This article was originally published on HistoricTalk
Learning about the past was fun for some history buffs, but those school lessons could be a dread for the rest of us. Just seeing a history textbook was enough to put us to sleep! And thanks to these eye-catching photos, we're resenting the curriculum all over again. Why? Because it turns out class didn't have to be so dull, and these snapshots giving a peek into our world's wild past prove that. So get ready to see historic moments as you've never seen them before.
Mr. Rogers and Officer Clemmons Defy Segregation Laws
When you think of Mr. Rogers, you likely either think back to memories of his long-running children's show or the movie made about him starring Tom Hanks. However, this photo is from a pretty special episode in which Mr. Rogers brought out a guest named Officer Clemmons, and the two shared a dip in a pool. That might sound fairly normal now, but remember that segregation was still a thing in 1969 United States of America.
And one of the flashpoints around desegregation was public swimming pools. So, this was really just a protest, and it showed children that the two were the same despite skin color.
Robin Williams Rocking a Denver Broncos' Cheerleading Outfit In 1979
Not many people know this, but Robin Williams was actually the first male cheerleader for the Denver Broncos. It was a position he briefly held, but he donned the uniform for a game in 1979. He went as Mork from the TV series Mork and Mindy, which was pretty popular at the time. This photo shows him at the game, which the Broncos ended up winning against the New England Patriots.
As you probably know, Williams ended up passing away before his time, but he was never afraid to wear unconventional outfits in a bid to get a laugh or two.
A Guardsman Faints in London During a 1966 Ceremony
This photo, taken in 1966, shows a member of the Queen's Guard after he passed out during a ceremony. The guardsmen are known for their strict compliance with their rules. These include things like performing the movements involved in the changing of the guard with extreme precision and yelling at anyone who tries to get in their way. With that in mind, the rest of the guards continued on with the ceremony as if nothing had happened after their fellow guard fainted.
Strangely enough, this has happened multiple times in recent years. People have attributed this to soaring temperatures and the costumes the guards wear simply being too hot and heavy.
After 57 Years, North and South Korean Family Members Briefly Reunite
The Korean War was a traumatizing experience for many, but we often don't think of it in terms of the families who were separated and still are to this day. This photo really puts that aspect of the conflict into perspective. It shows two family members who were allowed to meet briefly and then forced to depart for their homes. As you can see, it looks like it'd been a while since they last saw one another - 57 years, to be exact.
The saddest part is that this was probably the only time they were allowed to visit each other, with hostilities still ongoing today and no sign of relief in the near future.
Native American Olympian Wears Mismatched Shoes After His Were Stolen
Taken in 1912, this photo shows Native American Jim Thorpe at the Olympics after having one of his shoes stolen. Thorpe found a pair that didn't match in the trash and wore them on his way to winning two gold medals in track and field. He was also the first Native American to win gold for the U.S.Thorpe was actually so dominant that he set decathlon records that stood until 1970. Even the current records only best his by a second.
Unfortunately, the IOC stripped Thorpe of his medals after learning that he briefly played minor league baseball before the Games. Fights are still ongoing to recognize this largely forgotten American icon.
NYC Parents Showing Pride for Their LGBT Kids
We're now kind of used to seeing gay pride parades from around the world. But this photo was taken in 1974 and shows a pride parade long before the federal government endorsed any kind of human rights protection for LGBTQ+ persons. Apart from drawing a pretty sizable crowd, the photo is notable for the parents pictured marching through the streets of New York City. Even today, many parents aren't supportive of their children in the same way as the parents pictured here.
It's worth noting that similar parades were held around the country during the same year as this one. The New York Times reported that the march stretched for around eight blocks and that people began stepping off the sidewalk and joining marchers.
A Monumental 25-Year Marriage
Kris Scharoun-Deforge met Paul at a dance in 1988, and five years later, the two were married. And they stayed married for 25 years until Paul passed away shortly after their 25th anniversary. The two had Down Syndrome, but Paul still managed to live to the age of 56, which was not common for people with Down Syndrome back then. Kris even appeared on the Today show once to talk about the two's journey together and tell the world her life story.
