50 Iconic and Rare Historical Photographs

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We at HistoryColored have decided to curate 50 interesting, rare and iconic photos from history. There are many reasons why a photograph may be featured on this list. Some of the reasons include: it was the first time something was ever captured on camera, it shows a famous figure from history, the image depicts an important historical event, it is a “rare” photo that does not get shared as much as it should, or it is an “iconic” historical photo. It may not fall under any of these categories but can still be featured in this list for a different reason.

These photographs are in no particular order. They have been curated and added to the list over a long period of time, so no decision was taken on how they should be ordered. Be sure to take the time to check out every historical photograph featured on this list!

As well as this list, be sure to check out the other photos featured on HistoryColored!

1. The First Photograph Ever Taken, 1826 or 1827

The first photograph in history, the view from a window at Le Gras in 1826 or 1827.
The oldest surviving photograph to exist. It was taken by pioneer photographer, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. The scene depicts a view from a window in Nicéphore Niépce’s estate known as Le Gras in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes, Bourgogne, France in 1826 or 1827. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

2. General William Tecumseh Sherman, circa 1865

Side profile photograph of General William Tecumseh Sherman in his Union Army military uniform in c. 1865
Side profile of Union Army Major General, and the Commanding General of the US Army, William Tecumseh Sherman, in his Union Army military uniform in circa 1865. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

3. Dali Atomicus, 1948

Salvador Dali suspended in mid air along with other objects within the iconic photograph Dali Atomicus taken in 1948
The photographic artwork by Philippe Halsman called “Dali Atomicus” showing three cats water, an easel, a chair, and Salvador Dalí all frozen in mid-air, 1948. This was the 28th attempt at taking this photograph. Credit: Library of Congress // Public Domain

4. The Solvay Conference on Quantum Mechanics, 1927

Key attendees of the 1927 Solvay conference photographed sitting down and in suits. The names are Auguste Piccard, Émile Henriot, Paul Ehrenfest, Édouard Herzen, Théophile de Donder, Erwin Schrödinger, Jules-Émile Verschaffelt, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, Ralph Howard Fowler, Léon Brillouin,
Peter Debye, Martin Knudsen, William Lawrence Bragg, Hendrik Anthony Kramers, Paul Dirac, Arthur Compton, Louis de Broglie, Max Born, Niels Bohr,
Irving Langmuir, Max Planck, Marie Skłodowska Curie, Hendrik Lorentz, Albert Einstein, Paul Langevin, Charles Eugène Guye, Charles Thomson Rees Wilson, Owen Willans Richardson
The 1927 Solvay Conference on Quantum Mechanics at the Institut International de Physique Solvay in Brussels, Belgium. This image features many of the greatest scientists in modern history. Some of those that you may recognize are: Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, and Auguste Piccard. See the full list of names here. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

5. King George V & Tsar Nicholas II Together, 1913

Nicholas II of Russia photographed alongside similar looking and cousin King George V of the United Kingdom, while wearing military uniform.
First cousins and royals Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (left) & King George V of the United Kingdom (right) photographed together wearing military uniforms in Berlin, Germany, 1913. Credit: Library of Congress // Public Domain

6. The Manhattan Bridge Under Construction, 1909

Photographs of the Manhattan Bridge under construction. You can see the layout of the bridge but there is still a lot to build. March 23 1909.
The construction of the Manhattan Bridge on the East River in New York City. This photograph was taken on March 23, 1909. The bridge finished construction in 1909 and first opened up on the 31st of December 1909. Credit: Library of Congress // Public Domain

7. Soviet Prisoner of War, 1940

An injured Prisoner of War from the Soviet Union with a bandage around his bloody head, with clothing wrapped around his body. He looks cold as he is near the Arctic Circle where temperatures can get to -43 degrees Celsius
An injured Soviet Prisoner of War (POW) dressed in new clothes near the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Finland, during the Winter War on the 6th of January 1940. Credit: Military Museum of Finland // CC BY 4.0

8. Dr. Wernher von Braun with 5 F-1 Engines

Aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun standing next to five F-1 rocket engines in 1969.
Dr. Wernher von Braun, an aerospace engineer that was a leading figure in Nazi German rocket technology, and then United States rocket technology, photographed standing in front of five F-1 rocket engines in circa 1969. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domains

9. Thích Quảng Đức self-immolation, 1963

Photograph of Thích Quảng Đức's self-immolation. You can see him on fire on a street in saigon in June 1963
Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk, performing self-immolation (setting himself on fire) in Saigon on June 11th, 1963, in protest to the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese Roman Catholic Christian government. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

10. Joseph Stalin, Franklin D Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill at the Tehran Conference, 1943

Josef Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill sitting for a photograph at the Tehran Conference in November 1943.
Joseph Stalin (left), Franklin D. Roosevelt (center), and Winston Churchill (right) on the veranda of the Soviet Legation in Teheran, during the Conference, in November 1943. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

