60 Rare Historical Photos That You Definitely Must See!

A photographer can take a picture of an event so momentous or ordinary and preserve it for generations to see. Some photographs are so significant that we see them in history books and newspapers. Such images help us learn about the people, places, and events that played a substantial role in shaping our world.

If we look at those photos, we might find little or no difference from how we visualize those people and places now in our minds. Take, for instance, Mount Rushmore. If asked to imagine what it looks like, we’d probably picture it the way we usually see it in postcards. We’d envision the massive sculpture of four great American Presidents on the face of a mountain. Adolf Hitler would be this austere-looking man with brown hair, brown eyes, and a toothbrush mustache.

But do we even know what that mountain looks like before Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum carved those prominent faces there? Or remember the Berlin wall before people painted colorful graffiti on the barrier?

We have here several rare historical photos, and they’re all pretty mind-blowing!

Picture of a man with a punt gun, 1860

man with a punt gun

The punt gun was a custom-built, enormous shotgun used in the 19th and 20th centuries. Professional hunters designed these weapons to shoot large numbers of waterfowl. A single shot from a punt gun could annihilate as many as 50 birds. Aside from its meat, they hunt ducks to supply the demand for feathers, which they used to adorn women’s hats. The punt gun was banned in the 1860s.

A slave pen owned by Price, Birch & Co. in Alexandria, Virginia, 1861-1865

Birch & Co. in Alexandria

Formerly a jail for Confederate prisoners, slave traders turned this edifice into a slave pen in the early 19th century. Here, merchants imprisoned the slaves shipped from Louisiana. Around 3,750 people deployed to the plantations of the Deep South passed through this place.

Inside a slave pen in Alexandria, Virginia, 1865

Inside a slave pen in Alexandria

While enslaved people wait to be auctioned off, traders kept them locked up in pens and cells like these.

President Lincoln’s second inaugural address on March 4, 1865.

President Lincoln’s second inaugural address on March 4

Thousands of people gathered at the Capitol to hear President Lincoln take the executive oath.

Lewis Powell a.k.a Lewis Payne in custody, 1865

Lewis Powell a.k.a Lewis Payne in custody

Claiming to bear prescribed medicine from William H. Seward’s doctor, Payne entered the Secretary of State’s bedroom and stabbed him in the neck and chest. The incident occurred the same night actor John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln at Ford’s Theater. Secretary Seward survived, and the authorities arrested Payne on April 17.

The remains of the temple of Jupiter, 1870-1885

temple of Jupiter

Because of its massive size, the temple of Jupiter in Baalbek, Lebanon, is often linked with the Nephilim. The Nephilim were the giants mentioned in the Bible.

Little Coyote and Morning Star, 1873

Little Coyote and Morning Star

Little Coyote (Little Wolf) and Morning Star (Dull Knife) were chieftains of the Northern Cheyennes.

The infamous outlaw William H. Bonney alias Billy the Kid, 1879

 infamous outlaw William H. Bonney alias Billy

Civil war general Ambrose Burnside, 1824-1881

Civil war general Ambrose Burnside

“Civil War General Ambrose Burnside was known for his unusual style of facial hair, which included a bushy beard and moustache [sic] along with a clean-shaven chin. These distinctive whiskers—originally dubbed “burnsides”—later inspired the term “sideburns.”

The Statue of Liberty under construction in Paris, 1883

The Statue of Liberty under construction

The Eiffel Tower under construction, 1888

The Eiffel Tower under construction

Adolf Hitler at school, 1899

Adolf Hitler at school

We see a young Adolf Hitler in this Austrian class picture taken in 1899. There he was, the tallest boy in the back line.

Nikola Tesla’s “magnifying transmitter,” 1899

Nikola Tesla's magnifying transmitter

Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla sat in his laboratory in Colorado Springs. Beside him was his “magnifying transmitter.” However, this was only a publicity photo.

