So around the time that photos started to become a thing, some of the world’s greatest thinkers and most controversial figures were alive and kicking. Here, you’ll get a chance to see even more of history’s most iconic figures that were around when the camera first came about.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche was born in 1844 and died in 1900, but that still left him plenty of time to show off his good side. When he wasn’t in the photo booth, he was a prose poet, a cultural critic, a philologist, and even a composer. Many of his writings were specifically opposed to prejudice and nationalism.
However, his sister Elisabeth edited his works after his death to conform to her ideals of German ultranationalism, making it seem as if Nietzsche would have supported the rise of the Third Reich. He has a vast body of work, with his most famous probably being “Ubermensch” or “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” This picture, complete with a pompadour and gigantic mustache, comes from 1882.
Clara Barton was a hospital nurse and a teacher during the American Civil War that later founded the American Red Cross. Incredibly, Barton was mostly homeschooled by her parents as a child, due in part to her extremely timid character that made it hard for her to socialize at any school.
Later, since nursing school wasn’t an accessible program back then, she was mostly self-taught. Barton became interested in nursing at the young age of ten when she cared for her brother after he had been hurt in an accident. She is also credited for doing incredible work for women’s and civil rights.
Woodrow Wilson left an indelible imprint on American history. A scholar and statesman, Wilson's presidency coincided with a transformative era marked by significant domestic and international challenges. Wilson's administration ushered in progressive reforms, including establishing the Federal Reserve System and implementing antitrust legislation.
On the international ward, Wilson played a pivotal role in World War I and championed the concept of self-determination, advocating for the rights of nations to determine their own destinies. However, Wilson's vision for a new world order faced resistance at home and abroad. Despite mixed success, his presidency remains a pivotal chapter in American history, highlighting the complex interplay between idealism and pragmatic politics.
The Wild West was known for its outlaws and bar brawls. One very well-known outlaw back then was named Jesse James. This notorious American outlaw was not just an outlaw but probably the most sought-after one back then. We can say that Jesse James officially became the worst person ever, and he became an outlaw because he was also a guerrilla fighter, a bank and train robber, and a gang leader.
James was born in Missouri, and together with his brother, they formed the James-Younger Gang. It’s safe to say that these two were inseparable and had a sibling bond like no other. They were accused of committing multiple monstrosities against Union soldiers during the civil war, including their many robberies because they were bushwhacker confederates.
Joyce C. Hall
Joyce C. Hall, the third son of a humble Nebraska couple, faced adversity at a young age when his father's passing compelled him to assume the role of provider. Remarkably resourceful, Hall embarked on a journey of entrepreneurship by selling beauty products door-to-door to sustain his family. While he attended high school, circumstances prevented him from graduating.
In 1905, Hall's enterprising spirit manifested in a brilliant idea: purchasing picture postcards to sell to local store owners. Together with his brothers, Hall pursued this venture until the fateful establishment of their iconic greeting card company, Hallmark. Hall has left an indelible mark on the world of expressions and celebrations from its humble beginnings.
Harriet Tubman's remarkable life began in the clutches of slavery, but her indomitable spirit led her to freedom. A beacon of hope, she embarked on over thirteen daring missions, saving an estimated seventy souls from the chains of enslavement. The clandestine network known as the Underground Railroad made her courageous exploits possible.
When the Civil War erupted, Tubman fearlessly served as an armed scout and spy, aiding the Union Army in its fight for justice. In the twilight of her life, she continued her crusade as an activist, tirelessly advocating for women's rights. Harriet Tubman's legacy shines as a testament to the power of resilience and the unwavering pursuit of freedom and equality.
When you hear the name, Walt Whitman, you know that guy is going to have a big beard. And indeed, photographic evidence of this American poet, essayist, and journalist shows us that he has quite a collection of facial hair. Born in 1819, Whitman is considered one of the most influential poets in American history. He is thought of as the father of free verse, but he also often incorporated transcendentalism and realism into his writings.
He was not without his controversies, however – his seminal collection “Leaves of Grass” was so overtly sensual for the time that some people actually described it as obscene. His famous poem “O Captain! My Captain!” was written after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, whom Whitman admired. We’re unsure when this picture was taken, but it was likely in the 1860s.
Charles Darwin’s life was once considered a failure, even by his father. Darwin preferred observing nature over his medical studies at the University of Edinburgh. He dropped out of medical school in 1827. Darwin gave college another chance, studying theology at Cambridge, but this, too, wasn’t for him. His passion was natural history.
He voyaged as a naturalist aboard the British Royal Navy ship HMS Beagle in 1831 to survey South America's coastline. Darwin spent a lot of time on land collecting samples of plants, animals, rocks, and fossils. Darwin's analysis of his collections led him to wonder how species form and change over time, convincing him of his most famous scientific contribution: natural selection and evolution.
With a haircut you could set your watch by, Coolidge took the presidency after the sudden death of the twenty-ninth president, Warren G. Harding. He was quiet and had dry humor, earning him the nickname “Silent Cal,” and he exemplified a restrained leadership style and promoted pro-business policies.
He could have been the first president to serve three terms (since the first was incomplete), but he said that ten years as president was too long. Honestly, we get it. This job is HARD. Coolidge suffered from depression, including a terrible bout during his presidency, stemming from the death of his son.
While Gustav Klimt started out as a painter of architectural decorations in a conventional style, he quickly developed his own method of doing things, leading to famous paintings such as “The Embrace” and “Adele Bloch-Bauer I.” He was born in 1862 in Austria and died in 1918. His primary subject was the female body, but he often painted other things.