11. Rosa Parks being indicted, 1956

Rosa Parks being fingerprinted by Police officer Lieutenant D. H. Lackey in February 1956.
Rosa Parks being fingerprinted by Lieutenant D. H. Lackey as one of the people indicted as leaders of the Montgomery bus boycott on February 22, 1956. She was one of 73 people rounded up by deputies that day after a grand jury charged 113 African Americans for organizing the boycott. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

12. British Army Veterans of the Crimean War, 1856

Three British army soldier in full military uniform in a photo studio along with their weapons and medals. 1856
Soldiers of the Coldstream Guards, (left to right) Joseph Numa, John Potter, and James Deal photographed in circa 1856. The Crimean War was fought between October 1853 and February 1856.  Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

13. The First Photograph featuring a person, 1838

Boulevard du Temple in Paris, France in 1838. It was taken by Louis Daguerre and shows a person having his boots polished near the bottom left of the photograph. It is believed to be the earliest image to show a living person.
A photograph of the Boulevard du Temple in Paris, France in 1838. It was taken by Louis Daguerre and shows a person having his boots polished near the bottom left of the photograph. It is believed to be the earliest image to show a living person. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

14. Theodore Roosevelt jumping over a fence on horseback, c. 1902

President Theodore Roosevelt jumping over a fence on a horse
26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, jumping over a fence while on horseback in circa 1902. Credit: Library of Congress // Public Domain

15. The Eiffel Tower Under Construction, 1888

The metal Eiffel tower during its construction in Paris in 1888
The famous French landmark, the Eiffel Tower, photographed on November 23rd, 1888 during its construction. The construction lasted from January 1887 until March 1889. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

16. Prisoners liberated at Buchenwald concentration camp, 1945

Prisoners that were held in Buchenwald concentration camp suffering from malnutrition photographed in April 1945
Prisoners that were held in Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar in Germany, photographed after they were liberated by the US Troops of the 80th Division. This photograph was taken on the 16th of April 1945, 5 days after liberation. Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel can be seen on the second row, seventh from left. Credit: National Archives // Public Domain

17. Last photograph of Vladimir Lenin, 1923

Vladimir Lenin wearing a hat and sitting in a wheelchair surrounded by greenery. His wife and doctor is standing near him. May 1923
The final photograph taken of Vladimir Lenin. He is seen with his sister Anna Ilyinichna Yelizarova-Ulyanova and his doctor A. M. Kozhevnikov in Gorki in May 1923. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domains

18. USS Bunker Hill after it was hit by two Kamikazes, 1945

Scene on the USS Bunker hill on fire after it was hit by Kamikazes in May 1945.
A photograph on the USS Bunker Hill aircraft carrier after it was hit by two Kamikazes within 30 seconds on the 11th of May 1945 off of Kyushu, Japan. 372 died and 264 were wounded. Credit: National Archives // Public Domain

19. Emmeline Pankhurst arrested outside Buckingham Palace, 1914

Emmeline Pankhurst being carried away from Buckingham Palace by a police officer in May 1914.
Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst being carried away from Buckingham Palace in London, England after being arrested while trying to present a petition to King George V of the United Kingdom, 21st May 1914. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

20. Neil Armstrong after walking on the moon, 1969

Neil Armstrong smiling at the camera after the completion of the first Lunar EVA in July 1969
Neil Armstrong photographed by Buzz Aldrin shortly after completing the first-ever moonwalk on July 20th, 1969. Credit: NASA // Public Domain

21. The Valley of the Shadow of Death, 1855

Famous photograph the valley of the shadow of death. It shows a dirt road in a valley in the Crimea, with cannonballs scattered across the road.
The famous photograph “The valley of the shadow of death” taken on 23rd April 1855 by Roger Fenton during the Crimean War. This war was the first that was documented with photographs. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

22. Herbert Hoover oath of office, 1929

Herbert Hoover at his inauguration doing the oath of office which is being administered by Chief Justice Taft, who was also a US President. They are surrounded by a crowd. 1929.
Former President, then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Howard Taft, administering the oath of office to 31st US President Herbert Hoover on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on March 4, 1929. Credit: Library of Congress // Public Domain

23. Japanese Samurai in Egypt, 1864

A group of Japanese samurai in traditional clothing infront of the Sphinx and near the pyramids in Giza, Egypt in 1864
A group of Japanese Samurai photographed in front of the Sphinx in Giza, Egypt during a visit to the country, 1864. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

24. Head of the Statue of Liberty on display in France, 1878

The head of the Statue of Liberty on display in a park in Paris, France at the World Fair in 1878.
The completed head of the Statue of Liberty on display at the third Paris World Fair (Exposition Universelle) in Paris, France in 1878. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

