Even if you’re a history buff that is well-versed on historical events, you’ve probably never come across or seen any of these rare photos. They’re from different periods of U.S. history and honestly, every American should see them to truly appreciate our nation.
Looking at old photos is like stepping back in time, so let’s travel through history together with these 32 incredible pictures!
1. John W. Young jumps with joy after becoming the ninth person to walk on the Moon as commander of the Apollo 16 mission in 1972. Charles M. Duke Jr. took this picture. The LM Orion is on the left. April 21, 1972.
2. U.S. President John F. Kennedy receives the annual White House Thanksgiving turkey from the National Turkey Federation, just three days before his assassination in Dallas.
3. Ham the Chimp — who became the first higher primate in space — is shown wearing a spacesuit while being fitted into the couch of the Mercury-Redstone 2 capsule prior to its test flight, which was conducted on January 31, 1961.
4. Here U.S. and Soviet tanks are having a standoff at Checkpoint Charlie during the Berlin Crisis of 1961.
5. Here Elvis Presley is being sworn into the army in 1958.
6. The Statue of Liberty under construction in Paris in 1884.
7. The cameramen who shot and recorded the lion roar for the MGM logo in 1928.
8. John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and staffers tour Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex, September 1962.
9. A slave dealer in Alexandria, Virginia, 1861-65.
In this picture, taken between 1861 and 1865, this building was used as a jail for Confederate prisoners. However, in the early 19th century, it was used as a slave pen. Human beings were locked inside after being shipped from Louisiana. Some 3,750 people passed through here on their way to the plantations of the Deep South. It continued to be used for the slave trade up until the Civil War.
10. The last ever picture of the Hindenburg as it crashes in New Jersey on May 6, 1937.
11. This is when The Stars and Stripes, the official U.S. Army magazine, reported Hitler’s death.
12. A picture of the young Charlie Chaplin, ca. 1918.
13. Newsroom of the New York Times newspaper in 1942. Reporters and rewrite men can be seen working on stories for the next day’s paper. The rewrite man in the background is receiving a story on the phone from a reporter in the field.
14. Cheyenne chieftains Little Coyote and Morning Star, 1873.
The Native American cultures of North America had rich, complex cultures. Much of their history has been sadly lost thanks to the imperialism and racism that spread across the country in the 19th century.
15. Slave cells, Alexandria, Virginia, ca. 1865.
Cells and pens like these were where enslaved people were kept while they waited to be auctioned off to a new owner and a new life of hardship.
16. In 1943, these were the first women Marines to be sworn in in the New York area.
17. This is the Lincoln assassination co-conspirator Lewis Payne being held in federal custody prior to his execution in 1865. As Lincoln was being killed at Ford’s Theatre, Payne, an Alabama native and Confederate veteran, entered the bedroom of Secretary of State William H. Seward and began to attack him with a large knife.
The photo has been colorized from the original.
18. A utility worker giving mouth-to-mouth to a coworker after he contacted a high voltage wire in 1967.
19. Titanic lifeboats reach the RMS Carpathia days after the famous ship sinks.
20. The Olympic (left) next to the more famous Titanic, probably the only photograph of the two sister ships together. March 6, 1912.
21. This is the only known photo of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address on March 4, 1865. John Wilkes Booth can actually be seen in the center of the top row of the top platform.
22. Christopher Robin Milne with the real-life Winnie the Pooh in 1928. He based his books on this very teddy bear.
23. The only photograph in existence of infamous outlaw Billy the Kid. The photo is from 1879.
24. This is Al Capone’s cell at Eastern State Penitentiary. To this very day, it’s still kept in the same condition.
25. To promote liberty bonds, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. holds up Charlie Chaplin on Wall Street in 1918.
26. Here Annette Kellerman promotes a woman’s right to wear a fitted one-piece bathing suit in 1907. She was later arrested for indecency.
27. Painters at work high above New York City, painting the Brooklyn Bridge on December 3, 1915.
28. Massive crowds gather as Swami Satchidananda gives the opening speech at Woodstock in 1969.
29. Mount Rushmore in 1905, before construction began on the famous sculptures of the four presidents.
30. This was the scene at Wall Street on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.
Thousands gather at the Subtreasury Building on Wall Street to mark the end of the World War I.
31. This is a photo of a Navajo medicine man, ca. 1904.
This man’s items were integral to his medicinal and ritual practices.
32. This is Hannah Stilley, born 1746, photographed in 1840. She may be the earliest born person ever captured on camera.
It’s incredible to think that these historic photo opportunities happened in the blink of an eye, but someone was lucky enough to capture them on film. They’re touching, enlightening, and heartbreaking all at once.