The history of photography is only about two hundred years old and the period when it was possible to take colored pictures is a lot shorter than that. However, color makes us perceive the image we view as more realistic. Fortunately, there are communities of colorizing black and white photo enthusiasts, such as r/ColorizedHistory (see our previous post), that bring us emotionally closer to the historical events with their work.

It’s often difficult to realize how close to us in the course of history are such events as the wedding day of our grandparents or WWII. Gladly, the photo restoration possibilities now let us glimpse, even a little speculatively, at our past which was, believe it or not, in color. The colorizing process of these vintage photos is no easy business and it highly depends on the colorizer’s involvement in this activity. A lot of colors can be recognized from the subtleties of greyish hues in black and white colors. Another way is to research past fashions, the coloring of the places that still exist today, and quite a lot of common sense that, for instance, let us know that the hair color of a person in a historical black and white photo is most probably a natural one.

However, one must bear in mind that an equally important part of making colorized photos is the good old fashioned guesswork. Even having all of the accessible information on the subject, in theory, you can never be 100% percent sure of the true colors and hues that could have been captured on any of the old photos. Nevertheless, a colored historical photograph, which you otherwise only would have seen in black and white, can make you feel like you could have been part of a world that you’ve never even seen.

Source: Reddit/ColorizedHistory (via: TwistedSifter)

1. Women Delivering Ice, 1918

Original photo by War Department/National Archives

Colourized by Dana Keller

2. Times Square, 1947

Original photo by William Gottlieb

Colourized by Jordan J. Lloyd

3. Portrait Used to Design the Penny. President Lincoln Meets General McClellan – Antietam, Maryland ca September 1862

Original photo Alexander Gardner

Colourized by Zuzzah

4. Marilyn Monroe, 1957

Original photo by Richard Avedon

Colourized by Zuzzah

5. Newspaper boy Ned Parfett sells copies of the evening paper bearing news of Titanic’s sinking the night before. (April 16, 1912)

Original photo by Hulton-Deutsch Collection

Colourized by Dana Keller

6. Easter Eggs for Hitler, c 1944-1945

Original photo by US Army/National Archives

Colourized by Zuzzah

7. Sergeant George Camblair practicing with a gas mask in a smokescreen – Fort Belvoir, Virginia, 1942

Update: As some readers pointed out, the B&W picture we used initially was a different shot from the same photoshoot, so we replaced the previous photo with the one that was actually colourized.  (Original photo by Jack Delano)

Colourized by Ryan Urban

8. Helen Keller meeting Charlie Chaplin in 1919

Original photo by Roy Export Company / Cineteca di Bologna

Colourized photo by Zuzahin

9. Painting WWII Propaganda Posters, Port Washington, New York – 8 July 1942

Original photo by Marty Zimmerman

Colourized by Patty Allison

10. Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge ca 1935

Original photo source unknown

Colourized by Dana Keller

11. Louis Armstrong practicing in his dressing room, ca 1946

Original photo by William Gottlieb

Colourized by Dana Keller

12. Broadway at the United States Hotel Saratoga Springs, N.Y. ca 1900-1915

Original photo by Detroit Publishing Co.

Colourized photo by Sanna Dullaway

13. “The Tall Cowboy”, Ralph E. Madsen with Senator Morris Sheppard, 1919

Original photo Harris & Ewing

Colourized by Photo Retrofit

14. Dancers of the National American Ballet, 20 August 1924

Original photo by National American Ballet

Colourized by Photo Retrofit

15. Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, 1921

Original photo by Ferdinand Schmutzer

Colourized by Klassixx

16. Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father and the only surviving member of the Frank family revisiting the attic they spent the war in, 3 May 1960

Original photo by Arnold Newman

Colourized by Laiz Kuczynski

17. Young Woman with Umbrella – Louisiana, 1937

Original photo by Dorothea Lange

Colourized by Manuel De Leonardo

18. Crowded Bunks in the Prison Camp at Buchenwald, April 16, 1945

Original photo by Private H. Miller

Colourized by Manuel De Leonardo

19. Peatwy Tuck of the Meskwahki, 1898

Original photo by Frank A. Rheinhart

Colourized by Photocopshop

20. Boys after buying Easter flowers in Union Square, New York, April 1908

Original photo by Bain News Service.

Colourized by Dana Keller

P.S.: be sure to check out 20 Historic Black and White Pictures Restored in Color (Part I)