Dorothy Counts – the first Black girl to attend an all White school in the United States – being teased and taunted by her White male peers at Charlotte’s Harry Harding High School, 1957.
Sometimes, one simple picture can tell you more about history than any story you might read or any document you might analyze. These photographs all tell stories about the historical figures or events that they represent. Once taken simply to document their present, they now help us witness the past.
Many photographs only become iconic shots years later, once we understand their importance and historical context. From historical landmarks and famous people to the basic daily routines of the past, these pictures portray the past in a way that we can empathize with and understand more intimately.
Carving eye on Mount Rushmore, 1930s.
Soviet troops scrawled graffiti in the Reichstag after they took Berlin in 1945.
Finalizing the Fat Man atomic bomb, which was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. On its nose it had stenciled the acronym “JANCFU”- Joint Army-Navy-Civilian F*** Up.
7-foot Bolaji Badejo, a Nigerian design student and one-time actor, wearing his costume from the now classic sci-fi thriller Alien, 1978.
Mafia boss Joe Masseria lays dead on a Brooklyn restaurant floor holding the ace of spades, 1931.
Jennie MacGregor, arrested by Minneapolis police on April 10, 1924 for dispensing alcoholic beverages from life-preserver flasks.
Hungarian Jews being selected by Nazis to be sent to the gas chamber at Auschwitz concentration camp, Auschwitz Album May-June 1944.
Boxing match aboard the U.S.S. New York, July 3, 1899.
Bob Dylan with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards at Jaggers 29th birthday party, July 1972.
The Statue of Liberty under construction in Paris in 1884.
Robert Williams Wood, Max Planck and Albert Einstein in the front row of a session of the Physical Society in Berlin on July 28, 1931.
Richard Nixon’s last meal at the White House, in 1974. On the day that he announced his resignation, Nixon ordered cottage cheese, pineapple slices and a glass of milk.
About 100 people participate in a lottery to divide a 12 acre plot of sand dunes, that would later become the city of Tel Aviv, 1909.
A group of men posing in front of Lynch’s Slave Market, St. Louis, Missouri, 1852.
Scottish piper in a Kilt on the battlefield during World War One.
US Coast Guard Cutter Spencer destroys the Nazi submarine U-175, April 17, 1943.
Marilyn Monroe filming her iconic scene in The Seven Year Itch. This shot was taken in New York in front of a large crowd of bystanders and press to create hype, 1954.
Columns of Hoover Dam being filled with concrete, February 1934 (looking upstream from the Nevada rim).
Crew of the Japanese carrier Zuikaku give one final banzai cheer before the ship sinks, 1944.
Eduard Bloch, the Jewish physician of the Hitler family in his office c. 1938. Bloch was later called a ‘noble Jew’ by Hitler and stood under his personal protection.
An American evacuee punches a South Vietnamese man for a place on the last chopper out of the US embassy during the evacuation of Saigon in 1975.
Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is returned to the Louvre after WWII.
Tsar Nicholas II allows his daughter, the Grand Duchess Anastasia, to smoke.
These are Titanic survivors boarding the Carpathia in 1912.