We’ve all seen some historical photos that make us stop in our tracks. They provide a snapshot of another time and help us to better understand the world around us. But what if we told you that some of those photos had been doctored? Is the “reality” they depict actually nothing more than carefully crafted fiction?
In the mid-2000s, historian Anna Pegler-Gordon said that visual media often seems more accessible to her students than the written record. They claimed images make the past more accessible, giving concrete shape to a world that sometimes seems intangible. Not to mention the immediacy of the image, which often conveys information more quickly than a primary document written in an unfamiliar, or even a foreign, language. But according to Pegler-Gordon, this immediacy also works well in discussion sections, where the shared experience of viewing a picture can provide a focus for lively group discussion.
These 45 photos are a perfect example of how historical events can be seen in an entirely new light when viewed through the lens of photography. Prepare to have your mind blown!
1. It’s No Longer Possible To See This, As Buildings Outside Block The Sun. Grand Central, NYC, 1929 Photo By Louis Faurer.
2. Freddie Mercury With His Mother, 1947
3. A French Boy Introduces Himself To Indian Soldiers Who Had Just Arrived In France To Fight Alongside French And British Forces, Marseilles, 30th September 1914.
4. West German School Children Pause To Talk With Two East German Border Guards Beside An Opening In The Berlin Wall During The Collapse Of Communism In East Germany In November 1989
5. Reporters Who Exposed The Watergate Scandal Watch President Nixon Resign, 1974
6. A Man Guards His Family From The Cannibals During The Madras Famine Of 1877 At The Time Of British Raj, India
7. A Man Takes A Selfie Using A Stick Of Wood To Activate The Camera, 1957
8. French Soldiers Passing By A Dog Wearing Googles And Smoking A Pipe, 1915
9. High School Teacher John T. Scopes Is Brought To Trial In Dayton, Tennessee For Teaching The Theory Of Evolution, Which Was Prohibited Under State Law. July 10, 1925
10. A Black U.S. Soldier Reads A Message Left By The Việt Cộng During The Vietnam War, The Message Reads: u0022U.S. Negro Armymen, You Are Committing The Same Ignominious Crimes In South Vietnam That The Kkk Clique Is Perpetrating Against Your Family At Home.u0022, 1970.
11. David Attenborough Entertains Prince Charles And Princess Anne With A Cockatoo. 1958
12. Martin Luther King Jr. Removing A Burnt Cross From His Front Yard In 1960
13. A Young Female Welder Photographed By Bernard Hoffman In Connecticut, Circa 1943.
14. Woman Cutting Her Birthday Cake In Iran 1973, 5 Years Before The Islamic Revolution
15. A Makeshift Hospital In The Vietnam War, 1970
16. An Old Woman Leaving Her Home With Just A Portrait Of Her Husband And Rugs. Russian Soldiers Gave Her Just 5 Minutes To Pack Her Bags And Leave Before They Destroyed Her Home And Everything In It. Her Sons And Husband Were Already Dead. She Had Lost Everything. May 1995, Grozny
17. Filming An Episode Of “The French Chef” With Julia Child, 1963
18. Max Schreck Relaxing Behind The Scenes Of Nosferatu, 1922
19. A Picture Of A Submerged Diver In 1899. Many Believe It To Be The First Photograph Taken Underwater
20. John F. Kennedy Campaigning Door-To-Door In West Virginia (1960)
21. Korean Mother Embraces Her Son, A Prisoner Of War Who Escaped His North Korean Pow Camp Shortly After The Signing Of The Korean Armistice Agreement, Which Ended The Widespread Fighting Of The Korean War, 1953.
22. Chinese Guerrilla Fighter Cheng Benhua 成本華 Smiling Moment Before Execution By The Japanese, She Was 24. (Late 1938)
23. Sailors Saluting A War Veteran, Leningrad 1989
24. Students Dance In Tiananmen Square Before The Arrival Of The Chinese Military, June 4th, 1989
25. Chief Low Dog – An Oglala Lakota Chief Who Fought With Sitting Bull At The Battle Of Little Bighorn, C. 1881
26. The Queen Consort Of Mongolia, General, In Mongolia. The Last Queen Consort And Married To The Bogd Khaganate, Bogd Khan, Until His Death On April 17th, 1924, When The Monarchy Was Abolished. She Was Killed During The Stalinist Purges In May 1938. Photograph Dated January 1st, 1923
27. Rare Photo Showing Niagara Falls Without Water, 1969
28. Mt St Helens The 17th Of May 1980 And 4 Months Later
29. David Bowie After Being Arrested For Marijuana Possession In Rochester, 1976
30. Photograph Of The First Official Defector Of The German Democratic Republic, Conrad Schumann, Who Escaped To The Western Side On August 15, 1961, After Jumping The Unfinished Area Of the Fence That He Guarded.
31. Eiffel Tower Under Construction, July 1888
32. Kubrick Taking A Photo With Daughter Vivian, On The Set Of The Shining. Nicholson Thought He Himself Was The Photo’s Subject. 1980
33. Actor And Martial Arts Star Jackie Chan At The Benefit Concert In Hong Kong, In Support Of Tiananmen Square Protesters – 1989
34. The Director Of The Belgrade Zoo Tries To Convince Sami The Chimpanzee To Return Home After He Escaped, 1988
35. Indigenous Children Forced To Pray To God In A Residential School Ran By The Canadian Government And Catholic Church Between 1930 And 1970, Unknown Location
36. Babies Left To Sleep Outside, Enforcing Immune System, Moscow 1958
37. Coal Miner Waiting To Get Into The Communal Shower At The End Of His Shift, Taken In Gelsenkirchen, Germany, 1958. By Photographer Max Scheler
38. Archduke Franz Ferdinand And His Wife Minutes Before Assassination That Would Lead To Ww1, 1914
39. People Fighting To Get On A Plane In Nha Trang, April 1, 1975, During The Us Withdrawal From South Vietnam
40. Nirvana During The Photo Shoot For Their Album Nevermind, Which Was Released 30 Years Ago. 1991
41. Cop Stops The Traffic In New York So A Mother Cat Holding A Kitten Can Cross Safely C.1925
42. Remember That Photo Of The Construction Workers Having Lunch On The Unfinished Empire State Building? Well Here’s The Photographer Charles Ebbets Taking That Photo. 9/20/1932
43. Rail Commuters Wearing White Protective Masks, One With The Additional Message “Wear A Mask Or Go To Jail,” During The 1918 Influenza Pandemic In California
44. Stoney First Nation Member, Guide Samson Beaver With His Wife Leah And Their Daughter Frances Louise, 1907. Photo Taken By Mary Schäffer
45. Mogadishu, 1993. An Italian Soldier Gives Food To A Local Orphan
After seeing these images, you might never look at the world the same way again. If you are looking for a way to change your perspective, these photos may be able to help. They range from snapshots of the past decades back in time. Which one was your favorite? Share with us below to see if it made our list!