43 Historical Photos That Will Stay With You Forever

OMG February 27, 2018 By Alex

The famous humanitarian Mahatma Gandhi once joked that everyone should be treated equally, "except reporters and photographers." However, Gandhi would have been the first to admit that photographers have given us moments in history that will forever be remembered.

After all, a picture paints a thousand words and transports us into cultures and societies we may never have encountered. So immerse yourself in the past, and let us take you through 57 striking photos that will be sure to leave a lasting impression on you.

1. The Kray Twins

YouTube/ Learn Words Daily

Starting things off on our list are two twins who typified East London in the post-war period. Riddled with poverty and crime, the hardened East Enders would go on to exploit the low-levels of policing in the area by committing a series of large-scale robberies and assaults.

By the 1960s, the twins, who went by the names Reginald “Reggie” Kray and Ronald “Ronnie” Kray had made a fortune and even became celebrities stateside after they were photographed by the fashion photographer David Bailey. But after enjoying the fruits of their illegal labors, which often involved socializing with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Jude Garland in a string of London nightclubs, the fearsome duo would come undone after they were investigated for the murders of rival gangsters, Jack “The Hat” McVitie and Geroge Cornell. Arrested in 1968 and convicted in 1969, both were given life sentences.

In 2015, the twins' life stories were brought to life by the Hollywood actor Tom Hardy, who portrayed both Reggie and Ronnie in the critically acclaimed movie, Legend.

2. A hand-to-hand combat expert undergoes an intense training session

YouTube/ seeker land

Col. Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle was a hand-to-hand combat expert known for dismantling an array of soldiers in just one move.

Here, he is pictured in training with an array of Marines as he teaches them how best to escape from tricky combat situations.

3. Hitler visits Paris shortly after Germany's 1940 invasion

Wikimedia Commons

 The Nazi's ruthless invasion of France in 1940 was perhaps Hitler's greatest achievement and while France was a sworn enemy, Hitler made no secret of his love for the City of Lights and is reported to have said that visiting the city shortly after the invasion, "was the greatest and finest moment of my life."

With that being said, the Fuhrer told Albert Speer (left) shortly after this poignant photo was taken that, "Berlin must be far more beautiful. When we are finished in Berlin, Paris will only be a shadow."

4. Elvis Presley partakes in military service duty, 1958

YouTube/ John David Allen

Between 1958- 1960, Presley undertook his military service as a regular soldier after his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, refused to let him join the Special Services.

The logic behind Parker's counsel, was, of course, purely financial. By forgoing six weeks basic training to partake in two years military service instead, Presley would be exempt from performing to the troops. Performing to his fellow comrades wasn't an issue for Elvis, but the fact that it would be recorded and thereby become the property of Uncle Sam riled both Presley and his manager and convinced them that 2 years military service was a better alternative for his career which would eventually culminate in record sales of well over 1 billion. Parker, it seems, was right on the money with his decision.

5. Audrey Hepburn goes shopping in Los Angeles with pet deer, Ip

YouTube/ Nicole Wharton

Audrey Hepburn needs little introduction, but her adorable friend does. The adorable photo is believed to have been taken in Los Angeles by Life magazine photographer Bob Willoughby who accompanied her on many films, including the 1958 flick Green Mansions, where Hepburn first met Ip.

The film saw Hepburn's character play an intrepid, nature-loving explorer who forges a special relationship with a fawn in the Venezuelan jungle. Thinking it would help Hepburn, her husband and director of the film, Mel Ferrer, recommended she take the fawn home with her to build up a believable bond.

It was a decision that clearly worked as it didn't take long for Hepburn to fall in love with Ip, as Harrison Carrol observed in an article she wrote for the newspaper The Day. "When I talked to her [Audrey] on the set, she was petting the fawn that will work with her in the film. It's a cute little thing. It lay contentedly in her arms, kept nuzzling her neck and trying to lick her cheek".

6. Hannah Stilley is thought to be the earliest born individual to be photographed, 1840

Born in 1746, Hannah Stilley was probably the earliest born individual to be caught on camera when she posed for a photograph in 1840. This made Stilley 94 at the time she posed for this photograph, a remarkable age to reach, even by today's standards.

Indeed, without the aid of modern medicine, Stilley's age defied expectations, so it's amazing to think that someone who was younger than the likes of the esteemed composer Mozart and the 4th president of the United States, James Madison, was photographed. 

