59 Colorized Photos So Chilling We Can't Look Away
November 4, 2022
Thanks to modern technology, we can now get an even more accurate view of the past via colorized photographs. Prior to the 1970s, most photographs were shot using black and white film. While these images are important tools to help us understand the past, we can get even more details from photographs that have been digitally colorized. For the first time (well, the first time in a long time), we can see the rich and colorful world that our ancestors lived in. This collection of colorized photos shows us that world.
If he were alive today, Seth Kinman would probably be a famous social media star. The California hunter and outdoorsman, who lived from 1815 to 1888, was a publicity seeker and one of the chief instigators of the mountain man look. A towering man with a steady shot, Kinman claimed he shot 50 elk in one month and more than 800 grizzlies in his lifetime. Using hides, bones, and antlers from the animals he shot, Kinman made several chairs to present to prominent people, including James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, Rutherford B. Hayes, and, as seen in this photo, Abraham Lincoln. Kinman and Lincoln seemed to hit it off quite well. In fact, Kinman was in attendance at Ford Theatre the night that Lincoln was assassinated.
Mormon polygamists at the Utah Penitentiary, 1889. ☠️
In 1845, Mormon leader Joseph Smith was attacked and murdered because of his extreme religious views. His followers, under Brigham Young as their new leader, migrated to the wilds of Utah in 1847 where they hoped to practice their unorthodox beliefs in seclusion. One of the Mormon beliefs that ruffled a lot of feathers was polygamy. When Utah applied for statehood, there was a condition to its acceptance into the union – a ban on polygamy had to be added to the state constitution. Utah was granted statehood on January 4, 1896, and afterward, men with more than one wife could be arrested for the crime of polygamy.
Looks aren’t everything. By all accounts, Mary Ann Webster of East London was an attractive woman. She married Thomas Bevans in 1902 and bore four children. But soon after her marriage, she began to suffer from terrible headaches, dental problems, and failing eyesight. When she was in her early 30s, her face changed shape as the bones grew in an abnormal fashion. She was diagnosed with acromegaly, a condition in which excess human growth hormone caused facial deformities. In 1914, Mary Ann’s husband suddenly died, leaving her without an income. She decided to use her unusual appearance for profit and joined the circus where she was billed as the ‘Ugliest Woman.”
Robert Wadlow, the tallest person in history at 8ft 11.1in, and Clarence Howerton, one of the smallest people alive at the time at 2ft 4in, compared their shoe sizes, 1937.
The world’s tallest … shoe salesman? It is true. Sort of. Robert Wadlow, the tallest man in history, stood a staggering 8-feet, 11.1-inches in height, the result of a pituitary gland disorder. Beginning in 1936, Wadlow earned his living as a living exhibit with the Ringling Brothers Circus, but he refused to be a total victim of exploitation. For example, he refused to wear the outlandish garments the circus suggested, and he refused to be a sideshow attraction. In 1938, Wadlow took a job with the International Show Company as a promotional spokesperson. Part of his job required him to travel the country to promote the brand. He took great pains to refer to the job as “advertising” rather than simply being a freak show attraction. Part of his pay from the shoe gig came in the form of free shoes, like those seen in this photo … that he is comparing against the tiny shoes worn by Clarence Howerton, who stood just a little over two-feet tall.
Don’t try this at home! Officers in training at the Italian Cavalry School in Pinerolo were put this the paces, as were their horses. The goal of the training was for officers and their horses to act as one – the rider had to have complete trust in his horse and vice versa. As part of the officers’ final exam, so to speak, the men and horses were taken to the ruins of an ancient castle called Mombrone, about three miles outside Pinerolo. The ruins provided ample opportunities for obstacle training but the most fearsome obstacle of all was called “the descent of Mombrone”, shown in this colorized photograph. In a test of trust and nerves, the riders guided their steeds out a broken window of the castle and down a 20-foot incline.
German soldier, Oskar Hilner, sitting in a large cooking pot with an MG08 machine gun, 1916, WWI.
This might look like a scene from a Monty Python movie, but it is actually a colorized photo from World War I. It shows the resourcefulness of the German soldiers. To protect themselves and accomplish their missions, members of the German army sometimes pilfered items they found on the farms and villages they invaded. Infantryman, Oskar Hilner was no exception. When he spotted this large, iron cooking vessel, he knew that that thick metal could afford him protection from enemy bullets so he turned it into a turret-like foxhole.
