of doing just with a knife and a plank of wood, but it's honestly amazing that he was able to render such a lifelike cannon and add the dimensions of the fence surrounding it. This isn't just craftsmanship, it's talent.
American troops on board a landing craft heading for the beaches at Oran in Algeria during Operation Torch in November 1942
The soldiers in this picture are so young, so baby faced, that they'd just as likely be at a Sadie Hawkins dance as they would be storming the beaches of northwest Africa during Operation Torch, an Allied Operations assault that was deemed necessary to create a second front during World War II.
At the time, the average age for a soldier was 26 years old, but just look at that soldier staring down the camera right in the middle. It's clear that he's nowhere near 26, we'd put him somewhere closer to 16.
During World War II, men were signing up in any way possible to defend the American way of life. High school students lied about their age, and college students dropped out of school in order to do their part. It was an era when everyone wanted to help save the world, regardless of the terror that waited for them on the front lines.
We still crane our necks to check out a car crash today, regardless of the fact that we see cars all the time, and car crashes and accidents are so much more prevalent than they were in the 1920s. It makes sense that people in 1921 would be drawn to an accident like this, many of these people may not have ever seen a car before.
Even more likely is that the driver had probably never been behind the wheel of a car before. Even in the early 20th century there were clearly defined differences between the road and the side walk, this guy must have really been struggling behind the wheel.
It looks like no one was hurt in this accident, so that's good. Hopefully this driver learned his lesson and kept to the streets.
Four years before his death in Astapovo, Russia, Leo Tolstoy was keeping to himself and writing essays about his anarchist beliefs and cautioning against violent revolution, something that helped him forge a friendship of correspondence with Mahatma Gandhi. He was also feuding daily with his wife as he grew more and more sickly.
This shot may show Tolstoy living peacefully with his wife, but their relationship was anything but good. He and Sonya had completely opposite beliefs, something that caused a massive rift between the two. On top of that, Sonya was incredibly jealous of Tolstoy's fame.
To make a clean break with as little drama as possible, Tolstoy slipped away from their home in the middle of the night, traveling by train through the cold with barely anything on him. He collapsed from pneumonia and passed away on November 20, 1910.
Fishing has always been major part of the Swedish way of life. Fisherman take to the country's lakes and the surrounding ocean in order to catch food for their families and to make a living working for the country's many canneries.
In the 1940s, fishing was just something that you did in Sweden. People didn't think about it like a job (even if it was their occupation), they just knew that they had to live harmony with the land, which meant waking up before dawn to get a jump on the surrounding schools of fish that were swimming through the freezing waters.
It helps that Swedish fisherman were able to where cool outfits and smoke a pipe on the job. Ah, that's the life.
Frederick Douglass, American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman, pictured in 1855
Frederick Douglass isn't just one of the most important black thinkers and orators of all time, he's one of the most important historical figures in America. He didn't just speak for the freedman, he spoke to the heart of America's issues with race at a time when the country was fractured.
On July 5, 1852, Douglass spoke to an audience of about 600 at the newly constructed Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York, and explained why the Declaration of Independence, as great a document as it may be, was lacking in one specific quality - it didn't take into account the lives of people of color. During the speech, Douglass explained why he opted to speak on July 5, rather than on Independence Day:
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.
A Finnish Major talking to a blind Finnish volunteer who has just returned from the front, 1943
It's unclear if this blind veteran was lacking sight before he went to the front during World War II if he lost his vision during battle, but it's most likely the latter. If so, it's no surprise that he's using a guide dog to help them get around during the day.
The guide dog movement first began in Germany during World War I in an effort care for their injured veterans, so it makes sense that the concept would have made its way north to Finland over the next few decades. The occupation of guide dog began when a man named Doctor Gerhard Stalling left his German shepherd with a patient one day and noticed that the dog looked to be helping the patient.
In 1916, Stalling opened a training program help German Shepherds serve as guides for the blind. By 1919, the concept made its way to America and the rest of the world.
A group of British SAS soldiers on patrol in Northern Africa, 1943
As World War II continued on into 1943 it became clear that northern Africa was going to be a hotbed of action for soldiers on both sides of the war. The struggle for North Africa actually began in 1935, when Italy invaded Ethiopia, a move that made Egypt and Britain worried about the repercussions.
