Stunningly Restored and Colorized Historical Photos That Shine a New Light on the Past
Tue Apr 12 2022
We live in a world full of color. From the colors you see through your own eyes to the colors you see on television, in movies, and in photographs, our existence is determined by a colorful array of details. But when you think back on the past… what do you see? Black and white landscapes? Monochromatic snippets of history?
By colorizing old photos from years gone by, it’s become easier to imagine the past and connect to our history. After all, every single moment in these colorized photos has impacted the world that we live in today – and it’s important that we all understand the clues, the details, and the colors that were present in these people and places. Yes, these are stunningly restored and colorized historical photos that shed new light on the past.
Abraham Lincoln on the Battlefield
Those familiar with their American presidents will know that Abraham Lincoln had the pleasure of being the 16th President of the United States. He served from 1861 until his eventual assassination in 1865, and while most of us are familiar with historical black and white headshots of him, this colorized photograph shows him in a very different situation.
This photo isn’t a black and white profile taken in the Oval Office. Instead, it shows President Abraham Lincoln in action on the battlefield at Antietam in Maryland in 1862. He is joined by Major General John A. McClernand on the right, as well as Allan Pinkerton on the left. What you might not know about Lincoln and Pinkerton is that, together, they founded the Secret Service.
No Man’s Land at Christmas
Soccer is one of the most famous sports in the world, but there’s one game of soccer that will go down in history – and that is the soccer game that took place on Christmas Day in 1914. This is the day that The Christmas Truce took place, and this colorized photo brings this incredible feat of humanity to life.
On this day, fighting soldiers along the Western Front of the First World War put down their guns and they stopped fighting in a series of unofficial ceasefires. It was on this day that they focused more on their humanity than on their countries and politics. Instead, the soldiers who should have been enemies focused on celebrating the special day as temporary allies.
Shanty Towns in Central Park
When you think of New York City, you probably think of high skyscrapers, yellow cabs, and the iconic Central Park. Today, this park is the thriving epicenter of the city, with lush trees and pathways for people to enjoy. However, it’s important to note that the park hasn’t always been like this. In the 1930s, the park became a shanty town for those suffering from the Great Depression.
At the height of the Great Depression, families were pushed out of their homes and many made their way onto the streets. The park wasn’t as established as it is now, which allowed for the space to build these shantytown dwellings. This photo was taken in 1933, but the colorization brings this sad story to life in today’s day and age.
Marie Curie in Her Laboratory
Women often struggle in the science world, but Marie Curie proved to everyone that women can undertake groundbreaking research. The world-renowned chemist not only became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, but she’s still today the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice. As she was a prominent scientist during the turn of the 20th century, most of the photos we have of Marie are black and white.
The world wouldn’t be the same without Marie Curie’s pioneering research into radioactivity, and her work is still being used today. And while everyone knows about her work, not many people know what she looks like – especially in color. It’s not known exactly when this photo was taken, but this colorized photo shows the incredible chemist in her laboratory in France.
The Hindenburg Disaster
The Hindenburg Disaster is one that many people are familiar with. In fact, most people have seen black and white pictures of this airship incident before – but seeing this disaster in color helps us realize just how shocking it was. This event occurred on May 6, 1937, and those who lived in Manchester Township, New Jersey, had front row seats to this devastating incident.
When this German airship burst into flames, nobody quite knew what had happened. However, it’s been suggested that static electricity in the hydrogen-powered airship ignited the hydrogen and caused the explosion. It ultimately killed 36 people – 35 on the airship, and one additional person on the ground.
Lee Harvey Oswald Before His Death
The world has seen the loss of countless icons over the years, but the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 was one that shook people to their core. It was ultimately discovered that the 35th President of the United States had been shot dead by US Marine veteran, Lee Harvey Oswald. He was detained and arrested, but he didn’t survive long.
This colorized photo shows Lee Harvey Oswald being escorted through a basement from the Dallas Police Headquarters to the county jail, but just a few minutes after this was taken, Lee himself was shot. It was nightclub operator Jack Ruby who killed the assassin, and, according to reports, the crowd of people standing outside the headquarters clapped wildly when they learned that Oswald had been killed.