Not for the faint of heart! Ironworkers in Manhattan during the hi-rise construction boom had to keep their wits about them and keep their balance at all times, even when taking a lunch break. Since OSHA wasn’t around back then, many worker accidents, injuries, and deaths were not officially reported. Take, for example, the construction of the Empire State Building. According to the official records, only five workers were killed in falls while building the iconic structure. Unofficially, however, the rumors tell a different story. It may be that hundreds of workers died on the job.
Double leg amputee railway signalman, James Wide, working alongside his pet and assistant, Jack Baboon, in Cape Town during the 1880s.
In the 1880s, a baboon named Jack earned a degree of fame by serving as the helper for a South African railroad worker named James ‘Jumper’ Wide. Wide lost both legs in an accident and trained Jack to push his wheelchair and operate the rail signals. Someone complained to the railroad when they saw the animal running the signals and an official investigation was launched. The investigators found that Jack was quite skilled at his job and never made an error. He was officially hired by the railroad and received twenty cents per day plus half a bottle of beer. Travelers loved to see Jack and his fame grew. Just how famous did Jack become? Well, today, he has his own Wikipedia page.
Sharecropper's 13-year-old son toiling long days in the Georgia sun, 1937.
Dorothea Lange’s photographs from the 1930s show the devastating toll that the Great Depression took on the people who were living through it. As a photographer with the Farm Security Administration, Lange was instrumental in putting a face to the heartbreak of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Her style of photojournalism was a forerunner to today’s documentary style of storytelling. Although Lange shot her photographs in black and white, this colorized image taken in Georgia in 1937 shows a young teen relocated to working long, hard days on the farm to help support his family.
By all accounts, Queen Elizabeth II and her younger sister, Princess Margaret, were very close growing up and remained close into adulthood. The girls grew up out of the public eye and were safely removed from the royal obligations until fate intervened. When the girls’ uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne in 1936, their father became the new king. The order of succession in the British monarchy is quite clear. Suddenly, Elizabeth became the next in line for the crown, and Margaret understood her position only too well. According to legend, upon their father’s coronation, Margaret noted, “Now that Papa is king, I am nothing.”
Real members of the Peaky Blinders street gang based in Birmingham, England that was active in the late 1800s to 1910s.
As we have seen happen in the impoverished inner-city area of the U.S., extreme economic hardship in urban settings can lead to street gangs. Such was the case in Birmingham, England in the 1880s. A group of young, lower-class boys, known as the Peaky Blinders, banded together to form a gang. They took part in robberies, assaults, illegal gambling, and racketeering. The Peaky Blinders grew in numbers and exerted their control over the area for more than three decades. The four young men in this rap sheet represented only a few of the notorious gang.
A British sniper demonstrating his camouflage at a French sniper school, 1944.
The U.S. military began to use camouflage techniques in the mid-1800s as a way to conceal the positions of snipers. By World War I, camouflage was an integral part of military strategy. In World War II, when this photo was taken, camouflage meant to use colors and patterns to prevent someone from being seen. In today’s high-tech world, it goes beyond the visual element. Now, soldiers in camouflage need to be invisible to heat, sound, scent, and magnetic detectors.
1958 was a pivotal year for Johnny Cash.
When this photo of Johnny Cash was taken, the singer had just left Sun Records and signed with a new studio, Columbia Records. His first album with Columbia, The Fabulous Johnny Cash was released in November of 1958 and marked the start of a 28-year relationship between the country artist and Columbia Records. The album sold more than half a million copies in its initial run and was generally well-received by music critics. In fact, The Fabulous Johnny Cash is often considered to be Cash’s most cohesive album. In 2002, Sony Music’s Legacy division rereleased The Fabulous Johnny Cash, with six new bonus tracks and some unedited versions of recordings from 1958.
A Tasmanian Tiger before they went extinct in 1936.
This poor fellow in this colorized photo from 1936 was one of the last of his kind. He was a thylacine, more commonly known as a Tasmanian tiger. A carnivore native to New Guinea and Tasmania, as well as the Australian mainland, the Tasmanian tiger was once an apex predator, but humans were encouraged to hunt them to keep them away from livestock. The introduction of domestic dogs into the area also led to their decline. By 1936, there were none of the Tasmanian tigers left.
