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These Rare Historical Photos Will Make You Nostalgic For The Past

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Historical photos cannot be viewed from a close distance. We need time away from certain moments and events before we can appreciate them in all their glory. You cannot fully witness the beauty of an oil painting from an inch away: sometimes you need to take a step back.

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The same can be said for these photos from history. As time goes on, the people and moments captured in these photographs have become more significant.

Check out these historical photos from throughout history and see if it tickles your nostalgia bone.


The Mestiza de Sangley

This captivating, mystical portrait was taken by photographer Francisco Van Camp in the late 19th century. It reveals a pretty young woman wearing conventional garments.

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Not much is known about her – just that she was a “Mestiza de Sangley” woman, a term from the Spanish Philippines. It’s a saying used to describe someone of Chinese descent. No one knows who she is, but she is considered the Mona Lisa of the Pacific Islands.

Chin Tattoos

Here is a photo of Olive Ann Oatman – the first white American woman to get a tattoo. Sadly, she was kidnapped by a Native American tribe in 1851 at the age of 14. She and her sister were adopted by the tribe and her parents were killed.

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They were giving chin tattoos during their stay and were eventually rescued. At the time of her release, Oatman garnered quite a bit of fame and many novels and plays were written about her. She died of a heart attack in 1903.

Last Photo of the Challenger Crew

The photo may not look like much, but its context makes it one of the most horrifying photos in history. On January 28, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger took off for a mission in space but sadly exploded 73 seconds into its flight. It instantly killed all seven members aboard the ship and halted NASA programs for three years.

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It has been reported that 17% of Americans were watching the event in real time, including the passengers’ young students. This is the last photograph of the astronauts before they died.  

Andre The Giant

Andre The Giant was exactly that: at 7 feet four inches and 520 pounds, he was one of the most famous wrestlers in the world. Born in France as André René Roussimoff, he fought Hulk Hogan and appeared in The Princess Bride.

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His size was due to a growth hormone deficiency which ultimately caused his death in 1993. It’s nice to see him here hanging out with his friends. He holds the world record for most beers consumed in one sitting: 119 bottles over six hours!

Gone Fishin’

This incredible photo was taken way before photoshop, which means that it is 100$ real. In August 1933, A.L Khan caught this 5,000-pound monster of the seas.

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The fishermen were in New Jersey, USA, when catching this Mantra Ray – nicknamed the ‘devil fish’. To date, it is one of the largest Rays ever recorded. Do you like the look of this large fish? We have more historical photos over the page…

Freedom Fighters

The young woman in this photo is an activist and freedom fighter. Joan Trumpauer Mulholland sacrificed her family, career, and education to participate and contribute to causes in which she believed.

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Over her ‘career’ as an activist, Mulholland took part in many sit-ins and demonstrations for civil rights, desegregation, and more. She was even placed on death row for two months, before ultimately getting released.

A Musical Icon

Here is a rare photo of David Bowie from 1975 at the peak of his indulgence in drugs and alcohol. The same year, he had given a long and confusing speech at the Grammys, which he had blamed on his Cocaine use.

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This particular photo was taken by Steve Schapiro during a 12-hour photoshoot. It was used on the back cover of his album, Station to Station. The world said goodbye to David Bowie in January 2016 and remains missed today.

The 1985 Grammys

The 1980s was weird – and can be summed up in this image of Cyndi Lauper and Hulk Hogan. At the time, Lauper was widely responsible for launching WrestleMania and is considered its Queen.

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Here she is just before winning an award for Best New Artist after the release of Girls Just Want To Have Fun. Hulk Hogan was also one of wrestling’s biggest stars at the time, and his career would see many ups and downs up until today.

Two Titans

A true meeting of the minds. Here we have a rare photo of Bob Dylan and Muhammed Ali backstage at Madison Square Garden in New York. The meeting took place during the Hurricane Benefit concert on Dec. 8, 1975.

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Ali even gave Dylan a gift – a large boxing glove – and the two were reported to get on well. The concert was to raise awareness of Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter – a wrongly imprisoned boxer who spent more than 20 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

Bill Gates Riding His Bike

Before becoming the world’s richest man and fundamentally changing the world as we know it, Bill Gates was apparently a bike enthusiast. Here he is enjoying some outdoor time in the 1960s – before he would start Microsoft and change the world.

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He may look like just another nerdy kid in your neighborhood, but he has since gone on to give hundreds of millions of his dollars away. Today, he is a member and founder of The Giving Pledge – where he has promised to give at least half of his fortune away to charitable causes.