7. The Final-Known Photo Of The Titanic Afloat


One of history's greatest tragedies, the sinking of the Titanic came to signify the drawing to a close of the British empire and shocked the world at the time. Now, over 100 years later the incident still enthralls many.

Just take this photo as an example. Thought to be the final one taken before the ship collided with a fatal iceberg four days later, the photo serves as a chilling reminder of a fatality which took 1,503 lives. 

8. The murder of Sharon Tate

YouTube/ SC Videos

Married to the film director Roman Polanski and pregnant with his child, everything seemed to be going just great for the actress Sharon Tate. She was living the dream and appeared destined to continue living it for years to come until Charles Manson directed his "family" of followers to kill her.

The late serial killer was actually indirectly responsible for the murders of seven people, which included the eight-month pregnant actress Sharon Tate. While not taking part in the killings, Manson was held accountable for instructing the murders, which were carried out by Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkle and Leslie Van Houten.

Manson's motive was to start a race war between African Americans and white people by murdering residents in the wealthy, predominately white suburbs of L.A. and then blaming the killings on members of the black community. 

The 83-year-old eventually served over 40 years before he succumbed to his death in a hospital in Bakersfield, California last year, with this elegant photo of the beautiful actress thought to be the last captured image of the star alive before Manson's cult killed her.

9. A Whole Team Lost

YouTube/ Davethreshold

With the entire USA figure skating team on board, heading to the World Figure Skating Championships in Prague, the Boeing 707 carrying them crashed while traveling from New York to Belgium in 1961 killing a total of 73 people and losing an entire generation of talented figure skaters for the nation. Here the team poses for a group photograph before boarding the flight that they would never return from.

10. A starry-eyed Johnny Carson interviews Robyn Hilton, 1974

YouTube/ Donald Williams

Robyn Hilton was an American film and television actress and model who achieved a reasonable level of fame in the 1970s and 1980s following her performances in films such as Blazing Saddles and Malibu Express.

A right of passage for up-and-coming actors and actresses, Hilton made waves when she made her debut on the popular talk show The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Eager-eyed in more ways than one, a flustered Carson struggled to maintain eye contact with Hilton, and the interview has since gone down as one of his funniest. You can watch the full interview here

11. Budd Dwyer's Last Broadcast


Rober Budd Dwyer was the Treasurer of Pennsylvania from 1981 until 1987 and during that period, the state he represented discovered its state workers had overpaid federal taxes due to errors in state withholding. Many accounting firms competed for a multimillion-dollar contract to determine the compensation to each employee.

In 1986, Dwyer was convicted of taking a bribe from the firm that eventually won the contract and was due to be sentenced for this despite maintaining his innocence throughout the trial. The day before his sentencing, Dwyer called a press conference where he then produced a revolver and took his own life in front of the TV camera's that would broadcast his death across the state. This photo shows him telling others to stand back moments before he fired on himself.

12. The Assassination of John Lennon

YouTube/ George Vreeland Hill 

Former Beatle, lauded solo musician and songwriter, and noted peace campaigner John Lennon is a household name but on December the 8th 1980, his life was cut short at the age of 40 as he returned to his New York apartment where he was shot four times in the back by a crazed 'fan' in what became one of the most famous assassinations of all time.

The killer was Mark David Chapman who had, earlier that day, stood outside Lennon's apartment and asked him to sign a copy of Double Fantasy for him, an album by John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono, released earlier that year. This is the photo of Lennon signing the album for his killer earlier on that fateful day.

13. Jamie Lee Curtis's iconic performance in Perfect


Jamie Lee Curtis is one of Hollywood's most famed actresses, but in her heyday, she was also one of its most in-demand stars, starring in such films as Perfect.

Playing John Travolta's love interest, Curtis's aerobics teacher character gave the movie many steamy moments, especially during her fitness class scenes. 

14. Last Picture of the President

Walt Cisco, Dallas Morning News via Foter.com / Public domain

President John F. Kennedy (JFK) was a popular, if divisive, figure in American politics and had ascended to the highest office in the land off the back of his policies of reform and his endearing charm. However, on November 22, 1963, the President and his wife sat in an open-top car driving through Dallas, Texas as part of a motorcade, where the President was shot at by Lee Harvey Oswald, from a school book depository window.