Escape the heat with a day at the beach ... the crowded beach at Atlantic City, 1908.
What is better on a hot summer day than a beach outing? In 1908, when this photo was taken, homes were not air-conditioned. In the sweltering heat of the summer months, the only escape from the heat was to go to the beach. The ocean breeze was refreshing, and so was the cool water of the Atlantic Ocean. Atlantic Beach was a popular destination for folks living in the hot, dusty cities. Donning their swimming attire – which was a far cry from today’s skimpy swimwear – beachgoers were all set to hit the waves and cool off.
Cologne Cathedral is a Catholic cathedral in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The cathedral suffered fourteen hits by aerial bombs during World War II but remained standing while everything around it was mostly flattened. ⛪
The Cologne Cathedral in Germany, with its twin spires, was an easily recognizable landmark for fighter pilots and bombers during World War II. Fortunately, the cathedral’s medieval builders made the structure quite sound during the fits and starts of its construction. Work on the cathedral began in 1560 but was halted. It resumed again in 1840 and was finally completed, using the original medieval plan, in 1880. During World War II, the cathedral was hit by 14 aerial bombs. As you can see in this colorized photograph, much of the buildings surrounding the church were flattened but the cathedral stood tall, albeit heavily damaged. Repairs on the building started right after the war and were completed in 1956.
Mugshot of Josip Broz Tito after his arrest in 1928.
Before he was the president of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito earned a reputation as a revolutionary and activist. In February 1928, Broz was arrested for disrupting a meeting of the Social-Democratic Party and for being part of a brawl outside the event. He gave police a false name and was tossed in jail. The authorities didn’t realize who he was until after they released him two weeks later. The police tracked him down and recaptured him, but this time, he was treated poorly in prison and convicted of participating in illegal communist activities. After three years in jail, he was released and continued on his political and activist activities and was elected as Yugoslavia’s president.
Antanas Stasaitis, shown in this colorized photo from 1923, was one of the first Lithuanian pilots to join the Lithuanian Army in 1919. He joined a unit of pilots who were trained in combat, nighttime, and solo flying missions. In 1941, Stasaitis and his fellow pilots participated in the June Uprising in Lithuania. A few years later, in 1944, Stasaitis was arrested by the Soviet Union’s People’s Commissariant for Internal Affairs, a government agency that’s goal was to repression of enemy and dissident voices. This agency was responsible for killing people who spoke out against the USSR, either in the country or abroad. Stasaitis died in a Soviet prison camp in 1948.
Walter Layman and his friends with their dogs, 1927. Walter was a freelance photographer who traveled the United States with his dog, Pocahontas.
What a life! Freelance photographer, Walter Layman, shown here with his faithful companion, a dog named Pocahontas, as well as some human friends and their pooches, traveled all around the United States taking pics of the American way of life. Layman, who was born in Covington, Kentucky, in 1871, grew up in the Cincinnati area. An artist by nature, Layman dabbled in painting, designing, and illustrating before settling on photography as his medium of choice. He honed his craft by studying at the Cincinnati Art Academy, the Art Student League of New York, and even the American Art Association of Paris.
Woman in a tennis outfit photographed for Harpers Bazaar magazine, 1947.
Toni Frissell, the American photograph who shot this stunning colorized pic for Harper’s Bazaar in 1947, was a top fashion photographer who lent her services to the war effort during World War II. She worked for both the American Red Cross and the Eighth Army Air Force, before becoming the official photographer for the Women’s Army Corps. Her photographs capture the toils of war on people from all walks of life, including young children, front-line soldiers, weary nurses, fighter pilots, widowed wives, and African-American airmen. After the war, she was a portrait photographer for the rich and famous, a photojournalist for Life and Sports Illustrated, and a top fashion photographer.
Nicoli of the Native American Salish peoples, Flathead Indian Reservation, Montana, 1905.
Photographer Edward Boos worked as a reporter and photographer for several newspapers in the Missoula, Montana, area in the early 1900s. He made a name for himself as an embedded journalist for the Bicycle Corps in 1897. He joined the U.S. Army 25th Infantry, comprised of African American soldiers, on a 1,900-mile bicycle ride from Fort Missoula to St. Louis, Missouri, reporting on the transportation experiment along the way. Afterward, he spent several years photographing the Native American people in Montana’s Flathead Valley. This photo shows a Salish Indian, but Boos also took pictures of the Kootenai and Pend’Oreille people.
