50 Historical Pictures That Might Change The Way You Perceive The Not-So-Recent Past
Pictures hold something truly special—a speck of time that once was and shall never be again. They’re the closest thing we have to a time machine, allowing us to glimpse through a window of film and into the past.
Although technology has come leaps and bounds since the very first photograph, and we’ve gotten used to its magic, it still feels like a pirate treasure to come across old pictures from a time not-too-long-ago. From close families, to celebrities, there’s something for everyone, and the Facebook group called “Historical Pictures” is just the hub of it all.
Today, we’ll be featuring some of the photos the members of the group have shared, and hope that it’ll tickle your fancy to go dig out your own photo albums. So, dear readers, I invite you to look at this photograph (brownie points if you read that in Nickelback), well a couple dozen of them, upvote your faves, leave some comments, and have a good time!
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"I'd Rather Eat Pasta And Drink Wine Than Be A Size 0." ~Sophia Loren, 1965
Our history as humans is as long and complex as math felt back in 10th grade. I passed by the skin of my teeth if you’re curious. Sadly, we only discovered the magic of photography in the 1800s, the first photo ever dating back to 1827. Can you imagine how incredible it would have been to see moments from the 1500s or 900s?
We’ll just have to settle for pictures from the past couple of centuries, which is still longer than any human would have survived. The members of the “Historical Pictures” Facebook group have been sharing their finds, be it pictures of family moments, portraits, or well-beloved celebrities, bringing us all closer to the past.
My Sweet Sixteen Self. I Will Be Eighty In February 2023
An Officer Halts Traffic To Make Way For A Cat Carrying A Kitten Across The Street, 1925
A natural question comes up—why are we so drawn to old photographs, regardless of the fact that we’ve most likely never met the people, known the places, or experienced anything close to what their lives were like. Well, it’s for all those reasons, ironically enough! It’s a learning opportunity, a true touch upon history, and the fleeting moments of time.
As someone wrote on The School Of Life, it’s kind of a bittersweet discovery. “We realize that we want to live inside photographs, not the life they purport to tell us about,” they said. An intriguing kind of nostalgia, a craving to have been there to witness the events, to see that one special person again, to be a child without worries all over again.
Camberley Kate, And Her Stray Dogs In England. She Never Turned A Stray Dog Away, Taking Care Of More Than 600 Dogs In Her Lifetime. (1962)
Ha! My dad would wait for someone to walk through the living room to have them change the channel. If he lost the remoteEven if he hated what was on
Each picture tells a story of the moment it was taken. The people, the location, the fashion sense, the actions, the pose, the grimace. All of it builds a picture, yet it is only speculation what happened to those people before or after the event of the photo being taken. Those gaps are then filled with stories and photographs before and after the initial one, but nothing really paints a full picture.
Maureen A. Taylor, when speaking on the importance of photography as a whole, notes 3 points. The first one was conveniently made at the very beginning of this section—every picture tells a story. Each one is a time portal. And each one is an artifact. Your old photos are ancestral artifacts just like furniture and silver, and they’re worth just as much if not more.
First Nations Husband And Wife, (A. Ross, 1886)
This Innuit Girl Descending Into Her Home, An Ice Igloo
This powerful image transcends time, and continues to go viral over 70 years later.
Helen Konek is 91 years old now. But she was 17 when photographer Richard Harrington asked to take images of her family near Arviat, Nunavut. This one is in the massive igloo her father Pipqanaaq built.
A Photo Of My Grandfather, Clyde Hensley, Lived Deep In The Appalachian Mountains Of Western North Carolina
Lived off the land, kept bees, grew tobacco, dried it, twisted it, made molasses. You name it.
I always knew him as happy and content. For no special reason.
But why do we feel a sense of happiness when looking at these pictures? According to multiple bits of research, it has to do with happy chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin. A new study from CEWE has found that people find looking back at old photos even more relaxing than meditating. The activity triggers feelings of primary and positive emotions such as joy and love, but it also strengthens our memory and relationships.
Leading UK behavioral psychologist Jo Hemmings says: “Taking the time to look back on our treasured memories can be truly beneficial for our wellbeing as it can help to evoke feelings of positivity and happiness. Because of this, and especially at times like this, we should take more time to appreciate and look back on them.”
Cheryl Browne, First African-American Contestant For The Title Of Miss America In 1971
Cheryl Adrienne Browne was born in New York City in 1950 and studied dance at LaGuardia High School in Manhattan. After high school, she moved to Decorah, Iowa to study dance at Luther College. After winning the Miss Decorah contest, on June 13, 1970, she beat 19 white contestants to win Miss Iowa, making her eligible to compete for the 1971 Miss America crown.
