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Pictures have the ability to capture a moment in time that can be revered many years later. Whether moving or still, they hold our attention better than probably any other medium of art. In this digital age, almost anyone can become a photographer. Yet old photos hold a one-of-a-kind aura – a unique imprint of that time, if you will.

Instagram page RocaHistory is where vintage pop culture meets history’s photographic curiosities. It has everything: from fascinating moments from the archives of history to behind-the-scenes snippets of Old Hollywood. So check out these pictures from RocaHistory to perhaps see what you’ve never seen before, and read our interview with photographer Margaret Sartor below.

#1

A Couple At Woodstock (48 Hours After They Met) And The Same Couple 50 Years Later

A Couple At Woodstock (48 Hours After They Met) And The Same Couple 50 Years Later

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jayhay4posh avatar
GoGoPDX
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9 months ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Jerry and Judy Griffin. Their story is a great one. Judy was driving to Woodstock with 2 friends and her car broke down about 90 miles from the festival. She decided to just ditch the car and hitchhike the rest of the way. A 67 VW Beetle pulled up and after seeing a girl in the passenger seat, she felt comfortable bitching a ride with them. She sat in the back next to Jerry for the trip He has been quoted saying “I thought, ‘Okay, this is definitely unusual. We just picked up this really cute girl. And I’m going to Woodstock and I’ve got a tent and she doesn’t,’ ” anyway, the rest is history and they have been married over 50 years and have 2 kids and 5 grandkids. To add to the greatness of this story, they didn't know this picture existed until they saw it on a documentary sPBS documentary Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation, in 2019. They actually didn't have any pictures of themselves at Woodstock. Then, they turn on the TV one day, and bam, they see their much younger selves, wet, glowing from new love, smiling back at them.

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Bored Panda spoke to writer, visual artist and photographer Margaret Sartor, who is currently teaching at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. We asked her why people are so fascinated by historical pictures. “All historical photographs are a window into the past, but beyond the facts (or a nostalgia for the past), they may indicate little else,” Sartor explains. 

On the other hand, moments of the past are not the only thing old photos can reflect. They may trigger us to reevaluate what we know. “Some historical photographs have the power to subvert familiar narratives and carry with them the possibility of expanding or upending our understanding of our own history,” Margaret says.

#2

In 1922, Scientists Entered A Ward Of Dying Children, All In Comatose Diabetic Ketoacidosis, And Injected A New Drug (Insulin) Into Them As Families Were Already Beginning To Grieve

In 1922, Scientists Entered A Ward Of Dying Children, All In Comatose Diabetic Ketoacidosis, And Injected A New Drug (Insulin) Into Them As Families Were Already Beginning To Grieve

Before they had injected the last person on the ward, the first woke up. One by one, all of the children awoke from their diabetic comas. A room of death and gloom, became a place of joy and hope

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dc1 avatar
DC
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Imagine being one of those parents. Science and engineering are cold-hearted, cruel professions? Sometimes, yes. But, after all, all rights and privileges we have, are NOTHING without the background tech running our society. Imagine the freshwater network of a major city collapsing. Or of an entire state or nation. See what I mean?

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#3

This Is Shavarsh Karapetyan, A Retired Armenian Swimmer

This Is Shavarsh Karapetyan, A Retired Armenian Swimmer

In 1976, he had just completed a 26 km (16 mile) run when he heard a loud crash. A trolleybus had lost control and had fallen into a reservoir. It was 25 meters (82 ft) off-shore and had sunk to a depth of 10 meters (33 ft).⁣⁣
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Karapetyan immediately dived into the sewage-infested waters and managed to kick the back window of the trolleybus with his legs, despite zero visibility from the silt that had risen from the bottom. Of the 92 passengers onboard, Karapetyan pulled out 46 people. 20 of whom survived.⁣⁣
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The combination of cold water and the multiple lacerations from glass shards led him to be hospitalized for 45 days. He developed pneumonia and sepsis. While he was able to recover, damage to his lungs prevented him from continuing his career as a swimmer.⁣⁣
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"I knew that I could only save so many lives, I was afraid to make a mistake. It was so dark down there that I could barely see anything. One of my dives, I accidentally grabbed a seat instead of a passenger. I could have saved a life instead. That seat still haunts me in my nightmares," he said.⁣⁣
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In 1985, Karapetyan came upon a burning building with trapped people inside. He rushed in and began pulling people out. He was badly burnt and had to once again be hospitalized.⁣⁣
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Later in life, he moved to Moscow and founded a shoe company called “Second Breath”. He is still alive today and continues to run his business.