The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
War is often caused by many decisions and influenced by many factors, but when it comes to the First World War, it’s long been noted that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand ignited the flame. The heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife were shot dead on June 28, 1914, by Serbian nationalist Gavrillo Princip. Shortly after, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.
While there’s no doubt about the fact that this incident changed the course of history, we’ve rarely seen photos of Franz Ferdinand and his wife in color. This photo was taken just five minutes before they were assassinated, and the colorization just heightens the fact that this was a tragic and real incident that set in motion a chain of events that changed everything.
Toasting the End of Prohibition
Today, alcohol can be bought by anyone in the United States as long as they are over 21 years old. Things were a little different back in the early 1900s, though. During this time, religious groups and politicians began to worry about the effect drunken behavior was having on society – and in January 1920 the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S Constitution came into effect.
The 18th Amendment prohibited the consumption of alcohol in the US, and while this amendment did lead to a decline in consumption – it also led to a rise in speakeasies and bootlegging. So, after 13 years of Prohibition, it was decided that the amendment would be officially repealed in 1933. This colorized photo shows patrons raising a glass as they said goodbye to the prohibition for good.
When Slaves Become Cowboys
The American Civil War had an overwhelming effect on the country as a whole, but what happened after the war ended? On December 6, 1985, US Congress passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery in the country. This freed men and women who had been forced into slavery for years, and gave them the chance to start a new life. For many, this was in the American West.
While many associated the American West with white cowboys, much of the area was actually settled by freed slaves who embraced the great outdoors and escaped the prejudices of the East. This colorized photo shows these black cowboys on their horses, and it’s been noted that around 25% of cowboys from the 1860s to the 1890s were indeed black.
Washing the Empire State Building
It’s no secret that the Empire State Building is one of the most iconic buildings, not only in New York, but also in the world. The huge skyscraper towers over New York City, but those who aren’t native to the Big Apple might wonder how the windows are kept so shiny and clean all the time. Well, this colorized photo shows you how.
The windows of the Empire State Building are cleaned on a regular basis by a real human, and this was even the case back in the 1930s. This colorized photo shows the building’s window washer posing during his break, and you can see that anybody who takes on this job requires nerves of steel.
“Wrinkle Meat” Chief John Fish
While Kahbe Nagwi Wens may not be one of the most famous people in history, his legacy is certainly one that just can’t be matched. Also called Chief John Smith or “Wrinkle Meat”, this man lived in Cass Lake, Minnesota, and was a Native from the Chippewa tribe. His face caused a stir in the surrounding areas, but it was his age that really got people talking.
While his exact date of birth is not known, it’s been noted that Chief John Smith was born between 1822 and 1826 – although some reports have suggested that he was born as early as 1784. He eventually passed away in 1922, making him over a century old. If some reports are to be believed, he may have lived to be around 137 years old, and this colorized photo showcases him in an incredible light.
The Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge
Today, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is one of the most iconic structures in the world. The red suspension bridge connects the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay, and spans a whopping 1.7 miles long. As if that wasn’t enough, it also contains around 83,000 tons of steel – and when it opened in 1937 it broke records as the longest and the tallest suspension bridge in the world.
All in all, it took four years to construct the mammoth bridge, and this amazing colorized photo shows the bridge before the 80,000 miles of wire were put inside the two steel cables that anchor it together. For those who live in San Francisco, it’s probably very strange to see such a well-known and recognizable structure without its main components.
The New York Subway in 1910
Today, the New York subway is similar to countless other subways across the world. They’re full of hurried commuters with their baseball caps and their backpacks, and occasionally you might see someone wearing a full suit for their corporate job. However, the New York subway in 1910 looked a little different.
This colorized photo of a New York subway car was taken around 1910 and shows the subway system in a whole different light. While the interior of the subway car doesn’t look too dissimilar, the people inside the subway car certainly look different. Back then, men and women were separated underground, and this female-only car shows well-dressed female passengers traveling to their destination.
