We'd never seen most of these snapshots before, but after learning about the moments they memorialized, it's hard to believe they weren't in our textbooks growing up. From jaw-dropping sporting achievements to world-changing scientific discoveries, these images are just as valuable as the iconic photographs many of us have been familiar with since high school history class. So be prepared to crack a smile and maybe even shed some tears as we shine a new light on history.
16-Year-Old Slovenian Fighter Wounded in Combat During WWII
Here’s the brave face of Albina Mali-Hočevar. She was a Yugoslavian fighter who joined the People’s Liberation Movement at the young age of 16 to fight WWII fascists. She was wounded twice a year later, and an exploding mine hurt her again just three days after her 18th birthday. After that, she fought and worked as a nurse until the war ended. Her bravery was rewarded with the Partisan Memorial in 1946.
The Order of the People’s Hero was awarded to her in 1952 in the category of Women National Heroes. At the time, it was the highest award in Yugoslavia.
He Pushed His Competitor to the Finish Line and Helped Him Get First Place
Pictured here is Kenyan runner Abel Mutai in action. He was just a few meters away from crossing the finish line during this race. But unfortunately, the signage confused him, and he stopped running, thinking he had already completed the race! Behind him is Ivan Fernandez, a Spanish runner. Apparently, he shouted at Mutai to continue running, but because Mutai didn't understand Spanish, Fernandez had to push him over the finish line physically!
Thanks to Fernandez's kindness, Mutai was still able to win the race despite his mishap! In a world filled with so much doom and gloom, this image couldn't help but warm our hearts.
Armenian Swimmer Rescued 46 People From Sinking Trolleybus
Pictured here is Shavarsh Karapetyan. For those that don't know (we didn't know until now), he's a retired Armenian swimmer. In the 70s, he had just finished a 26-kilometer run when he overheard a trolleybus lose control. It began to sink in a nearby sewage-strewn reservoir. He immediately dived in and kicked in the back window. Of the 90+ passengers, he rescued 46, 20 of which lived to tell the tale.
As a result of the ordeal, he contracted pneumonia and sepsis. Although he recovered and survived to this day, the severe impairment to his lungs sadly thwarted his swimming career.
She Defied the "No Women" Rule and Ran the Boston Marathon
Here’s a smiling Bobbi Gibb, having just completed the Boston Marathon in 1966. You might be thinking, “so what?” - but not only was she the first woman to run the famous marathon, but she ran it at a time when women weren’t permitted to do so. Bobbi Gibb ran without a number, having been refused permission to run by the American Athletics Union, which prohibited women from running more than 1.5 miles.
Gibb hid in bushes at the race's start, joining runners once they had begun and finished the race in three hours, 21 minutes, and 40 seconds, ahead of two-thirds of the male competitors.
This Boy Fell Into a Zoo Enclosure and the Gorilla Took Care of Him
You would be forgiven for thinking this was a photoshopped image. But, no, your eyes don't deceive you! This snap was taken back in 1996 and depicted Binti Jua, an eight-year-old female Western Lowland gorilla. Although gorillas are typically deemed dangerous creatures, when a three-year-old boy fell into her enclosure, Bint Jua looked after the child! Shockingly, the child had managed to climb and fall 7.3 meters into the gorilla's habitat!
Instead of tearing the defenseless child limb from limb, she dutifully picked him up and took him to the enclosure's entrance, handing him to the zoo attendants. How incredible and beautiful is that?!
Street Dogs Protected and Fed This Abandoned Baby
We love that the three street dogs in this picture seem to be smiling for the camera. This snapshot, taken back in 1996, shows a newborn baby girl who was abandoned in a trash can close to Kolkata, India. These three friendly hounds came across the baby and took care of her for around two days. The four-legged friends even tried to feed the newborn.
Thankfully, someone contacted the authorities, who then came to rescue the infant. But she only remained alive until that time, thanks to her furry, loyal pals.
Native American Olympian Gets Shoes Stolen Right Before His Race
Pictured here is athlete Jim Thorpe back in 1912. He was Native American, and sadly someone stole his running shoes the morning he was due to participate in his Olympic track and field events. Instead of letting this foul play deter him, he rummaged through the trash and found a mismatched pair of shoes, which he's seen wearing below. This did not stop him from winning two Olympic gold medals that same day.
He was the first Native American to achieve a gold Olympic medal for the US - what an absolute hero! We think Jim Thorpe deserves way more recognition than he gets.
