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41 Historical Photos That Will Stay With You Forever

OMG February 27, 2018 By Alexm

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

YouTube/ time machine

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 41 striking photos that will be sure to leave a lasting impression on you.

1. The Kray Twins

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.

YouTube/ Learn Words Daily

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

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

YouTube/ seeker land

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

 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."

Wikimedia Commons

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. Afghan girl

When a National Geographic photographer visited a refugee camp along the Pakistan/Afghan border in 1984, he came across a striking pair of eyes. Millions would see the poignant photo, and it soon became one of National Geographic's most famous pictures. 

Interestingly, the photographer returned to the same village to visit the girl he met years later.

YouTube/ National Geographic

After weeks of searching, he was led to her house after iris recognition technology confirmed her identity. 

Her name is Sharbat Gula, and when asked by the photographer, Steve McCurry, if her life since the photo had changed for the better, she admitted that it hadn't.  "No," she said. "But life under the Taliban was better. At least there was peace and order." 

5. War Is Hell

Captured by Associated Press photojournalist Horst-Faas in Vietnam, 1965, the photo paints a different image of war. At first glance, you see a handsome, innocent young man, and on the other, a soldier fighting in a war, that in his words, is a living hell.

YouTube/ John Chambers

Many other American troops, disillusioned with the war effort, scribed similar messages onto their helmets as an act of defiance.

6. Elvis Presley partakes in military service duty, 1958

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. 

YouTube/ John David Allen

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.

7. A devastated mother puts her four children up "for sale"

In a sordid state of affairs, husband and wife Ray and Lucille Chalifoux were forced to part ways with their children due to falling behind in rent payments. The picture was first published by The Vidette-Messenger of Valparaiso but was soon picked up by many of the national papers.

YouTube/ The Peoples Pub

Years later, some of the siblings reunited, with one scathing in her analysis of her adoptive mother's actions. Speaking to the North West Indiana Times, Sue Chalifoux, now 67, said, "I hope she burns in hell."

8. American society underwent a skateboarding revolution in the 1970s

When a few bored surfers in the early 1950s grew tired of having nothing to do when the waves were flat, they thought up the 'skateboard.'

YouTube/ time machine

Years later, the recreational activity became one of America's favorite activities- especially amongst the youth of California. This photo, taken in 1975 during the peak of the craze, was captured by the photographer Hugh Holland, who admitted he was in the right place at the right time when a beach kid skated past two bikini-clad women. 

9. V-J Day

When American navy soldiers returned from battle in the August of 1945, to celebrate V-J day, one sailor took it upon himself to kiss a nearby nurse. Speaking to Time Magazine, Alfred, now 92, joked that his wife was in the background when he kissed the nurse. "I remember what those nurses did out there....is the reason I grabbed that nurse," he explained. Good save Alfred!

YouTube/ The Peoples Pub

What the photograph does not show is that, immediately afterwards, the nurse slapped Alfred for his forthrightness but many years later, the two were reintroduced, and they were able to joke about the incident.

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

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.

YouTube/ Nicole Wharton

The film saw Hepburn's character play an intrepid, nature-loving explorer who forges a special relationship with a fawn in the Venzuwalian 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".

11. 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. 

12. 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.

YouTube/ TheTalko

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. 

13. The murder of Sharon Tate

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.

YouTube/ SC Videos

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.

14. A Whole Team Lost

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.

YouTube/ Davethreshold

Here the team poses for a group photograph before boarding the flight that they would never return from.

15. 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.

16. The Assassination of John Lennon

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.

YouTube/ George Vreeland Hill 

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.

17. Last Picture of the President

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.

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

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.

18. The Hindenburg Crash

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.

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

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.

19. The First Ebola Outbreak

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.

Wikimedia Commons

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.

20. Oklahoma City Bombings

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.

YouTube/ CNN

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

21. Strict 'modesty' laws were enforced in many parts of America during the early 1900s

Believe it or not, strict modesty laws in early 1900s America limited female bathers to only wearing traditional swimwear garments, This led to many arrests and fines for anyone showing anything shorter than the measurements permitted. But it wasn't only women who bore the wrath of the modesty police.

YouTube/ RastaGaming

Men were also susceptible, and it wasn't until 1937 that males were allowed to go topless on a beach.

22. Katherine Schweitzer is apprehended in the 1967 Boston Marathon because she is a woman

After Katherine Switzer's coach had warned her that she was too 'fragile' to run a full-length marathon, Switzer thought better and became the first woman to compete in the Boston Marathon when she defied the all-male criteria.