French soldier with a wounded forehead, before plastic surgery. (1915)
War is hell, and for some people, like the man in this colorized photograph from 1915, war can leave a mark. Several soldiers suffered horrific injuries in World War I that left them with disfigurements. Many men returned from war with hideous scars and injuries. Fortunately, there was help. In 1917, a surgeon named Harold Gillies made some huge advances in the area of plastic surgery. The new methods he developed helped many soldiers return to a normal life. In fact, folks in the medical community point to Gillies’s work as the foundation of today’s plastic surgery industry.
The spare heir, Princess Margaret, the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth spent much of her childhood in quiet seclusion, but at the end of World War II, the young princess was 15 years old and found herself in the public eye. Through the 1950s and 1960s, Margaret lived the life of a socialite. She attended lavish parties, wore designer clothes, and was photographed for all the celebrity tabloids. Margaret’s love life was the subject of controversy and debate. Her relationship with the divorced Peter Townsend was mixed by the Church of England and the crown, much to her despair.
Stacked! Three crew members of the US Coast Guard Cutter Duane, 1930s.
This trio of sailors was stationed aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter Duane in the 1930s. The treasury-class cutter was named in honor of President Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of the Treasury, William J. Duane. The ship was launched in the summer of 1936 with the intent that it would be a law enforcement and search a rescue boat. The Duane, and possibly these three men, were temporarily assigned to Honolulu before heading north to patrol the Bering Sea. Space is at a premium on vessels like the Duane. Every possible inch is put to good use. That means sailors slept in three-level bunk beds.
A Navajo woman using a loom in the shade of a cottonwood, possibly in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, circa 1907.
This colorized photograph shows a Navajo woman with her weaving loom. The Navajo people were known for making top-quality woven blankets and rugs with bright colors and unique patterns. Weaving was not always part of the Navajo culture, though. For much of the tribe’s existence, it had a semi-nomadic culture, roaming from place to place in the American Southwest as they sought food and water. By around the 1500s, however, the Navajo people settled down and transitioned to an agricultural lifestyle. It was then that they learned the art of weaving.
City dwellers relaxing in Battery Park, New York, circa 1910.
These people are enjoying the fresh air and sunshine of New York’s Battery Park. Strategically located at the southern tip of Manhattan Island, the site was once a fort and an artillery battery. Because it overlooked the Hudson River and New York Harbor, it was an ideal spot for a fortification. In the early 1800s, however, the area was transitioning from a defensive site to a place for leisurely strolls. The fort and battery were removed, and a 25-acre public use park was erected. Battery Park, or The Battery as it is now called, became a gathering place for families and a spot where folks could escape the hustle and bustle of city life by laying on the thick green grass.
Australian Soldier receiving a custom-made prosthetic leg at the Number 2 Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Southall, England, circa 1916.
From the beginning of history, inventive individuals have found ways to craft artificial limbs to help people who have lost a limb or suffered from a birth defect, but most of these contraptions were homemade, ill-fitting, and poorly designed. The horrific injuries suffered by thousands of soldiers during the American Civil War were the impetus for new innovations in the field of medical prosthetics. By World War I, when this Australian soldier was being fitted for his artificial limb, the design and manufacture of prosthetics was a growing business.
The wife of Britain’s King George V, Queen Mary ruled alongside her husband from 1910 to 1936. Her life could have turned out differently had it not been for fate and the flu. In 1891, when she was 24 years old, she was engaged to Prince Albert Victor, the firstborn son of the Prince of Wales and her second cousin once removed. Just weeks into the engagement, however, the prince fell ill with influenza and died. The next year, Mary was betrothed to her dead fiancé’s younger brother, George. George eventually became king, elevating her to queen.
Yep, that's Sir David Attenborough petting a macaw, circa 1950.
Sir David Attenborough, shown in this colorized photograph from 1950, is known the world over as a biologist, natural historian, and broadcaster. He hosted several television nature shows for BBC, including Zoo Quest, Natural World, Planet Earth, and The Blue Planet. But about the time that this photograph was taken, Attenborough was a recent college graduate, having earned a degree in natural sciences from Cambridge. He married his wife, Jane, in 1950 and remained devoted to her until her death in 1997. David and Jane Attenborough had two children, Robert and Susan.