Albino African American Brothers Stolen to Become Circus Performers
This image records the tragic story of George and Willie Muse from Roanoke, Virginia. Starting at just six and nine years old, they were forced to work for a traveling circus and billed as a freak show called "The Sheep Headed Men" and "The White Ecuadorian Cannibals Eko and Iko." Accounts vary regarding whether they were kidnapped or contracted to the circus by someone they thought they trusted. But what we do know is that the boys weren't paid or allowed to go to school.
They were finally reunited with their mother in 1927 when the circus returned to their hometown. Apparently, she bravely faced down the circus owners and police to get her sons back and subsequently kickstarted legal proceedings against the circus.
She Escaped Slavery and Became a Nurse in the Civil War
Pictured here is Lucy Higgs Nichols, born in 1836. She was born into slavery in Tennessee. When the American Civil War broke out, she escaped, finding her way to the 23rd Indiana Infantry Regiment, where she worked as a nurse until the war ended. Although she applied for a pension, her pension was denied because the War Department had no record of her. But other regiment veterans protested, and her pension was ultimately granted.
This image shows Nichols, known as “Aunt Lucy,” with Indiana regiment veterans at a reunion in 1898. She died in 1915 and lay in a New Albany, Indiana cemetery.
Margaret Hamilton And Her Coding Got Humans on the Moon
Here stands mathematician and NASA software engineer Margaret Hamilton, who devised the concept of today’s computer software. She is also the woman who took man to the moon and back. Before NASA, she worked for the US air force, detecting enemy aircraft. Her computing code is credited with creating the onboard flight software on Apollo 11, the first American spacecraft that landed man on the moon on July 20, 1969.
Thought to be the first software engineer, Hamilton was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2016 and was one of a few NASA women to be immortalized as a Lego figurine a year later.
Allied Forces Liberated a Train of Jewish Prisoners
Taken in 1945 by Major Clarence Benjamin of the 743rd Tank Battalion, this image perfectly encapsulates the feeling of sheer relief felt by Jewish prisoners upon their rescue by Allied Forces. A small US task force came across a long chain of stationary rail carriages in Farseben, Germany, transporting 2,500 starving and beaten concentration camp prisoners deeper into German territory. The SS troops guarding them had disappeared into the night.
The troops organized food from nearby German farmers and located places for the freed prisoners to stay.
A Friendly Arrest, 1970s
No one quite knows who took this image or who its subjects are, but there's tons of speculation and memes about it. What's clear is there's a smiling guy alongside a stern-looking Police Officer who's holding a big bunch of special homegrown plants. This is thought to have been taken in the 1970s, which explains why the guy on the left doesn't look too bothered that he's been caught out. Everything was chill in the 70s, man.
Then again, maybe he’s just smiling thanks to his homegrown stuff. Judging by the size of that plant, he definitely has green fingers!
Then and Now: Members of the WWII Polish Resistance
The Warsaw Uprising of 1944 began on August 1, 1944, and lasted 63 days, with many thousands killed by the Nazis. The Germans destroyed the Polish capital city, with the Soviet army waiting in the wings on the other side of the Wisla river. This image shows the faces of four members of the Polish Army (Armia Krajowska), side-by-side with pictures taken of them 75 years later for the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising.
18,000 Polish soldiers and 200,000 Polish civilians sadly lost their lives during the historic battle these heroes fought in.
Wilt Chamberlain, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Andre the Giant, 1983
Here's Arnie doing his best to stand tall on the 1983 set of Conan the Destroyer. He is pictured standing between NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain and WWE star Andre the Giant. You must remember when looking at this image that Schwarzenegger may look tiny, but he certainly isn't. He's actually over six feet tall! But he looks small next to Wilt Chamberlain's and Andre the Giant's 7-foot statures.
Sadly, Arnie is the only one of this happy trio who is still alive. Wilt died in 1999, while Andre passed away in 1993.
Cockpit Mayhem in 1990 When a Window Fell Off Mid-Flight
It's 1990, and British Airways Flight 5390 is in the air when flight attendant Nigel Ogden enters the cockpit. He witnesses an improperly installed window fall out, causing rapid decompression, and one of the pilots gets sucked out of the window. So what does the flight attendant do? Ogden holds onto the struggling pilot's legs as the co-pilot fights to land the plane at Southampton Airport. They managed to land 30 minutes later. Unsurprisingly, both Ogden and the pilot contracted frostbite.
The pilot Timothy Lancaster also suffered arm and hand fractures, while Ogden dislocated his shoulder and damaged an eye. The flight crew saved dozens of lives thanks to their quick response.