And judging from these two pictures, they seemed to have lived a long and wonderful life together after getting married all the way back then. This one is a tear-jerker if there ever was one.
Heath Ledger Shortly Before He Passed
Heath Ledger was a truly iconic actor even before his role as the Joker, in which he passed away shortly after. The young Australian was just 28 when he overdosed on medication and was found in his apartment. He was also arguably at the height of his career, so his death in 2008 came as a shock to many. This rare photo shows the actor while he was still wearing makeup from The Dark Knight.
It's a great portrait because the dark tones seem to capture Ledger perfectly. It is also well documented that the actor was suffering from insomnia, which got worse when they started filming his last movie.
Bernie Sanders Arrested While Protesting Segregation
You might have seen the meme when he was in contention to run for president, but you've probably never seen the original, rare photo of Bernie Sanders being arrested in 1963. Sanders was actually protesting segregation at the time in Chicago and ended up being fined around $25. We bet people who saw the photo back then likely would never have guessed that this young man would one day run for president.
Considering all of the showmanship that goes on in politics today, it's nice to see an old photo of some real, on-the-ground action.
A Holocaust Survivor and the Soldier Who Freed Her
These two photos were taken decades apart, but they show a woman who was interned by the Nazis during World War II and the soldier who rescued her. She was at Auschwitz, one of the most notorious and brutal camps, when a Scottish commando unit managed to rescue a number of survivors from the camp in 1944. It would be another year until the Red Army was able to completely liberate the camp.
The second photo shows the two on their 70th anniversary. They probably never suspected that they'd spend the rest of their lives together when they first met, but it ended up being a really heartwarming story under otherwise terrible circumstances.
Mary Ann Bevan, the Winner of the "Ugliest Woman" Contest
Things were really different back in the day, and this photo is a great example of that. The woman pictured here was named Mary Ann Bevan, and she won the title of "Ugliest Woman" in 1914. After her husband passed away years before these photos, she started suffering from a very rare disease that enlarged her cheekbones. To support her children, she began working at sideshows on Coney Island and with the Ringling Brothers Circus.
She passed away in 1933, but not before she ensured that her children were taken care of by working a humiliating job. Her story is really one of selflessness during a time when women were left to fend for themselves if their husbands passed away.
Patrick Swayze at Home Dressed in Drag
Patrick Swayze was one of the leading male actors of his time when he decided to take a gamble and star in a very different kind of movie. The actor, who had to lock himself and his wife away inside a secluded compound to avoid being mobbed by women, played a drag queen in 1995's To Wong Foo. This was also a time in which men, especially leading men, were expected to play macho roles.
During an interview, the actor said that he was tired of caring about what other people thought of him. This might explain why he chose such an unconventional role, but it also had the benefit of showing that he wasn't just another action star.
Women In 1970s Afghanistan
These photos show women in 1970s Afghanistan, back before the country became an authoritative one run by extremists. It looks totally different from what most of us picture Afghanistan to be like. Unfortunately, the country is largely back on track to reinstate forms of oppression that were present after these photos were taken. But, it is worth remembering that there was a time when Afghanistan was very different from how it is today.
And these rare photos give us a look at just that. Before this point, Afghanistan had suffered a couple of coups and a transition from a monarchy to a (sort of) republic.
Princess Diana Breaks the Royal Rules at a School Event
You've probably heard that Princess Diana was a bit of a rule-breaker when she was still around, but you've probably never seen this photo. It shows her taking part in her son William's sports day at school. Royals were forbidden from taking part in activities like this, so when it happened, it was kind of a big deal. Unfortunately, she didn't win the race, but it looks like she had fun.
It's also kind of cool to see one of the most famous people in the world at the time take part in a normal activity most people are familiar with.
What Job Hunting Looked Like During the Great Depression
It can be hard to imagine the amount of abject poverty and lack of jobs that accompanied the Great Depression. The closest thing that we've had since was the Great Recession, and even that paled in comparison. This photo, taken in the 1930s, shows a man wearing a sign that lists all of his qualifications. Despite speaking three different languages, being a veteran, knowing three different trades, and having children, he still couldn't find work.