US soldier looking at a German 88mm AA-AT gun. WWII
Fear the Flak! The German 88 mm anti-aircraft, anti-tank artillery gun, the 8.8 cm Flak, was a formidable weapon. The German army used it quite extensively throughout World War II and for good reason. It was efficient at getting its job done. The weapon had a high level of accuracy in shooting down Allied aircraft and disabling tanks. The Germans had been working on the weapon since World War I, so by the time World War II rolled around, the artillery gun could fire explosives more than four miles into the air and had a maximum ground range of more than six miles. The Allies soldier in this colorized photograph is inspecting the German weapons with a mixture of fear and admiration.
Photo of a 14-year-old boy named Philip who worked as a doffer at a shoe mill, Fall River, Massachusetts, 1916.
A photographer on a mission, Lewis Hine used his enormous talent to bring about social change. Beginning in 1908, Hine worked as the official photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. In this capacity, he traveled to factories and farms across the country, using his camera to document child workers and the conditions in which they worked. Often, he resorted to undercover tactics to get access to the inside of factories. The series of photographs he took, including this one, were instrumental in bringing awareness to the issue of child labor in the U.S. in the early 1900s. Thanks to Hine and his photos, the first child labor laws were passed in the country.
Portrait of Chief Joseph of the Nez Percé people, 1903.
Chief Joseph, shown in this colorized portrait, led his people through the Nes Perce War. In the late 1800s, the Nez Perce people were being forcibly removed from their ancestral home by the U.S. government. Chief Joseph led a resistance to this relocation. At its peak, more than 700 Native Americans followed their chief to various points across the Pacific Northwest as he tried to negotiate with the federal government. When they were finally cornered, Chief Joseph and his men surrendered to the military. The American public admired Chief Joseph for his passion and commitment to peace. History paints him as a humanitarian.
Lt. Ernest Childers, a Native American from Tulsa, Oklahama, being awarded the Medal of Honor by Lt. General Jacob L. Devers, Commander of American Forces in Mediterranean Theatre.
In this colorized photo, we see Lt. Ernest Childers receiving his Medal of Honor. The United States’ highest and most prestigious military honor is awarded to individuals in the military who distinguish themselves through tremendous acts of valor. Childers, a Native American from Oklahoma, earned his medal in World War II when he led a small group of enlisted men in the heroic capture of an enemy post in Italy on September 22, 1943. Lt. Childers accomplished all this with a broken foot from an injury he sustained moments earlier.
Mount Washington Cog Railway dropping off-picking up passengers at the base station in the White Mountains, New Hampshire, U.S., 1906.
By the mid-1800s, new Hampshire’s White Mountains were becoming popular as a vacation destination. Mount Washington in particular was a sought-after destination. Reaching the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern part of the United States, however, was not an easy thing to do. In 1869, the Cog Railway was built to transport visitors up the mountain to a posh mountain lodge at the top. The Mount Washington Cog Railway was the very first mountain-climbing railway that used a cog system, or rack and pinion system, to make it up the incline.
Wyatt Earp epitomized the wild west. He was a strange combination of lawman, constable, and sheriff and outlaw, gambler, and gunman. Although he hopped from one Old West boomtown to the next, his name is often linked with the town of Tombstone, Arizona. That’s where the infamous Shootout at the OK Corral took place. Earp, along with his brothers, Virgil and Morgan, and friend, Doc Holiday, were central figures in the shootout, but Wyatt Earp came out of the deadly gun battle unscathed. A proponent of vigilante justice, Wyatt Earp hunted down and killed members of the rival gang who killed his brothers.
The daughter of a migrant farmworker, Edinburg, Texas, 1939.
Illinois native Russell Lee earned a degree in chemical engineering but abandoned chemistry to become an artist. At first, he used photography as a way to capture images that he planned to paint with his oil paints but ended up focusing more on photography. He was hired by the Farm Security Administration in 1936, through a federally funded grant, to document America’s farmworkers. Other noted photographers on his team were Dorothea Lange and Arthur Rothstein. Lee’s collection of photographs serves as visual documentation of the lives of laborers in the 1930s and 1940s. This little girl, the child of a Texas migrant worker, was one of the portraits he shot.
The cool men of Jamaica Ponds Ice deliveries, Boston, MA, US, 1890s.