Grigori Rasputin in Color
While the name Grigori Rasputin is a famous one in terms of our history, it’s fair to say that much of this Siberian mystic’s life and career has been gathered by hearsay and rumors. That’s because Rasputin was a hugely divisive figure; so much so that he was assassinated by conservative men who were afraid of his influence over the famed Romanov dynasty.
This photo was taken in the 1910s, while Rasputin was still respected by Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia, and his people. While the colorization of this photo shows a certain darkness in his eyes, Rasputin acted as a faith healer for the family during this time. His religious views, coupled with his so-called visions reportedly helped Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia overcome his health concerns.
The Day After the Titanic Sank
In the early hours of 15 April 1912, the “unsinkable” RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean. She was just four days into her journey from Southampton, UK to New York City, in the United States, when she hit an iceberg and descended into the freezing waters. And while many people have seen photos of the ship itself since the event, have you ever wondered what the public’s reaction to this disaster was?
This colorized photo shows a young paperboy selling newspapers in the city of London, the day after the ship sank. The paper’s main headline was about the disaster, and people around the city were eager to learn more about the tragic event that supposedly should never have happened. You can see the interest in people’s faces, and you can just imagine how shaken many people were.
Looking for a Job in the Great Depression
The 1930s was a tough time for everybody. The whole world suffered as a result of the Great Depression, but the United States saw the biggest decline in its economy. It all started on October 29, 1929, on what’s known as “Black Tuesday,” when the stock market crashed and caused a cataclysmic chain of events.
The Great Depression affected everyone, including those who seemingly had a lot going for them. This colorized photo, taken in the early 1930s, showcases the frustration that was felt by millions during this time. Although he knew three trades and three languages, he couldn’t find work to feed his children and or provide for his family.
Al Capone’s Infamous Mugshot
The world is full of criminals who all have their own motives and legacies, but none are quite as famous (or infamous) as Al Capone. The legendary gangster, often known as “Scarface”, made his mark during the Prohibition era as the leader of the Chicago Outfit – an elite Italian-American crime syndicate. His mob was involved in bootlegging, racketeering, and even murder.
Capone was thought to be the ringleader of the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, but in the end, the crime boss was arrested in Miami, Florida on tax evasion charges. His black and white mugshot instantly made the rounds in the United States and became a hugely significant historical photo. However, this colorized copy makes his smiling face even creepier.
Eating Lunch on Top of the World
The “Lunch on a Skyscraper” picture featured at the top of this article is perhaps one of the most famous and most iconic historical photos of all time. But what many people don’t realize is that this wasn’t the first photo of its kind. In 1930, this incredible photo was taken – and in color, it looks even more impressive.
This photo shows two well-dressed waiters serving steelworkers their lunch on a girder above the streets of New York City. The steelworkers were in the process of building the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and this photo opportunity showed the high-class nature of the elite hotel.
Wilbur Wright and His Glider
In the world of aviation, the Wright Brothers are considered to be legends. Wilbur and Orville Wright are credited as being the inventors, builders, and pilots of the world’s first successful motor-operated airplane. And while this achievement was certainly impressive, a lot of work went into this process – as seen by this colorized photo from 1902.
The brothers changed history with their motor airplane in 1903, but before that, they had to hone their skills as both engineers and pilots. Because of this, they would often make their way into the open skies and conduct glider tests to develop their skills. This particular photo shows Wilbur Wright soaring above the sand dunes.
The Manhattan Bridge Under Construction
Today, New York City is home to countless impressive bridges, and the Manhattan Bridge is one of them. This suspension bridge connects Lower Manhattan with Downtown Brooklyn – and stretches out across the East River. Many New Yorkers couldn’t live without this bridge nowadays, but there was a time when its creation was just a mere idea.
Construction started on this bridge in 1901 – way before color photos were around. This colorized photo, however, shows the bridge still under construction in 1908. It was taken from the Brooklyn end of the bridge, and the sheer size of the 6,855-foot-long bridge is apparent. The bridge was finally opened two years after this photo was taken.
