A photographer can take a picture of anything so momentous or ordinary and preserve it for the rest of the world to see.
However, some photographs are so important that we see them in history books and newspapers. Such images help us learn about the people, places, and events that played a considerable role in shaping our world.
If we look at those photos, we might find little or no difference from how we visualize those people and places now in our minds. For example, Mount Rushmore. If asked to imagine what it looks like, we’d perhaps picture it the way we usually see it in postcards. We’d imagine the massive sculpture of four great American Presidents on the face of a mountain. Adolf Hitler would be this austere-looking man with brown hair, brown eyes, and a toothbrush mustache.
But we don’t even know what that mountain looks like before Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum carved those important faces there?
Or remember the Berlin wall before people painted colorful graffiti on the barrier?
Take a look:
#1. Picture of a man with a punt gun, 1860
The punt gun was a custom-built, enormous shotgun used in the 19th and 20th centuries. Professional hunters designed these weapons to shoot large numbers of waterfowl. A single shot from a punt gun could annihilate as many as 50 birds. Aside from its meat, they hunt ducks to supply the demand for feathers, which they used to adorn women’s hats. The punt gun was banned in the 1860s.
#2. A slave pen owned by Price, Birch & Co. in Alexandria, Virginia, 1861-1865
Formerly a jail for Confederate prisoners, slave traders turned this edifice into a slave pen in the early 19th century. Here, merchants imprisoned the slaves shipped from Louisiana. Around 3,750 people deployed to the plantations of the Deep South passed through this place.
#3. Inside a slave pen in Alexandria, Virginia, 1865
While enslaved people wait to be auctioned off, traders kept them locked up in pens and cells like these.
#4. President Lincoln’s second inaugural address on March 4, 1865.
Thousands of people gathered at the Capitol to hear President Lincoln take the executive oath.
#5. Lewis Powell a.k.a Lewis Payne in custody, 1865
Claiming to bear prescribed medicine from William H. Seward’s doctor, Payne entered the Secretary of State’s bedroom and stabbed him in the neck and chest. The incident occurred the same night actor John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln at Ford’s Theater. Secretary Seward surrvived, and the authorities arrested Payne on April 17.
#6. The remains of the temple of Jupiter, 1870-1885
Because of its massive size, the temple of Jupiter in Baalbek, Lebanon, is often linked with the Nephilim. The Nephilim were the giants mentioned in the Bible.
#7. Little Coyote and Morning Star, 1873
Little Coyote (Little Wolf) and Morning Star (Dull Knife) were chieftains of the Northern Cheyennes.
#8. The infamous outlaw William H. Bonney alias Billy the Kid, 1879
#9. Civil war general Ambrose Burnside, 1824-1881
“Civil War General Ambrose Burnside was known for his unusual style of facial hair, which included a bushy beard and moustache [sic] along with a clean-shaven chin. These distinctive whiskers—originally dubbed “burnsides”—later inspired the term “sideburns.”
#10. The Statue of Liberty under construction in Paris, 1883
#11. The Eiffel Tower under construction, 1888
#12. Adolf Hitler at school, 1899
We see a young Adolf Hitler in this Austrian class picture taken in 1899. There he was, the tallest boy in the back line.
#13. Nikola Tesla’s “magnifying transmitter,” 1899
Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla sat in his laboratory in Colorado Springs. Beside him was his “magnifying transmitter.” However, this was only a publicity photo.
#14. A husband and wife in Korea wearing their traditional everyday dress, 1904
#15. A Navajo medicine man, 1904
#16. A picture of Mount Rushmore in 1905
#17. Annette Kellerman in a bathing suit, 1907
In this photo, Kellerman promotes a woman’s right to wear a form-fitting, one-piece bathing suit. However, she was later arrested for indecency.
#18. A grotto in an iceberg, 1911
Explorers found this picturesque cave during the British Antarctic Expedition on January 5, 1911.
#19. The Olympic (left) and the Titanic, 1912
This is, perhaps, the only picture of the two sister ships together. Photographed on March 6, 1912.
#20. Lifeboats from the Titanic, 1912
Two lifeboats reached the RMS Carpathia days after the Titanic sank.
#21. The “Mona Lisa” in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, 1913
Vincenzo Peruggia, a Louvre employee, stole this painting. Being an Italian patriot, he believed da Vinci’s artwork should be displayed in an Italian museum. The Mona Lisa was recovered two years after, but it was exhibited in Uffizi for a couple of weeks before it was returned to the Louvre.
#22. Men painting the Brooklyn bridge on December 3, 1915.
#23. A British soldier in a trench during the Battle of the Somme, 1916.
#24. The Wall Street on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.
This day marked the end of World War I. Thousands of people gathered at the Subtreasury Building on Wall Street to celebrate.
#25. A French radiographer wearing his protective gear, 1918
#26. Charlie Chaplin holding a doll version of his film character, 1918
#27. Charlie Chaplin stands on Douglas Fairbanks’s shoulders, 1918
Photographed during a rally to promote liberty bonds on Wall Street.
#28. The unbroken seal on the third shrine of Tutankhamun’s tomb, 1922
#29. Leo, the MGM lion, 1928
A snapshot of the men who filmed and recorded the lion roar, which has been used by MGM for their logo.
#30. Christopher Robin Milne with his teddy bear, Winnie the Pooh, 1928
Christopher Robin Milne is the son of A.A. Milne who authored the Winnie the Pooh series. A.A. Milne based the character of his books to his son and his stuffed toy bear.
#31. A Zeppelin flying over the pyramids, 1931
#32. One man refuses to participate in a Nazi salute, 1936
#33. The Hindenburg disaster, May 6, 1937
The last photo of the Hindenburg as it crashes in New Jersey.
#34. Japanese forces bury Chinese prisoners alive, 1938.
Japanese soldiers tortured and murdered approximately 200,000 Chinese civilians during the Rape of Nanking.
#35. A letter Gandhi sent to Hitler, 1939
#36. This Russian spy laughs through his execution in Finland during the Winter War, 1939
#37. IRA terrorist attack, 1939
This picture shows the horrendous aftermath of an IRA terrorist bombing in Coventry, England, in August 1939.
#38. The Reich Chancellery, 1939
#39. The 14th Dalai Lama at age two. Photographed in 1940
“The Dalai Lama is found rather than chosen. He is believed to have the power to choose the body into which he is reincarnated, meaning that the current Dalai Lama is a reincarnation of the last.
The search for the reborn Dalai Lama is the responsibility of the High Lamas of the Gelugpa tradition and the Tibetan government,” the Guardian reports.
The 14th and the current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso.
#40. The German 7th Panzer Division prepares to attack the Soviet Union, 1941