Killed by the bullet, this is the last known image of JFK alive, and it was the last time a president of the United States would ride in an open top car.

15. The Hindenburg Crash

U.S. Department of the Navy. Bureau of Aeronautics. Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA). via Foter.com / Public Domain Mark 1.0

The event that single-handedly ended the reign of the passenger blimps, the Hindenburg crash was a horrendous air disaster at the time as it flew from Germany to New Jersey, USA as it caught fire and crashed killing 36 people. Airship LZ 129 Hindenburg was trying to dock with a mast when it caught flame and plummeted toward the ground.

It was subsequent newsreel footage showing the disaster that shattered public confidence in this form of air travel and brought its era to an abrupt end. Here, the craft is shown before it embarks on its flight.

16. The First Ebola Outbreak

Wikimedia Commons

Ebola may well be back in the headlines in recent weeks, but it was first identified in 1976 with two o simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, Sudan and the other in Yambuku, Congo a village near the Ebola River from which the disease takes its name. Killing 280 people then, this photo shows a nurse named Mayinga N’Seka who had been fighting the virus days before it took her life.

Internal and external bleeding, loss of fluids and vomiting all occur with Ebola and, although prevention and cures are much more readily available, outbreaks of the virus do still happen.

17. Oklahoma City Bombings

YouTube/ CNN

In 1995, domestic terrorists Timothy McVeigh andTerry Nichols carried out a bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City that killed 168 people. Militiamen who had a hatred for federal government, they used a rental truck to carry the explosives to their destination, and this surveillance footage captured the vehicle moments before the bombs went off.

The deadliest domestic terrorist incident to occur in the United States, it was the deadliest terrorist attack in the US until 9/11.

18. Olive Oatman


For those with little knowledge of Native American history, Olie Oatman was a settler from Illinois whose family was killed in 1851, when she was just fourteen. The slaughter occurred in present-day Arizona by a Native American tribe, who historians believe was the Tolkepayas (Western Yavapai). After her enslavement, she was eventually sold, along with her sister, to the Mohave people. In that time, her sister died of hunger, but Oatman managed to escape and return to white society five years after her ordeal fist occurred.

While her story has been immortalized in various mediums of art, much of her experience remains unknown. 

19. Ayrton Senna's final photo alive

 YouTube/ Giorgos Chatzikyriakos

One of the most gifted Formula One racers of all time, Ayrton Senna was noted for his strong rivalries and daring moves on the track but in 1994, his life was cut short whilst leading the Monaco Grand Prix as his car slammed into a cement separating barrier that led to serious injuries of which he would later die of.

This photo shows Senna in the cockpit of his car before the race had begun as he surveyed the starting grid.

20. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's journey to tech superstardom was one that started in more modest surroundings


Mark Zuckerberg was only in his sophomore year at Havard when he founded Facebook in his small dormitory at the Ivy League college.

Pictured looking carefree (and slightly hungover), little did a teenage Mark know of the global fame and billions of dollars which would soon follow.

21. Crowds gather for Woodstock, 1969

YouTube/ Rastagaming

It was sold as '3 days of Peace & Music,' but Max Yasgur's festival became so much more. It became iconic, and a slap in the face to an America that preached freedom, but offered little in return. Unjust wars in Vietnam persisted, and the persecution of blacks raged on. It was certainly a divisive period in America, but Woodstock's four-day event of music and psychedelic escapism spawned a new, socially liberal way of thinking that previous generations hadn't entertained

This aerial view of the event, which was taken by a film crew working on the 1970 Oscar-winning Woodstock documentary, highlighted the sheer size of the event.

22. Final passenger photos onboard flight MH17

YouTube/ CNN

Much controversy surrounds the MH17 plane crash still as it plummeted 33,000 feet over Ukraine, crashing in a part of the country that is at war and killing all on board. It was shot down by a rocket, but the debate rages still as to who fired the shot and to what end they wanted to do so. Was it a stray missile or a misidentification of the plane? Which side fired the weapon and was it government- backed?

All these answers remain unclear, but this photograph shows a mother and daughter who were on the flight heading towards a vacation in Europe with the shot believed to be taken by the father. They would never reach their destination with crash investigators believing that those onboard were alive for the 3/4 minute drop into the ground.

