Here Are Some Of History’s Most Unusual Photos That Are Never Shown In Textbooks

Photography is a form of art that allows us to record historical events and figures. So through photos, we can look into our past and learn about the moments and the people that have shaped our history. However, there are many astounding events that are seldom taught at school and which are never explained in textbooks. So get ready, because we’re about to show you some very unusual photos that depict different world events that are always overlooked in textbooks. Spoiler alert! #12, #5 and #2 are hilarious.

#25. 19th Century Selfie

If you thought that selfies were new, then you’ll definitely be surprised when you discover the year in which this picture was taken! It appears to be that selfies were also a thing during the Victorian era, and this woman – whose identity is unknown – has captured one of the world’s first selfies, as she posed in front of the camera and took a picture of herself in the year 1900. That’s right, we’re nearly talking about a 19th-century selfie!

Photo: Courtesy of Twitter

This unique photograph proves that even in the Victorian era, the digital-age psyche already existed, over a century before smartphones were created. But little did this woman imagine that a hundred years later, she would set a worldwide trend.

#24. Worn-Out Soldier

This picture was taken in June 1970 during a Trooping the Color ceremony. a ritual periodically performed by the regiments of the British army. This ceremony was carried out in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s birthday. But just while she was passing through the ranks of soldiers on horseback, one of the men was so incredibly worn-out that he fainted. This moment was incredibly recorded in the photography shown below.

Photo: Courtesy of Warosu.org

It turns out that it is not so rare for soldiers to pass out during a ceremony of this sort. In June 2017, for instance, a total of five soldiers have passed out during that year’s Trooping the Color Ceremony. The thing is, wearing such a heavy uniform on a hot summer day must not be so simple.

#23. Abbey Road

On Friday, August 9, 1969, The Beatles gathered together at EMI studios for the most famous photo shoot of their entire career, the cover for their last album Abbey RoadPolicemen had to hold up the traffic, as the four rock legends crossed Abbey Road, symbolizing the end of an era. The photograph was taken by Iain Macmillan. He actually took a total of 6 pictures, but chose the fifth one, since it was the only one in which they were walking in sync.

Photo: Courtesy of Pinterest

However, before photographer Iain Macmillan took the famous picture that everyone vividly remembers, Linda McCartney actually took several photos of the band getting ready and waiting just outside the studio to begin the shoot out. In the picture shown above, we can see the four of them smiling, fixing each other’s clothes, in what seems to be a completely relaxed and friendly atmosphere. It’s quite fun to watch the backstage, isn’t it?

#22. Military Marvel

This image shows a six-engined North American XB-70 Valkyrie from the late ’50s, a military plane that was supposed to be used as a nuclear-armed bomber by the US Air Force. It was an extremely refined aircraft, capable of traveling up to 3309 kilometers per hour and reaching heights of up to 21.000 meters. It has such a rare shape, doesn’t it?

Photo: Courtesy of History In Orbirt

The US Air Force eventually had to put a brake on the production of this strategic bomber, and as a result, the B-70 program was abandoned in 1961. Only two prototype aircraft of this kind were designed after the program was abandoned: one of them crashed, while the other one is displayed at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Riverside, Ohio.

#21. A Star In NYC

Although everyone is familiar with the woman portrayed in the photo, very few people have seen this picture. It happens to be that photographer and film producer Sam Shaw captured a series of black and white photographs of the iconic model and actress Marilyn Monroe in New York City in 1956, and this is one of them. Most of these pictures were shot in Central Park, but one of the best ones was of Monroe and her husband Arthur Miller riding a brand new 1956 Ford Thunderbird convertible.

Photo: Courtesy of Life Buzz

Shaw had an intimate bond with Monroe, allowing him to capture relaxed and natural images of the beauty icon. In January 2014, Newsweek published several of Monroe’s photographs based on a lost scrapbook she owned, including the one shown above.

#20. The Price Of Civilization

In what is probably one of the oldest pictures in the world featuring mountains, this photo depicts a Native American standing on a hilltop in 1868, gazing over the beautiful landscape. Amid the mountains, we can spot the brand new Transcontinental Railroad of Nevada. As we can see in the picture, the Railroad ran right through the tribes’ hunting grounds.