What's really scary is just how similar the sign reads to something you might see today. We hope he was eventually able to find a job and support his family, but those were some really tough times.
Shortly Before the Islamic Revolution Transformed Iran
This photo, taken a few months before Iran's Islamic Revolution towards the end of 1978, shows beachgoers in Tehran. It almost looks as if it's showing a completely different country. Today, women must cover up when going outdoors, and it's kind of crazy to see them in more revealing bathing suits in this photo. One is even playing guitar to the far left of the frame. It looks like those were some good times.
It might be hard to believe, but there are also other photos out there showing similar scenes from around the Middle East before other countries had their own conservative movements.
Grease 1978 Vs. 2019
Pretty much everyone has seen this classic scene from the movie Grease. However, not everyone has seen the time when the actors were reunited and wore similar outfits to the ones they were in the hit movie. And despite the two photos being taken around 40 years apart, the actors really don't look like they've aged more than a couple of years. If you saw the movie when it originally came out, then try not to think about that year gap too hard.
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta received a pretty warm welcome when they got back together to wear their iconic costumes. The original jacket had been auctioned off only a couple of months before for charity.
Robin Williams Early in His Career
In another rare photo of Robin Williams, we can see the young actor before he hit peak fame. Williams actually said before his death that he struggled with giving up cigarettes and was hooked for quite a while. The actor and comedian died in 2014 after suffering from Lewy Body Dementia. However, his death still surprised the world, which had lost one of its greatest comedians and one of the all-time best to lend his skills to drama.
This particular photo of Williams was taken in 1977 while he was wearing his University of Moscow t-shirt. The actor was posing as his character, "Joey Stalin," his take on Joseph Stalin.
Lady Norman on Her Electric Scooter in 1917
This photo from 1917 shows Lady Norman riding around on a scooter long before they became common around cities today. Despite being from nobility, Norman was heavily involved with the women's suffrage movement of the early 20th century. She was also seen using a scooter to get about the city quite often, which might have been just another way of advocating for women's independence.
The first thing that strikes you about this photo is just how clear it appears despite being over 100 years old. Norman's clothing and style are also quite striking.
Flying Pan Am in the Late 1960s
If no other photo on this list makes you nostalgic for the past, take a look at this shot of a Pan Am 747 flight in the late 1960s. There's so much legroom in this photo! Not only that, but the entire cabin just looks extremely spacious in general. To get this kind of space, you'd have to pay at least $1,000 over economy today, which is pretty sad.
This truly was the golden age of air travel. We think more people need to see this photo to be able to understand what exactly they're missing out on.
Where 'The Simpsons' Magic Happened, 1992
When The Simpsons started there simply wasn't any other cartoon on television quite like it. This is a photo of the show's writing room in 1992. It looks pretty laid back in comparison to some of the expensive production facilities used today, and it's not hard to tell where the show got its creativity from. It just looks like a room full of friends hanging out and not really like these guys are creating an entirely new genre of television.
The vintage posters on the wall are also a nice touch. The T.V. show only premiered around five years before this photo was taken, so this is still very much in the early days.
A Skateboarder in New York City's Central Park, 1960s
This photo was taken in New York City's Central Park in the 1960s, during skateboarding's infancy. During this time, the sport was mostly a West Coast activity in the U.S. However, this guy looks like he knows what he's doing while he zooms past parkgoers. It's also kind of crazy to see how interested the bystanders are. It's almost as if they've never seen such a thing before.
The photographer who took this photo apparently just handed out some skateboards to random people at the park. He must've gotten lucky in finding probably one of the only people in the city who could actually use one.
A Birthday in Iran, 1973
It might be hard to imagine now, but Iran used to be a pretty liberal place when it came to social norms. Women were allowed to wear pretty much whatever they wanted, as this woman is in this photo taken in 1974, and religion didn't play as nearly a large role in lawmaking as it does today. Of course, the revolution happened in response to the corruption of the shah, and everything took a turn for the more conservative.
However, photos of women dressed in Western-style clothing like this were common before the revolution. This woman was photographed celebrating her birthday at her home in Tehran, probably surrounded by guests while she cut the cake.