In the days before refrigeration, folk relied on ice to keep their food cold and prevent spoilage. A block of ice, placed in an insulated icebox, could keep the food chilled for up to a week, but the ice needed to be replaced weekly. Ice delivery men solved that need. Ice was harvested from local rivers or ponds in the winter and stored, packed in sawdust or hay, for use in warmer weather. When refrigeration became widely accessible to the general public, ice delivery services, like the one in this colorized photograph, became obsolete.
Italian family watching a parade and flag-raising ceremony on Mott Street in honor of boys from the neighborhood who are in the U.S. Army, New York City, 1942.
This family is taking advantage of their fire escape to give them a bird’s-eye view of the parade below. Fire escapes like this one were standard on all New York City tenement houses. In fact, they were the number one fire safety feature for quite a long time. Built of strong wrought iron and mounted on the exterior of apartment buildings, the fire escapes turned into makeshift outdoor living spaces for the apartment dwellers who had no yard space of their own. Many buildings in the city still have a network of fire escapes on their exteriors, but a 1968 building code change banned new constructions from including external fire escapes.
This place had it all! In the 1920s, many forward-thinking businessmen sought to capitalize on the new automobile fad by providing the products and services that car drivers needed. Blackburns Service Station in Vancouver was one such place. The business sold gasoline, as well as oil and tires. It had an automobile repair garage on sight. Road travelers passing through could stop to have their cars repaired, if necessary. And if the vehicle was beyond repair, Blackburns Service Station would sell you another car, albeit a used one.
An unknown lieutenant of the International Brigades at a memorial for the fallen of the 15th International Brigade, 1937.
The soldier in this colorized in honoring the fallen members of the 15th International Brigade. This group of soldiers was a blend of soldiers from multiple countries. The majority of them were English-speaking with many of them from Britain, however there were also members from European and Latin American nations represented in the brigade as well. The International Brigade was formed to fight on the side of the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War They were based out of Albacete, Spain, beginning in early 1937.
A young steelworker at a beer parlor in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, 1941.
This young steelworker doesn’t look old enough to drink. But we have to look back at the history of drinking ages in the U.S. to know if he is breaking the law. Prior to Prohibition, drinking ages varied greatly from state to state. In some areas, there was no drinking age at all, while other states had the legal drinking age set at 16, 18, or 21 years old. After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the majority of states adopted 21 as the legal age to consume alcoholic beverages. The voting age at the time was 21, so that was a factor in selecting the drinking age. In 1971, however, the national voting age in the U.S. was lowered to 18. This prompted debates about lowering the drinking age, too. Many states lowered their drinking ages during this time. Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984, setting the drinking age at 21 for all states.
Oopsy. It looks as though this driver was going a bit too fast when he or she lost control of the vehicle and attracted a crowd of onlookers. If this accident happened in an urban area, the speed limit at the time was probably around 35 miles per hour. If it took place in a rural setting, however, the speed limit was most likely 80 miles per hour. We are guessing the car was going at a pretty good clip to crash through the barricade. Let’s hope no one was seriously injured. Remember, in the 1940s, cars didn’t have the safety features that they have today. Seatbelts weren’t required until the mid-1980s and airbags became mandatory in new vehicles starting in 1998.
In a show of victory and, perhaps, as a way to gloat, 1st Sergeant David G. Lemkowitz erected an American flag over a 17th century German castle. Lemkowitz and his unit, the 82nd Airborne Division, US 15th Army, had seized the region during World War II and showed off the victory by waving the stars and stripes high above the castle for all to see. Lemkowitz was a native of Louisiana where the 82nd Airborne trained before shipping off to Europe. The unit was formed on March 25, 1942, under the leadership of Major General Omar Bradley.
Vroom, Vroom! Children playing with the wreck of a military motorbike, Vercors, France, 1944.
This colorized photo from 1944 shows the aftermath of the Battle of Vercors as life was beginning to return to normal and children played in the streets. In July and August of 1944, the Nazi German army, which had occupied France since the onset of World War II, clashed with the French Forces of the Interior in Vercors. The FFI had dug in atop the Vercors Plateau but received supplies of weapons and food via Allied airdrops. After two months, the U.S. Army came to the aid of the FFI and liberated the town from the Germans.
