Are you looking for an account of history that’s memorable, inspiring and a little bit whimsical? You’re in luck! These beautiful photographs show a world in flux. From the RMS Titanic to the Nagasaki bombing, some of these photos and the stories they tell could make you smile or cry.
We would like to share with you a collection of photographs from history. It’s meant to be a reminder of how events affected people’s lives in the past, and it could inspire you to learn more about them.
Jewish Boy Surrenders In Warsaw, 1943
This iconic photo shows a young Jewish child surrending to German occupation during World War II. It stands out because it captures a child at a vulnerable moment. The scared boy and the rest of the crowd were some of whom Germany had forced into ghettos in Warsaw.
As they received news of Jewish extermination, the residents of the ghetto formed a resistance group. They were executed after a failed attempt to stop the soldiers from attacking and capturing the rest of the citizens before taking them to camps.
Knowing what transpired after the group surrendered leads you to think about the atrocities faced by the Jewish people during this time in the world’s history.
The Hindenburg Disaster by Sam Shere, 1937
You’ve heard about planes crashing into the ocean, trees, or buildings, but have you seen an airship explode and crash into its mooring mast? Taken in 1937 by photographer Sam Shere in Manchester Township, New Jersey, United States, this photo captures a genuinely chaotic and heartbreaking moment now known as the Hindenburg Disaster.
At the time, the airships were luxurious skyliners, and their arrival garnered attention and paparazzi lenses. However, as the photographers at the Lakehurst, N.J., Naval Air Station awaited its landing on that fateful day, they did not know they would witness a tragedy.
As the airship got closer, it caught fire and exploded, killing over 30 people. The Hindenburg Disaster is the most famous airship crash in history. The tragedy ended the era of airship travel.
First Cell-Phone Picture, 1997
If you’re reading this article on your mobile phone, chances are your phone can instantly take a photo and share it with thousands and millions of people. Philippe Khan is the reason why you have that today.
This photo shows Philippe Kahn’s daughter in the early hours of her life at a Northern California maternity ward. His wife had shooed the software entrepreneur away while she labored to give birth to their little girl. Out of boredom, he’d devised a way to connect a digital camera to his phone.
Khan had been working on a technology that could take photos and share them in real-time. Then, he saw an opportunity in his daughter’s birth. Bored in the waiting room, he connected his phone to a digital camera, wrote some code on his laptop, and was able to take the first cell-phone generated image and send it to his friends and family.
The Vulture and the Little Girl, Kevin Carter, 1993
This historical photo by Kevin Carter is the reason for numerous debates on the role of photojournalists in times of hardship. After a long day of taking pictures in Ayod, South Sudan, Carter opted for a relaxing walk, and it was on this outing that he heard whimpering and happened to come across this malnourished toddler.
Too weak to move further, the child had collapsed on her way to a feeding center. Just as Kevin took a photo, a vulture landed behind the child, watching as if waiting for food. After about 20 minutes of waiting for the bird to fly off, Kevin chased it off instead.
He was unable to help because of the risks of contracting diseases. After the New York Times published the photo, this singular action caused debates about why he didn’t help the child. Years later, the girl died of malarial fever.
Mushroom Cloud Over Nagasaki by Lieutenant Charles Levy, 1945
The then 26-year-old Lieutenant Charles Levy had already photographed several images of the atomic bomb, but none could be compared with this one. It was the only picture showing the immense and terrifying embodiment of the blast.
It was said that the bombardier, whose real target was Japanese military soldiers, missed their mark by about three miles. Nevertheless, the blast claimed the lives of over 40,000 people and injured 40,000 more in Nagasaki.
While officials censored photos displaying anything of the blast, Levy’s photo inspired the Americans in favor of the nuclear bomb, and they celebrated the beginning of the atomic age, despite the carnage.
A Man on the Moon by Neil Armstrong, NASA, 1969
In 1969, Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon, but he wasn’t the only man on the moon. In this photo stands Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon behind Neil. It was taken by Neil, who stands reflected on Aldrin’s visor, pointing the camera at him.
Surrounded by expansive black space and lit only by the sun and stars, the moon landing marked an epoch-making event in the history of man. It meant that our species could plan and launch more research and explore outer space.
The moon landing event inspired many movies, the most recent of which is the 2018 film First Man based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen. Ryan Gosling starred as Neil Armstrong.
The Hand of Mrs. Wilhelm Röntgen, 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen
This isn’t just any photograph. It’s the photo of the first x-ray in 1895. Wilhelm Rontgen was experimenting with the cathode tube that emitted different frequencies of electromagnetic energy.
During the research, Wilhelm noticed that some energies penetrated solid objects and tested that frequency on another inanimate object before sending the discovery. This photo of Mrs. Wilhelm’s hand inspired several inventions and won Wilhelm the first Nobel Prize for Physics in 1901.
Wilhelm’s discovery would later assist in diagnosing, testing, and treating various illnesses and diseases. Thanks to Wilhelm and his wife, conditions that medical practitioners couldn’t locate before could suddenly be seen and treated accordingly.
The Face of AIDS, 1990 by Therese Frare
Therese Frare, with this one photo, offered an insight into the extended effects of AIDS. This picture shows David Kirby, a 32-year-old AIDS patient, and his family’s pain as they care for him as he grows frailer. The photo captured their deep emotions, their sadness, and pain.
With this publication of Frare’s photo, David Kirby became the human face of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). As a result of this sad, striking photo, many people became more aware of the HIV/AIDS disease.
Published in Life Magazine in 1990, it was a year before the red ribbon came to symbolize resilience and courage. President Bill Clinton took another three years to create a national AIDS policy in US government.
A Wave Approaches Miyako, Japan, by Mainichi Shimbun for Reuters, 2011
Over 10 years ago, on March 11, 2011, Miyako was struck by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the country’s northern shore. It was recorded as the most powerful earthquake ever to hit the country.
The earthquake sparked tsunami waves that climbed as high as 130 feet and tore through coastal regions in Miyako, flattening communities, buildings, monuments, property, animals, and people.
This iconic photo shows a glimpse of the catastrophe happening in Miyako. Cars, trucks, and boats were all washed onto land as the earthquake shook that part of the world. That day, nearly 16,000 people lost their lives.
Titanic Leaves Port, 1912
On April 15, 1912, the world saw one of the most heartbreaking incidents ever. The RMS Titanic crashed into an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the sea, claiming over 1,500 lives who had drowned or froze to death.
This photo shows the Titanic as it left the port in Southampton bound for New York. Unbeknownst to those aboard, many of them would sadly die on this journey.
If you want a glimpse of what happened that night, watch the 1997 movie Titanic about a romantic affair that began and ended with the ship. It featured leading stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. This photo of the Titanic ship leaving the port will always haunt those who know the story.
Photography has become an exciting and artistic way to tell stories about historical events over time. We’ve seen photos of historical events showing inventions like the x-ray machine and mobile phone camera, disasters like tsunamis, the great Titanic sinking, and more.
With just one photo, we can recall events that have occurred in history and tell future generations about them.