By 1943, the Allies and the Axis were in a head on battle to control the Sue Canal and its access to oil from the Middle East and raw materials from Asia. While some areas may get more ink in the history books, it's North Africa that saw some of the most brutal fighting over the course of the entire war.
Why was it so hard to establish a firm winner in North Africa? Not only was the terrain foreign to ever major player in the game, but its harsh climate created problems for everyone involved. The Allies were able to finally take North Africa through careful planning and the choice to spread their forces over the country, and not just focus on single areas like the Axis were doing.
Marlon Brando, standing with a sign on the wardrobe test of the 1951 film "A Streetcar Named Desire," the movie that made him a star
Before Marlon Brando became a star in the film adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire, he was making waves as the star of the Broadway production of the Tennessee Williams play. Even then his mercurial nature was well known.
Brando was virtually unknown when the play began running, but after performing it for months and months audiences noticed that something his changed... his nose. Brando explained:
In Streetcar, some of the guys backstage and me, we used to go down to the boiler room in the theatre and horse around. One night I was mixing it up with this guy and - crack! So I walked around to the nearest hospital. My nose was really busted. They had to give me an anesthetic to set it, and put me to bed. Not that I was sorry. Streetcar had been running about a year and I was sick of it.
Marine Staff Sergeant A. S. Barnacle shaving at a washstand that is half-submerged following heavy Okinawa monsoon rains in May 1945 ⛈️
The Burma campaign was hard on soldiers, not only because of the nasty terrain and fierce fighting from the Axis, namely Japan, but because of monsoon rains that made it impossible for anyone to campaign for much of the year.
Initially, the Allies planned to launch a large-scale innovation of Japanese controlled Burma, but monsoon rains turned anything other than survival into a fools errand for months. Still, soldiers had to keep up with grooming standards, so they made do with what they could.
The waters in this shot are so high that they likely destroyed much of the Allied Forces' sleeping quarters, and it's likely that they had to sleep on rafts or at least use some means of floatation to keep from drowning at night.
Fighting in Finland during World War II was absolutely bonkers. At the time, the Allied Forces and the Axis were focused on North Africa, London, Paris, Russia, Japan, and Germany, but that didn't stop an irregular Soviet military force known as the partisans from attacking Finland.
Known as the Continuation War, a sub-theater of World War II, this battle between the Finnish and Russia saw the Fins fighting for the Nazis along remote border villages throughout the country.
Between 1941 and 1946, about 2,400 Soviet partisans attacked villages, bridges, and railways across Finland in order to destroy military communications, disrupt economic activity of the Finnish population, and cause general chaos. During this five year battle 170 civilians were killed and 54 were wounded.
Louie, the son of the Hunkpapa Lakota leader, Chief Sitting Bull photographed in 1885
By the time Sitting Bull was leading the Lakota, many Native Americans were already being pushed out of their land by the U.S. military and white, western settlers. The lives of America's indigenous people were evermore interrupted as the Christian religion was pushed on them in an attempt to completely erase their beliefs.
The History of Montana from 1739-1885 writes of Louie's time at a Catholic School. The book not only notes his lack of care about fitting into the white, religious world, but it gets straight up rude when describing his very handsome features:
Louie Sitting Bull, son of the chief is at the Catholic Institution of Feehanville, near Chicago. Louie is one of the few Indian boys at the school who give the teachers considerable trouble. He is lazy, dogged, sullen, and shiftless. He is not a handsome youth. He is nearly six feet tall, heavy, awkward and ungainly. His features are large, his nose flattened and his ears ragged... Other children of the tribe are scattered through various institutions of this class, while the zealous missionaries of the Christian churches are working industriously among them, so that there is still hope for the partial civilization of this barbarous nation.
Demonstrators sitting with their feet in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool during the March on Washington, August 28, 1963
Protestors came from all over the country in 1963 to march alongside Martin Luther King Jr. after the violent attacks against African Americans at the dawn of the civil rights movement. The march through the country's capitol was long and arduous, taking a toll not only on the feet of protestors, but their voices as well.
By 10am the demonstrators were supposed to be at the Washington Monument, from there they'd begin the walk at noon from the corner of Independence andConstitutional Avenue. The walk ended at the Lincoln Monument, which is only about a mile away from the starting point, but it was still a long day full of speeches and performances.