The frank intimacy in his paintings was the talk of the painting town. Some of the work he did was even considered controversial, including those he did for the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna. A worldwide influenza epidemic led to his life's end in 1918. He looks the part of a wild-eyed artist in this photograph, which is from 1914.
The beloved candy bar has an interesting story behind it. Milton Hershey worked as a printer’s apprentice but was fired after dropping his hat into the printing machine. He then went into business, only to fail twice. He was broke by the time he was 26. He did, however, have a dream and went back into the business to establish a caramel candy factory.
The goal was to find a recipe for the perfect milk chocolate that anyone could afford. When he perfected his formula, Hershey sold his candy factory and concentrated on making milk chocolate, which would eventually become the world-famous Hershey’s chocolate.
You may know that Hellen Keller was both blind and deaf, but did you know she was the very first deaf-blind person ever to earn a bachelor of arts degree? It’s true! After a bout of illness, before she even turned two years old, Keller lost both her sight and her hearing but learned to communicate thanks to the help of her teacher and lifelong friend Anne Sullivan.
She worked for the American Foundation for the Blind from 1924 until 1968. She was also a hard-working writer, tackling topics with such a wide range as to encompass both animals and Mahatma Gandhi. She campaigned not only for those with disabilities but also for women’s suffrage, labor rights, and world peace. Despite Keller living until 1968, this picture is from more than a hundred years ago, in 1902.
James A. Garfield
The presidency of James A. Garfield remains shrouded in relative obscurity compared to many other commanders-in-chief. Unlike his counterparts who typically enjoyed four-year terms, Garfield's time in office was cruelly limited to a mere two hundred days. Tragically, in the midst of his presidency, an assassin's bullet found its mark.
Although not instantly fatal, the wound left Garfield bedridden, and his life was ultimately claimed by infections caused by the ineptitude of his attending physicians. While his time as president was tragically brief, James A. Garfield's legacy serves as a reminder of the fleeting nature of power and the weight of presidential responsibility.
Even if you have no interest in poetry, you’re probably aware of at least one of Robert Frost’s poems – you might even still have a bit of it memorized since it’s a common practice in schools. He won four different Pulitzer Prizes for his collections of poetry from 1924 to 1943, but his poem “The Road Not Taken” is undoubtedly his most famous single piece of work.
While many consider it about finding your own path in life, the poem is ironic – the roads are described as equal, even in the amount they have been taken. The poem is about a friend of his who could never decide which path to take on walks, always wondering what he had missed on the other path.
Hannah Stilley Gorby
Sorry, who? Hannah Stilley Gorby? What did she do? Well...we don’t know! Likely she was little more than a homemaker and a farmer. She lived in Delaware. She wasn’t a scientist, a philosopher, or an author. She didn’t paint, and she didn’t marry anybody famous. Maybe she painted, but that’s not why she’s on this list. She’s on this list because, as far as we can tell, she’s the oldest person ever to be photographed while she was alive.
You see, Madam Gorby was born all the way back in 1746, according to our records. She passed away in 1839 at the ripe old age of ninety-four. The photograph was taken in that same year. To put this in perspective, Hannah spent about thirty years of her life living in America before it was even a country.
The Native American man that we see in the photo is named Maiman. He was a Mojave Native and worked as a guide-interpreter in the 19th century, especially during the 1870s in Colorado. Maiman had a regular named Timothy O’Sullivan, who was a photographer. He would help him find some of the best locations for taking beautiful photographs.
Unlike other photographers out there, O'Sullivan didn't like the thought of photographing Native Americans in a studio. Instead, he liked to capture them in a very realistic way. Aside from many nature shots, he also liked taking pictures of many Civil War battlefields. Now, that’s a photographer with a lot of guts!
In certain circles of the internet, this Serbian-American scientist is practically venerated as a saint, but who was he, really? With a supposedly photographic memory, he was able to absorb information from books and other scientists with near-perfect recall, using that information to make some of the most fantastic things the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had ever seen.
He experimented with X-rays, producing an X-ray of his left hand. He demonstrated a radio remote control boat, consulted on the Niagara Falls generator, and created the famous Tesla coil. This picture, taken in 1899, has Tesla sitting next to a magnifying transmitter. The long arcs of electricity were produced for effect by rapidly cycling the power switch and weren’t part of the device’s normal operation.
The person shown in the next photo is a legendary figure from the Wild West — Bass Reeves. This gentleman was born a slave in 1838 in Crawford Country, Arkansas. After the 13th amendment was passed, Reeves became a free man. Interestingly, his time with the Native population landed Reeves his first job as a tour guide of Native territory.
What makes Reeves a legendary figure is that he became the first deputy US marshal of African descent. He quickly rose up in the ranks because of his solid reputation in law enforcement. All in all, he made 3,000 arrests of dangerous criminals.
Wilbur and Orville Wright
The Wright brothers revolutionized aviation. Their efforts symbolize the long, hard, and lonely road to (literally) reaching extraordinary heights. Wilbur and Orville had a clear goal and dream — to build a flying machine that could stay in the air for an extended period.
Sleepless nights and countless prototypes later, the brothers had nothing to show for their efforts apart from crash landings and debris on the sand. Giving up was never an option. They learned from failure to build improved versions of their dream flying machine. In December 1903, Wilbur successfully maneuvered a powered flight for more than 10 seconds. Travel has never been the same.
William H. Taft
William H. Taft, the 27th President of the United States, left an indelible mark on American history. Notably, Taft was the heaviest president, weighing over 300 pounds, and his physical stature often became a subject of public interest. Robust build aside, Taft possessed a keen legal mind and served as a distinguished jurist before assuming the presidency.