25. The most decorated dog of World War I, circa 1920

historical photograph Sergeant Stubby, the most decorated war dog of the First World War, photographed in military uniform between 1919 and 1921.
Sergeant Stubby, the most decorated dog of World War I, photographed wearing his military uniform and badges in circa 1920. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

26. Martin Luther King Jr. at the March on Washington, 1963

Historical photograph of Martin Luther King jr. in a suit during the March on Washington in august 1963.
Martin Luther King Jr. photographed among a crowd during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28th, 1963. At this event, MLK delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. National Archives // Public Domain

27. Lunch atop a Skyscraper, 1932

The famous historical photograph, Lunch atop a skyscraper showing workers sitting on a steel beam above the skyline of Manhattan in 1932.
One of the most famous photos in history, “Lunch atop a Skyscraper” was taken on the 20th of September 1932 and shows workers enjoying lunch while sitting on a steel beam in Manhattan, New York City during the construction of the Rockefeller Center. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

28. Grotto in an iceberg, 1911

Photograph of two men standing in icy grotto within an iceberg during the Terra Nova expedition with the ship in the background in 1911.
Geologist Thomas Griffith Taylor and Meteorologist Charles Wright photographed on the 5 January 1911 at the entrance of a grotto in the side of an iceberg with the Terra Nova ship in the background. This was a part of the British Antarctic Expedition led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott which lasted from 1910-1913. Credit: National Library of New Zealand // Public Domain

29. Photograph of a Bedouin warrior, 1900

A historical photo of a bedouin warror in 1900. he is holding a weapon and wearing traditional clothing
A Bedouin warrior, a nomadic Arab people who have historically inhabited the desert regions in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, and the Levant, photographed in Jerusalem in 1900. Credit: Library of Congress // Public Domain

30. 9 Monarchs at King Edward VII’s Funeral, 1910

Photograph of 9 monarchs together in military uniform in a fancy room in Windsor Castle in May 1910. Standing, from left to right: Haakon VII of Norway, Ferdinand of Bulgaria, Manuel II of Portugal, Wilhelm II of Germany, George I of Greece, and Albert I of Belgium. Seated, from left to right: Alfonso XIII of Spain, George V of the United Kingdom, and Frederick VIII of Denmark.
The most monarchs photographed together in history, they were together at Windsor Castle in England for the funeral of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom on May 20th, 1910. Standing, from left to right: Haakon VII of Norway, Ferdinand of Bulgaria, Manuel II of Portugal, Wilhelm II of Germany, George I of Greece, and Albert I of Belgium. Seated, from left to right: Alfonso XIII of Spain, George V of the United Kingdom, and Frederick VIII of Denmark. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

31. Citizens of Antwerp, Belgium on Armistice Day, 1918

Photograph of thousands of people crowd the street in Antwerp to celebrate armistice in 1918
Citizens of Antwerp, Belgium coming out on the streets, a few hours after the announcement of the Armistice, to celebrate the end of the First World War. This historical photograph was taken on 11 November 1918. Credit: Library of Congress // Public Domain

32. Train wreck at Montparnasse Station, 1895

Train that has smashed through the side of the station and crashing into the ground.
The train wreck at Montparnasse Station in Paris, France on or near the 22nd October 1895. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

33. The first time in history the moon was photographed, 1840

The first photograph in history taken of the moon in 1840.
The first detailed photograph of the moon. Taken by John W. Draper from the rooftop observatory at New York University on the 26th March 1840. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

34. First Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, 1861

A photograph of the first inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. Thousands of people are crowded around the capitol building in Washington, D.C. that is under construction in 1861.
The first inauguration of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, taking place at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C on March 4th, 1861. Another feature of this image is that you can see that the dome of the Capitol building is under construction. The second dome was built between 1855 and 1866. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

35. Troops of the Eight Nations Alliance, 1900

The troops of the Eight Nations Alliance posing for a photograph in China, 1900. Left to right: Britain, United States, Australia (British Empire colony at this time), India (British Empire colony at this time), German Empire, France, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Japan.
The troops of the Eight Nations Alliance posing for a photograph in China, 1900. Left to right: Britain, United States, Australia (British Empire colony at this time), India (British Empire colony at this time), German Empire, France, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Japan. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

36. Gutzon Borglum’s model of Mt. Rushmore

1936 photograph of Gutzon Borglum's model for the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This also shows their bodies
A circa 1936 photograph of Gutzon Borglum’s model for the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This shows that the original plan was for the heads to also have bodies and hands. This came to an end when Gutzon died in 1941, and then the project ran out of money after his son took over. Credit: Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

37. Harriet Tubman, 1911

Harriet Tubman at the age of 89 in 1911 sitting on a chair.
Harriet Tubman later in life, at the age of 89, photographed sitting on a chair at her home in Auburn, New York in 1911. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