A husband and wife in Korea wearing their traditional everyday dress, 1904

husband and wife in Korea wearing their traditional everyday dress

A Navajo medicine man, 1904

Navajo medicine man

A picture of Mount Rushmore in 1905

picture of Mount Rushmore in 1905

Annette Kellerman in a bathing suit, 1907

Annette Kellerman in a bathing suit

In this photo, Kellerman promotes a woman’s right to wear a form-fitting, one-piece bathing suit. However, she was later arrested for indecency.

A grotto in an iceberg, 1911

grotto in an iceberg, 1911

Explorers found this picturesque cave during the British Antarctic Expedition on January 5, 1911.

The Olympic (left) and the Titanic, 1912

Olympic (left) and the Titanic, 1912

This is, perhaps, the only picture of the two sister ships together. Photographed on March 6, 1912.

Lifeboats from the Titanic, 1912

Lifeboats from the Titanic

Two lifeboats reached the RMS Carpathia days after the Titanic sank.

The “Mona Lisa” in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, 1913

Mona Lisa

Vincenzo Peruggia, a Louvre employee, stole this painting. Being an Italian patriot, he believed da Vinci’s artwork should be displayed in an Italian museum. The Mona Lisa was recovered two years after, but it was exhibited in Uffizi for a couple of weeks before it was returned to the Louvre.

Men painting the Brooklyn bridge on December 3, 1915.

Men painting the Brooklyn bridge

A British soldier in a trench during the Battle of the Somme, 1916.

British soldier in a trench during the Battle of the Somme

The Wall Street on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.

Wall Street on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918

This day marked the end of World War I. Thousands of people gathered at the Subtreasury Building on Wall Street to celebrate.

A French radiographer wearing his protective gear, 1918

French radiographer wearing his protective gear

Charlie Chaplin holding a doll version of his film character, 1918

Charlie Chaplin holding a doll version of his film character

Charlie Chaplin stands on Douglas Fairbanks’s shoulders, 1918

Charlie Chaplin stands on Douglas Fairbanks’s shoulders

Photographed during a rally to promote liberty bonds on Wall Street.

The unbroken seal on the third shrine of Tutankhamun’s tomb, 1922

unbroken seal on the third shrine of Tutankhamun’s tomb

Leo, the MGM lion, 1928

Leo, the MGM lion

A snapshot of the men who filmed and recorded the lion roar, which has been used by MGM for their logo.

Christopher Robin Milne with his teddy bear, Winnie the Pooh, 1928

Christopher Robin Milne with his teddy bear

Christopher Robin Milne is the son of A.A. Milne who authored the Winnie the Pooh series. A.A. Milne based the character of his books to his son and his stuffed toy bear.

A Zeppelin flying over the pyramids, 1931

Zeppelin flying over the pyramids, 1931

One man refuses to participate in a Nazi salute, 1936

One man refuses to participate in a Nazi salute, 1936

The Hindenburg disaster, May 6, 1937

Hindenburg disaster

The last photo of the Hindenburg as it crashes in New Jersey.

Japanese forces bury Chinese prisoners alive, 1938.

Japanese forces bury Chinese prisoners alive

Japanese soldiers tortured and murdered approximately 200,000 Chinese civilians during the Rape of Nanking.

A letter Gandhi sent to Hitler, 1939

A letter Gandhi sent to Hitler, 1939

This Russian spy laughs through his execution in Finland during the Winter War, 1939

Russian spy laughs through his execution in Finland during the Winter War

IRA terrorist attack, 1939

IRA terrorist attack

This picture shows the horrendous aftermath of an IRA terrorist bombing in Coventry, England, in August 1939.

The Reich Chancellery, 1939

Reich Chancellery

The 14th Dalai Lama at age two. Photographed in 1940

The 14th Dalai Lama at age two

“The Dalai Lama is found rather than chosen. He is believed to have the power to choose the body into which he is reincarnated, meaning that the current Dalai Lama is a reincarnation of the last.

The search for the reborn Dalai Lama is the responsibility of the High Lamas of the Gelugpa tradition and the Tibetan government,” the Guardian reports.