Although his presidency faced challenges and he lost his re-election bid, Taft's subsequent appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court showcased his enduring impact on the American legal system, and his multifaceted career continues to be a historical fascination and analysis subject.
Rowland Hussey Macy
Rowland Hussey Macy was an American entrepreneur and founder of Macy's, the leading name in department store chains. Before starting the store, Macy tried seven different retail ventures, all of which failed. Succeeding in business was no mean feat in the 19th century, but Macy’s tenacity and hard work paid off.
He continued looking for innovative ways to make his stores appealing to consumers. He opened a dry goods shop in New York in 1858 and gradually expanded into different neighborhoods. Beautifully illuminated windows, exhibits, and Thanksgiving Day parades — no other store did publicity like Macy’s. The store chain continually exceeds expectations, even today.
Vincent van Gogh
Until 1890 and his death, Vincent van Gogh painted. It seems to be the only thing he really did – any amount of art history will reveal his struggles doing anything else. He famously cut off an ear to prove his love for a woman, though somehow that wasn’t enough to earn her affection. He didn’t find any kind of fame until after his death, though he had succeeded in creating a few pieces of art that were sold and considered worthwhile before that.
He suffered from mental disorders such as delusions and psychotic episodes and couldn’t take care of himself in the slightest, often going without food and drinking heavily. And, yet, there is a picture of him long before he had any kind of fame – he’s a mere eighteen years old in this pic from 1873.
Chief John Smith
Captured in a poignant 1920 photograph, Chief John Smith's weathered countenance reflects a lifetime of wisdom. As the esteemed leader of the Ojibwe tribe in Minnesota, Chief John Smith led a life steeped in legend and renown. The centenarian's visage bore the remarkable and distinctive wrinkles that captivated onlookers, fueling rumors that he had lived to the astonishing age of one hundred and thirty-seven before his passing in 1922.
Although some reports suggest a more modest lifespan, between ninety and one hundred years, Chief Smith's legacy extended beyond mere numbers. Despite being married to eight women, he left no biological heirs, yet his leadership and wisdom continue to reverberate through the annals of Ojibwe history.
Bessie Coleman was going to get into the pilot's plane seat, and nothing would stop her. Not race, not geography, and definitely not other people. When American flying schools didn't allow her to enter due to her skin color, she did the only thing she could.
She taught herself French, moved to France, and earned a flying license from Caudron Brother's School in less than a year. Her inspiration came from the stories of World War I pilots. Not only could she fly with the best of them, but she was also one of THE best. Her specialty was aerial tricks and stunt flying.
Who can forget Wyatt Earp? We are pretty sure the name sounds familiar because we might have all heard it somewhere in the movies. Yes, he is a real person and was a good friend of Doc Holliday. In the old west, he was known as a proficient gambler, but even though he was known for that, he still had a normal day job as a deputy sheriff in Arizona.
Everyone back then had almost the same job, but he was quite different, to say the least. He gained his reputation as a gambler during a gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He killed three cowboys. From that moment on, he was known as a shooter, especially in Tombstone, Arizona. Until his death in 1929, he continuously got into brawls with other cowboys. Woah!
Robert Sengstacke Abbott was the founder of one of the most important papers in United States history in 1905. It was “The Chicago Defender,” and it was a Black newspaper that changed the world. It made Abbott a Black millionaire when such a thing was practically unheard of.
The success of the newspaper was a catalyst for “The Great Migration,” when African-Americans moved from rural areas into urban cities in the millions, with hundreds of thousands settling in Chicago. The newspaper even got snuck into areas where it wasn't allowed, thanks to smugglers known as the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters.
Rutherford B. Hayes
Leading the United States between the years 1877 and 1881, Rutherford B. Hayes's presidency focused on bringing our nation together after the Civil War and making important changes. Hayes worked to tackle corruption in government by pushing for reforms that would ensure fairness in hiring.
He also believed in treating all people equally and fought for the rights of black people. Hayes' presidency marked the end of a period called Reconstruction, which had a big impact on the rights of recently freed slaves. While his time in office wasn't without controversy, his dedication to fairness and unity continues to influence our country's path forward.
Known for her stagecoach robberies, Pearl Heart was an Old West woman with a lot of spunk! She was the gutsy gal that escaped from prison and reached celebrity status during her lifetime. Crime in her scale wasn't unheard of back in the Wild West, however, when a woman executed it, the rules of the game changed.
Although she was a famous robber, she wasn’t always involved in serious crimes. In fact, she was well-educated and came from a wealthy family. After suffering physical abuse from her husband, she left him several times and eventually escaped from his clutches to move to Phoenix. Now, that’s a brave woman right there!
Born in 1832, Mary Fields was the very first African-American to work for the postal service in the United States, and she didn't start doing it until she was sixty-three years old. This was in 1895, thirty years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
A woman joining the mail service at the age of sixty-three would be incredible even now, but this was even better. She was the fastest applicant to hitch a team of six horses. She gained the nickname “Stagecoach” because she never ever missed a day. Fields would strap on a pair of snowshoes even on snowy days and deliver the mail herself.
Pierce, our fourteenth president, was a brigadier general in the Army during the Mexican-American War and rose to the top spot in the country in 1853, serving until 1857. He did a lot to expand America, like signing the Gadsden Purchase, which acquired land from Mexico (which gave the United States about thirty thousand square miles in present-day Arizona and New Mexico).
He also tried to purchase Cuba from Spain. His administration was marked by controversies such as the Kansas-Nebraska Act. While Pierce's presidency faced criticism, his commitment to compromise and unity in a divided nation remains a topic of historical analysis.