Cheryl became the first black woman to compete for the Miss America title, the first African American contestant to make it to the final, even though competition rule number seven, instituted during the 1930s, which read: “Contestants must be of good health and of the white race,” had been abolished 30 years before in 1940.
Dolly Parton In The Late 60's
Lucille Ball. A Timeless Beauty
She was beautiful. Too bad the tv execs had her act like she was just a flighty dumb broad.
Our mantelpieces, windowsills, shelves and sideboards, where many of us display our treasured photos in frames, have been shown to be among the most peaceful places in our homes. As explained by Louise Carey, this is because of the immediate sense of well-being that we get by looking at photos of our loved ones at various stages in their developing lives.
Research has also shown that having ‘real’ photos in our homes provides regular psychological positive reinforcement by reminding us of what and who are important to us. This emotional bubble then fuses with our wider memories of the occasion that we might not have photographed and transports us back to a happier place.
Three Young Ladies Posing With A Friend, 1930
Soldier Coming Home To His Daughter After WWII, 1945
A Young Woman Posing For A Studio Portrait, Kentucky, 1890-1910
We’re all here for a limited time, so we might as well capture as much of it as possible so that future generations have some semblance of our existence, at least for a little while. Take those photos, print your favorites, deck out your whole home, and enjoy!
As you continue to scroll through this list, make sure you’re upvoting your favorites and leaving comments along the way, and I shall see you all in the next one! Bye-bye for now!
Two Gentleman From The Early 1900s
Sophia Loren, Circa 1955
This Is Jim Thorpe. Look Closely At The Photo, You Can See That He's Wearing Different Socks And Shoes
This wasn't a fashion statement. It was the 1912 Olympics, and Jim, a Native American from Oklahoma represented the U.S. in track and field.
On the morning of his competitions, his shoes were stolen. Luckily, Jim ended up finding two shoes in a garbage can. That's the pair that he's wearing in the photo. But one of the shoes was too big, so he had to wear an extra sock. Wearing these shoes, Jim won two gold medals that day
“Les Nouvelles Meirveilleuses”. In The Spring Of 1908, Three Women Walked Onto The Longchamp Racecourse In Paris And Jaws Dropped
he elite society event was known for debuting the latest couture creations to the public, but no one had seen fashion quite like this before. Dressed in blue, white and havane brown creations, according to newspapers, spectators called the three women a “monstrosity”, accused them of being semi-naked and showing revolting *décolletage. *It was these three dresses however, which would forever change fashion that day and launch the twentieth century silhouette. As for the designer? Well, no one really bothered to remember her name…
But perhaps you might like to know who it was. Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix was her name, a young Parisian designer who had taken over her mother’s long-established couture house and was starting to gain popularity in turn-of-the-century Paris for her lightly corseted dresses featuring minimum boning and more elastic material…
Long before Lycra or Spanx came along, she soon began making dresses made from stretchy elastic silk jersey, outlining the hips and thighs and slimming the figure. To debut her creations to society, she hired three beautiful models and chose the Parisian racetracks of 1908 as her catwalk.
My Great-Great Aunt Helen Taken In 1913 When She Was 16 Years Old. She Passed Away At 90 Years Old In 1987
WOW! Beautiful doesnt even begin to do her justice.
The Champion Watermelon Eater At The 4th Of July Celebration In Brooklyn, 1935
“Girls In The Windows”
In 1960, photojournalist Ormond Gigli assembled 43 women, dressed them in refined, colorful garb, and situated them in 41 windows across the facade of the classic New York City brownstones. Years later, the image ended up being his most famous artwork.