Once Forbidden Marriages
These two fell in love at a time when interracial marriages were more than frowned upon in some places and straight-up illegal in others, including the United States. "When I told my father I was going to marry Jake, he said, 'If you marry that man, you will never set foot in this house again,'" the woman pictured below recalled. And she soon found out that he wasn't the only one against it.
But they ultimately married nonetheless and, as can be seen from these snapshots, grew old and happy together.
The (now-Demolished) Cincinnati Library
Everything about this old photo is great. It shows Cincinnati's once cavernous library before the building was demolished. It looks absolutely huge on the inside, and just the idea of being surrounded by this many old books is pretty awesome. Unfortunately, this place is gone for good, so this is one of the only looks at the inside of the historical building remaining. The man in the photo is dwarfed by the stacks of books in the photo.
The tall, metal columns are also very industrial, and the sunlight coming through the window makes us wonder what it would have been like to walk through this old library. It's a shame it's gone now.
Polish Resistance Fighters - Then and Now
This side-by-side comparison of Polish Resistance Fighters back when they were active versus later in life is really striking. It's kind of weird seeing a younger version of someone sitting right next to them as if they were in the actual photo, but we're glad someone put this together. The younger version of the people pictured here look like persons you might come across today while still looking similar to their older selves.
Not only does this put what people looked like back then into perspective, but it puts aging and the changes that happen to your body in perspective as well.
A Young Ben Stiller With His Dad, Jerry Stiller
If you didn't know that Ben Stiller's father is actually Jerry Stiller, then now you know. This photo shows the two taking a trip to go and see a play in 1978. We wonder if this was the start of the younger Stiller's love of acting. Either way, it's a fascinating look at the famous duo before Ben became famous in his own right. The style definitely looks 1970s-era as well.
However, the younger Stiller certainly has changed a lot since this photo was taken. You might be hard-pressed to even recognize him if he weren't standing next to his father.
Behind The Scenes Of The Titanic
The Titanic is one of the most memorable films to ever be released, and that's in no small part thanks to the chemistry between Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet. The two shine in the film, and these rare looks behind the scenes show that it wasn't just on-screen chemistry. The two genuinely look like they are having a good time together, and this is exactly what she would go on to tell Rolling Stones in a later interview.
She said that the two were like "goofy" kids on set and that they'd confide in each other throughout the shoot. That really is kind of cool when thinking back on the film. However, we might never look at the scene where she's dangling from the ship the same ever again.
L. A. Women in the Early 60s
This photo kind of shows the city's halfway point - before Los Angeles was as developed as it is today, but when it was already a site of glamour and style. It shows women going shopping in the city in the early 1960s. It was originally taken in black and white but was later colorized, and that's probably the most striking thing about the image. The clothing the women are wearing could easily be worn today and not look out of place. Fashion really is cyclical.
Besides the clothing, the whole vibe still screams Los Angeles, and it's kind of crazy how the city still resembles its and Hollywood's so-called golden age. The only things that look out of place are the cars.
Los Angeles - 100 Years in the Making
It's kind of crazy how some cities just seem to explode overnight, and Los Angeles is one such example. The first photo was taken in 1901, and it only shows a few houses and what might be a general store of some kind. Flash forward 100 years later to 2001, and the entire area has just completely changed. There are skyscrapers, residential buildings, and offices all packed tightly together.
The area actually looked quite nice in 1901, and we bet anyone living there today wishes the city could go back to early-20th century traffic levels, but that's unlikely to happen anytime soon.
A Divorce Court in 1948
We don't often think of how divorces worked before, you know, equal rights were enforced in the U.S. However, this photo from a divorce court in 1948 gives you a look at a rare moment inside the courthouse. We aren't sure what this guy did to warrant getting a divorce, but the look on the woman's face says that she probably didn't accept his apology. Considering how hard it was to actually get a divorce back then, it was probably something pretty bad.
You can almost feel the tension in the room, even though the photo is black and white. We're also wondering what the photographer was doing to be able to snap this photo at the perfect moment in time.