500-Year-Old Remains of a Girl Found Frozen on a Mountain
Here is the 500-year-old body of an Inca girl found in 1999 in the Andes Mountains in Argentina. Named La Doncella, or The Maiden, the image is of a teenage girl who died in what is thought to have been a ritual sacrifice. She and two other children were left on the mountain as offerings to the gods. With her head decorated with a headpiece and wearing a ceremonial tunic, she looks like she's sleeping.
Scientists analyzed her hair, finding she had drunk corn liquor to put her to sleep, and her mouth had fragments of coca leaves to lessen the effects of altitude sickness.
Auschwitz Survivors Freed on the Same Day Reunited After 73 Years
You would be forgiven for not understanding this image straight off the bat. But don't worry; that's what we're here for. These three incredible men are all survivors of the dreadful Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz. Located on a former military base outside the southern Polish town of Oswiecim, the camp is still intact to this day. It serves as a sobering reminder of the horrors committed by the Nazis during World War II.
These three Jewish men were imprisoned in the camp at the same time and liberated on the same day, only to be reunited on the same day 73 years later.
Shirley Slade, One of the First 1,000 Women Trained as Pilots
22-year-old Shirley Slade was one of the first 1,000 women the US Government chose to enter an intensive 7-month training course to become US Air Force pilots in WWII. Pictured here in 1943, Shirley had a reputation for flying the more challenging planes, including the B-26 Marauder and the P-39 Airacobra. As you can see, here she’s pictured taking a cigarette break, wearing her leather flying helmet, goggles, gloves, and leather flying jacket.
The pilots were collectively known as WASPs (Women AirForce Service Pilots), and this image of Shirley Slade ended up on the front cover of Life Magazine in 1943 when Shirley was 23 years old.
1875 Portrait of a Beautiful Woman in the Philippines
Taken by Dutch photographer Francisco Van Camp in 1875, this image is sometimes called "Mestiza De Sangley," an archaic term used in the Spanish Philippines between the 16th and 19th centuries. It literally means a person of mixed Chinese and indigenous ancestry. The beautiful woman in this image is believed to have been a member of a wealthy class and was photographed in Francisco Van Camp's studio in Manilla.
Although the beautiful subject of this extraordinary image remains unknown, we're happy to have this photo at least.
"Too Young to Vote but Not to Die"
This image of an engraved lighter speaks to the complex and painful circumstances surrounding not only the Vietnam War but to America’s long history of young men conscripted to fight but too young to vote. That changed in July 1971 when President Nixon ratified the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, meaning anyone aged 18 finally had the right to vote and put their lives on the line.
More than 3,000,000 people were killed in the 20-year-long conflict, including around 58,000 US military members. It's estimated that more than half of the deceased were Vietnamese civilians.
Young Soldiers Pose Together in the Austrian Snow, 1945
This vintage sepia image of two smiling soldiers lying together in an embrace in the snow was taken in 1945. Snapped in the Austrian Alps, one of the pair kept the photo in a shoebox until the early 1990s when he handed it and the ring he's seen wearing in the picture to a family member, asking the relative to keep them safe. He died just two years later.
The image features in Loving: A Photographic History of Men in Love 1850s-1950s, a book by Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell about male couples between the mid-19th century and mid-20th century.
Mountain Chief Translates Song Into Native American Sign Language, 1916
In 1916 Ethnomusicologist Frances Densmore began a project to preserve Native languages and cultures for the next generations. She was a prolific writer and recorded more than 2,000 wax cylinders of Native recordings. In this image, she is seen playing a song to the Mountain Chief of the Blackfoot nation, who, as you can see, is wearing a native dress. The Mountain Chief interpreted the song for Densmore in Plains Native American Sign language.
Also known as Hand Talk and Plains Sign Talk, in the 1800s, there were more than 110,000 speakers of it. But, according to the Indigenous Language Institute, just 175 speakers remain today.
US Army Soldier Receives Kiss From Liberated French Girl, 1945
Among all the heartbreaking images of the Second World War and other devastating images of war on this list, here’s one to warm our hearts. It was Valentine’s Day in 1945, and the Second World War was almost over. Here we can see US Army Technician Alvin Harley of the 9th Armored Division. He was in Abancourt Oise, Picardy, France. After more than four years of occupation, the country was liberated from the Nazis on August 25, 1944.
Sat on soldier Harley’s knee is a young French girl who looks like she is whispering something in his ear. Unfortunately, we’ll never know what was said, and no further details of this image’s background are known.
The Model Behind the Original Columbia Pictures Image
Columbia Pictures was founded in 1918 by brothers Harry and Jack Cohn, making it one of the oldest movie studios in the world. The first image (on the left) of the torch-bearing lady appeared in 1928 and went through several reinventions over the years. Now, fast forward to 1992, and it was time for a logo refresh by New Orleans graphic artist Michael Deas who digitally repainted the iconic logo.
