No invention in the last 200 years has arguably been more important to capturing history than the camera. When the first commercial camera was introduced in the late 1800s, it finally allowed nearly everyone to begin documenting history with relative ease.

Even with the advent of video recordings, still photographs can capture an important moment like nothing else. In fact, when these moments are captured at just the right instance, they can be downright magical.

Yet these 41 photographs are something else entirely. It’s easy to think of history as being a distant idea of what the world used to be like, but with these never-before-seen pictures, history has never felt so real!

1. You can really feel Arnold Schwarzenegger’s joy and awe in this 1968 photo of his first time in New York City. Little did he know that he would one day become one of the greatest action stars that Hollywood ever saw!


2. Bill Gates was arrested for driving without a license in 1977, but he doesn’t look like he feels too bad about it here. Perhaps, with his advanced knowledge of electronics, some part of him already knew that he’d turn out just fine as an adult!


3. Muhammad Ali once talked a man out of jumping to his death in 1981. The legendary boxer was such an inspiring figure that it’s easy to see why he was able to make just about anyone feel better about themselves.


4. Quintessential rock stars Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger were seen hanging out in 1969. These men were easily among the most iconic and talented musicians of their generation, so they must have had a lot to talk about!


5. Speaking of Mick Jagger, here are the Rolling Stones in 1963. They look like such troublemakers! Their careers hadn’t quite blown up just yet, but they had to know on some level that they were destined for greatness!


6. Here’s Mohammed Ali goofing off with the Beatles in 1964. This funny photo op occurred at a point when both the band and the boxer’s careers were really taking off. Ali had just changed his name from Cassius Clay, and Beatlemania was only getting started!


7. Here’s the Golden Gate Bridge during its construction in 1937. Clearly, there was still a great deal of work to be done before this San Francisco Bay icon would be the landmark that we know it to be today, but it was impressive nonetheless!


8. Here’s a breathtaking image of the construction of Mt. Rushmore in 1939. The project was not completed until 1941, but it didn’t take long for it to become a quintessential part of American iconography.


9. Elvis Presley serving in the U.S. Army in 1958. At this point, he was already a well-established rock star. In fact, he was pretty much already the “King of Rock and Roll!” Can you imagine serving alongside him?


10. The Eiffel Tower was just being built in 1880, but it still looks iconic. It’s amazing to see how recognizable this landmark is even at such an early stage of its construction. That says a lot about how special it is!


 11. An entire 7,600-ton apartment building was moved to create a boulevard in Alba Iulia, Romania in 1987. That must have been ridiculously dangerous! Many cities probably would have torn it down entirely.


12. This black police officer protects a Ku Klux Klan member from protesters in 1983. This really shows how dedicated the police officer was to his job. The Klan member may have been hateful, but the officer still had a duty to serve and protect!


13. Hannah Stilley, pictured here in 1840, is likely the earliest-born individual ever captured on film. She was born in 1746. Do you think she or the photographer knew the significance of what they were doing with this photo?


14. These are the glasses that John Lennon was wearing when he was shot in 1980. The amount of blood still on them is truly haunting. His murder by Mark David Chapman remains one of the greatest tragedies in the history of rock and roll.


15. Here’s Steven Spielberg in 1980 on his hands and knees while directing Raiders of the Lost Ark. Before CGI and green screen technology became the standard for special effects, scale models like these were commonplace for genre filmmakers.


16. A plane the moment it crashes into a truck standing near the runway due to strong crosswinds in 1976. Even from the photographer’s vantage point, it’s easy to see how (quite understandably) terrified these men were as they ran away.


17. A Pakistani soldier during Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971 checks to see if this man is circumcised. (Hindus were usually not circumcised). That must have been so embarrassing!


18. This is a man working on an analog computer in 1968. It’s amazing to think that we now have machines that manage to be just as powerful while being a tiny fraction of the size… and they’re still relatively inexpensive!


19. A Soviet soldier chases a young man who threw rocks at a tank during the Prague Spring of 1968. Back in those days, you definitely did not want to disrespect the establishment. It could mean your life!


20. The Beatles play for 18 people at the Aldershot Club in December of 1961. Boy, were things about to change for them! In just a few years, they’d be selling out much larger venues in a matter of seconds!