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Ranger Kanootsen
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Oh man, I feel so sad that the seat haunts him in nightmares. It wasn't your fault, you did amazing 💛

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Margaret personally is very interested in a unique way of developing photographs that was used in the 20th century – using glass plates. “These glass plates are now over a century old and have, themselves, lived a history,” she explains the fascination.

Margaret talks about what makes them so special: “The resulting cracks, scratches, and subtle tonal shifts in the negative surface at times seem to embody the very texture of life. They point directly to the ways in which experience is inflected by passing history.”

#4

Everyone You Meet Always Asks If You Have A Career, Are Married Or Own A House; As If Life Was Some Kind Of Grocery List. But Nobody Ever Asks If You Are Happy. - Heath Ledger

Everyone You Meet Always Asks If You Have A Career, Are Married Or Own A House; As If Life Was Some Kind Of Grocery List. But Nobody Ever Asks If You Are Happy. - Heath Ledger

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nytronytemare97 avatar
TonyTee
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

That’s facts. He spoke the deep truth, God rest his soul. Besides Cesar Romero, Heath was the best Joker and I wish we got more of his performance as such.

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#5

Robin Williams Dressing Up As A Denver Broncos Cheerleader, 1979

Robin Williams Dressing Up As A Denver Broncos Cheerleader, 1979

It’s disputed but newspapers at the time said this made him the first male cheerleader in NFL history

The gag was for his hit show “Mork and Mindy.” They filmed during a real game, one which the Broncos won 45-10 (sorry, Patriots fans)

The iconic Broncos cheerleading crew the “Pony Express” welcomed him as one of their own, and he participated in cheers throughout the game

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#6

Freddie Mercury Said To Mary Austin In His Will: “If Things Had Been Different You Would Have Been My Wife, And This Would Have Been Yours Anyway.” (1984)

Freddie Mercury Said To Mary Austin In His Will: “If Things Had Been Different You Would Have Been My Wife, And This Would Have Been Yours Anyway.” (1984)

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dc1 avatar
DC
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

... plus, she never ever spilled any details about anything. She's been offered money, and there's enough reason to expect her to know a lot of stuff people would love to read, although it is none of their business. After all, musicias publish music, any else is up to them. Plus, as a fellow cat lover, our deepliest loved ones would likely have hissed at each other.

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It’s easy to think that photographs developed with a hundred-year-old technology would be poor in quality. Margaret says it isn’t so. “Given these large negatives' capacity for detail, they are vibrant and sharp as anything we can do now with a digital camera, but they have also been enriched and made more beautiful by the effects of time’s passage,” she tells Bored Panda.

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#7

Marlene Dietrich Is Detained At A Train Station In Paris In 1933 For Violating The Ban On Women Wearing Trousers

Marlene Dietrich Is Detained At A Train Station In Paris In 1933 For Violating The Ban On Women Wearing Trousers

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#8

A Little Boy Hugging His Best Friend During Lunchtime At Raphael Weill Public School In San Francisco, California In 1942

A Little Boy Hugging His Best Friend During Lunchtime At Raphael Weill Public School In San Francisco, California In 1942

Not long after this photo was taken, children of Japanese ancestry (including the pictured boy) were imprisoned with their parents to spend the duration of World War II in internment camps

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#9

A Mother And Her Son On Their Way To A Pride Walk, 1985

A Mother And Her Son On Their Way To A Pride Walk, 1985

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For those who want to be moved or inspired, Margaret recommends the photography of Hugh Mangum, a portraitist who worked in the American South at the turn of the 20th century.

“His eloquent portraits depicting people from a wide range of racial and economic backgrounds are a surprising and unparalleled document of a very turbulent time in our history,” Margaret tells us. She says that these antique images surprise her with their artistic freshness: “their sometimes disquieting fragility aligns with how it feels to live in the world today.”

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#12

This Is 18-Year-Old Alice Roosevelt And Her Long-Haired Chihuahua Named Leo In 1902

This Is 18-Year-Old Alice Roosevelt And Her Long-Haired Chihuahua Named Leo In 1902

She also had a pet snake named Emily Spinach who she would wrap around on one arm and take to parties.

Alice was extremely independent and unlike many women of her time, she was known to wear pants, drive cars, smoke cigarettes, place bets with bookies, dance on rooftops, and party all night. In a span of 15 months, she managed to attend 300 parties, 350 balls and 407 dinners.

A friend of Alice’s stepmom once remarked that she was “like a young wild animal that had been put into good clothes.” Her stepmom went a step further and described her as a “guttersnipe” that went “uncontrolled with every boy in town.”

William Howard Taft banned her from the White House after Alice buried a voodoo doll (of Taft’s wife) in the front yard. Woodrow Wilson also banned her after she told a very dirty joke (sadly no record of the joke exists) about him in public.

