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40 Must-See Photos From The Past

The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” was coined by American newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane in 1911. It's a simple notion that applies to many aspects of our lives, but especially to historical photography. 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.

Perhaps the wars, poverty, fights for freedom and little miracles of the past have lessons for us that we can use today?

Woman With A Gas-Resistant Pram, England, 1938
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Unpacking the head of the Statue of Liberty, 1885
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Elvis in the Army, 1958
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Animals being used as part of medical therapy, 1956
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Testing of new bulletproof vests, 1923
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Charlie Chaplin at age 27, 1916
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Hindenburg Disaster, May 6, 1937
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Circus hippo pulling a cart, 1924
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Annette Kellerman promotes women's right to wear a fitted one-piece bathing suit, 1907. She was arrested for indecency
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Annie Edison Taylor, the first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, 1901
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

106-year-old Armenian Woman guards home, 1990
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Baby cages used to ensure that children get enough sunlight and fresh air when living in an apartment building, ca. 1937
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

The original Ronald McDonald, 1963
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Disneyland Employee Cafeteria in 1961
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Advertisement for Atabrine, anti-malaria drug, in Papua, New Guinea during WWII
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Soldier shares a banana with a goat during the battle of Saipan, ca. 1944
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Little girl with her doll sitting in the ruins of her bombed home, London, 1940
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Construction of the Berlin wall, 1961
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Unknown soldier in Vietnam, 1965
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Bookstore in London ruined by an air raid, 1940
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Walter Yeo, one of the first to undergo an advanced plastic surgery and a skin transplant, 1917
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Suntan vending machine, 1949
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Measuring bathing suits – if they were too short, women would be fined, 1920's
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Martin Luther King with his son removing a burnt cross from their front yard, 1960
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Hotel owner pouring acid in the pool while black people swim in it, ca. 1964
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Lifeguard on the coast, 1920's
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Artificial legs, UK, ca. 1890
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Mom and son watching the mushroom cloud after an atomic test, Las Vegas, 1953
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Mother hides her face in shame after putting her children up for sale, Chicago, 1948
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Austrian boy receives new shoes during WWII
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Hitler's officers and cadets celebrating Christmas, 1941
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Christmas dinner during Great Depression: turnips and cabbage
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

The real Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin, ca. 1927
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Last prisoners of Alcatraz leaving, 1963
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Melted and damaged mannequins after a fire at Madam Tussaud's Wax Museum in London, 1930
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

A space chimp posing to camera after a successful mission to space, 1961
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Illegal alcohol being poured out during Prohibition, Detroit, 1929
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

Princeton students after a freshman vs. sophomores snowball fight, 1893
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

A beautiful suicide – 23 year-old Evelyn McHale jumped from the 83rd floor of the Empire State Building and landed on a United Nations limousine, 1947
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

First morning after Sweden changed from driving on the left side to driving on the right, 1967
40 Must-See Photos From The Past

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