Photo: Courtesy of Koffetar

The building of the Transcontinental Railroad system had a direct impact on the lives of the native tribes which lived across the Great Plains of Nevada. The construction destroyed a lot of the Plains’ landscape and led to the killing of thousands of animals such as bison, which the tribes relied on both for food, fur, and clothing.

#19. Going Back Home

This heart-warming picture actually has quite a tragic past. The uniformed man we see in the far left is a US military that has just come back from the Vietnam War and is being reunited with his family, five years after having left his country. His family’s joyous faces are extremely touching. The picture has been taken sometime around March 1973.

Photo: Courtesy of Taringa.net

The uniformed man is no unknown stranger, but happens to be Lt. Col. Robert L. Stim. This man has been held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for a total of five years after his plane was shot down while flying over Hanoi. This picture was actually titled “Burst of Joy”, and has won a Pulitzer Prize.

#18. Athlete Elephant

An elephant doing water-ski sounds like something that can only happen in a Disney movie, right? Well, you’re wrong! This incredible picture captures Liz Dane and famous elephant Queenie performing one of their famous skiing acts. This pair often appeared on TV shows, circuses, and state fairs all throughout the US, where they would ski while Dane danced and played the harmonica.

Photo: Courtesy of Reddit

Known worldwide for her skiing skills, Queenie was born in 1953 as a captive female Asian elephant. When she was only six months old, Bill Green and his daughter Liz Dane bought her from Trefflich pet store in New York City and trained her in the art of water skiing. She was later taken to a private zoo in Fairlee, Vermont.

#17. Floating Submarine

Little is known about this amazing photograph: nor even its date nor the identity of the man that appears. If you take a quick glance, it’s quite difficult to understand what’s actually happening: it almost seems as if he were magically crawling on top of the water! However, the man is actually on the top of a moving US Queenfish Balao-class submarine. This submarine was named after the queenfish, a species found in the Pacific Coast of the US.

Photo: Courtesy of Imgur.com

However, this is no ordinary submarine. In fact, it is one of the fastest and quietest submarines ever used during the Cold War, which features big and wide passageways so that the crew could get from one end to the other easily and quickly. What nobody really knows is what on earth the man is doing on top of it!

#16. Picnic On The Highway

This picture portrays a group of people picnicking on a deserted highway in the Netherlands on November 4, 1973, during the Oil Crisis. Even though the Oil Crisis had devastating economic effects worldwide, these people managed to find the bright side of life: they seem to be having a good time, grabbing a bite while smoking hookah pipes and playing some instruments amid the stranded highway.

Photo: Courtesy of Life Buzz

The 1973 Oil Crisis began when the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries launched an oil embargo towards the nations that supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War, including The Netherlands. Due to the fact that gas prices rocketed, most people were no longer able to afford to ride their cars, which explains the deserted highway.

#15. Hot Fudge Sundae

No one will ever know if the “10,000 Calorie Sundae” was just a marketing gimmick that Blair Parson came up with, or if it the number of calories was actually accurate. But what we do know is that the “10,000 Calorie Sundae” ice-cream was a hit among the residents of Lynchburg, Virginia, the place where the photo was taken. These young girls were photographed in a store, seconds before enjoying their flavored ice-cream, which explains their joyous expression.

Photo: Courtesy of Mens-Den

Blair Parson’s store sold this ice-cream for 35 cents, making this dessert a major and profitable success. It was probably just a marketing strategy since an average hot fudge sundae contains around 280 calories… which means we’re talking about quite a big difference! Either way, people didn’t seem to really care.

#14. The Lion Movie Mascot

I’m pretty sure all of you are familiar with the MGM lion, aren’t you? Movie studio MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) features a lion baptized as Leo in its opening credits. In this fantastic picture, we can see the precise moment in which the iconic lion’s roar was about to be recorded. The recording was made for MGM’s first talking movie White Shadows in the South Seas, released in 1928.

Photo: Courtesy of Boredom Therapy

In order to carry out their task, the crew set up a sound stage around the lion’s cage in order to record his roar via gramophone. MGM used this logo and recording from 1928, all the way up to 1956. The lion’s trainer Mel Koontz was on set, in order to ensure that everything went smoothly.