Even a few hours into the day protestors were exhausted, and many of them found solace in the reflecting pool.
A homeless German refugee sitting on her only possessions amongst ruins of Cologne, Germany, March 1945
By the end of World War II Cologne, Germany's fourth largest city, was a wasteland. After 168 raids and 50,000 tons of explosives were dropped on the city there was barely anything left for the formerly gorgeous landscape. Upon entering the city, one American soldier referred to it as nothing but "wrecked masonry surrounded by city limits."
Even though the fighting moved out of Cologne after its destruction, the Germans who stayed in the city were fearful of another attack. Still, when Americans arrived on the scene the locals were thrilled to see them. It was a sign that in some way the war was coming to an end.
It took years to rebuild this once bustling center of Germany, something that the survivors of the destruction never forgot.
As easy as it is to romanticize the dour New England weather, sometimes we forget that it can be a total pain to deal with luscious fog like this when you're living with it day in and day out, or if you're just on vacation.
In his journal from 1857, Henry David Thoreau complains about the New England fog surrounding Cape Cod in a way that only a poet can:
June 20. This was the third foggy day. It is a serious objection to visiting or living on the Cape that you lose so many days by fog. From time to time the sun almost or quite shines, and you can see half a mile, or to Provincetown even, and then, against all your rules, it thickens up again. An inlander would think it was going to clear up twenty times when it may last a week. I have now visited the Cape four times in as many different years, once in October, twice in June, and once in July, having spent in all about one month there, and about one third the days were foggy, with or without rain.
On October 3, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was discovered lying in the gutter outside of Gunner's Hall, a public house filled to the brim after election day. Poe was delirious, and dressed in second hand clothing, not all looking like the dapper man in this picture.
Poe was only semi-conscious, and he could hardly move. No one knows what - or who - put Poe in this state, and his death is still mysterious in spite of the fact that he was one of the leading literary figures of the 19th century and remains exceedingly important in the canon of American horror writing.
His death certificate reads the cause of death as phrenetic, a swelling of the brain, but speculation has run rampant about what really led Poe to his final moments. Was he beaten? Did he succumb to alcohol poisoning? Or was it something more mysterious? We'll never know.
French soldiers of the 127th Infantry Regiment walking through Paris, France on November 22, 1915.
During the Great War more than nine million soldiers were killed between 1914 and 1918, making it one of the bloodiest wars that the world had ever known. For French soldiers, being stationed in Paris was definitely better than being on the front, but it was deadly none the less.
Daily life in the city of lights was tough during the war. In 1915, the state took over the for distribution system and fixed the price of what and grain. A year later the same control was extended over milk, sugar, and eggs. Restrictions tightened so much in 1917 that only one type of loaf of bread could be sold, any kind of specialty bread was forbidden.
Everyone in Paris - men, women, and children - had to do their part in order to ensure that the French military was able to keep fighting during this devastating war.
H. Hillier shop front in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England in 1888
In the late Victorian and early Edwardian era Britain was experiencing its halcyon days. The country was prosperous thanks to increasing industrialization, and the worldwide trade network leading to a series of profits for British merchants.
At the time it was seriously hard to keep perishable food fresh so many people would pop to the shop every day to pick up small amounts of groceries rather than stocking up for the week. While there were no supermarkets at the time, there were plenty of small family owned shops like the one in this photo where Britains could buy whatever they are looking for.
These small shops were open six days a week and they stayed open as long as they need be to take care of all of their customers before popping off to the pub. Those were the days.
John Lennon and George Harrison of The Beatles having a sword fight at Dromoland Castle in County Clare, Ireland in 1964 ⚔️
Just a year into UK stardom (they'd been banging things out in Hamburg for years), and The Beatles were already ready for a break. The band was in the middle of a relentless press blitz in 1964, but the lads from Liverpool needed to take some time off. Where better to go than a Scottish castle?
Easter weekend 1964 saw John Lennon and George Harrison visit Dromoland Castle in County Clare with John's wife Cynthia and George's girlfriend Pattie Boyd. While spending some time away from the public, these two boys found a way to goof off in the way that only the Beatles knew how to do.
According to RTÉ News, John and George found swords and full suits of armor and swords in the castle before posing for members of the press.