Smalls was born a slave during the American Civil War in South Carolina. He freed himself, his crewmate, and their families by commandeering a Confederate transport ship, the CSS Planter, an armed Confederate military transport, by dressing as the captain. He then sailed toward the Union lines, waving a white sheet as a flag.
His example and persuasion are what helped convince President Abraham Lincoln to accept African-American soldiers into the Union Army, something that wasn't heard of before. After the war, Smalls went on to serve in the United States House of Representatives, representing his state, South Carolina, and the black people.
Thomas Edison was one of the greatest inventors in history — the brain behind the incandescent light bulb, the motion picture camera, and the phonograph, among many others. Modern life as we know it today would cease to exist without Edison. But, as a child, Edison’s teachers never thought he would amount to anything since his mind often wandered in class.
Although they didn't know it then, Edison marched to the beat of his drum. When asked about the thousands of hits and misses he experienced while trying to invent the light bulb, Edison famously quipped that he had just discovered "10,000 ways that will not work."
Few abolitionist leaders are as well-known as Frederick Douglass, and it's thanks to a few different things. His time as a slave in the early nineteenth century let him know everything he needed about the barbaric practice. He published his autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,” in 1845 (when he was only twenty-seven), creating an instant stir.
He broke down the terrible myth of the happy slave and rose to prominence in the abolitionist movement. Douglass was smart, thoughtful, and memorable when he spoke. He was an advisor to president Lincoln and even to Lincoln's successor Andrew Johnson.
Nicknamed “Sisi” or “Sissi,” Elisabeth Amalie was made the Empress of Austria and the Queen of Hungary upon her marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1854. Obsessed with maintaining both her youthful figure and her beauty, Elisabeth developed a restrictive diet and wore elaborate, tight-waisted corsets to keep her waist as small as possible.
Unfortunately, the death of Elisabeth and the Emperor’s only son in 1889 was a blow from which Sisi would never fully recover. She had a palace built on a Greek island and would commonly travel there as a refuge. She died in 1898 after being stabbed by an Italian anarchist. After forty-four years, she had the longest tenure of an Austrian empress. This picture is from approximately 1864.
Joe Black Fox
This is one of the lesser-known figures of the Old West and one of the most preserved ones on this list. With his deeply serene gaze, we look into the eyes of Joe Black Fox, a Sioux chief. The word ‘Sioux’ might seem challenging to say, but it is much easier than its full name, Nadouessioux.
This impressive Native American tribe comprised two divisions in the Dakota Territory, Montana, Nebraska, and Minnesota. Little is known of this Sioux chief, but we know that he joined Buffalo Bill’s traveling shows. Like others, Joe Black Fox would tour the USA and Europe.
There is no more famous picture of Karl Marx than this one. This German-born philosopher is best known for his 1848 pamphlet “The Communist Manifesto” and his four-volume work “Das Kapital.” He’s also well-known as the father of socialism, the most brutal and bloody idea that anybody has ever had.
He’s also famous for having said that, eventually, Capitalism would fall away to be replaced with Socialism, an idea that has been clearly disproven. Marx was born in 1818, making him one of the oldest on this list, and he passed away in 1883 before he could see his biggest ideas struck down by the weight of history. This picture may be one of the oldest we have to show you, coming from 1875.
John D. Rockefeller
John D. Rockefeller, the legendary founder of the Standard Oil Company, stands as one of the world's earliest billionaires. Despite an unconventional academic path, Rockefeller's thirst for knowledge led him to pursue business studies at Folsom College after dropping out of high school merely two months before graduation. His entrepreneurial prowess enabled him to amass immense wealth, but the government eventually disbanded his oil empire.
Remarkably, despite his controversial business practices, Rockefeller demonstrated a remarkable commitment to philanthropy, channeling his fortunes toward educational and healthcare initiatives. Perhaps ironically, he emphasized the significance of a solid education, serving as a testament to the complexities and contradictions inherent in human endeavors and legacies.
One of the most famous literary figures of modern times, Emily Dickinson wasn't always as well-respected name as it is today. She was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1830 and lived a largely reclusive life, being labeled eccentric by the locals who had come to know her. As a dedicated introvert, she preferred correspondence over in-person meetings.
Dickinson never married and spent her time writing poetry. She only had a few poems published during her life since her style deviated from the norm — no titles, odd punctuation, and capitalization. Any poems that were published were heavily edited. After her death, her sister discovered a cache of over 1800 poems, which ultimately catapulted Dickinson to fame.
Lincoln came from a very poor family, he educated himself and eventually became a successful lawyer, a renowned politician, and of course, the 16th president of the United States until his assassination. Lincoln led the nation through the Civil War and through its greatest moral and political crisis.
Among his accomplishments are preserving the Union, abolishing slavery, and strengthening the federal government and economy. In 1860 he ran for President, sweeping the North and winning. Southern pro-slavery figures took his win as proof that the North was rejecting their "Constitutional right" to practice slavery, so they began the process of seceding from the union.
World-renowned escape artist and magician Harry Houdini dropped out of school when he was only 12 years old. Houdini, whose real name was Erik Weisz, went on to work several jobs until he turned 17 and joined his friend Jack Hayman and became the Houdini Brothers.
They worked on their tricks for years, and finally, when Erik was 24, he created "The Challenge Act," which consisted of him being able to escape from any pair of handcuffs. The act was a huge success and became the start of an incredible life and career. Until this very day, his act is considered one of the most daring and controversial stunts.
We step back to more than a hundred years ago with this next photo. Who is this handsome man bearing a long rifle and a belt of cartridges? First, it’s a woman; second, her name is “Calamity Jane.” Her real name was Martha Jane Cannary, and she lived from 1852 to 1903. She was an American frontierswoman, sharpshooter, and storyteller.