Historic and Iconic, McAdams and Morford Drugstore, Lexington, Kentucky, 1939.
If you are a fan of the nu-metal group, Disturbed, you might recognize the McAdams and Morford logo from the cover of the group’s 2000 album, The Sickness. This corner of Lexington, Kentucky, is iconic and historic. The McAdams and Morford Building, a three-story structure, was built in 1849. The McAdams and Morford Drugstore used the space from 1898 to 1994. In 1861, the building played host to a gathering that featured Robert Jefferson Breckenridge as the guest speaker. Breckinridge’s fiery speech sway the state government to keep Kentucky as part of the Union during the Civil War.
San Francisco earthquake of 1906 leveled 80 percent of the city.
This colorized photograph shows the aftermath of the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. The deadly earthquake struck without warning on the morning of April 18, 1906. Seismologists today estimate that quake was about a 7.9 in magnitude, based on photographs of the destruction. San Francisco was an up-and-coming modern city at the time of the earthquake. It was even referred to as the ‘Paris of the West’. After the quake, more than 80 percent of the city lay in ruins and well over 3,000 people were dead.
10-year-old George Devey was sentenced to one month of hard labor in Wandsworth Prison after stealing two rabbits, London, 1872.
For the crime of stealing two rabbits, this poor child was sentenced to a month of hard labor at London’s Wandsworth Prison in 1872. Although the prison was only about two decades old when 10-year-old George Devey served his time there, the prison had already earned a reputation for being a harsh and brutal place. Conditions in the prison could be inhumane and the guards rules with an iron fist. For a child such as young George, the experience likely produced live-long trauma.
Fortunately, the Cathedral of Sant’Agata in Via Vittorio Emanuele II, shown in the background of this colorized photograph from World War II, sustained only minor damage, just like these two British soldiers, during the fighting in Sicily. The cathedral is one tough building. It was built on the site of a prior church and nunnery that was leveled in an earthquake in 1693. The cathedral was completed in the mid-1700s using iron and stone with viewing balconies, a large dome, and a view of Mount Elba. The cathedral stood strong during the war, but did sustain damage in 1990 when another earthquake rocked the region.
This beautiful lady sitting outside a cafe in 1952 was actually a model posing for a famous fashion photographer.
This colorized photograph of a stunning woman in Paris was shot by renowned photographer Georges Dambier. A top fashion photographer of the post-World War II era, Dambier took a different approach to his photos than most fashion photographers of his time. Rather than have the models stand facing him with stiff poses and emotionless faces, Dambier wanted his images to look more like high-quality snapshots. He wanted to show his models enjoying life. He shot them looking away from the camera, doing everyday activities, and looking like they were happy and full of life. This image is a classic example of that.
Belgian gun dog team being fed on the road to Hofstade, Belgium, 1914.
Belgian mastiffs are a strong, hardy breed of dogs. They are also highly intelligent, loyal, and quick learners. That’s why the Belgian Army picked these dogs over horses to help transport machine gun carriages, ammunition, and other supplies during World War I. Each dog is capable of pulling about 60 pounds and, as a team, the animals could easily draw the 200-pound loads over great distances. Compared to horses, the dogs were inexpensive to feed and maintain. They also served as nighttime guard dogs. Moving the animals and their loads quickly was also easier with dogs rather than horses. The Belgian gun dog teams were used in the summer of 1914m during the invasion of Belgium.
Lt. Richard K. Jones of Hollywood, California, feeding Japanese children found in a tomb 50 yards from the front line, Okinawa, 1945.
The Battle of Okinawa began on April 1, 1945, and lasted for 82 days. One of the major battles of the Pacific theatre and the largest amphibious assault of World War II, the U.S. Army and Marines battled the Imperial Japanese Army for control of Okinawa and the surrounding region. Sadly, civilians were caught up in the fighting. These young children were discovered hiding out in an old tomb just yards from the front line. An American soldier, Lt. Richard K. Jones of Hollywood, California, took it upon himself to give the youngsters some food.
Young couple posing in front of their car, Oregon, US, 1940.
This cute young couple looks proud to be standing in front of their automobile. And it looks as though they are returning from a recent shopping trip, too. The photo was snapped in 1940 and the U.S. was finally emerging from the Great Depression. The New Deal programs implemented by President Franklin Roosevelt, along with the threat of war in Europe, helped to pull the nation from the economic despair of the early 1930s. A young husband could finally find secure employment to take care of his family and afford the finer things in life, like a fancy new car.