The 14th and the current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso.

The German 7th Panzer Division prepares to attack the Soviet Union, 1941

German 7th Panzer Division prepares to attack the Soviet Union

An Australian soldier watches as a Japanese soldier kills himself in New Guinea on December 1942.

Australian soldier watches as a Japanese soldier kills himself in New Guinea on December 1942

HMAS Armidale survivors, 1942

HMAS Armidale survivors

The Armidale sank when a Japanese aircraft attacked the ship. The survivors on this raft waved to a Catalina flying boat. An aircrew from the Catalina took this photo; however, they couldn’t land because of the rough water. Sadly, the aircrew never saw the pictured survivors again despite extensive air and sea searches.

The New York Times newsroom, 1942

The New York Times newsroom, 1942

Frank V. McKinless swears in the first women Marines in New York, 1943

Frank V. McKinless swears in the first women Marines in New York

The official U.S. Army magazine, The Stars and Stripes, reported Hitler’s death, 1945

The official U.S. Army magazine, The Stars and Stripes, reported Hitler’s death

Evelyn McHale jumped from the observation deck of the Empire State Building, 1947

Evelyn McHale jumped from the observation deck of the Empire State Building

McHale, 23, jumped from the Empire State Building and landed on top of a limousine, which was parked below. Robert Wiles, a photography student, heard the crash and took this photo immediately after.

A manninquin from an atomic bomb test site in Nevada during the mid-50s

manninquin from an atomic bomb test site in Nevada during the mid-50s

Elvis Presley sworn into the United States Army, 1958

Elvis Presley sworn into the United States Army, 1958

The assassination of socialist politician Inejiro Asanuma in Tokyo, 1960.

The assassination of socialist politician Inejiro Asanuma in Tokyo, 1960.

The Berlin Wall under construction, 1961

The Berlin Wall under construction, 1961

Photo of Ham the chimp prior to the Mercury-Redstone 2 capsule test flight on January 31, 1961

Photo of Ham the chimp prior to the Mercury-Redstone 2 capsule test flight on January 31, 1961

Ham was the first higher primate in space.

US and Soviet tanks standoff at Checkpoint Charlie during the Berlin Crisis, 1961.

US and Soviet tanks standoff at Checkpoint Charlie during the Berlin Crisis, 1961

President John F. Kennedy during a tour at the Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex, 1962

President John F. Kennedy during a tour at the Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex, 1962

President John F. Kennedy receives the annual White House Thanksgiving turkey from the National Turkey Federation, 1963

President John F. Kennedy receives the annual White House Thanksgiving turkey from the National Turkey Federation, 1963

This was photographed three days before his assassination in Dallas.

Jimmie Nicol with the Beatles, 1964

Jimmie Nicol with the Beatles, 1964

Jimmie Nicol substituted for Ringo Starr when the latter fell ill. Nicol was their drummer for eight concerts within ten days. During a tour in Australia in June that same year, Nicol returned to his home in Melbourne. He just faded from the spotlight.

A lineman gives mouth-to-mouth to a colleague who was knocked down by 4,160 volts of electricity, 1967

A lineman gives mouth-to-mouth to a colleague who was knocked down by 4,160 volts of electricity, 1967

Large crowds come together as Swami Satchidananda gives the opening speech at Woodstock, 1969.

Large crowds come together as Swami Satchidananda gives the opening speech at Woodstock, 1969.

John W. Young on the moon, 1972

John W. Young on the moon, 1972

Young, commander of the Apollo 16 mission in 1972, became the ninth person to walk on the moon. Photo by Charles M. Duke Jr.

An American evacuee punches a South Vietnamese man during the evacuation of Saigon, 1975.

An American evacuee punches a South Vietnamese man during the evacuation of Saigon, 1975.

He hit the man for a place on the last helicopter out of the US embassy.

Photo of drug lord, Pablo Escobar with his son standing in front of the White House, 1980

Photo of drug lord, Pablo Escobar with his son standing in front of the White House, 1980