Rare Historical Photos



And the story behind them...


Battle of Britain in rare pictures, 1940

In the summer and fall of 1940, German and British air forces clashed in the skies over the United Kingdom, locked in the largest sustained bombing campaign to that date. Victory for the Luftwaffe in the air battle would have exposed Great Britain to invasion by the German army, which was then in control of [...]

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Building Liberty ships for the war effort, 1941

When war broke out Europe in September 1939, the American merchant fleet was caught unprepared to handle a massive sealift of war material. With continental Europe under German control, and Great Britain under devastating air attack, President Franklin Roosevelt decided to increase the pace of production to provide ships to America's British allies. The result [...]

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The discovery of Tutankhamun in color pictures, 1922

During the early twentieth century, Howard Carter, a British Egyptologist, excavated for many years in the Valley of the Kings—a royal burial ground located on the west bank of the ancient city of Thebes, Egypt. When Carter arrived in Egypt in 1891, he became convinced there was at least one undiscovered tomb–that of the little [...]

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The Soviet War in Afghanistan in pictures, 1979-1989

The Soviet War in Afghanistan was a nine-year period involving the Soviet forces and the Mujahideen insurgents that were fighting to overthrow Afghanistan's Marxist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) government. The Soviet Union supported the government while the rebels found support from a variety of sources including the United States (in the context of [...]

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“4 Children for Sale”, 1948

The photo first appeared in the The Vidette-Messenger of Valparaiso, Indiana on August 5, 1948. The children looked posed and a bit confused as their pregnant mother hides her face from the photographer. The caption read: “A big ‘For Sale’ sign in a Chicago yard mutely tells the tragic story of Mr. and Mrs. Ray [...]

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The North African Campaign in pictures, 1940-1943

Fighting in North Africa stemmed from the area’s strategic importance to the Commonwealth. Egypt’s Suez Canal, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, was a vital transport artery. Oil in particular had become a critical strategic commodity due to the increased mechanization of modern armies. Britain, which was the first major nation to field [...]

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Loading passengers onto an airship from a mooring mast, 1930s

In the 1920s and 1930s airship mooring masts were built in many countries. A mooring mast is a mast or tower that contains a fitting on its top that allows for the bow of the airship to attach its mooring line to the structure. When it is not necessary or convenient to put an airship [...]

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Aerial warfare of First World War, 1914-1918

Aerial warfare was by no means a First World War invention. Balloons had already been used for observation and propaganda distribution during the Napoleonic wars and the Franco-Prussian conflict of 1870-1871. Planes had been used for bombardment missions during the Italo-Turkish war of 1911-1912. Yet, aerial warfare during the First World War marked a rupture [...]

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Hiroshima before and after the atomic bombing, 1945

At the time of its bombing, Hiroshima was a city of both industrial and military significance. A number of military units were located nearby, the most important of which was the headquarters of Field Marshal Shunroku Hata's Second General Army, which commanded the defense of all of southern Japan, and was located in Hiroshima Castle. [...]

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German invasion of Western Europe and the Fall of France, 1940

In the spring of 1940, an emboldened Germany asserted itself as a modern conqueror of nations, successfully invading and occupying six countries in fewer than 100 days. On April 9, 1940, Germany invaded Denmark, which capitulated in a mere six hours. At the same time, Nazi warships and troops were entering Norwegian waters, attacking ships, [...]

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