I Pity The Fool Who Doesn’t Know This Star

Mr. T was the owner of the most popular catchphrase of the 1980s. His stint as B.A Baracus in The A-Team captured kids’ imaginations for its run between 1983 and 1987.

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Amazingly, the show never included his famous catchphrase. Here he is in character, with $300,000 worth of jewelry that he would wear each day! Mr. T was discovered by Sylvester Stallone in 1980 after he appeared on the NBC hit America’s Toughest Bouncer.

Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Shoes

Michael J. Fox is clearly in amazement at the marvels of the future in this backstage photo. The Back To The Future series is one of the most beloved and iconic film franchises from the 1980s.

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This photo was taken in 1989 during the production of its sequel when they travel to 2015 and Marty McFly sees the famous Nike shoes. In 2011, Nike made a real-life pair of the boots and sold them – raising money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s disease research.

Hippo Carriage

Before we had electric cars, and before we had horses, some people traveled by hippo and carriage. Ok, well maybe not most of us. But this gentleman certainly saw the appeal in choosing this unconventional method.

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According to some very important science conducted, these hippos could take people six miles for every gallon of fruit and veggies. Although this is unconfirmed and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Madness At Mardi Gras

In 1938’s Mardi Gras in New Orleans, men and women departed from the feeling of the Depression to take part in America’s largest party. Here, we can see some of the men who took their costumes to the next level.

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It’s important to consider the context in this photo: during one of America’s darkest days, people still came together to laugh, cheer, and sing. The photo looks like it could have been taken today.

Protesting Sobriety

During America’s prohibition era of 1920-1933, alcohol was completely banned in the USA. It was legal until the 18th amendment, so you can only imagine how tough it was for the literally millions of people who liked having a beer at the end of the day.

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The protests started immediately but continued all the way through until 1932 – when this photo was taken. The 21st amendment reversed the decision and people could once again manufacture, transport, and drink alcohol.

Barrel Of Laughs

Alcohol: the cause of – and solution to – all of life’s problems! Homer Simpson had some wisdom when it came to those words, and if only these men had heard them before they burnt this entire pyramid to the ground.

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This photo shows America during the American era of prohibition and demonstrates all the barrels of liquor that were confiscated before getting destroyed. Ouch.

The Cuban Missile Crisis

This could have been the leading moments before a WWIII. It was perhaps one of the biggest moments in John F. Kennedy’s short time as President of the United States.

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The photo was taken in 1962 and shows then-president Kennedy and future president Lyndon B. Johnson sit through a briefing on some of the most tense moments in the 20th century. Thankfully, the crisis was averted.

Smokin’ Hot

This incredible photo shows just how much scarier real life can be than the movies. The massive smoke monster is the pyroclastic flow, made from hot gas and rock, that entered the earth when Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991.

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The driver is rushing to get out of the way of the treacherous smoke storm which would suffocate anything that gets in its way. It’s a good thing we managed to get this snap before making a run for it.

The Devil Is In The Data

Man, who doesn’t miss the 1990s? Here, we can see Microsoft founder Bill Gates go through some extraordinary measures to demonstrate the power of a CD-ROM. Harnessed way into the air, he is sitting on to of stacks of paper.

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Of course, today most devices aren’t made to accommodate a CD-ROM drive, which just goes to show how quickly times change. Now, everything is in the cloud – which Gates can almost touch from this height.

A Civil Reunion

This photo dates all the way back to 1913 during the Gettysburg Reunion. Amazingly, the men in this photograph were members of the American Civil War between 1861-1865. Here are veterans shaking hands with one another.

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In such a bloody and gruesome time in American history, it’s amazing we have access to actual photographs of the men who fought for our freedoms. Overall, there were more than 50,000 veterans in attendance – making it the largest convention in the country’s history.

Baby On Board

This photograph depicts some of the Vietnamese babies who quickly became orphans in the Vietnam War. After losing both parents, they were brought back to the US and put up for adoption.

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The US government called it ‘Operation Babylift’ and redistributed these little ones to countries including the US, Australia, France, and Canada. This flight took place on April 12, 1975.

Ric Flair and His Coors

This WWE legend is rumored to have slept with 10,000 women and drink five cocktails a day for 20 years. Frequently, he would wash down his vices with 10 beers – something we can see him buying here.

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In the 1970s, the ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair was one of the most famous and enviable wrestlers out there. His alcohol addiction caught up with him and he was placed in a medically-induced coma to tackle kidney failure. He survived to ‘woo’ another day.