Her father, Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “I can either run the country or I can attend to Alice, but I cannot possibly do both.”

Alice once told President Lyndon B. Johnson that she specifically wore wide-brimmed hats around him so that he could not kiss her.

During an interview in 1974, Alice described herself as a “hedonist.”

She died in 1980 at the age of 96

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Although Margaret Sartor teaches at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, she’s not snobbish when it comes to the art of photography. “Anyone could be a photographer, just like anyone can draw or write a sentence if they can hold a pencil; the camera is simply a machine, a tool, a medium,” she believes.

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#13

Mother Holding Her Daughter At A Budapest Market In 1987. 30 Years Later, They Recreated The Photo. The Photographer Is Atilla Manek. The Subjects Are His Wife And Daughter

Mother Holding Her Daughter At A Budapest Market In 1987. 30 Years Later, They Recreated The Photo. The Photographer Is Atilla Manek. The Subjects Are His Wife And Daughter

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nytronytemare97 avatar
TonyTee
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Well how about that? And they happen to be two beautiful women

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#14

17 Year-Old Juliane Koepcke Was Sucked Out Of An Airplane In 1971 After It Was Struck By A Bolt Of Lightning

17 Year-Old Juliane Koepcke Was Sucked Out Of An Airplane In 1971 After It Was Struck By A Bolt Of Lightning

She fell 2 miles to the ground, strapped to her seat and survived after she endured 10 days in the Amazon Jungle.
After ten days, she found a boat moored near a shelter, and found the boat's fuel tank still partly full. Koepcke poured the gasoline on her wounds, an action which succeeded in removing the maggots from her arm. Out of 93 passengers and crew, Juliane was the only survivor of the LANSA flight 508 crash that took place December 24th, 1971

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#15

Ducklings Being Used As Part Of Medical Therapy In 1956

Ducklings Being Used As Part Of Medical Therapy In 1956

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Sartor claims that like in any other medium, the mind is the most important thing. “A photographer, in any era, is someone who chooses to use the camera as a way to explore or discover something about the world or their place in it,” she explains. You can capture an authentic moment even with an iPhone – it’s the idea behind it, the feeling that it gives the viewer that matters.

#16

A Knocker-Upper Was Someone Whose Sole Purpose Was To Wake People Up During A Time When Alarm Clocks Were Expensive And Not Very Reliable

A Knocker-Upper Was Someone Whose Sole Purpose Was To Wake People Up During A Time When Alarm Clocks Were Expensive And Not Very Reliable

In this photo, Mary Smith earned six pence a week using a pea shooter to shoot dried peas at the windows of sleeping workers in East London, 1930s. She would not leave a window until she was sure that the workers had woken up

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#17

A Young Man Demonstrating Against Low Pay For Teachers, 1930s

A Young Man Demonstrating Against Low Pay For Teachers, 1930s

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“Photographs are not the truth, but they can lead us toward it,” Margaret gives a quick rundown of the meaning of pictures as a whole. “As human beings and citizens, we are constantly trying to see ourselves and our ever-changing, often conflicted world as clearly as we can—hoping it matters, hoping we matter, wondering what happens next."

"The magic of photography is that photographs move us in ways we can neither control nor can we fully explain and in that sense they remind us that ordinary life is suffused with mysteries.”

#19

Not Everyone Likes Bikini, Miami Beach, 1980s

Not Everyone Likes Bikini, Miami Beach, 1980s

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#20

Office Life Before The Invention Of Autocad And Other Drafting Softwares

Office Life Before The Invention Of Autocad And Other Drafting Softwares

Prior to the release of AutoCAD in 1982, engineering drawings were all done by hand using different grade pencils, erasers, T-squares and set squares.

Even after all the manual labor, if a change was required, the engineers and toolmakers had to start from scratch and make the sketches all over again. Nowadays, architecture designers and other drafters are mainly just clicking their mouse and keyboard and not hunched over on a giant desk wondering if any changes will be made to their final drafts.

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dc1 avatar
DC
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

We still learned that in early to mid 2000's (I started at uni in 2003). We were among the last to learn to do a correct technical drawing, they said. Today, that is a merely useless skill - tech drawings, you derive directly from a 3D model, and the truly bad CAD are all either evolved into being usable, or disappeared altogether. Still, SWx is kind of a mimosa.

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#21

A Woman Dressed Up As Batgirl In 1904, 35 Years Before The Creation Of Batman (1939) And 57 Years Before The Creation Of Batgirl (1961)

A Woman Dressed Up As Batgirl In 1904, 35 Years Before The Creation Of Batman (1939) And 57 Years Before The Creation Of Batgirl (1961)

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Jonathan Jones writes for The Guardian that our fascination with old photographs stems from their ability to be both dated and immediate. “Every photo captures the light of a unique moment, a time and place dateable to the instant the shutter opened. So as soon as it is taken it starts to slip away in time – a perfectly preserved microcosm of a vanished universe,” Jones writes.

