I’m not exactly what you would call a history buff, but I’ve always enjoyed learning about the past. After all, I’m a sucker for a good story, and history is the ultimate tale. There’s love, war, the collapse and rise of nations, and the best part? It’s all true – from one person’s perspective anyway.
You see, history is defined by those who tell it. Writers, publishers, researchers, and editors who record the past approach their job with a variety of experiences, beliefs, and agendas. Like with any true story, there are many versions of “what really happened,” but we may only learn about one of them.
That’s why we were so excited to bring you this next group of photos. Although they come from different time periods, they each have something in common – a perspective of history that very few people have ever seen. Whether it’s a shot of Alfred Hitchcock hard at work in Hollywood or President John F. Kennedy campaigning in rural West Virginia, they have a lot to say about who we are and where we came from. Take a look.
1. The wreckage of a plane crash in Park Slope, Brooklyn in December 1960. The infamous accident occurred when a passenger plane, headed to LaGuardia airport, collided with another making its way to Idlewind. The sole survivor of the incident was an 11-year-old boy named Stephen Lambert Baltz, but he died of medical complications several days later.
2. The cast of Star Trek stands with NASA officials as they introduce the Space Shuttle Enterprise in 1976. The shuttle’s show-inspired name came about after fans started a letter writing campaign to President Gerald Ford.
3. A woman works at BASF, a chemical manufacturing company, in 1917. The obvious safety violations in just this single photo shows just how far we have come.
4. Here’s another female worker, at the Lenin Ironworks Foundry in Nowa Huta, Poland, 1953. I wish I could reach out and give her a hard hat!
5. January 16, 1920, the day before Prohibition went into effect in Chicago, Illinois, crowds swarmed liquor stores, desperate to get their hands on a few last bottles. Almost everyone wore a hat, and no one was amused – especially the gentlemen on the far left.
6. A behind-the-scenes look at the very first on-screen Batman and Robin, Lewis G. Wilson and Douglas Croft. The duo starred in 123 episodes of ABC’s live-action TV series Batman from 1966 to 1968.
7. While this photo of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock on the set of The Birds in 1963 is certainly staged, that fact doesn’t make it any less interesting. Though it was originally taken in black-and-white, fans have recently colorized it.
8. A sad beagle undergoes tobacco testing at R&D in 1963. This picture absolutely breaks out hearts, but it’s an important reminder to always say no to products that have been tested on animals.
9. Another photo that has been recently colorized is this South Swedish Sami standing outside his turf hut, a structure known to protect inhabitants from harsh climates. It is thought to have been taken sometime between 1885 and 1892.
10. The King in his underwear in 1958! Although it makes us laugh, the story behind the picture is quite serious – Elvis Presley had joined the Army, and was undergoing vetting with his fellow soldiers.
11. Standing tall and proud are two members of “Night Witches,” the U.S.S.R.’s most decorated female bomber unit in World War II. By the end of the war, each pilot in the regiment had gone on at least 800 missions.
12. Forget the movie with Nicole Kidman – here is the real Parisian nightclub, Moulin Rouge, in 1923. Somehow I always thought it would be a lot bigger.
13. Men dressed as women and crawfish at the 1913 No-tsu-oh Festival in Houston, Texas. The festival, which was modeled after New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, was suspended at the start of World War I and never revived after.
14. Lee Harvey Oswald, who would later assassinate President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, as a young Marine in the late 1950s.
15. And speaking of JFK, here he is delivering a speech on a kitchen stool in Logan Country, West Virginia. There is so much to see in this one single image – people of all ages and races coming together; a politician so down-to-earth that he could speak comfortably from a less-than-sturdy stool; the little boy with a gun, hinting of the forthcoming tragedy that no one saw coming. When it was taken, it was just a moment, but from our place in history now, there is a lot to contemplate.
16. A young Berber woman in Tunisia in the early 1900s. The Berber people, though small in number, still live in North Africa to this day.
17. French and British soldiers return to camp with a wayward pig in 1918. The former rivals had banded together to fight the Germans, and it seems that both liked pigs.
18. Film producer Mike Todd Jr and inventor Hans Laube sit with the “Smell-O-Vision” in 1960. The device would only be used once, for Todd’s own film Scent of Mystery, during which the system injected 30 different odors into the theater. Needless to say, it didn’t catch on.
19. In 1913, 50 years after the Battle of Gettysburg, veterans gathered to shake hands. To see this act of contrition from the Union veterans (left) and the Confederate (right) must have been quite a moving experience.
20. A Japanese woman washes and combs her hair, sometime between 1863 and 1877. Although the colors are a re-imagining, the view gives us an intimate look into her daily life.
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