Rare Historical Photos



And the story behind them...


Operation Barbarossa in rare pictures, 1941

Operation Barbarossa (Unternehmen Barbarossa) was the German codename for Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II, which commenced on June 22, 1941. It was to be the turning point for the fortunes of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich, in that the failure of Operation Barbarossa arguably resulted in the eventual overall defeat [...]

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A wheatfield in the heart of Manhattan, 1982

Before the high-rises, condos and financial centers of Battery Park City, the area behind the Twin Towers was a landfill. In 1982, artist Agnes Denes was commissioned by the Public Art Fund to create one of the most significant pieces of public work Manhattan has ever seen. Instead of a sculpture, Denes planted a beautiful [...]

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The Trinity Test, the day the Nuclear Age began, 1945

Until the atomic bomb could be tested, doubt would remain about its effectiveness. The world had never seen a nuclear explosion before, and estimates varied widely on how much energy would be released. Some scientists at Los Alamos continued privately to have doubts that it would work at all. There was only enough weapons-grade uranium [...]

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A family during the Great Madras famine in India, 1876

The Great Famine of 1876–78, also known as the Madras famine of 1877, covered a major part of south India and took an estimated 5.5 million lives. The famine ultimately covered an area of 670,000 square kilometers (257,000 sq mi) and caused distress to a population totaling 58,500,000. The death toll from this famine is [...]

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Women at War, 1939-1945

The Second World War changed the United States for women, and women in turn transformed their nation. Over three hundred fifty thousand women volunteered for military service, while twenty times as many stepped into civilian jobs, including positions previously closed to them. More than seven million women who had not been wage earners before the [...]

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The American Civil War in pictures (part 3), 1861-1865

The American Civil War lasted for just four years, from 1861 to 1865 and it is often also known as the War Between the States. It was the event where 11 Southern States that supported Slavery declared their succession from the United States, and announced the Formation of the Confederate States of America. The results [...]

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The American Civil War in pictures (part 2), 1861-1865

The second part of the American Civil War photo collection coves the people of the Civil War: the generals, slaves, civilians, politicians, and soldiers that lived through those turbulent years. Although photography was still in its infancy, war correspondents produced thousands of images, bringing the harsh realities of the frontlines to those on the home [...]

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The American Civil War in pictures (part 1), 1861-1865

The Civil War was certainly the most catastrophic event in American history. More than 600,000 Northerners and Southerners died in the war, a greater number than all those who had died in all other American wars combined. As many as 50,000 died in a single battle. The high death toll particularly hurt the South, which [...]

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The Pacific Theater in pictures, 1942-1945

After Pearl Harbor the Japanese quickly gained control over a huge area of the Pacific, from the Philippines to Burma to the Aleutians to the Solomons. While the Japanese enjoyed the advantage of interior lines of communication, they had somewhat overextended themselves. Once the Allies became strong enough to threaten their perimeter from several directions, [...]

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The Tiananmen Square protests in pictures, 1989

The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 culminating in the Tiananmen Square Massacre were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in the People's Republic of China (PRC) between April 15 and June 4, 1989. They were mainly led by Beijing students and intellectuals. The protests occurred in a year that saw the collapse [...]

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