From tramp to dapper gentleman, Charlie Chaplin, photographed at the age of 29 in 1928
1928 was a huge year for Charlie Chaplin, his film The Circus netted him his first Academy Award, which at the time was given for his "versatility and genius in writing, acting, directing and producing." Strangely, The Circus is the one film of Chaplin's that he didn't really care about.
It's not because Chaplin didn't like the movie, in 1928 he was going through a divorce with Lita Grey, and her lawyers did everything they could to smear Chaplin's name and destroy his career. The peak of the legal battle coincided with production of The Circus, halting it for eight months.
On top of that, everything that Chaplin filmed in the first four weeks of the shoot was ruined, and a fire caused a work stoppage that ruined the exteriors for the shoot after a marketing boom allowed for construction to go on while the crew was on a forced break. In the end, Chaplin finished his film and happily moved on from that part of his life.
Lieutenant Jack Singlaub photographed holding an M1-A1 folding-stock carbine on August 11, 1944
Lieutenant Jack Singlaub was an extraordinary member of the U.S. military. He served in the Chinese Civil War, the Korean and Vietnam Wars while taking charge in the Studies and Observations Group (SOG) and was instrumental in organizing Operation Bright Light, the effort to rescue captured American POWs.
Singlaub says the most important part of his military life was his training in the OSS where he traveled overseas and was asked to take down various animals in secret. He explained:
We were authorized to go in a small group and shoot a stag. These are large, almost like an elk. And so a group of about five under an instructor would go out each with his own rifle. The instructor carried the ammunition. When it was your turn, he gave you a round, which you chambered, and then we would all have to sneak up quietly onto the stag – it was all things that as a hunter I knew, but I had never practiced in this way.
Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde, photographed in New York City in January 1880
Oscar Wilde is an extremely British poet and author, with works like The Portrait of Dorian Grey and The Importance of Being Earnest lambasting the English gentry of the era, but the man loved the United States.
In the 1880s, Wilde traveled to the States where he lounged around before giving a series of lectures in New York City in 1882. However, Wilde didn't give a lecture about writing or passion, he mostly talked about art decoration, or at least so says an article in The Sun in 1882. It quotes Wilde as saying:
I believe the decay of decorative arts in this century is due to the want of joyous colors and stately drapery in dress. Our dress drives the painter back to the romantic ages - whereas ours should be a romantic age - and almost annihilates the sculptor. Indeed, when we see the productions of modern sculptors we wish we had annihilated sculpture completely.
Mexican Revolutionary soldiers that supported and fought for Emiliano Zapata posing for a photograph in Yautepec, Mexico in 1911
The Mexican Revolution was a many tentacled, bloody beast that last for nearly two decades (depending on who you ask) and cost nearly a million lives. The revolution began in earnest on November 20, 1910, when a call came to overthrow the dictator Porfirio Díaz Mori.
There were stops and starts throughout the revolution, Diaz reigned with a campaign through intimidation and fear, but as that was happening, Zapata was leading a militia of rebellious peasants to take down the leaders of the government whom they felt were destroying the country. After Diaz's extrication from office, Francisco Madero tried and failed to implement land reforms after removing Diaz from office. Madero was then pushed out of office by General Victoriano Huerta who had him executed within a week of coming to power. Huerta was then overthrown by Venustianio Carranza in 1914.
Naval reserve enlistment mugshot of American novelist and beat poet, Jack Kerouac, 1943
Even in his earliest days Jack Kerouac was a rambling man. In 1942, he dropped out of Columbia University and signed up as a merchant marine on the U.S. Army Transport ship Dorchester. He was only 20 years old at the time, and even as World War II raged on he felt that the adventure and money waiting for him on the open water were reason enough to join up.
While writing of his experience as a merchant marine, Kerouac noted that his mother was terrified of him joining up at the worst time to do so in American history:
My mother is very worried over my having joined the Merchant Marine, but I need money for college, I need adventure, of a sort (the real adventure of rotting wharves and seagulls, winey waters and ships, ports, cities, and faces & voices); and I want to study more of the earth, not out of books, but from direct experience.
After leaving the merchant marines in October 1942, the Dorchester was torpedoed by a German U-boat. He attempted to join the U.S. Naval Air Force, but failed the aptitude test. This photo was taken in 1943 at the Naval Training Station in Newport, Rhode Island, right around his 21st birthday. He only lasted 10 days in boot camp before Naval doctors found him to be “restless, apathetic, seclusive” and determined that he was mentally unfit for service.