#13. Voyage To Antartica

Between 1911 and 1913, Great Britain sent an expedition to Antarctica, on what came to be known as the Terra Nova Expedition. This trip mainly served scientific and geographical purposes, for at the time, little was known of the vast southern continent. This picture is most definitely one of the most jaw-dropping ones that have been taken and recorded.

Photo: Courtesy of Pultptastic

The picture dates from January 5, 1911, and shows a grotto – or an artificial cave – that formed in an iceberg. The photo shows the amazing power of nature as well as the admirable bravery of mankind. Those two men seem ridiculously small when compared to the vast pieces of ice that surround them, don’t they?

#12. Disneyland, Behind The Scenes

This unusual photograph shows how working in Disneyland was like back in 1961. As you can see, regularly-dressed workers are mingled with other workers in their Disney costumes, such as Snow White and Goofy. Apparently, taking their costumes off and switching to their normal everyday clothes was just too much effort, so they just went to the cafeteria and grabbed some lunch wearing their costumes. Let’s just hope that the astronaut took off his helmet to eat!

Photo: Courtesy of Pulptastic

Going to the Disneyland staff cafeteria is probably every kid’s dream, since it’s the only place where all of the different characters assemble together. Funnily enough, Disney had an employee manual which included an ethics code that the staff had to follow. Among the different rules, some of them established how to keep an honest smile all the time. The workers seem to have learned the code by heart, because all of them have a bright smile!

#11. A Visit To The Pyramids

In the year 1961, the New York Times published a photograph of singer and trumpeter Louis Armstrong and his trip to Egypt, while he played some music for his wife Lucile while she lay in front of the pyramids in Giza. The thing is, during the Cold War the United States wanted to promote the American way of life throughout the world, the reason for which many jazz musicians were sent to different countries to display the country’s successful music.

Photo: Courtesy of Life Buzz

Jazz was believed to represent the fusion of different cultures, and was therefore used as an attempt to get Egyptians to feel more comfortable with foreigners. Several times throughout the trip, reporters asked Armstrong controversial political questions, to which he always replied:

“I got a trumpet, and I got a young wife, and I ain’t got time to fool with none of the stuff you guys talking about.”

#10. Castro The Athlete

I’m pretty sure most of you know who Fidel Castro was. However, I’m equally sure that none of you ever imagined the former Cuban president playing basketball! During his visit to Poland on June 8, 1972, Castro played a basketball game with a group of university students of Wisła Kraków.  It happens to be that the president was actually a passionate player of the game, even though Cuba’s national sport has always been baseball.

Photo: Courtesy of History In Orbit

According to some of his family’s testimonies, Castro was quite a competitive player during his high school years at El Colegio de Beléna in Havana. Not only did he practice basketball, but also baseball, table tennis, and track and field. Who would have thought?

#9.

This unique image shows a Supreme Court session in 1937. You’re probably asking yourself what’s so rare about the picture. Well, the thing is, taking pictures of the Supreme Court in session is absolutely forbidden, even at present day. So who managed to take this picture and how?

Photo: Courtesy of Slate

It turns out that a young woman snuck a camera in the court by cutting a hole in her bag so that the lens of the camera could peep through. However, she was not the first person to defy the law and photograph the Supreme Court. In 1932, just five years before, journalist Erich Salomon faked a broken arm in order to hide a camera beneath his sling, and became the first to take a picture of the Supreme Court in session.

#8. Sailing Through Paris

When taking a quick glance at the photo below, I bet many of you thought it was Venice. But believe it or not, this picture was taken in Paris, during the Great Flood of 1910. On that occasion, the Seine River flooded the entire city, as a result of which people had to use boats in order to make their way across the city.

Photo: Courtesy of Twitter

During the flood, the Seine River rose eight meters above its ordinary level as a result of heavy rainfall, resulting in a catastrophe that lasted the entire winter of 1909-1910. Police, soldiers, and firefighters had to sail their way through the flooded streets in order to save residents’ lives, many of which were stuck in third or fourth-storied buildings. But this is not the only picture taken in Paris that appears on our list. Check our next photo!

#7. Brand New Beverage

Coca-Cola was first launched in 1892 in the United States. But for many years, this artificial beverage was not sold elsewhere. In 1950, the Coca-Cola Company believed that France was finally ready for the iconic sweet black beverage, so it carried out a huge marketing campaign throughout the country. The drink had actually been unofficially available in France ever since 1919, but it was only until 1950 when the company began its official marketing campaign.