Miss Elizabeth with her ‘Macho Man’

The first (official) couple in professional wrestling was Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage and Miss Elizabeth. They got married in 1991 at the SummerSlam. The event was one of the biggest for the wrestling community, even declaring it “The Match Made in Heaven”.

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Miss Elizabeth was known as the “First Lady of Wrestling” and they enjoyed a successful career together in the 1980s and 1990s. Sadly, she died in May 2003 after a drug overdose.

Flying High

Anyone who remembers the 1960s will know it was every girl’s dream to become a flight attendant. Back then, it was considered a glamorous way to see the world. Air travel wasn’t as common as it is today, so it was a great opportunity to see the world.

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Here, we can see these fresh-faced, energetic, and excited group of girls get ready for their first flight. In the early days, flight attendants were expected to retire at the age of 32. How times have changed.

The Hindenburg Disaster

It is one of the most famous images of man’s folly – the need to go higher, further, faster. This image of the Hindenburg disaster is from 1937 when 36 out of 97 people who were on board died.

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Thankfully, it only contained half of its capacity, which means that hundreds of lives were spared. Still, this is considered one of the worst accidents in the 20th century, and amazingly it was all caught on camera.

Semi-Dressed Demi

Before her days as the star of Ghost, Demi Moore was a model with Elite Modeling Agency. Originally from Roswell, New Mexico, Demi Moore moved to Los Angeles when she was 15 to become an actress.

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She famously married Bruce Willis and Ashton Kutcher and played the villain in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. Weirdly, she had lied on her paperwork and appeared naked on the cover of Oui when she was only 16 years old. Here she is at the start of her career. Keep reading to find out about the REAL Charlie’s Angels…

The Original Charlie’s Angels

These three didn’t go around solving crimes as much as they went around admiring a cult leader and psychopath. They were part of the Manson family – a cult led by Charles Manson. He started the hippie cult in 1967 and they lived in a California desert together.

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The group committed murders, most notably of Sharon Tate, and others. This is apparently due to Manson’s rejection from the music industry. Amazingly, he managed to attract hundreds of women and run this ‘family’ for years.

Checking The Uniform

In another throwback to the golden age of flight attendants, we can see this Swedish stewardess, Brigitta Lindman, preparing to fly with SAS Airline. Judging by the length of the dress, we imagine she got the job because of her personality.

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Nowadays, it is probably illegal to make sure women dress in skirts shorter than most belts. Still, we can’t help but marvel at how times were so different back then.

A Tearful Reunion

This amazing photograph captures the moment that Lt. Col Robert Stirm was reunited with his family after six years as a prisoner of war. The photo is from 1973 in the peak of the Vietnam war, and it’s the first time his family is seeing him again.

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His exchange was part of ‘Operation Homecoming’, where a prisoner was swapped between the US and Vietnamese governments. It is called ‘Burst of Joy’ and won many awards at the time.

Guarding The Guards

Guards are supposed to protect us – but who protects them? Here, we can see this poor soldier overheating during a ceremony in 1970. It was during the Color Parade in front of the Queen that he fainted.

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Unfortunately, the other guards couldn’t break and help him, so he was left to rest on the floor. Was it overheating or nerves? We will never know. What we do know is that it definitely left an impression!

A Mason Victim

This is a photo of Sharon Tate, the woman murdered by The Manson Family, with her hairstylist Jay Sebring. At the time, she was married to Roman Polanski who she had met on the set of The Fearless Vampire Killers.

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This is the last known photo of the two of them before they were tragically murdered by the Manson family in 1969. Controversary would continue to follow Polanski: he is currently on the run from the US law following the rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

Hendrix Taking A Break

Jimi Hendrix is one of the most famous guitarists, left-handed people, and left-handed guitarists in the world. After serving in the Army in the early 1960s, Jimi Hendrix followed his dream and started The Jimi Hendrix Experience – a band that would make history.

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Amazingly, the band toured with The Monkees on their first American tour, and fans absolutely hated them at first. The mostly young audience hated the unique sound and the band was forced to leave after six shows. Regardless, here he is having fun on stage.

Christie Brinkley in the 1980s

Christie Brinkley made history when she appeared on three consecutive covers of Sports Illustrated in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Her flowing hair and wide smile turned heads around the country ultimately earning the title of one of the most beautiful women of all time.

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She’s been married four times, notably to Billy Joel, and they share a daughter. Today, she is worth $250 million and is a successful businesswoman. This is a photo from her peak as a model and superstar.

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