New Zealand Cavalry soldiers pose with a captured German Tankgewehr M1918, the world's first anti-tank rifle, 1918
New Zealand may be small but its soldiers are fierce. When the 2nd New Zealand Division was sent to Greece to defend the country from the German military in 1941 they fought admirably and destroyed the Aliakmon River to slow down Nazi forces.
By taking on the Germans in Greece, these New Zealand soldiers were definitely at a loss. They didn't have home field advantage and they were severely outnumbered, but they still fought relentlessly.
On April 12, the New Zealand forces fought against the German military with anti-tank rifles and positions that pinned down the Germans before retreating to the Olympus Pass. The group ended up continuing their battle with the Axis in Crete where they suffered major losses, with 61 men captured and 17 killed in the lengthy battle.
Photograph of a woman walking up a street in the mill district in Pittsburgh, January 1940
When the United States was still in its post-Depression recovery, Pittsburgh was still waiting to return to the great heights of its Steel Town finances. One person who captured Pittsburgh at its most natural and gritty was photographer for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) Jack Delano.
Archivist Jordan J. Lloyd explained the importance of Delano's work, noting his eye for realism. However, Lloyd stated that it's still quite hard to identify exactly where he snapping shots:
As far as I know, nobody has managed to positively identify the street in which Delano took this photograph. After much investigation I found a positive match on Lawn Street in South Oakland, which was then adjacent to the Jones and Laughlin Steel plant, which Delano quite rightly referred to as the 'mill district'. By 1926, South Oakland and Hazelwood had the largest number of coke ovens anywhere in the world, utilized to produce over two millions tonnes of steel.
Queen Isabella II of Spain photographed in her 20s in the late 1850s
Queen Isabella II of Spain may look as if she's a stodgy member of the royal family, it turns out she's anything but. Even in the 19th century, when monarchs were expected to be a bit over the top she was absolutely depraved.
Born to the fourth wife of Ferdinand VII, Isabella was meant to further the royal line and was married off to a prince of France whom she absolutely hated, and even though she gave birth 12 children it's likely that none of them were her husband's.
Isabella's sleeping around wasn't just a bad look, it was a political nightmare. It was seen as political interference and in 1868 she was overthrown by a military rebellion. After she was exiled from Spain the country was sunk into years of turmoil. She never retuned to the country.
Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, with their eldest daughter Grand Duchess Olga in 1896
Married in 1894, Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna lead the Russian imperial government until its collapse in 1917. The couple had a warm and passionate marriage that sired multiple children, but personal tragedy followed in the wake of their children's birth. On top of that the toppling of the Russian government brought their wonderful union to a bloody end.
Their first four children were all girls, but the family wanted a male heir to continue their reign. Sadly, when she gave birth to a son named Alexi it turned out that he was suffering from hemophilia, a horrific blood disease.
While attempting to solve their son's blood disease with help from the mystic Rasputin, there was contempt brewing in Russia against the bourgeois. When Nicholas left for the WWI front, Feodorovna replaced her ministers with those favored by Rasputin, this essentially signed her death warrant. She and her children were placed under house arrest with Nicholas in 1918, and on the night of July 16-17 Alexandra and her family were escorted to the basement of Ipatiev House, where they were executed by Bolsheviks, bringing an end to more than three centuries of the Romanov rule.
Ella Fitzgerald, sitting with her close friend Marilyn Monroe at the Tiffany Club in Hollywood, Los Angeles, 1954
Ella Fitzgerald is one of the most well known singers of the 20th century, her voice is uniquely beautiful and it brings joy, sadness, and ennui to jazz music in a way that no other singer has. While we know Fitzgerald's voice, many people don't know how much Marilyn Monroe played in her career.
While touring in the 1950s, Fitzgerald had to deal with Jim Crow laws wherever she was performing even though her manager, Norman Granz, insisted that she be treated like any other performer. Unfortunately, Fitzgerald was subject to the racist laws of the era like every other black performer.
At the same time that Fitzgerald's star was rising so was Marilyn Monroe's. In the 1950s, Monroe wanted to see Fitzgerald perform at the Mocambo, a venue made famous by Frank Sinatra. The club also refused to allow people of color to perform. That changed after Monroe put in a call to the club. Fitzgerald explained:
I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt … she personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night... The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.