Photo: Courtesy of Boredom Therapy

The company launched a campaign with the slogan “Drink Fresh“. Salesmen distributed coke samples to both adults and children along the street. In the picture shown above, the group of men seems pretty impressed just before being served some of this foreign beverage.

#6. Young Samurai

Most of the pictures we’ve seen so far were taken in the US or in Europe, but now let’s travel to the other tip of the world. This picture was taken by British-Italian photographer Felice Beato in 1870 and portrays a young Japanese Samurai. Beato moved to Yokohama, Japan, in 1863, and ran a commercial photography studio with fellow photographer Charles Wirgman called “Beato & Wirgman, Artists and Photographers”.

Photo: Courtesy of History In Orbit

Beato managed to capture unique photos of Japan’s Edo Period, as well as portraits of Japanese people, landscapes and cityscapes. He particularly enjoyed photographing Samurai military mobility in portrait-style images.

#5. Enduring The Heat

This curious and hilarious photo was taken in New York City in the year 1912, in what was evidently an extremely hot summer day. As we can see, a bunch of kids gathered on the sidewalks to quench their thirst on a couple of gigantic blocks of ice placed right next to a grocery store. Needless to say that air conditioning did not exist at the time!

Photo: Courtesy of Life Buzz

The kids seem to be enjoying themselves, but what about the adult overlooking them dressed in a suit and wearing a top hat? He must have really suffered the heat! What’s also amusing is the sign over the store window that reads “Fancy Cheap Groceries”. There’s no way of knowing what the store really sold, but I bet it was delicious!

#4. Training In The Titanic

Believe it or not, this picture was taken inside the RMS Titanic, several days before it sadly sunk on April 14, 1912. The photo shows a couple of men making use of the ship’s modern rowing machine. As you can imagine, only first-class passengers had the privilege of doing some workout in the gym.

Photo: Courtesy of The Sun

One of the passengers, Colonel Archibald Gracie, frequented the gym on a daily basis during the ship’s short-lived voyage, and often spoke about this in the interviews after the sinking. It happens to be that the Titanic was the most luxurious ship of its time, often called a floating hotel.

#3. The Wild West

This photo portrays a group of cowboys gathered outside a tavern in 1883 in North Plate, Nebraska. But they aren’t any random men: they actually form part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West troupe, a company that traveled around the world to perform vaudeville shows about the life in the Far West.

Photo: Courtesy of Direct Expose

One of the men that appear in the photo is William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody, the founder of the troupe, along with the general manager John Burke, a Sioux Native American. Burke used innovative products and celebrity endorsements in order to promote the show.

#2. TV Glasses

Did any of you think that portable technology was something new? Well, not at all! Even though they resemble the Virtual Reality glasses that exist nowadays, they are actually a pair of television goggles released in 1963 by inventor, writer and publisher Hugo Gernsback. They seem kind of ridiculous, don’t they?

Photo: Courtesy of Tiki-Toki

Unfortunately, these TV goggles weren’t too much of a success. However, they did prove to be influential: as a matter of fact, they set a precedent for the mobile technology that developed in the latter decades. Because of this, Hugo Gernsback is sometimes called “Father of Science Fiction”.

#1. The President’s Pranks

Believe it or not, one of the people who appear in the picture is nothing less than former president Lyndon B. Johnson. It happens to be that Johnson was a fan of the latest technology in the car industry, and thus owned a German-made lagoon-blue Amphicar. Amphicars – or amphibious cars – were manufactured in West Germany in between 1961 and 1968, and were capable of floating in the water.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia

According to Joseph A. Califano Jr., the president’s special assistant, Johnson enjoyed pranking people with his car.  As regards the backstory to the photo, when the car reached a steep incline right at the edge of the lake, the car started rolling quickly towards the water. According to Califano’s account of the situation:

 “The President shouted, ‘The brakes don’t work! The brakes won’t hold! We’re going in! We’re going under!’ The car splashed into the water. I started to get out. Just then the car leveled and I realized we were in an Amphicar. The President laughed”.

  • About Author

    Hernán Tamargo

    Teacher. Political Scientist. Writer. Feminist... and much more!

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