Rare Historical Photos



And the story behind them...


Afghanistan in the 1950s and 1960s

This is Afganistan of 1950s and 1960s. Lots of people would think that they will see pictures of wild, underdeveloped and medieval country with lif econditions worse than now. Think again. Fractured by internal conflict and foreign intervention for centuries, Afghanistan made several tentative steps toward modernization in the mid-20th century. In the 1950s and [...]

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Czeslawa Kwoka, the 14-year-old inmate of Auschwitz, 1942

Czeslawa Kwoka, age 14, appears in a prisoner identity photo provided by the Auschwitz Museum, taken by Wilhelm Brasse while working in the photography department at Auschwitz, the Nazi-run death camp where some 1.5 million people died during World War II. She died at Auschwitz-Birkenau in German-occupied Poland, and is among those memorialized in the [...]

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When Paris flooded, 1910

In late January 1910, following months of high rainfall, the Seine River flooded Paris when water pushed upwards from overflowing sewers and subway tunnels, and seeped into basements through fully saturated soil. The waters did not overflow the river's banks within the city, but flooded Paris through tunnels, sewers, and drains. In neighbouring towns both [...]

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Chinese Americans labeling themselves to avoid being confused with the hated Japanese Americans, 1941

World War II brought momentous change to America's Chinese community. For decades, Chinese were vilified in America, especially in California, the center of the U.S.'s anti-Chinese feelings. The Chinese had initially come to California for the Gold Rush and later the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, but public sentiment quickly turned against them. Competition for [...]

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The Fall of the Soviet Union in rare pictures, 1991

In December of 1991, as the world watched in amazement, the Soviet Union disintegrated into fifteen separate countries. Its collapse was hailed by the west as a victory for freedom, a triumph of democracy over totalitarianism, and evidence of the superiority of capitalism over socialism. The United States rejoiced as its formidable enemy was brought [...]

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Vintage mugshots from Australia, 1920s

Dressed in their finest suits and ties with their top hats cocked towards the camera, these men and women seem to be posing for expensive portraits. But behind their tidy appearances are guilty eyes that hide some of the most sinister crimes policeman of the day had dealt with. These are mugshots of Australian convicts [...]

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Vintage photos of everyday life in New York, 1950s

These vintage photographs capture a timeless energy and diversity that is characteristic of the sleepless streets of New York City. The recently discovered antique portraits showcase the city in the midst of the 1950s, as seen through the Rolleiflex lens of the undiscovered photographer Frank Larson. While digging through his aunt's attic, where Larson stowed [...]

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Political commissar Alexey Yeremenko leads his men into combat, he was killed minutes after this photo was taken, 1942

"Politruk" (political commissar) Alexey Yeremenko (220th Rifle Regiment/4th Rifle Division) encouraging his men to counterattack against German positions moments before being killed, in the village of Khorosheye, near Woroschilowgrad, today Luhansk, Ukraine. This is one of the iconic photo of Soviet in World War II, comparable only to the photo of the Red Flag over [...]

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Africans in German Imperial Army, 1870-1918

The Germans, as the only colonial power amongst the Central Powers, used plenty of African soldiers of their Schutztruppen in the African theaters of war, but they had never planned to deploy these troops in Europe and would not have been able to do so during World War I for logistical reasons anyway. However there [...]

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Chief John Smith, reputed to be 138 years old when he died, 1784-1922

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune obituary says Ga-Be-Nah-Gewn-Wonce (variously known as Kay-bah-nung-we-way, Sloughing Flesh, Wrinkled Meat or plain old — well, really old — John Smith) was reputed to be 138 years old when he died. Whatever his precise age, his well-lined face indicates a man who led a long and full life. He fought, he [...]

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