38. Testing of a bulletproof vest, 1923

A man aiming a gun at another person wearing a bulletproof vest. Smoke from the barrel surrounds them and onlookers watch on. September 1923.
The testing of a bulletproof vest while onlookers watch on in interest in Washington, D.C. on the 13th of September 1923. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

39. Monet in his garden, 1922

Photo of Monet standing on a bridge in his garden while showing a visitor around in 1922
Famous French impressionist painter, Claude Monet, standing on a bridge with a visitor in his garden in Giverny, France in 1922. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

40. Illegal picture taken in the US Supreme Court, 1932

One of only two photos that exist of the US Supreme Court in session, photographer Erich Salomon pretended to have a broken arm, and hid a camera in his cast to take this image. It is illegal for cameras to be in the courtroom while the US Supreme Court is in session. This was taken in 1932 during the Hughes Court.
One of only two photos that exist of the US Supreme Court in session, photographer Erich Salomon pretended to have a broken arm and hid a camera in his cast to take this image. It is illegal for cameras to be in the courtroom while the US Supreme Court is in session. This was taken in 1932 during the Hughes Court.  Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes is in the center of the photo. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

41. Aerial view of Boston, 1860

Photograph of Boston from the air in 1860.
The oldest surviving aerial photo is of Boston in circa 1860. It was taken by photographer James Wallace Black from a hot air balloon 2,000ft in the air. It is believed there was one photo of Paris taken from the air in 1858, but this image no longer exists, making this the oldest aerial photo in history. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

42. The Duke of Wellington, 1844

An elderly Duke of Wellington photographed in 1844
Arthur Wellesley, also known as the Duke of Wellington, photographed at the age of 75 on the 1st May 1844. The Duke of Wellington ended the Napoleonic Wars when he defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. He also served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

43. Updated Map of Europe, 1918

People gathered around a map of Europe to look at the new borders following the end of WW1
The people of Philadelphia, United States, looking at a new map of Europe following the changes as a result of World War I, 1918. This map was also displayed in Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

44. American Revolutionary War Veteran, 1864

Photograph of American Revolutionary War veteran, Lemuel Cook, at the age of 104 wearing formal clothing in 1864.
One of the last surviving veterans of the American Revolutionary War, Lemuel Cook, photographed in 1864. He served in the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons of the Continental Army from the age of 16 in 1775 until his discharge in 1784. Cook was wounded in battle multiple times. He died at the age of 106 on May 20th, 1866. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

45. Cow shoes, 1924

Cow shoes being worn by an American police officer to show the tools that moonshiners use in order to hide their footprints, 1924.
Cow shoes used by moonshiners during the Prohibition Era to hide their footprints, June 18th, 1924. Credit: Library of Congress // Public Domain

46. Last photo of Tsar Nicholas II, 1917

Nicholas II photographed sitting on a tree stump with guards behind him in 1917 it is believed to be his last photo.
Believed to be the final photograph of Nicholas II of Russia. It shows him at Tsarskoye Selo as guards watch on after his abdication. Taken at some point after March in 1917. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

47. The Titanic in the docks of Southampton, 1912

The titanic in the port of Southampton on the 12th April 1912. People can be seen looking at the ship as it prepares to leave.
The RMS Titanic passenger liner in Southampton, England just before it left for its maiden voyage to New York City on April 10th, 1912. The Titanic sank after striking an iceberg in the early hours on the 15th of April in which an estimated 1,500 died of the 2,200 passengers and crew on board. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

48. Henry Johnson, 1918 or 1919

Sergeant William Henry "Black Death" Johnson of the 369th Infantry Regiment (Harlem Hellfighters) wearing his Croix de Guerre medal in circa 1918.
Sergeant William Henry “Black Death” Johnson of the 369th Infantry Regiment (Harlem Hellfighters) wearing his Croix de Guerre medal in circa 1918. In North France, Johnson single-handedly fought off a German raiding party receiving 21 wounds in order to save fellow soldier Private Needham Roberts. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

49. Franklin Roosevelt meets Lyndon Johnson

President Franklin D. Roosevelt shaking hands with a young Lyndon Johnson in 1937.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt shakes hands with a young Lyndon B. Johnson while Gov. James Allred of Texas stands between them both, in Galveston, Texas, on May 12, 1937. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

50. Jack Dempsey, Harry Houdini and Benny Leonard, circa 1920s

Jack Dempsey (left), mock punching Illusionist and stunt man, Harry Houdini (center), while legendary boxer Benny Leonard (right) holds onto Houdini.  Photo was taken in circa 1920s.
Legendary boxer, Jack Dempsey (left), mock punching Illusionist and stunt man, Harry Houdini (center), while legendary boxer Benny Leonard (right) holds onto Houdini. The photograph was taken at a publicity event in circa 1920s. Credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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