23. The counterculture movement spawned the well-known phrase, "Flower Power."

YouTube/ Nathan Olson

At the height of the Vietnam protests, the 'Flower Power' slogan, an expression coined by American Beat poet Allen Ginsburg, was seen by many of the younger generations as a means of protest against pro-war governmental policies and American Dream ideals.

Years later, the flower has become a symbol of hippy culture and was viewed by many as the catalyst for the counterculture movement that followed.

24. Checking over 'Fat-Man'

Shutterstock/ Everett Historical

On August 6th and 9th of 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, causing significant death and destruction in both areas. Until recently photos of the final preparations before these attacks were classified.

This photo shows the 'Fat-Man' bomb, that was dropped on Nagasaki, being loaded onto a transport trailer and given a final once-over.

25. Elizabeth Taylor shares an intimate moment

YouTube/ sofialatte

One of the most glamorous and successful stars of 1950s classical cinema, Elizabeth Taylor was a well-known public figure throughout her life, so there isn't many images or incidents about her that are known to the public but here is a one of with her arms around a male companion. 

Dressed down with her arms clasped around Richard Burton's shoulders, Taylor's celebrity was characterized as much by her love life as her acting, with the actress marrying 8 times. 

26. The oldest known picture of a person sneezing

YouTube/ The Richest

With her face in a sort of manic contortion, the subject of this piece has been used to illustrate tragedy and fear in many articles and ad campaigns throughout the years. Taken in 1902, it actually shows a woman sneezing and is the oldest known photo of someone doing so. The nature of taking photographs back then also makes for an amusing story.

Because exposure and the capturing of light took a long time in old photos, people had to hold a single pose for quite some time, and this is why you don't often see many vintage photographs of people smiling. This poor woman would have been standing and waiting for her photograph for quite some time before sneezing at the most inopportune moment.

27. Nazi members encourage locals not to shop at a Jewish-owned store, 1933

YouTube/ Perfect Life

In the Nazi party's earlier years, the membership was smaller but arguably more engrossed and committed to the party's extreme-right ideologies, and it wasn't long before they took stock of their leader's concerns of Jewish businesses and encouraged locals to boycott Jewish shops altogether shortly after the party's landmark election win in 1933.

This photo illustrates the early stages of xenophobia the Nazi party instilled in towns and cities across the country which eventually culminated in Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass), an event 5 years later which led to the torching of synagogues, the vandalization of Jewish businesses and widespread assaults on members of the Jewish community in the space of one evening on the 9th of November, 1938.

28. Customers queue at the first McDonald's, 1948

YouTube/ Perfect Life

A lot of people may not know who Ray Kroc is, but that doesn't mean he wasn't one of the most successful people in America. Kroc was a 52-year-old travelling salesman for many years and was working for a milkshake maker when, in 1955, he met the McDonald's brothers who ran a restaurant. It was Kroc who suggested the company could expand across America and franchise its name out and the restaurant became the fast-food giant we all know and love today.

Kroc's life story was also made into a feature movie released last year called, "The Founder" which starred Michael Keaton. However, for those unacquainted with the movie or the fast food giant's history, it's worth pointing out that the founders, Richard and Maurice McDonald had actually done quite well for themselves before Kroc came into the fold, with the original store, pictured above, being in business since 1940.

29. Filming this famous 1966 movie wasn't easy


Motorsports is one of the more trickier sporting events for television audiences to enjoy as the cars are going at such speeds you need a variety of lenses and cameras to convey the intensity and speed for those not there. However, today's cameraman have it easy compared to when John Frankenheimer filmed the classic 1966 movie, "Grand Prix." 

As you can see by the photo above, the techniques used to capture the races was, in many ways, death-defying, leading the acclaimed American director to remark years later, "When I look back, I don't know how the hell we ever did that film." 

30. A little girl opts for an unusual mode of transport

Twitter/ historyinpix

While people in rural Flordia are probably unphased by alligators, the rest of the world would probably be in shock if they ever witnessed a small, vulnerable girl riding an alligator.

Just when you thought you'd seen it all. 

31. Woodstock


It was sold as '3 days of Peace & Music,' but Max Yasgur's festival became so much more. It became iconic, and a slap in the face to an America that preached freedom, but offered little in return. Unjust wars in Vietnam persisted, and the persecution of blacks raged on. It was a divisive period in America, and Woodstock's four-day event of music and psychedelic escapism was perhaps just as synonymous with the period.