Writer and burlesque entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee, working at her desk, 1941.
More than just a pretty face, Gypsy Rose Lee was an author and playwright in addition to being a stripper and burlesque star. She was born Rose Louise Hovick in 1911. Her mother focused her energies on making Rose’s younger sister, June, a star and Rose was relocated to a bit player in her sister’s act. But when her sister ran off to elope when she was just 17, Rose was left with the act. Unfortunately, Rose was not a gifted singer or dancer. She was, however, slender, pretty, and willing to shed her clothing to make a living. As a stripper and burlesque performer, under the name Gypsy Rose Lee, she reached the level of fame she was looking for. In her later years, she was an author. Her autobiography was used as the basis for the play, Gypsy.
An organ grinder, sans monkey, moving through the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana. (1920s)
If you are like most people, when you hear the phrase ‘organ grinder’, you think of monkeys. While it is true that, in some cities long ago, street musicians used trained pet monkeys to attract attention to their acts, most organ grinders were totally monkey free, like the one shown in this colorized photograph from the 1920s. Instead of relying on cute animal gimmicks, these organ grinders made their living by pulling a small organ on a cart through the urban streets, stopping on various street corners to bang out a tune. They survived on tips or handouts from onlookers. Street musicians remain a vital contributor to the artsy vibe of many cities, including New Orleans.
B-17 Flying Fortress crew members Gus Palmer (left), a citizen of the Kiowa nation and a side gunner, and Horace Poolaw (right), also a Kiowa and an aerial photographer, standing near their aircraft, MacDill Field, Florida, 1944.
Gus Palmer and Horace Poolaw proudly represented the Kiowa nation as members of the United States military in World War II. The Kiowa is an indigenous tribe that made their ancestral home in the plains states. In 1867, the tribe was moved to a plot of land in southwestern Oklahoma that was set aside as a reserve for them. These gentlemen were two of more than 25,000 Native Americans that actively fought in World War II. As members of the U.S. Army Air Corp, they crewed the B-17 Flying Fortress.
What a beauty! Cadillac has long been the symbol of quality and refined taste and when you look at this colorized photograph of the 1932 Cadillac V-16, it is easy to see why. With its sleek and curvy body and powerful engine, the car could turn heads. Production on Cadillac automobiles was on the upswing until the Great Depression hit. Sales of the luxury cars plummeted, as you can expect. Only a few of the wealthiest Americans weathered the financial crisis well enough to keep their Cadillacs.
Three German soldiers crossing a river in their BMW R75 equipped with a sidecar, France, 1940.
The BMW motorcycles were quite popular in Germany in the 1930s. Beginning in 1938, the company began to develop and manufacture the R75 model for the German Army. Military officials saw the value in the motorcycles, which were highly maneuverable and quite fast. Built with a two-wheel drive system with drive shafts on both wheels, the R75 had a side-car third wheel. For military use, the sidecar was an excellent option. A soldier could fire at the enemy as the motorcycle driver was driving away. German car and motorcycle engineers had 00 and still have – a reputation for producing top-quality machines and the BMW R75 was no exception.
Princess Faiza of Egypt ruffled feathers when she married a Turk.
A member of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty, Egypt’s Princess Faiza was born at the Abdeen Palace in Cairo in 1923. She was the third of the five children born to King Fuad I and Nazli Sabri. Her brother became King Farouk. She angered her brother when she refused to marry within the Middle East royal family. She chose instead to marry Bulent Rauf, her cousin, a Turk. King Farouk was displeased with the union, in part because Rauf was western educated. Despite this, the couple exchanged vows on May 17, 1945 and moved into the Zohria Palace, located on an island in the Nile.
Hedy Lamarr, Golden Age of Hollywood Actress and Inventor of GPS. It's true!
Brains and beauty. The stunning Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr was widely considered to be one of the best actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood. But did you know she was also a brilliant genius and inventor? In the early years of World War II, she helped to invent a radio guidance system for launching torpedoes. It used a frequency hopping system to prevent it from being hacked. Her work with radio spectrum technology was ahead of its time. Later, Lamarr’s work was dusted off and the principles she developed were used as the foundation for Wifi, GPS technology, and Bluetooth.