You don’t have to drag yourself to the Smithsonian to get an eyeful of mindblowing blasts from the past. Forego the crowds and hard-to-read plaques of a museum, and instead, take a trek through historical photographs. You might just spot a familiar celebrity completely out of their element, a centuries-old preserved animal, or the terrifying final moments of a man’s life.
These pictures will make you stop and marvel, while also teaching you a bit about those now-so-distant moments in time. When you take in these iconic glimpses of history, you’ll be blown away by just how much, and how little, has really changed.
1. The family that kilts together, stays together. The Royal Family’s PR team committed to the theme for this rare picture of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip and their four grandchildren, William, Harry, Peter, and Zara. Luckily for most of us, our embarrassing family portraits aren’t circulated worldwide.
2. Despite the grumpy expression, this face belongs to the world’s most welcoming woman — Lady Liberty. When France gifted the U.S. the statue symbolizing freedom, they had to move it in sections. After all, 225 tons of copper, steel, and gold doesn’t transport easily.
3. One of these faces — the little scowler in the center — shows the reality behind the photo. You’d be grim-faced, too, if your childhood involved shucking oysters for hours on end in unsavory working conditions. These children posed for a picture on their break at the Maggioni Canning Company in Port Royal, South Carolina.
4. “Houston, initially it was a problem, but eventually, we found the right lighting.” Astronaut Buzz Aldrin can brag about being one of the few people to bounce around in space, but he forever holds the title for first space selfie.
5. Barreling down the highway on a massive chopper was just your average Sunday afternoon for wild child Ann-Margaret. The singer and actress also was a major motorcycle enthusiast. Considered the “female Elvis,” we’d like to see the King wrangle a hog in knee-high boots.
6. As the plague swiftly swept through Europe, medical professionals theorized the disease was airborne, hence, the long-beaked masks. Stuffed with pleasant-smelling items, their thinking was to block out the “bad air.” Oh, how far medicine has come.
7. Hard to tell without her trademark shock of platinum locks, but that is Marilyn Monroe in that factory uniform. Prior to becoming an international star, she did her patriotic duties by working hard assembling airplane parts at the Radioplane Munitions Factory.
8. Stella Grassman’s commitment to body art was so outrageous back in the early 1900s that she was relegated to working as a sideshow attraction. She didn’t mind, though. Along with her artist husband, Deafy, they ran their own tattoo shop.
9. This harrowing image was captured by photographer Michio Hoshino in the final moments of his life. Knowing the tragic aftermath following this snapshot makes the image all the more chilling.
10. This fearless girl at the London Zoo in 1925, showed a Komodo dragon, the largest living species of lizard, what’s what by yanking his tail. Given what we know now about the animal’s deadly claws, toxic bite, and general cantankerousness, an image of this sort won’t be recreated.