An acquaintance of Wild Bill Hickok, she appeared in his Wild West show later in life, showing off her skills. There are even older photographs of this woman, some dating back to around 1880. While much of the information we have is autobiographical, written for publicity reasons, and thus exaggerated or inaccurate, we know she was a friend to the sick and needy and a daredevil, creating an odd character that quickly became famous.
Russian writer Leo Tolstoy is heralded as one of the greatest writers the world has ever seen, and his body of work goes a long way to proving he deserves the title. He wrote “War and Peace,” “Anna Karenina,” and many other famous pieces of literature. Born in 1828, he received nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906, and he was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902, and 1902.
However, he never won either of these, even a single time, a topic of some controversy to this day. He died in 1910 after a lifetime of philosophy, writing, and the beginning of the nonviolent resistance movement. This picture could be from any year of the two or three decades leading up to his death.
Elizabeth Arden, born Florence Nightingale Graham in 1878, overcame multiple failures to establish an influential beauty empire by 1929. She dropped out of nursing school because the enormity of the responsibilities scared her. Following that, she tried a variety of jobs, including receptionist, secretary, and bank teller, which all fizzled out.
Arden then took a loan to set up her next business venture — a cosmetics and beauty salon company. After a 1912 trip to France to learn about beauty techniques, Arden collaborated with a chemist to create a range of superior beauty products accessible to everyone. Elizabeth Arden, Inc. has since surpassed $1 billion in annual sales.
Claude Monet was the father of the French Impressionism movement. His ethereal paintings command exorbitant prices at art auctions today, going for anywhere between $20 million and $30 million per piece! However, there was a time when the art world derided his work. Monet painted the world as he saw it. His style was unusual for the time and received criticism from established artists.
The Paris Salon, a small but influential group of Parisian artists, rejected his style. Monet was never dissuaded. The Paris Salon disbanded not long after, but Monet’s paintings became a tour de force, transforming 19th-century French painting. His work continues to captivate collectors and enthusiasts worldwide.
Jacobs's mother died when she was only six years old, and then she moved in with her late mother's owner, who taught the girl to sew and read. With the help of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee, she was able to escape in 1842 at the age of twenty-nine and got work as a nanny in New York.
She stayed away from her former owners for ten years until she officially bought her freedom. Jacobs then went on to write an autobiography that was published in multiple countries. Until her death in 1897, she was an abolitionist and was dedicated to helping slaves and freedmen.
Louisa May Alcott
The writer of the timeless novel "Little Women," Louisa May Alcott was an admirable woman for several reasons. Firstly, Alcott was a nurse in the American Civil War. Then there is the fact that she was a tireless fighter and advocate for women’s suffrage and wrote secretly under a man’s name until she finally saw fame and success with "Little Women."
The novel got her and her family out of poverty. She was the daughter of a teacher and was homeschooled for most of her life. Some of her teachers at home included Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Born in British India in 1865, Rudyard Kipling was arguably among his generation's most well-known Victorian writers. Despite coming from a family of influence, things did not come easy for him. He experienced vicious bullying at school. He was fired from his job at a newspaper for not knowing "how to use the English language."
Kipling's work as a journalist inspired him to write brilliant poetry and prose. When he returned to England in 1889, his reputation as a literary genius was on par with that of Alfred Lord Tennyson. Kipling wrote classics like "The Jungle Book" and the revered poem "If," and he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907.
A long-awaited treasure has surfaced—a genuine photograph capturing the essence of the legendary showman, William Frederick Cody, commonly known as Buffalo Bill. Taken in the year 1900, this rare image encapsulates the essence of the late 19th-century entertainer. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, an iconic touring performance act, mesmerized audiences with thrilling tales of Native Americans and Cowboys.
Within the frame, we glimpse the spirit of adventure that propelled Cody's legacy as he brought the untamed frontier to life on stage. This photograph now stands as a testament to the enduring allure of Buffalo Bill and his profound impact on the cultural landscape of America.
You probably know about Edvard Munch’s most famous piece of work, “The Scream,” but how much do you know about him, really? He was born in 1863 in Norway, and his childhood was full of illness, bereavement, and the dread of possibly having familial mental conditions. No wonder he ended up being an artist. Thanks to his friend Hans Jæger, a nihilist, Munch started painting things not as he saw them but from his own emotional and psychological state.
Thanks to this advice, he developed his unique style. His painting “The Scream” came from when he was out walking once, at sunset, and heard what he described as “the enormous, infinite scream of nature.” After a lifetime of struggling with mental issues, Munch died in 1944. This picture is from just after the turn of the century.
We find this photograph very interesting. Here we have a photo of Geronimo. Actually, the Native American leader’s real name was Goyathlay, translating to “One Who Yawns.” While Geronimo is definitely one of the most famous Native Americans, many people don’t know about his tragic life. His mother, wife, and children were killed by Mexicans.
After the Apache were moved from their homeland, they turned on their leader. Following the murder of his family, Geronimo rose to the rank of an Apache leader and became a fierce warrior. The sheer determination and ferocity of this chief are captured in this photo.
In case you’re wondering, Wyatt Earp wasn’t the only Earp back in the day. Although the Earp Men were famous, there is plenty to say about the women too. As they said, there is a woman behind every great man, and that was exactly the case for Morgan Earp. Although they seemed to be the perfect couple, no one really knew that they got married.
For some time after they got married, the two of them lived in Montana. When Morgan moved to Arizona, he left his wife Louisa behind. Since he thought it was just going to be a short trip, it ended up in disappointment because they never got to meet again.