YouTube/ Rastagaming

However, in 1967, the time the incident took place, women were barred from competing and the race organizer Jock Semple chased her down once he noticed what Switzer was doing. But it was the heroics of her boyfriend and the other male runners who won over the world with their actions, as they stopped Semple from reaching her.

It wouldn't be until 1972 that women were allowed to compete. 

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

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.

YouTube/ Rastagaming

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

24. Ayrton Senna's final photo alive

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.

 YouTube/ Giorgos Chatzikyriakos

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

25. A German soldier returns home 

In 1946, a German prisoner of war returned to his home city of Frankfurt. Years of battle was behind him, not to mention being held captive by the enemy.

Twitter/ historyinpics

Yet, as this picture from the war photographer Tony Vaccaro reveals, years of war and confinement would pale to the pain he felt when discovering that his wife and children, people who had no doubt given him hope of a brighter tomorrow, had all perished.  

26. Buzz Aldrin took the first selfie in space

American astronaut Buzz Aldrin may not have been the first man on the moon, but at least, he had the accolade of taking the first space selfie.

YouTube/ CNN

Tweeting about it years later, the famed Nasa spaceman wrote, 'Did you know I took the first space selfie during Gemini 12 Mission in 1966? BEST SELFIE EVER.' We agree, Buzz. We agree.

27. A young holocaust survivor is asked to draw a picture of home

For many survivors who grew up in the German concentration camps, the memories of their stay would forever haunt them. Perhaps more tragically, younger survivors were less aware of any barbarity- for it was all they knew.

YouTube/ no name

And as this photo of a little child epitomizes, it's the only image they can fathom.

28. James Dean's last photo pictured alive

Hollywood heartthrob James Dean was just 24-years of age when he died in a car collision, robbing the world of an up-and-coming star. With a background in racing sports car, James Dean and his mechanic were trying out his new purchase at high speeds when a car turning blocked the road. Trying to pull a racing maneuver to avoid a collision, there was not enough space or time and so the vehicles collided, and the one Dean was in cartwheeled three or four times before coming to a halt.

YouTube/ SanDiegoHotRod

This photo of James Dean and the Porsche 550 Spyder he died in were taken hours before the crash as he filled up on gas. The 'curse' of James Dean's car has almost become a recognized part of pop-culture as Dean himself with rumor of the wreckage going missing in a shipment container after being toured as a safe driving presentation and then, upon repair, the car suffering several other near-fatal and fatal accidents.

29. 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.

30. Crowds gather for Woodstock, 1969

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

YouTube/ Rastagaming

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.

31. Dorothy Counts first day at Harry Harding High School

When the Brown V Board of Education trial deemed segregation within schools unconstitutional, Counts made history; becoming the first black student to enrol at the all-white Harry Harding High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. But, in scenes of a horrific nature, the 15-year-old was bullied, harassed and intimidated by her fellow students.

YouTube/ NO NAME

Unfortunately, and some would say inevitably, Counts act of bravery didn't last long as her father withdrew her after only four days of attendance.

32. A photo captures the ruins of Hitler's bunker shortly after his suicide

This photo was taken shortly after the end of WWII and was one of the first to capture the bunker's interior, where it is believed the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, spent his final weeks before committing suicide.

YouTube/ History Wench

It was in his bunker that he and wife Eva Braun also took their own lives with the guarantee that their bodies would be burned before opposing forces raided the sight. 

33. Final passenger photos onboard flight MH17

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?

YouTube/ CNN

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.

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

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.

YouTube/ Nathan Olson

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.

35. Checking over 'Fat-Man'

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.

YouTube/ On This Day I Learned

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

36. Elizabeth Taylor shares an intimate moment with husband

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. 

YouTube/ sofialatte

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

37. The oldest known picture of a person sneezing

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.

YouTube/ The Richest

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.

38. The first photograph of Machu Picchu upon its discovery in 1911

The awe-inspiring Inca ruins of Machu Picchu attract millions of visitors every year, and you've probably got at least one friend who took a selfie overlooking the sprawling ancient monument and uploaded it to their Instagram account.

YouTube/ Perfect Life

However, due to its remote location high in the Andes mountains, it wasn't until 1911 that an American explorer and academic by the name of Hiram Bingham revealed it to the wider world. With the help of local peasants, Bingham was led to the site after searching for the "lost city’ of  Vilcabamba. He later described Machu Picchu as "an unexpected sight, a great flight of beautifully constructed stone terraces, perhaps a hundred of them, each hundreds of feet long and 10 feet high."

In the years that followed, and after careful excavation, Peruvian officials slowly started opening up its doors to visitors, and it is now one of the most-visited attractions in the world. 

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

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.

YouTube/ Perfect Life

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.

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

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.

YouTube/ Perfect Life

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.

41. 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. 

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