Incredible Historical Photographs

This is a selection of photographs of some of the most important or famous historical events that have occurred since photography was invented. In 1884, George Eastman developed the technology of film to replace photographic plates, leading to the technology used by film cameras today; nevertheless, many images exist from before that time that we taken via other photographic methods. Click the photographs for a larger view.

1. The First Photograph [France, 1826]

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Joseph Nicephore Niepce

Taken by Nicéphore Niépce, this is the first photograph ever taken which still exists. He called his method heliography (sun writing) and this photograph took 8 hours of exposure time (hence sunlight on both sides of the building).

2. Looking Down Sacramento Street [San Francisco, 1906]

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San Francisco

This photo was taken on April 18th, 1906. It is the most famous photograph of the devastation caused by the great fire and earthquake. It was taken by Arnold Genthe on a borrowed camera.

3. Breaker Boys [Pennsylvania, 1910]

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Breaker Boys

This is a photograph of breaker boys – child labour used to separate coal from slate. This image helped lead the nation to outlaw child labour. The photo was taken by Lewis Hine who travelled the United States taking photographs of child labourers.

4. Migrant Mother [Oklahoma, 1936]

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Migrant Mother

 

This photograph of Florence Owens Thompson (32 year old mother of 7) is one of the great representations of the Great Depression. The photograph was taken by Dorothea Lange after Florence had sold her tent to provide food for her children.

5. Hitler in Paris [Paris, 1940]

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Hitler in Paris

 

This photograph was taken of Adolf Hitler visiting Paris with his architect Albert Speer, on June 23, 1940. Hitler’s army had captured Paris and Hitler went to admire his new City.

6. The Last Jew in Vinnitsa [Ukraine, 1941]

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The Last Jew in Vinnitsa

 

This was found in the personal album of an Einsatzgruppen soldier. It was labelled on the back “The last Jew of Vinnitsa”. All 28,000 of the Jews living there were killed at the time.

7. Soviet Flag raised above the Reichstag [Berlin, 1945]

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Soviet Flag raised above the Reichstag

 

Soviet Union soldiers Raqymzhan Qoshqarbaev, and Georgij Bulatov raising the flag on the roof of Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany in May, 1945. The photograph was taken by Yevgeny Khaldei.

8. Vatican II Begins [Vatican City, 1960]

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Vatican II Begins

 

This is a photograph of Pope John XXIII signing the document that officially started the Second Vatican Council. After his death, Pope Paul VI continued the council which was to change the Catholic Church so much that has become barely a reflection of what it was before. On his deathbed, John XXIII is rumoured to have said “Stop the council!”

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