21. Che Guevara and Fidel Castro relaxing on a fishing trip in 1960. With all of the mystique surrounding their lives as political figures and revolutionaries, it’s interesting to see them just trying to have a good time.


22. This is a “swimmobile” in New York City in 1960. Doesn’t this look like fun? It’s a strange idea, to be sure, but taking a nice dip in the pool while on the move must have been an exciting experience… if an odd one.


23. Coca Cola was introduced to France in 1950, and these men look absolutely fascinated to be seeing it for the first time. Do you think they had ever tasted anything like it? In any event, the soda is now a worldwide staple!


24. Two boys in a tree watch as American soldiers drive through the town of St. Lo, France in the aftermath of D-Day. This must have been a terrifying time for them to be alive, especially at such a young age.


25. This opium den in Singapore in 1941 does not look like a fun time. After all, an addiction to a drug that powerful can completely consume a person, and it often becomes quite deadly. Looking at these users and how they lived is actually quite tragic.


26. This is the real Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin Milne in 1928. While they’re absolutely adorable to look at, Christopher Robin would later grow to resent Pooh’s commercialization.


27. Do you recognize this lion? He’s the one unleashing the iconic roar before every classic MGM film. This was filmed in 1928. There were actually seven different MGM lions, but this one, named Jackie, had his likeness employed from 1928 until 1956.


28. This seal on Tutankhamen’s tomb (shown here in 1922) went untouched for 3,245 years. Popularly known as “King Tut,” he was a pharaoh who ruled Egypt during its 18th dynasty from 1332 B.C.E. to 1323 B.C.E.


29. You really have to admire the persistence of this beggar running alongside King George V’s coach in 1920. The king’s men seem to be ignoring him, but some would say that he deserved an award of his impressive tenacity!


30. The ceiling of the Russian Parliament collapsed in 1907, making for a truly surreal-looking photo. What’s really remarkable about this image is how beautiful the rest of the place still looks despite the tragic accident.


31. Carl Akeley was attacked by a leopard; he killed it with his bare hands in 1896. Desperate times must have called for desperate measures! He must have thought that he was pretty tough for displaying the leopard as a trophy, too.


32. One man refusing to perform the Nazi salute in 1936 proves that there is good to be found even in the darkest places. Unfortunately for him, though, he may not have survived very long as someone who resisted Hitler’s regime.

 33. These graves of a Catholic woman and her Protestant husband in Holland in 1888 are rather poignant. It’s sad to think that there had to be such a division even among people that were so in love with each other.

34. This Austrian boy is thrilled to receive a new pair of shoes during World War II. It’s easy for many people to take such things for granted, but at this desperate point in time, you had to appreciate what you had.

40-rare-historical-photosGerald Waller

35. Before she became the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon in 1967, race organizers tried to stop Kathrine Switzer from competing. It’s fascinating to think about how determined they were to stop something so harmless.


36. These men perform the extremely dangerous task of painting the Eiffel Tower in 1932. Either the pay must have been unbeatable, or these men had to be quite desperate to take on a role like that. It was truly life-threatening!

37. In 1967, Sweden decided to change the law so that people would drive on the right side of the road rather than the left. This is what the streets looked like the next morning. It was a complete disaster for everyone!

43-rare-historical-photosJuan Colsioo

38. Animals were used in medical therapy as early as 1956. As this picture proves, it’s really quite difficult to feel upset about just about anything in your life when you get to look at these darling little ducklings!

44-rare-historical-photosFrancis Miller

39. This grotto in an iceberg during the British Antarctic Expedition on January 5, 2011 looks otherworldly. For many people, though, this would have been terrifying. Can you imagine if that ceiling collapsed?

45-rare-historical-photosHerbert Ponting

40. A sea of people gather for the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. Even at the time, the people in attendance must have known that it would go down in the history books as one of the greatest musical events of all time.


41. People used to use “baby cages” like this to ensure that their children got enough sunlight in 1937. It’s hard to imagine that this didn’t absolutely terrify parents at the time the way that it would frighten us today!

47-rare-historical-photosThe Atlantic

Each of these photos tells a different, fascinating story. It’s like you’re right there in the moment with every single one of them!

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