10+ Historical Photos That Can Leave You Feeling Sad and Inspired at the Same Time
Thanks to the art of photography, we can see and remember our past. We know exactly how the ancestors of British royalty looked, which swimsuits were considered indecent a century ago, and what a significant event Russian Woodstock was.
Bright Side put together a small collection of historical photos which can bring you admiration and sadness at the same time. Perhaps these photos will tell you the stories you’ve never heard before.
Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, King Edward VII, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna with Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna and Queen Victoria, 1896
It’s no secret that the majority of royal families in Europe were related. In this photo, you can see not just royalty but a family. Queen Victoria was Alexandra Feodorovna’s grandmother alongside King Edward VII who was the uncle of Nicholas II.
If this photo was taken today, it would definitely become a meme thanks to the hilarious face of little Dutchess Olga. Kids are always kids even if they’re born into a royal family.
The jacket of Nicholas II is another curious detail. Prince Harry got married in a similar jacket. It turns out that relatives of British royalty can be Colonels-in-Chief in the British Army which is why Nicholas II as the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regiment of Scots Dragoons was allowed to wear their military dress.
Madame Decourcelle, Paris’ first female taxi driver, 1909
Madame Decourcelle was a taxi driver and she also had a license to ride a horse-drawn carriage. Perhaps she had to overcome a lot of obstacles on her way to her dream. Nowadays, no one is surprised to see a woman behind a steering wheel of an Uber car, but at that time, women had to literally fight for their right to do things as simple as driving.
However, women in Europe were allowed to drive in 1909, while women in some other parts of our world got their right to drive more than 100 years later.
Women on a New Jersey beach were arrested due to their indecent swimsuits in 1920.
Policemen in 1920 probably had less work to do than their colleagues in present times. Because a century ago, law and order guards were not only going after criminals but they also went after ladies in so-called “indecent” swimsuits. However, it seems that these girls were not afraid of them. We wonder what these policemen would have done if they saw women in modern bikinis!
Migrant Mother, 1936
This iconic photo taken by photojournalist Dorothea Lange made her famous but unfortunately, the woman in the photo gained nothing from it. This woman’s name was Florence Owens Thompson, at the moment of shooting she was 32 years old and was the mother of 10 children. After the photo of Florence became a sensation, the government rushed aid to the camp to prevent starvation. Unfortunately, by that time Florence and her children had left the area.
The good news is that Florence survived the Great Depression and raised all her children. She took every job possible and always made sure that her children had food to eat even if she had none for herself. Florence died at the age of 80 and became a living example of the power of motherhood.
Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, 1954
60 years have passed since Marilyn's death but still, there are people who speak negatively of her saying that she was silly and trampy. Can you imagine how people envied her while she was alive? Marilyn Monroe wasn't silly and her private life was much more modest than the lives of many who are living now.
There was one more unknown fact about her. Marilyn hated racism and discrimination toward African-American people which was still quite common in the 1950s. She convinced the owner of the Mocambo nightclub in Los Angeles to let Ella Fitzgerald perform there promising that she, Marilyn, would show up in the club every night, and she kept her promise.
As Ella Fitzgerald remembered, it attracted a lot of media attention and after that, she didn’t have to sing in small jazz clubs anymore. The singer said, “I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt...she was an unusual woman — a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”
Abebe Bikila, an athlete from Ethiopia who became an Olympic marathon champion while running barefoot, 1960
Abebe Bikila was the last to be included onto the Ethiopian Olympic team — he replaced another team member who had gotten injured. Abebe didn’t plan to run barefoot. He purchased new running shoes but they didn’t fit him well and gave him blisters. So eventually, he decided to run barefoot, won the marathon, and set a new Olympic record.
David Bowie’s arrest, 1976
If there was a beauty contest among prisoners, David Bowie had every chance of winning it. Many musicians had legal problems at their young age, including Bowie. However, Bowie’s arrest was a rather short one — he stayed behind bars only for a few hours but his photo taken there has become a part of history.
Pope John Paul II talking to the criminal who tried to kill him, 1983
The life of Pope John Paul II almost ended on May 13, 1981. Mehmet Ali Ağca, a member of the militant fascist group Grey Wolves, attempted to kill him. He shot the pope in the abdomen and was immediately caught and restrained by a nun and other bystanders until police arrived. After his recovery, the pope pardoned the man and even visited him in prison in 1983 where they talked in private.
No one knows what this conversation was about. John Paul II said, “What we talked about will have to remain a secret between him and me. I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has my complete trust.”
Audrey Hepburn and an Ethiopian girl, 1988
Many people remember Audrey Hepburn exclusively as an actress and an elegant woman but very few are aware that she was also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She assumed this position when she finished her acting career and dedicated the rest of her life to improving the quality of life for children from the poorest countries.
She visited an orphanage in Ethiopia that housed 500 starving children and had UNICEF send food. She went to Turkey on an immunization campaign. In South America, new schools were built and mountain communities received water systems thanks to her efforts. Her last visit to Somalia happened 4 months before she died of cancer in 1992.
Hepburn was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work with UNICEF and was posthumously awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her contribution to humanity.
An international rock festival in Moscow, 1989
The Moscow Music Peace Festival was a one-time gathering of international hard rock musicians in the USSR. It was called Russian Woodstock due to the enormous number of visitors. Unlike Woodstock in America, the festival was arranged to promote world peace and establish international cooperation in fighting the drug war in Russia.
Bands and musicians such as Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Cinderella, Skid Row, and Gorky Park took part in the festival. Scorpion even wrote a new song for this event. The song became world-famous and was called Wind of Change.
Kurt Cobain and his family at the MTV Video Music Awards, 1993
Unfortunately, all people remember about Kurt Cobain nowadays is his song Smells Like Teen Spirit and that he was addicted to drugs. But very few people are aware that he supported women in their fight for equal rights as well as LGBT rights.
There were words in a booklet attached to the compilation album Incesticide that read, “If anyone of you hates gays, people of different race or women for some unknown reason, please do us a favor — hit the highway and leave us alone! Don’t come to our concerts and don’t buy our albums.”
The sea of flowers in front of Kensington Palace, 1997
You have probably guessed that the reason for this sea of flowers in front of Kensington Palace in 1997 was very sad. It happened after Princess Diana’s death who was the most loved royalty among British people and was even given the title, “The People’s Princess.” Though she used to be criticized during her life, thousands of people loved her sincerely and this photo confirms this fact.
Bonus: The Black Night in Earth’s orbit, 1998
This NASA photo is real and depicts space debris, specifically a thermal blanket lost during an EVA mission. However, it caused a number of conspiracy theories about its alien origin. Some people believed that it released mysterious signals and could move against the laws of physics.
So, if you saw this photo before and thought it was fake, you know its true history now.
Which of these photos touched your heart the most? Tell us in the comments below.
Preview photo credit Album Online / EAST NEWS