The festival also spawned a plethora of ideas and influences. Fashion lines became inspired by more garish garments; musicians became energized with writing lyrics that stood for more than just the wants of their record labels, and a younger generation dragged America into a new period of enlightenment and possibility. 

32. Bruce Lee in action during a training session with Yip Man


Bruce Lee was an iconic martial artist and actor who passed away at only 33-years-old, and his reputation and legacy have lived on ever since, yet few know of the legendary teacher he trained with during his illustrious career.

Ip Man, also known as Yip Man, was a Chinese martial artist and specialized in the teaching of Wing Chun, a close combat form of martial arts native to Southern China. Under Man's guidance, several students would become martial arts masters in their own right, including his most famous student, Bruce Lee. 

33. Venice's canals as you've never seen them before


Venice may be one of the most beautiful places on Earth, but during the low season, tourism officials sometimes drain the canals to get rid of the deluge of rubbish that finds its way into the waters.

This problem has no doubt been exacerbated by the city's booming tourism trade. A 1995 New York Time's piece on Venice's dirty underbelly even titled their headline, "Venice: The Stuff In The Canal Is Not The Stuff Of Romance"

34. Ernest Hemingway in the bathtub, 1922


One of American's most significant literary authors, Hemingway's intrepid nature saw him serve as a war reporter and ambulance worker in World War I before his fiction made him a star.

The Farwell to Arms author wasn't as publicity shy as other writers. In fact, he would often let photographers and journalists into his home to document his life as a beloved writer, something the likes of F. Scot Fitzgerald and J.D. Salinger never allowed. 

35. A children's gas mask from World War II


As the threat of Hitler's Nazi party loomed large in the latter stages of the 1930s, governments in Britain and America issued gas masks to every woman and child in the nation. In the UK alone, more than 40 million gas masks were handed out.

To lessen the fears of children, a gas mask that looked like Mickey Mouse was designed in America, with Walt Disney himself helping with its design.

36. A priest delivers prayers over the victims of Titanic


The ill-fated Titanic was thought to be carrying some 2,208 people when it plunged into an iceberg and took the lives of 1,503 people. 

Here, a photographer captures a priest delivering a sermon to the recovered bodies only days after the tragedy. 

37. Soldier in Poland rests with his best friend, 1945


Man's best friend has served as a wonderful companion through history, and World War II was no different.

Soldiers would often come across strays and then adopt them as their own or at least look after them until they were deployed someplace else.

38. A liberated Jew contains a Nazi at gunpoint


In a stark dichotomy between good and evil, the tables are eventually turned as a liberated Jewish prisoner and survivor of the concentration camp's atrocities guards a Nazi at gunpoint. 

Such a powerful juxtaposition captures the compelling facets of war, and ultimately what war truly comes down to; A battle of what a nation thinks is good, and the bad things that are deemed worthy of fighting against. For humanity's sake, Hitler's reign of terror was eventually overcome, and no such conflict has ever been repeated.

39. A Catholic and Protestant couple are laid to rest with adjoining gravestones

YouTube/ Rastagaming

Everyone loves a tear-jerking love story, but perhaps this one trumps them all. The story centered around one elderly woman's refusal to let her Catholic religion come between her partner. So in an act of courageous defiance, she refused to be part of her family tomb. Instead, she opted for the closest possible spot to her Protestant husband.

Two conjoined hands have since linked the graves. Love conquers all it seems- even death.

40. Marylin's Hollywood smile

An enduring icon, Marylin Monroe's legacy has lived on long after her death, with the star considered America's first global sex symbol. A starlet in every sense of the word, Monroe's image has been immortalized on everything from mugs and cups to T-shirts and shower curtains.

41. Making the best of a bad situation


World War II spawned an array of funny photos that often go unnoticed by historians. Here, six scantly-clad women line up for a photo with sacks over their heads, which was a somewhat novel, and indeed, comic use of war supplies.

42. Two girls cause a stir in Cape Town, 1965


While the 60s spawned a mass wave of liberalism throughout the Western world, many other areas of the world, such as South Africa, were still highly conservative, as this photo,of two females walking down the road drawing attention to themselves in short skirts illustrates.

43. White European neanderthal man


An ancestor of the European with the RH gene blood type, many believe this image proves that the human race developed from different origins as opposed to the same species of animal that the evolutionary theorist, Charles Darwin famously theorized.

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