Samuel Clemens, known as Mark Twain, emerged as a literary luminary whose influence on American literature remains unmatched. Despite receiving only a fifth-grade education, Twain's voracious appetite for knowledge led him on a path of self-education. He embarked on his literary journey as a printer's apprentice, honing his craft and immersing himself in the world of words. In 1851 he seized his first writing opportunity by contributing to a local newspaper.
Twain's thirst for learning took him from his Missouri roots to the bustling streets of New York City, where he joined the printers' trade union. In his pursuit of knowledge, he frequented public libraries, dedicating countless hours to self-study after completing his daily work shifts. Twain's tireless dedication to his craft propelled him to become the iconic figure celebrated as the "father of American literature."
One of the several Native Americans to join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show was Charging Thunder, the man we see in the picture below. Does the name sound familiar? This Lakota chief joined the crew when he was only 26 years old. He married one of the American horse trainers in the crew, eventually. Ah, romance! Such a beautiful thing!
After the show, Charging Thunder became a British citizen and started working in Manchester’s Belle Vue Circus as an elephant trainer. Later on, he got sick of the circus and eventually became a factory worker, then changed his name to George Edward Williams.
While many might be tempted to look down on Hoover since he did preside over the Great Depression, it's possible that he did far more to keep people fed and alive than almost any other man in history. At five feet, eleven and a half inches, Hoover was in a prime leadership position to eradicate hunger following the second world war.
Thanks to Hoover's knowledge of Germany, he toured many of the former Axis nations and produced reports about food requirements. The programs that emerged from the reports fed three and a half million children. Not bad for a president.
It is hard to imagine that this young man photographed here is actually one of the most infamous outlaws and bank robbers of the Old West. Robert LeRoy Parker and his accomplice, Harry Longabaugh (aka "The Sundance Kid"), would torment the southern US states and build themselves a shameful reputation that would go down in crime history.
Parker worked briefly at a Wyoming butchery, where he would earn the name “Butch.” In 1894, Butch Cassidy was imprisoned after his first bank robbery of a San Miguel Valley Bank. This photo is a memento that survived Butch Cassidy’s first arrest and time in prison.
Here’s a familiar face, Annie Oakley was one of the most well-known shooters in the Wild West, and she also happens to be a woman. Annie rose to fame at the tender age of 15 years old because of her sharpshooting skills. Did you know that Annie Oakley was not her real name? She was born Phoebe Ann Mosey. By age 8, she started hunting, shooting, and trapping to support her family through hard times after her father passed away.
Oakley made a name for herself as a trained shooter as well. She married Frank E. Butler, who just happened to be her former rival and fellow marksman. Later on, the couple joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, which turned her into an international star. Definitely one woman with a lot of talent!
Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding, the 29th president of the United States, had a tragically short-lived presidency, serving only two years before his untimely demise at the age of fifty-seven. Plagued by poor dietary choices, excessive smoking, and ongoing heart problems, Harding faced numerous health challenges. Compounding his struggles, he battled with depression, which exacerbated the burdens of his personal life and the pressures of his presidency.
His untimely passing resulted from a culmination of factors, including an acute gastrointestinal attack and the overwhelming stress it inflicted, ultimately leading to cardiac arrest. Harding's presidency remains a somber reminder of the toll that physical and mental health can exact on even the highest office in the land.
Renowned for his enchanting literary masterpieces, including "Oliver Twist," "A Christmas Carol," and "A Tale of Two Cities," Charles Dickens possessed a remarkable gift for weaving captivating worlds. However, Dickens' path to literary greatness faced early challenges as he left school at the tender age of 12, compelled by his father's imprisonment over debt.
Determined to forge his own destiny, young Charles toiled in a boot factory, spending arduous 10-hour days as a court stenographer and law clerk. At the age of 22, he ventured into the realm of journalism, embarking on a journey that culminated in the publication of his first collection of stories in 1836. From these humble beginnings, Dickens' literary prowess would soar, captivating readers worldwide and securing his place as one of history's most beloved authors.
Henry Ford was the industrialist and force behind the Ford Motor Company. While Ford achieved many successes, he experienced failure frequently in his early years. Ford’s first big idea — a self-propelled vehicle — came to fruition only in 1898, at age 39. A year later, in 1899, he established the Detroit Automobile Company, but it ceased operations in 1902 due to vehicle design inefficiencies and an inability to repay loans.
Ford persuaded his partners to give him another chance. At age 40, Ford found an unconventional backer named Malcomson, who trusted his vision. What happened next goes down in history as the most spectacular success story. Ford created a car the average family could afford, spearheading the automotive industry's biggest boon.
Nampeyo, a celebrated potter and artist hailing from the Hopi Nation in southern Arizona, left an indelible mark on the world of Native American art. Renowned for her exceptional ability to recreate and innovate traditional Hopi pottery styles, Nampeyo is hailed as the pioneer of contemporary Hopi artistic pottery.
Her mastery encompassed the full spectrum of traditional pottery techniques, including the ingenious use of yucca plant leaves as brushes for painting. Through her creativity and expertise, Nampeyo not only preserved the rich cultural heritage of the Hopi people but also pushed the boundaries of artistic expression, leaving an enduring legacy in the world of Native American art.
The time from when Alexandrina Victoria took the throne in 1837 until her death in 1901 was known as the Victorian era. This queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Empress of India ruled longer than any of her predecessors, and she brought about a period of great change in almost every aspect of life: industrial, political, scientific, and military.
The children she had with her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha went around Europe, becoming members of royal families all over the continent. They earned Victoria the nickname “the grandmother of Europe” as well as spread hemophilia around European royalty, which is a bleeding disorder that manifests almost exclusively in males and spread from both sexes. The picture we see here is from circa 1870.