Portrait Of A Young Grumpy Girl From The 1850s
A Roman Toddler's Footprint In A Red Clay Tile, Imprinted As It Was Drying ~2000 Years Ago
The Baby In This Picture Is My Grandmother Born In 1893. Along With My Great Grandmother, Great Great Grandmother And Great Great Great Grandmother
Richard Lasher Was On His Way To Ride His Dirt Bike When Mt. St. Helens Erupted In Front Of Him (1980)
This Is Economy Class Seating On Pan Am 747 In The ‘60’s
Jesus. So much room to bad the airlines got so damn greedy
A Ghostly Yet Mesmerizing Image From 1900
Ron Howard's Wedding To His (Still) Wife Cheryl In 1975--With Henry Winkler
Silent Film Actress, Delores Costello, Drew Barrymore's Grandmother, 1928
Mother And Daughter Photographs From 1900
Cute but I swear the mother looks like the wicked witch of the West in the bottom left pic
Irish Seaman And Antarctic Explorer Thomas Crean Photographed In 1915 Aboard The Endurance In Antarctica During The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition Of 1914–1917 LED By Ernest Shackleton
The Endurance was trapped in ice for 492 days and sank, so the 28-man crew had to use lifeboats to reach the uninhabited Elephant Island. Crean was one of 6 members of the crew to make the 800 miles (1300 km) journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia in the small-boat James Caird to seek rescue for the rest of the crew. Once they reached South Georgia after 17 days at sea, 3 of the men, including Tom Crean, trekked across the island to a whaling station on the north side of South Georgia. There they were able to organize rescue efforts for the 3 men left on the south of the island and the remaining crew on Elephant Island. The entire crew of the Endurance returned home without loss of life.
The mast from one of his ships is in a park in lyttelton chch nz
Titanic Survivors Marjorie And Charlotte Collyer In New York Immediately Following The Sinking Of The Liner In 1912
Bride Leaving Her Recently Bombed Home To Get Married, London, Nov 4, 1940
My father grew up in Kent and recalls spitfires over his head in the 1940era
Marilyn Monroe Circa 1954
Nora Washington With A Catfish She Caught With A Cane Pole, No Less In The Colorado River, Bastrop, Texas 1950s
My Grandmother From 1947
Portrait Of Lillian, Cora And Luvenia Ward. Taken In Worcester, Massachusetts, Circa 1900
Women Grocery Shopping In The 1960s
Fun Before The Internet, 1960s
The kid at the top of the rail looks like they are away to have a bad time very soon.
This Boy And His Dog Were Photographed By Photographer J. E. Williams In New Athens, Ohio In The Late 1890s-Early 1900s
This was another one that was cracked but the damage wan’t in critical areas and I was able to clone some image from the photo taken at the same time. From my glass negative collection
Cicely Tyson And James Earl Jones
Charging An Electric Car In The Garage, New York, 1911
Benton County, Tennessee, 1930's
Carl Mydans was a photographer that worked some for the federal government during the Great Depression. He took several heart breaking pictures of rural families, especially in the South. This family was photographed near Benton County, Tennessee. He titled this one "Rural Mother
Bedouin Couple In Front Of Their Tent, Adwan Tribe. 1898. (Colorized By Frédéric Duriez)
My Grandparents, Poland 1952
Taken In 1972 Us Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant
Christmas Dinner, 1936. Dinner Consisted Of Potatoes, Cabbage And Pie
This sounds like the day before payday when I was a kid. Who am I kidding this is still the day before payday😔
Elvis, His Father Vernon, And His Grandmother Minnie Mae, 1959
Note: this post originally had 110 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.
Great pics! You guys might like these two of my British grandparents in the 1920s (they got married in the backyard, couldn't afford the big church deal) and walking by the sea wall in the 1980s (same spot my Gramps and I would walk over the years). They were married for a little over 60-odd years when he passed away. Two of my favourite people in the world. Grandma-an...25a8b3.jpg
Your grandma was a beauty, and your handsome grandpa obviously cherished her. Thank you for sharing these pictures!
Love this. Love her wedding dress.
Replying so we can see!
Cheers, guys! So sweet to see them get some love after being gone so long. I've always loved that wedding pic. Her dress and flowers are amazing! Especially considering they were broke.
Are we getting uglier? Are the beauty context pictures of old lying to us? Did they selected just the ones with beautiful people here? What is going on? Theories?
Even photos from the 19th century were often touched up. The negatives themselves could be touched up by hand.
Time consuming and costly, though. I have trunks full of early movie memorabilia and the most common touch up is a softening effect.
Today's Botox, fillers, tattooed makeup... it all adds to a harsh, plastic-y look. It's contrived, whereas older pictures show normal human bodies. Studio shots may have some softening of features for an ethereal look, but that's about it.
That is most definitely not about it.
Stage work... lighting, sound, photography was our business for 75 years. In 1800s, 1900s there were techniques involving hard graphite pencils and watercolors. A few very talented artists could etch negatives with scalpels or bone, and fill in with a mix of turpentine and resin. Work was done with aid of a special tilted table that held the negative. In the 1940s there was a machine that helped photographers to sort of "airbrush" blemishes out of negatives under high magnification. We had one. It definitel