The model pictured here, Jenny Joseph, took time out in her lunch break to help Deas do the job. Not a bad gig considering it was her one and only modeling job!
Even High School Fashion Was Hip In The 1960s
We love this collection of images taken in the 1960s when flower power was at its height. Where brightly patterned tights, long hair, and wide flares were all the rage, let’s not forget tie-dye, although thankfully, these high school students have clearly chosen to leave that particular trend in their closet. Our eyes are particularly drawn to those crazy-looking optical illusion-style tights, which kind of make our eyes hurt a little!
Overall, the nostalgic vibe of these vintage styles is outstanding, from some of the excellent tailorings of the clothes to the teacher’s big hair. Some of these trends have definitely made a comeback, don’t you think?
World War I Soldiers Playing Around Before Going to Battle
This image was shared on Reddit and other platforms by one poster which describes the soldier on the left who’s goofing around as their grandfather. Reportedly taken in 1914 at the start of the First World War, it’s thought the soldiers are French, and the man on the left holding firmly onto his rifle went to the front to fight and was tragically killed on his first day of combat.
Our soldier may have been hoping for a few last humorous moments. However, the words painted on his military tunic encapsulate his determination. Translated, “qui vive” literally means “on the alert or lookout.”
A Gorgeously Detailed Sculpture From 1880
The mythological figure of Undine was recaptured here by American sculptor Chauncey Bradley Ives in 1880. The work “Undine Rising From The Fountain” depicts Undine, a water spirit who gains human form by marrying. But, when her husband is unfaithful, the laws of the water spirits compel her to kill him for his treacherous betrayal. The sculpture shows Undine shrouded in a white veil as she rises from the water.
Housed at the Yale University Art Gallery, the marble work creates the illusion of Undine rising from the water like a fountain as she reaches out of the water towards the heavens.
Working Conditions for Miners in the 1900s
Thought to have been taken in the 1900s, it shows miners in Belgium crammed into a lift after a long day's work at the coal face. Although many references describe the miners as Belgian, they're actually Italian miners who were forcibly sent to Belgium before and after the Second World War. An agreement between Belgium and Italy saw around 50,000 miners transferred to Belgian mines at the rate of 2,000 a week.
This image shows the punishing conditions under which they worked for a minimum five-year term, living in former concentration camps with poor sanitation, wooden and corrugated metal shacks, and dirty linen.
The Science Behind Surfing, 1970s Style
This fabulous image of this Math teacher was first posted up by his son on the r/OldSchoolCool subreddit eight years ago. Since then, it’s made it onto several platforms, including here. We’re looking at a Math teacher who taught at Dana Hills High School in Southern California. Here he is explaining the science of surfing. The image was such a hit that the school yearbook had him recreate the picture just before he retired!
It just goes to show that Math doesn’t have to be boring if you have a teacher who understands they need to inspire their pupils if they want them to learn.
1930s Woman Undergoing "Smile Therapy"
No, this image really isn't a joke. Sadly, accounts of what this image actually depicts vary. Some believe it was taken at a so-called "Smile Clinic" in Budapest, Hungary. Here women were sent for readjustment therapy to help treat depression. They were also sent here when it was believed they weren't caring for their husbands. But others think it's actually a 1937 photo of a woman wearing a smiling mask after a "Smile Club" was set up in Hungary.
The club was established in an attempt to combat a suicide epidemic in Hungary in the 1930s. During this time there were more than 52,000 suicides between 1930 and 1938.
Meet Corporal Jackie, a World War I South African Army Baboon
Jackie, the baboon, belonged to Albert Marr, who was enlisted into the South African Army in 1915. When he joined the 3rd South African Infantry Regiment, he asked if he could take his pet baboon with him. Surprisingly, the army agreed, and, alongside all the other soldiers, Jackie was given a uniform and learned to salute and stand sentry. His heightened sense of smell and sound meant he could sense attacks quickly.
Jackie was injured in battle, losing a leg. After the war, he was awarded a Medal of Valor and returned to South Africa with Albert. He sadly died in 1921 in a house fire.
Young Boy Pictured Shortly After Stealing and Crashing His Dad's Car
Here’s an image of a really young-looking, smartly dressed boy taking a drag on a lit cigarette. Reportedly snapped in the 1970s, it’s since appeared on Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, and, of course, here. The story goes that this young kid allegedly stole his dad’s car, subsequently crashing it. It is hard to know what to do when you know you are going to be in big trouble with your parents.