If you know anything at all about psychology, you probably recognize the name Freud. He was the father of modern psychology and the founder of psychoanalysis, having lived from 1856 to 1939. He developed a number of distinct theories that, while they’ve fallen out of favor now to make room for more in-depth, were once at the forefront of early attempts to get to the root of why people struggled with one thing or another.
There are several photographs taken of the main brain man, but this one, taken by Max Halberstadt in 1921, is without a doubt the most famous. His beard is neatly trimmed, he’s glaring at the camera as if he can see our deepest secrets, and he’s handling a cigar like it’s nothing more than a cigar.
A Jicarilla chieftain who took the name of “Chief Garfield” strikes a somber pose in this 1907 image taken by Edward S. Curtis. Adorned in feathers, both as a headdress and a sash, braided hair wrapped in fur sleeves, and large hooped earrings, the chief fits the standard of the time.
His original name is lost to history as he, upon receiving recognition from American President James A. Garfield, changed his name to that of the president. The next time the chief would be photographed, the feathers we see here would be gone and he would be in full European attire.
Jack London is a novelist best known for "The Call of the Wild." He grew up with an absent father and a mentally unstable mother and received most of his love and care from his wet nurse/nanny. Even later in life, when he tried reaching out to his biological father, the man denied ever having a son.
The disheartened London then tried his luck in the Klondike gold rush, hoping to start a career as a writer later. Despite working hard, London got rejection letters from every magazine and newspaper. In 1899 he published his first story thanks to a boom in the printing press and magazine industries. Only in 1903, at age 27, his most celebrated novel, "The Call of the Wild," was published.
One of the pioneers of cinema in America, Marcus Loew, founded the famous Loew’s theaters and also contributed to the founding of the MGM film studio. Loew was born to a very poor family in New York in 1870. He had to drop out of school at a very young age so he could work and help the family.
After some years of hard work and several different jobs, Loew founded his first movie theater in 1904. The company grew and saw incredible success for over a century, eventually becoming the AMC Theaters and Cineplexes we know today. Marcus Loew died a millionaire in 1927.
John A. Dahlgren
Admiral John Adolphus Bernard Dahlgren, also known as the "father of American naval ordnance," was a United States Navy officer who led the Union Navy's ordnance department during the Civil War. He designed several different kinds of arms and cannons that were credited as part of the reason for the Union's victory.
One of the weapons Dahlgren designed was a smoothbore howitzer that was capable of adapting to many sizes of craft, as well as shore installations. He later introduced a cast-iron muzzle-loading cannon with increased range and accuracy, which became known as the Dahlgren gun. It eventually became the Navy's standard armament.
Frederick Henry Royce
Having a Rolls-Royce is one of the ultimate symbols of wealth and power since it is one of the world’s most prestigious and expensive automobiles available in our time. Ironically, the brand’s co-founder, Frederick Henry Royce, never even finished elementary school.
Born in England in 1863, Royce was forced to quit school after his father died in 1872 and go out to sell newspapers for work. But that didn’t stop him from having a brilliant and creative mind that would turn him into a world-renowned multimillionaire car and airplane engineer. In 1906, he founded Rolls Royce with two other partners.
Known for his larger-than-life personality and progressive ideals, Theodore Roosevelt embodied the spirit of the Progressive Era. His presidency was characterized by trust-busting, environmental conservation, and social reforms. Roosevelt advocated for workers' rights, consumer protection, and a "Square Deal" for all Americans.
He expanded the power of the presidency, utilizing it as a platform for social change and asserting American influence on the global stage. Roosevelt's charisma and passion resonated with the American people, earning him a place among the most beloved and impactful presidents in history. Fun fact; the name "teddy bear" originated from Roosevelt, who frequently went by the nickname "Teddy" (which he disliked).
Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th President of the United States, left an enduring legacy in American politics. Known for his honesty and integrity, Cleveland was a staunch advocate of limited government and fiscal conservatism. His commitment to fiscal responsibility earned him the nickname "Veto President." Cleveland's administration was also marked by significant economic challenges, including the Panic of 1893.
Cleveland's steadfastness and commitment to public service continue to inspire other leaders even today. His non-consecutive terms in office, unique among presidents, underscore his lasting impact on the American political landscape and his dedication to the principles of good governance.
Churchill is arguably one of the UK’s most influential prime ministers, credited with leading Britain to victory in World War II and bringing the allies to peace. Churchill is also the source for famous quotes; "Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts," being one of them.
In the political world, he didn't start great; it took time before he got on the path of glory. He lost his first election, followed by three back-to-back losses from 1922 to 1924. Churchill also struggled with clinical depression and severe speech impediments. None of it prevented him from becoming "the greatest statesman of the 20th century."
Why yes, it’s everyone’s favorite and/or least favorite writer, Ernest Hemingway. From 1899 to 1961, he was showing us what it was like to live an adventurous life, keep our writing short and sweet, and much more. Yes, including plenty of unfriendly stuff. How many other writers that earned themselves a Nobel Prize used simple sentences, almost like a child, about seventy percent of the time?
The man wrote about love, war, travel, wilderness, and loss; his works are some of the most famous from America in the twentieth century. There’s no doubt that he’s been photographed many times – this pic of him looking mighty scruffy and surrounded by friends or fans comes to us from 1959.
Andrew Johnson assumed office during a critical period in American history. Following Abraham Lincoln's assassination, Johnson faced the daunting task of overseeing Reconstruction in the aftermath of the Civil War. His approach to Reconstruction, which favored leniency towards the Southern states, clashed with the Radical Republicans in Congress, leading to an impeachment trial in 1868.