Snipers of the Bavarian 23. Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment which saw service in Siebenburgen, deep in the Carpathian borderlands, 1917
German snipers were some of the most fearsome fighters of World War I, creating panic and fear in the trenches whenever they appeared. Before the Germans started sniping American and English soldiers, members of the Allied Forces didn't understand the importance of striking in secret.
General Lord Horne of the British Army explained that Bavarian snipers like these didn't just strike fear in the hearts of their soldiers, they fought the Allied forces the importance of sniping. He wrote:
In the early days of 1915, in command of the 2nd Division, I well remember the ever-increasing activity of the German sniper and the annoyance of our officers and men in the trenches... It was the experience of 1915 that impressed upon us the necessity of fighting for superiority in all branches of trench warfare, amongst .which sniping held an important position.
On October 22, 1895, the people of Paris were witness to one of the most insane disasters that's ever occurred. That day, a conductor was trying to pick up the pace and keep the Granville to Paris and Montparnasse express on time by running a buffer stop at a speed of 25-37 mph.
The conductor refused to pull the Westinghouse air brake, creating enough momentum for the train to crash through a 24 inch thick wall before tumbling 33 feet onto the Place de Rennes. None of the 131 passengers were killed, but one woman below was killed by falling masonry, while two passengers, a fireman, two guards, and a passerby were injured.
The conductor faced a punishment of two months in prison and a fine of 50 francs. A guard who could have stopped the crash was fined 25 francs for not paying attention to the literal runaway train.
The Harlem Hellfighters were the most celebrated African-American regiment in World War I. Even so, they faced immense racism and throughout their service and even while they prepared to travel to the front lines of Europe to fight for Democracy.
During World War I, the 369th Infantry Regiment battled harder and longer against Germany than any other Allied military presence. Like the African American soldiers of the Civil War, the Harlem Hellfighters were fighting for a country that didn't even want to give them rights. Musican Noble Sissle, a Hellfighter, wrote about the group's time in Europe, saying:
There had been all kind of insults hurled at our body who were on duty in town. Our boys had some pretty bitter pills to swallow.
In the 19th century the profession of dentistry was woefully under standardized, with barbers and shopkeepers who owned the necessary implements carrying out appointments however they saw fit.
These early adopters of dentistry pulled teeth with little science to back up their decisions. Jane Austen, yes that Jane Austen, writes of a dentist's visit to her family in 1813 and it sounds like a nightmare. Austen wrote:
The poor Girls & their Teeth! W]e were a whole hour at Spence’s, & Lizzy’s were filed & lamented over again & poor Marianne had two taken out after all. ... We heard each of the two sharp hasty screams.Fanny’s teeth were cleaned too—& pretty as they are Spence found something to do to them, putting in gold & talking gravely—& making a considerable point of seeing her again before winter. [The dentist] must be a Lover of Teeth & Money & Mischief.
Spanish Surrealist artist, Salvador Dalí, photographed alongside fellow artist, Man Ray, in Paris, France in 1934
Of course Salvador Dalí and Man Ray were friends, they were both surrealist weirdos with a penchant for a nice suit and tie. This photo, taken by Carl Van Vechten, shows the two artists standing side beside with their wild eyes, staring down the barrel of the camera.
At the time, Man Ray was living in Paris and taking photographs of some of the biggest names in art at the time, Jean Cocteau, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein, and of course, Dali. All of these artists forged friendships, if not artistic partnerships in the early days before World War II.
As close as these people were, it's odd for Man Ray to appear in a photo with someone, he preferred to be on the other side of the camera, not posing in front of the lens.
Soldiers of the Swiss Armed Forces resting during a maneuver at some point during World War II
While the thought on Switzerland during the war is that they remained neutral, the fact is that they had to be constantly ready for invasion. When World War II broke out in 1939, Switzerland mobilized and prepared for possible action within three days.
The country was never attacked, although they were surrounded by territory controlled by Axis Powers. Switzerland remained independent through a combination of good luck, military deterrence, and economic concessions to Germany, although the leaders of the Nazi party weren't happy with Swiss leaders.
The country gets a bad rap for being "buddy-buddy" with the Germans, but they were a country that served as a mediator for members of the Axis and Allies.