#22

Vintage Halloween Costumes

Vintage Halloween Costumes

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nytronytemare97 avatar
TonyTee
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I don’t think Halloween would’ve been my favorite time of year back then.

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#23

In May 1987, An Estimated 800,000 People Gathered For The 50th Anniversary Of The Golden Gate Bridge. Event Organizers Had Expected A Crowd Of 80,000

In May 1987, An Estimated 800,000 People Gathered For The 50th Anniversary Of The Golden Gate Bridge. Event Organizers Had Expected A Crowd Of 80,000

Packed in shoulder to shoulder, roughly 300,000 participated in the walk across the bridge. The weight of the crowd caused the suspension to sag

Many of those on the bridge thought it would collapse. Some threw bicycles and strollers into the water to help lighten the load

One man recounted years later, “I remember discussing with my wife the real possibility that we were about to participate in one of the 20th century’s landmark disasters. A bridge collapse would have put to shame all those petty Third World bus and ferry tragedies you read about in the newspaper”

Despite the flattening of the roadbed, bridge engineers said there was never any real danger

Needless to say, bridge officials did not allow uncontrolled pedestrian access for the 75th anniversary in 2012

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Ranger Kanootsen
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Crowded places... yikes! I would have been half tempted to jump off just to get a little personal space!!

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#24

Meryl Streep In The New York Shakespeare Festival's Production Of The Taming Of The Shrew (1978)

Meryl Streep In The New York Shakespeare Festival's Production Of The Taming Of The Shrew (1978)

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The Instagram page RocaHistory has its bit of claim to fame on social media. It was one of Kendal Jenner’s favorite Instagram accounts when it still ran under the name LostinHistoryPics. Now it has 1.3 followers that tune in daily for some interesting facts and images from the recent past.

#26

Miss World 1994, Aishwarya Rai Alongside Her Mother Having Lunch With Her Miss World Crown On

Miss World 1994, Aishwarya Rai Alongside Her Mother Having Lunch With Her Miss World Crown On

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#27

Three Young Women Eat Spaghetti On Inflatable Mattresses At Island Of Capri, 1939

Three Young Women Eat Spaghetti On Inflatable Mattresses At Island Of Capri, 1939

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Although it has been rebranded, the page still features lots of stylish pictures not only of celebrities in the past. Old photographs of regular people get similar attention as well. People find them especially intriguing if they have an interesting story behind them or feature some aesthetically pleasing visuals.

#28

A Local Theater Producer In Colombia Changed Shakira’s Life

A Local Theater Producer In Colombia Changed Shakira’s Life

In the second grade, Shakira’s music teacher told her that she sounded “like a goat.” The teacher said she had far too much vibrato in her voice and wrote her off as hopeless

Dismissed as a bad singer, she earned a reputation as “belly dancer girl.” Her dad — born in NYC and of Lebanese descent — took her to a Middle Eastern restaurant when she was 4. It had a belly dancing performance, and at one point she got up on the table to dance like them

She would perform her belly dancing moves for school friends on Friday and eventually earned dancing gigs around town. At the same time, she fell in love with songwriting. Her dad gave her a typewriter for Christmas one year, and she started writing poems. Those poems soon turned into songs

Monica Ariza was a theater producer in the Colombian coastal city of Barranquilla at the time. She was impressed with Shakira and convinced a Colombian executive at Sony Music to give Shakira a chance. He agreed to listen to her cassette tape but was unimpressed and called her a “lost cause”

But Ariza wasn’t done yet. She ambushed them with a Shakira performance in a hotel lobby on a later date, and they were sold on Shakira’s talent

Sony signed Shakira to a record deal at age 13. The Queen of Latin Music was well on her way

Here are some pictures of a dark-haired Shakira in the 1990s

Whenever, Wherever you can take a chance on a talented young person… do it and it might pay off

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#29

Kate Middleton And Prince William's Post-Clubbing Taxi Pics From The 2000s

Kate Middleton And Prince William's Post-Clubbing Taxi Pics From The 2000s

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#30

Summer Tourists In Greece, 1983

Summer Tourists In Greece, 1983

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wendyfranck avatar
Wendy
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9 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Why are pictures from the 80s always in black and white when shown online? My childhood pictures at home are all in color...

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Note: this post originally had 46 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.

So, pandas, don’t be afraid to do a bit of retronauting. That’s a new term for sharing and enjoying old photos. Who knows, you might get a serious ting of positivity when scrolling through this selection. And if not, at least you might learn an interesting historical fact or two.