The 'Friends' Cast Before They Were Famous
You might know this cast of characters before we even mention some of their names. Yes, they all starred in the hit sitcom Friends during the 1990s. The photos pictured here are of them while they were still in high school, and they really didn't change all that much from this point to their time on the show. Some still look the same today, despite more than 20 years passing since then.
David Schwimmer, who played Ross on the show, definitely changed his hair since this photo was taken, but he and the others still largely look the same, only smaller.
A Llama in 1957 New York City
This rare photo from a Life story about famous animals in New York is called A Llama in Times Square. The photo was taken in 1957, but it just seems so out of place because you're not likely to spot a llama in Times Square even today. Linda the Llama was on her way back from the studio when this was taken, according to Magnum Photos. The series also covered a number of other highly-paid animals.
We love seeing these quirky images from the past. Photos like these make us wish that Life was still around and printing.
Departing at Penn Station to Go Fight in WWII
This rare photo shows a soldier saying goodbye to a wife or girlfriend at Penn Station in 1944. This was towards the end of World War II, and neither of these two had any idea if they'd ever see the other again. Today, the station is only a fraction of its former size, but it has certainly witnessed some historical moments. We couldn't imagine what the world must've felt like with another world war raging back then.
Thankfully, we don't have to. We also have memorable photos like this to remind us what these people must've felt like and help us better understand this time in history.
The 60s, But in Rome
As wild as they say the 1960s were in the U.S., if we were given a chance, we might opt to spend some time in Italy after looking at these photos. There's literally a guy taking a photo from the passenger seat of a car while the car is up on two wheels. What was going on in Rome during this time period? Whatever it was, it needs to come back.
Everything about these shots is great. The guy dressed up and riding a skateboard looks like Hugh Jackman, and the couple riding the moped has better style than just about anyone riding the same thing today.
Early 1900s New York City
Speaking of old photos of cities. This shot is an image of New York City from the early 1900s. The first thing that strikes you are how out of place the people look when compared to the buildings, but that's probably just because the buildings are still around while the style has changed quite a bit since then. Most of the people are pretty dressed up, but you can see one man in overalls on the left side of the frame.
It's also kind of striking how large the city looks, even 100 years ago. Life looks just as fast and busy back then as it is today.
San Francisco in 1964
This photo of San Francisco in 1964 is a bit mind-boggling. The city is known for its steep inclines, but this photo just takes it to a whole other level. After this photo was taken, people actually began comparing it to scenes from the movie, Inception, in which cityscapes actually bend and twist. However, this photo is very much the real deal, and it shows a pretty famous street in the city.
You can still ride a trolley down the street today, and while you still walk it, we don't advise it unless you're used to steep treks. You also probably shouldn't drive a manual up this street.
The Twin Towers in 1979
We often take for granted the individual buildings that make up a city's skyline, but this photo from 1970s New York shows what the city looked like before the Twin Towers fell. The towers are domineering and huge compared to the surrounding buildings. There is also quite a bit of smog obscuring the city. This goes to show how lax pollution rules were back then, but the smog does add a ghostly feel to the whole photo.
Today, the city looks much different, and not just because the towers are no longer there but because everything else is also built up and pretty tall in comparison to the two towers.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire in 1989
Okay, so these aren't just any two kids that are pictured bowling here. These two are a young Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. They were both trying to make as child actors in the 1980s in Los Angeles, and it would turn out that they both would. However, we doubt anyone might have guessed just how big the two would be 20 or 30 years after this photo was taken.
Their appearance also hasn't changed much over the years, despite this photo being taken in the 1980s. It's actually kind of hard to imagine that the two are that old.
Brenda Spencer in 1979
This rare photo shows Brenda Spencer being escorted by police. She was arrested in 1979 after firing at children and adults in the schoolyard across the street from her home. She injured eight kids and killed two adults as they were trying to shield the children. She was later sentenced to life in prison and remained there to this day. Though shootings are unfortunately common in the U.S. today, school shootings were fairly rare before the 1970s.
While Spencer was still hiding out in her house after the shooting, a reporter had managed to find her number and ask her why she did it. She replied, "I Just don't like Mondays." There was later a song written about the line.