15 Rare Photos That You Never Saw In Your History Books

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Remember in school when you would "read" your history book and see the same images year after year? I mean, as amazing as it was, there's only so many times you can look at an image of Apollo 11's trip to the moon. Photos of pivotal moments in history are wide and varying: So why couldn't our history books be the same?

The following photos are ones you've probably never seen in those old, dusty texts before. The range from pivotal historical times to behind-the-scenes looks of classic movie moments. They are all unforgettable in their own way and they all prove what we already know: Humans are fascinating.  

History is a funny thing. It can illuminate the time it was taken as well as reveal where we are as a society presently. These 15 photos really reveal the power of the camera, how much the world has changed, and how much further we have to go. They truly prove the old cliché, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

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1) Crossing The Berlin Wall

This powerful photo shows an East German soldier in 1961 helping a small child cross the Berlin Wall on the day it was completed, even though he could've faced death as a punishment. The child likely got left behind in the chaos of families fleeing out of East Germany. This photo just goes to show the amount of compassion that people can have. With all that's happening in the world today, the image is just as relevant now as it was then. 

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2) MGM Opening Credits

We're looking at the filming of the iconic opening credits from MGM in 1928 that we all know. Yup, back then there was no such thing as CGI. So when they did something, they did it for reals. How long do you think this took to film? You’d think it’d be slightly terrifying sitting that close to a giant roaring lion, but these guys look pretty calm!

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3) 1940s Detroit

While nowadays we often think of Detroit as a worn-down city full of feral dogs and old factories, this photo shows the city in the early 1940s when it was growing on the booming auto industry. It almost looks like a modern metropolis. If you told me this was taken in a citry like Chicago just six months ago, I'd believe you. Come back to us Motor City...we miss you.


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4) The First Gay Pride Parade

This photo was taken during the first Pride parade in Philadelphia in 1972. Society has come a long way since then, huh? Pride parades these days are a much more raucous affair, and we love them for it! Hats off to the guy holding that sign, especially in 1972. We can only hope that his mom was totally understanding and good with it.


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5) Jackie Mitchell Strikes Out Babe Ruth And Lou Gehrig

Jackie Mitchell was supposedly the first and only woman to strike out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig back-to-back. Think about that: Two of the greatest ball players in the history of the game, both whiffed by a woman who was not only not a pro, but considered, "the weaker sex."

The best part is that afterward, Babe Ruth was quoted in saying that women “will never make good in baseball” because “they are too delicate. It would kill them to play ball every day.” Salty much, Babe?


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6) The Quagga

The quagga was a relative of the zebra that went extinct more than a century ago after European settlers in South Africa hunted them all. This is the only known photo of a live quagga in captivity at the London zoo in 1870. Nope, this has not been Photoshopped. We know, your brain can't comprehend that because nowadays everything is faked, but this little guy is/was the real deal.

Luckily, a group of researchers in Cape Town are trying to bring the quagga back!


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7) A 5 MB Hard Drive

This photo shows a PanAm airplane in 1956 transporting a 5 MB hard drive. It’s pretty crazy to think about how far we’ve come in technology since then, considering 5 MB would now fit into a device smaller than the palm of your hand. Here's what's most amazing: At the time, these guys must have been thinking, "Well, this is the height of technology. Nothing will ever get as sophisticated as this. We did it, boys!"


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8) Pre-Taliban Afghanistan

This photo was taken in Afghanistan before the rise of the Taliban, when women were free to dress in Western clothes and travel throughout the country without supervision. Women and men also had equal access to education, including university. Seeing this image knowing what we know now and how much has truly changed in that region makes it all the more staggering. If you told someone this wasn't Afghanistan but a library in Madison, Wisconsin, people would totally believe it. Amazing.


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9) Charlie Chaplin Meets Helen Keller In 1919

This picture really is worth a thousand words on its own. Not to mention, it’s always pretty crazy to see photos of two very famous people from history meeting in photos. Looking at the expression of Mr. Chaplin, you can just tell how enamored he is of Ms. Keller. And looking at the expression of Ms. Keller, you can tell that she's met a lot of celebrities in her time and isn't bowled over easily. You go, girl!


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10) The First Flight

This photo captured the first-ever sustained flight by humankind in 1903. Orville Wright is operating the plane and  his brother, Wilbur Wright, is running alongside it. The flight lasted 12 seconds and glided 120 feet. Imagine the excite the two brothers must have felt. Though it might seem to us like they barely did anything, to them (and to the world at that time), this was a monumental achievement. It's always those first tiny steps, those first little victories, that lead to big changes.


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11) Lewis Payne

This photo is of Lewis Payne, a co-conspirator in the Lincoln assassination who attacked Secretary of State William H. Seward with a knife. Here he resides in federal custody. When you hear these stories in history class, you always image someone so much older, don't you?And as old as this photo is, it's amazing to see how contemporary this young man looks. He looks like a barista at an artisanal coffeehouse who unicycles to his job, makes his own soap, and in his spare time fronts a bluegrass bland called Diggery Doo and the Lambasters. 


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12) Czeslawa Kwoka

This haunting photo shows Czeslawa Kwoka, a 14-year-old Polish prisoner at Auschwitz who was sent there with her mother for living in the future German colony of Zamosc, Poland. The cut on her lip in the photo was from being hit by a guard who chastised her for speaking Polish instead of German (which she couldn’t speak). It's a harrowing image, but you can still see the strength in this young woman's eyes. It's a hard image to look at...but an important one to look at nonetheless.


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13) A Black Solider In The German Imperial Army

Josef Mambo, who was brought to Germany as a child, served in WWI as a sergeant. Most Germans of African descent were not allowed in any combat roles and there were likely fewer than 15 of them. Despite the reasons and outcomes of the first World War, it's good to remember that these men, especially Mambo, were dignified soldiers who gave their lives for a cause they believed in. It's real easy to forget that human aspect when learning about history. 


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14) Chinese-Americans Try To Avoid Persecution

Here we see Helen Chan pinning a button that says “Chinese” on Sun Lum. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Chinese-Americans tried to avoid being lumped in with the persecution of Japanese-Americans who were being sent to internment camps. And as awful as the persecution of Japanese-Americans must have been at this time, think about people like these two who were caught up in the madness based only on the color of their skin. The fact that they had to wear these badges just so they could go about their normal lives is a frightening image that still resonates in today's political climate.

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15) These Were Bras In the 1940s and '50s?

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Ending on a lighter note (and a big HUH?), these two images show a popular style of bra back in the day. Look, we get that style is all subjective and what was considered "sexy" back then may not be now but...come on. Pointed bras? They don't even look natural. They look like two Dixie cups shoved under a shirt. And there is no way that can be comfortable. Then again, what women have to go through these days probably isn't that much better. 

Yup. The more things change...the more they stay the same.

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