If this story is real, this boy lit a cigarette (judging by this image, it doesn’t look like his first!) and calmly awaited the punishment that was sure to follow.
Michelangelo’s Moses, Made in 1515, Has More Detail Than You Can Imagine
Michelangelo’s Moses sits in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome, Italy. Created between 1513 and 1515, the attention to detail in this exquisite marble creation is extraordinary. You’ll see we’ve zoned in on one particular area of the forearm. It’s a tiny muscle only visible when you lift your pinky finger, as Moses is doing. Check out the muscular detail and definition of Moses’ veiny arms.
The sculpture stands almost eight feet tall. You can see Moses carrying a tablet under his arm. It’s the stone upon which the Ten Commandments are inscribed, Moses having received them from God on Mount Sinai.
Jewish German Soldiers Light the Hanukkah Candles in 1916
According to a fascinating page dedicated to World War, this is an image taken in 1916 of Jewish soldiers from the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires. As you can see, the men are celebrating Hanukkah, also known as The Festival of Lights. Around 100,000 German Jewish men served in the German Army during World War I, with 12,000 killed in battle. Around 300,000 Austro-Hungarian Jewish military personnel also served.
You can see the Menorah, a candelabra with seven or nine lights used in Jewish worship, jointly held by a German and Austro-Hungarian soldier as they pose in the snow.
Backward Spy Shoes Worn By World War II Allies to Trick the Nazis
What first looks like an optical illusion is, in fact, a clever invention: the backward shoes. Invented to confuse the enemy, they were designed so that if the wearer’s trail were being followed, the person tracking would believe the spy was heading in the opposite direction from the one they were really heading in. It’s suggested that the shoes were based on those worn by bootleggers during the Prohibition years of the 1930s.
It’s possible the shoes may have contained a knife in the heel. We don’t know if this clever invention was ever morphed into something more sophisticated, but it’s a clever trick.
Immigrant Children on Ellis Island, 1908
This photo depicts a group of immigrant children on Ellis Island in the New York Harbor. It's estimated that between 1892 and 1954, over 12 million people passed through the famous site as they hoped to enter the United States of America. Nowadays, it's believed that nearly half of Americans have late family members who entered the country through Ellis Island. How incredible! This photo captured just some of the many children (and a few adults) who were part of this chapter in history.
These people were on their way to a hopefully better life in the US.
How Students Kept Themselves From Falling Asleep in 1905
Accounts vary as to when this image was taken. Some say it was during the early 1900s; others claim it was as late as 1948. What most can agree upon, however, is that it is a South Indian Tamil student at the University of Madras, one of India’s most prestigious universities. He’s studying, and his hair is tied to the wall. The reason? To prevent him from falling asleep as he studies.
We’ve heard of all sorts of ways students pull all-nighters, but as for nailing your hair to the wall when you’re studying late into the night? That’s a first for us.
Andre The Giant Takes a Plane Ride
This is the same Andre The Giant pictured elsewhere in this listicle with Arnie and Wilt Chamberlain when filming Conan the Destroyer. Here is the WWE legend sitting at 7 feet 4” on a plane traveling home from Japan. Taken around 1980, it’s easy to get a sense of his sheer size when looking at this image. Andre’s stature means he has to take up two seats and go for the extra legroom option.
Many didn’t realize his size was due to gigantism. During one of his professional trips to Japan, Andre was diagnosed with acromegaly, a rare condition that produces too much growth hormone.
Breaker Boys From a Pennsylvania Coal Mine, 1900s
Ever heard of the "breaker boys" who worked the coal mines back in the day? Their position entailed exactly what the name suggests: these minors' primary role was to separate pieces of coal by hand. Once the coal was mined and coming down the factory line, these kids' job was to break it into similar-sized pieces. Additionally, they were in charge of removing any irrelevant rocks, clay, and soil from the coal.
So how old exactly were these boys? Usually between 8 to 12 years old.
The 4,000-Year-Old Skeletal Remains From An Earthquake in China
In 2015, archaeologists digging in Lajia, China, discovered the 4,000-year-old remains of a mother hugging and shielding what was assumed to be her child from what researchers believe was a massive earthquake in 2000 BC. This caused flooding from the Yellow River and widescale destruction. Today, the skeletons are now on display at the Lajia Ruins Museum in Qinghai Province, Northwest China, alongside other remains discovered at the same site.
The site was dubbed "The Asian Pompeii," and although the image subsequently gained a lot of media attention, DNA later revealed the adult and child weren't mother and son, as first assumed.