Wartime surgery is already tricky, even today, but in the Civil War it was a nightmare trying to save lives. Military surgeons had to amputated limbs and pull off procedures in the middle of conflict. With the outbreak of the war, few surgeons were prepared for the mental and physical strains of what was to come.
There were an insane amount of casualties on both sides of the war, with deaths upon deaths at each battle, and thousands of injuries a day. The silver lining here is that doctors working during the war were able to hone their skills and save lives as the war went on.
Unfortunately, this opportunity at expertise gave untrained medical novices an excuse to amputate limbs willy nilly. This didn't just hurt people, it destroyed lives.
The Prince of Wales, future King George V of the United Kingdom, photographed smoking next to his mother, Alexandra of Denmark, Queen consort of the United Kingdom, 1900s
No, that's not Nicholas II, it's his nearly identical cousin George V of Great Britain. Pictured here with his mother, Alexandra of Denmark, George was never meant to take the throne, that job was for his brother, Albert.
George wanted to be a Navy man, but when Albert passed away in 1892 from influenza George took on the role of heir-apparent, leaving the Royal Navy behind. Aside from taking on his brother's role in English politics, he also married Albert's former fiancée, Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, siring five sons.
George became king on May 6, 1910, when his father died. He immediately faced a constitutional crisis and rather than side with the gentry of England he back the liberal members of the government and made sure that the nobles knew they were on thin ice. He was a popular king throughout his reign even as the country slipped into economic depression in the 1930s.
These cool looking characters are Swedish Life Guards, or Livgardet, members of the Swedish Army cavalry/infantry regiment who have been tapped to defend Stockholm and serve as members of the royal guard of honor for the King of Sweden and the Stockholm Palace, a practice that goes back to 1521, making them one of the oldest military units in continuous operational existence in the world.
Initially, there were only 16 members of the life guard, and they worked as personal bodyguards for Gustav Vasa, the King of Sweden from 1523 to 1560. From their inception the group has changed quite a bit. In fact, they weren't even the Svea Life Guards until 1792.
The group is still together today, although in a much different version than in their inception. However, they're still rocking these cool uniforms.
Troops of the Eight-Nation Alliance (except Russia) that fought against the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900
This shot of the Eight-Nation Alliance, an international military group created after the Boxer Rebellion in the Qing Empire of China was made up of the United States, British Empire, Germany, France, Austro-Hungary, Italy, Russia, and Japan, and they came together to exert their influence over China.
At the time, the Boxers wanted to remove all western influence from China and they started by attacking any westerners who they found in the area. In 1900, they trapped large quantities of foreigners inside Being as the Chinese government put its weight behind the Boxers.
A brief war broke out when the Eight-Nation Alliance sent two relief expeditions, one on June 10th and another on August 4th to fight off resistance, break the Boxer stronghold and end the short, albeit extremely bloody war.
Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the last emperor of the Russian Empire, photographed sitting with his daughter Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia while she recovers from measles and pneumonia, 1917
It's as if every member of Russian royalty who was tangentially related to Nicholass II was cursed. Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia, the third daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia was known as one of the most kind and compassionate women of the Russian royal family. However, nothing but pain awaited her.
Beautiful and inquisitive, she sought to take care of her friends and family, so much so that she expressed her desire to become a nurse even though she was too young to do so. Maria would never have a chance to chase her dreams of helping others, in 1917 the Russian Revolution broke out and with her homeland in chaos she and the rest of her family were imprisoned in the wilderness of Siberia.
In the wee hours of July 17th, Maria and the rest of her family were lined up and murdered by a firing squad. There's no way to know the good she could have done had she been allowed to live.
Founded in 1887, the Gotland Infantry Regiment was originally a military group that was recruited entirely from the island of Gotland, so not only does it make sense that these two soldiers would share a glass of something brown and delicious, but that they would likely be close friends or even relatives.
At the time when this photo was taken, there was an agreement in Sweden that Gotland's troops couldn't be called for military service outside of their island, which means that these fellows only patrolled about 1,200 square miles of land, and probably didn't see that much action.
It wasn't until 1892 that Gotland allowed its troops to be called up for military service outside the island, and by 1901 Gotland served as a training location for the Swedish military and the bicycle infantry. Hopefully, members of that group were partaking in too much alcohol before hopping on their bikes to patrol the island.