Rare Historical Photos



And the story behind them...


When Ronald Reagan was a Hollywood actor, 1940-1960

He was the 40th president of the United States, but first, he juggled monkeys for Hollywood. Ronald Reagan started his career in show business in Des Moines, Iowa as a radio announcer for baseball games. In 1937, while in Southern California to cover the Chicago Cubs’ spring training season, Ronald Reagan did a screen test [...]

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A lady battles with police as they try to prevent her from committing suicide, 1942

The lady in the picture with the mirror held above her head – was Mrs. Edna Egbert. The photographer caught her in the ready-to-swing position, as a cop gets ready to dodge. The year was 1942 and Mrs. Egbert was living in the building at the time – No. 497 Dean Street. But what made [...]

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The exiles and convicts of Tsarists Russia, 1885

These photographs are taken by George Kennan, an American explorer noted for his travels in the Kamchatka and Caucasus regions of the Russian Empire. In 1864, he secured employment with the Russian–American Telegraph Company to survey a route for a proposed overland telegraph line through Siberia and across the Bering Strait. Having spent two years [...]

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The last days of the Nazi Germany, 1945

By the beginning of 1945 the war which Germany had unleashed throughout the world had come back to consume it. In sharp contrast with what had occurred in 1918 in 1945 Germany fought, literally, to the bitter end. The Germans held out, although by early 1945 just about everyone knew that catastrophic defeat was the [...]

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Magnificent images of Egypt by Zangaki brothers, 1870-1890

The Zangaki brothers were two Greek photographers, active between 1870s-1890s, who worked in Egypt, producing prints for the tourist trade. They produced some of the finest images of late Victorian Egypt, yet so little is known about them. They were probably Greek Cypriots, although it has been suggested they may have come from Crete. Nothing [...]

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The day a computer beat a chess world champion, 1997

It’s 1997, and Garry Kasparov is hunched over a chessboard, visibly frustrated. He’s fidgeting in between turns and shaking his head in disbelief as he waits for his opponent to put the final touches on an inevitable victory. Finally, Kasparov makes his move, stands up and races away from the board. He raises his arms, [...]

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A rare view of China’s last dynasty, 1870-1880

These photographs of Peking, now known as Beijing, taken by Thomas Child in the 1870s and 1880s are a window of the old China. In May of 1870, Thomas Child was hired by the Imperial Maritime Customs Service to be a gas engineer in Peking (Beijing). The 29-year-old Englishman left behind his wife and three [...]

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A starving boy and a missionary in Uganda, 1980

In 1980 Mike Wells took this powerful photograph of a Catholic missionary holding the hand of a starving Ugandan boy. In so many ways it almost looks like the hand is not human. It’s almost the hand of a space alien, a different species, or anything but the hand of a human being. Unfortunately it [...]

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Preparing and printing the New York Times, 1942

Long before the age of computerized printing presses and journalists being able to file stories via computer, the process of creating the day’s newspaper was a much more arduous, hand-made process. In September 1942, Office of War Information photographer Marjory Collins paid a visit to the offices of the New York Times, located at the [...]

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A Tibetan skeleton dancer, 1925

The photo originally appeared in the November 1928 issue of National Geographic. The original caption was: "With huge cadaver masks, imitation tiger-skin skirts, and enormous claws, this performer and his seven similarly garbed companions strike terror to the hearts of spectators in the Old Dance. They are assistants of Showa the Deer, messenger of Yama". [...]

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