Johnson's presidency was marked by controversy and political strife. Nevertheless, his administration made notable strides. Johnson's complex legacy continues to spark debate, with assessments of his presidency focusing on his challenges with Congress and his impact on the nation's path to healing and unity after the Civil War.
She's one of the most famous abolitionists and civil rights activists from the era, born at about the turn of the nineteenth century as Isabella Baumfree. She was born into slavery in New York but incredibly managed to escape to freedom with her infant daughter.
A few years later, in 1828, she went to court to recover a son who illegally vanished, becoming the first Black woman to win a case of that kind against a white man. Truth is a member of “Smithsonian” magazine's list of the one hundred most significant Americans of all time. Her story is inspirational.
As far as Australian dream roles, there's nothing that even comes close to the famous outlaw Ned Kelly. Kelly could be seen as the real-life Australian Robin Hood who harassed the aristocracy with the help of an extensive network of sympathizers. He was the most famous and last bushranger.
The bushrangers were a group of escaped outlaws who used the huge Australian space to escape from authorities. He was famous for wearing a suit of bulletproof armor in his final shootout with the police. While Patrick Flynn dreamed of playing this legendary character, it never worked out. Numerous Ned Kelly films, including a 2003 film starring Heath Ledger, were made.
Lewis Carroll, the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was a prominent English writer and mathematician best known for his beloved children's novel "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." Carroll's whimsical and imaginative storytelling captivated readers of all ages, blending fantasy, logic, and wordplay uniquely and enchantingly. Beyond his literary pursuits, Carroll was a talented mathematician and logician with a strong passion for puzzles and games.
His contributions to mathematics, particularly in the field of symbolic logic, were highly regarded. Carroll's creative genius and playful approach continue to inspire generations of readers and scholars alike. His enduring characters, such as Alice, the Cheshire Cat, and the Mad Hatter, have become icons of literature, solidifying Carroll's place in literary history as a master of literary nonsense and unparalleled storytelling.
Known for his vision of economic prosperity and international expansion, William McKinley's presidency saw remarkable advancements. He implemented protective tariffs to support American industries and oversaw significant economic growth. McKinley's administration also witnessed the Spanish-American War, leading to the acquisition of territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.
His efforts elevated the United States to a global power. Tragically, McKinley's presidency was cut short by his assassination in 1901. Despite his untimely demise, his impact on American politics and the country's role on the international stage remains significant, as his policies shaped the nation's direction and laid the groundwork for the 20th-century American empire.
Edgar Allen Poe
Few have done more to get American literature to where it is today than the great Edgar Allen Poe. Whether you’re only familiar with his legendary poem “The Raven” or you can’t keep away from his many macabre tales, there’s no doubt he set the stage for a long history of incredible stories. He helped popularize the short story as a format and he’s considered the inventor of the detective genre – for which we owe him much.
He also significantly contributed to the then-fledgling “science fiction” genre. And, no doubt, you’re aware of his dark and gloomy Romanticism tales, such as “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Born in 1809 and dying in 1849, Poe had a mere forty years to offer his wit and imagination before dying under mysterious circumstances. This picture is from just before his death in 1849.
Here’s everyone’s favorite Nobel prize-winning scientist, Marie Sklodowska Curie, who looks like she wants to return to work after being photographed in 1911. She is well-known for likely having passed away in the name of science since all that radioactive material didn’t do anything good for her body, but there’s a lot more to this famous scientist.
She was unfailingly honest and moderate – one story has her receive a small scholarship in 1893 but returned the money once she was earning enough a few years later. Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to win two of them, the only woman to win in two fields, and the only person to win in multiple sciences, in Chemistry and Physics.
Grand Duchess Anastasia
She might not have been around for very long, but this young ruling family member still has an important place in history. She was the youngest of four daughters of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his wife, Alexandra Fyodorovna. Anastasia and the rest of her family lost their lives on the night of July seventeenth, 1918, because of the Bolshevik secret police.
During the time of Communist rule, nobody knew where she was buried, which gave rise to myths that she had escaped and was living undercover. This has been proven to be untrue (DNA evidence from 2008 has proved that remains of all four of the Tsar’s daughters have been recovered). We’re unsure exactly when this picture was taken, but she appears to be no older than twelve.
Chief Seattle, a revered Native American leader, fostered harmonious relations with the early European settlers who arrived in the region that would become present-day Oregon. Among his children, his eldest daughter, Kikisoblu, shared a special connection with the settlers. To honor her noble lineage, she was bestowed the name "Princess Angeline," which served as a reminder of her regal heritage.
Embracing a modest existence, Princess Angeline settled in the burgeoning town named after her father. Far removed from the world of politics, she engaged in humble livelihoods, offering laundry services and crafting hand-woven baskets to sustain herself. Despite her unassuming lifestyle, Princess Angeline embodied the resilience and adaptability of her people, serving as a testament to the enduring legacy of Chief Seattle and the cultural fusion that shaped the region's history.
Yes, it should come as no surprise that Italian dictator Benito Mussolini has been photographed, seeing as how he lived until the far-flung future of 1945, but there are a number of much older photographs, such as this one from November of 1923. By that time, he was already the Prime Minister of Italy, but that doesn’t mean he can’t get dressed up in a national militia uniform and give us his biggest... grin.
There is no photo evidence that Mussolini actually smiled. Sure, he might look dapper in this pic, but remember, he was the principal founder of fascism and a socialist and fascist dictator (though, of course, we repeat ourselves) that was on the wrong side during World War II. He had style, but that’s the only good thing we can say.