Buffalo Bill and His Fellow Performers
The Civil War saw countless soldiers step out of the shadows, but none were quite as famous as Buffalo Bill. After serving the Union from 1863 until 1865, those who knew William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody knew that he was a strong and capable soldier. But what many people didn’t realize was that he was also a showman.
After the war, Buffalo Bill put his experience and his knowledge of the American Old West to put together shows and performances that depicted a cowboy’s lifestyle on the frontier. His shows became so popular he toured around the country showcasing his talents alongside Native American performers. This colorized photo shows Bill alongside performers from the Pawnee and Sioux tribes.
A Heatwave in New York City
The Big Apple is a city of two halves. New York City in the winter can be bitterly cold, but New York City in the summer can be incredibly hot – and locals have been finding their own ways to stay cool for hundreds of years. This photo shows the children of New York licking giant blocks of ice to stay cool on July 6, 1912.
During this time, the Big Apple was truly coming into its own. It was quickly becoming known as the place to be, and the city was evolving into a thriving hub of transportation, business, and endless possibilities. And while the rich were starting to dominate the city, the smaller suburbs saw children and families just like these trying to get by in a changing world.
A New York City Fire Engine
Anyone who has been to New York City will know that horses have staked their claim on the city. However, today they can largely be found carrying loved-up couples and tourists around Central Park. This is very different to what life was like for those living in the Big Apple in 1910.
This colorized photo shows a snapshot of what life was like – and it was taken on 72nd Street and Broadway. While it may look as though this horse and cart is simply riding through the city, what you might not realize is that these horses had a job to do. There were many horse-drawn fire engines in the city around this time, and it was their job to keep the city safe.
An Important Meeting at the White House
As arguably the most famous building in America, the White House has seen presidents, first ladies, celebrities, sportspeople, and more walk through its corridors. It’s also been home to countless important and historical meetings, including this one between Martin Luther King Jr., President Johnson, Roy Wilkins, James Farmer, and Whitney Young in 1966.
This meeting was a huge stepping stone in the civil rights movement, and this meeting is considered to be one of the most important meetings for the cause. Seeing it colorized like this allows us to step inside that room and imagine that we were there when these legends all came together to talk.
The Handsaw Slayer’s Mugshot
In 1947, the world was rocked by news of a woman called the “Handsaw Slayer” – who had killed her husband in the most brutal way possible. Ohio native by the name of Laura Belle Delvin had killed and dismembered her husband’s body with a saw before throwing the pieces of his body on her stove. The couple had been married for 40 years.
While neighbors reported that the couple had always been “eccentric”, they hadn’t expected Laura to kill her husband – or be so willing to confess to her crimes. She was taken away by the police and defended her actions, before asking officers if she could keep her cap on for her mugshot because her “hair was a mess.” She was ultimately declared clinically insane, and this colorized mugshot is truly haunting.
Constructing the Empire State Building
Even today, it’s amazing to see the construction of giant skyscrapers and impressively tall buildings. Of course, in today’s day and age, there are countless safety measures that need to be upheld. Scaffolding goes up around the buildings, and workers are strapped in to ensure they don’t fall. However, rules weren’t always so strict.
This colorized photo from history shows a laborer working on the steel frame of the Empire State Building in 1930. As you can see, he’s not wearing any protective gear (not even a hard hat), and he’s certainly not strapped into any safety railings. He’s instead simply perched on the side of the building, overlooking the rest of the city.
Olive Oatman and Her Tattoos
While many people have seen photos of Olive Oatman in black and white, seeing this photo in color shines an even bigger light on her incredible story – and the face tattoos that were a constant reminder of her past. That’s because Olive Oatman was traveling with her family and fellow Brewsterites in 1851 when many of them were attacked and killed by Native Americans. However, they decided to keep Olive captive.
The Illinois native was kept captive for four years before she eventually let go and allowed to go back to her old life, but before she was released they brandished her with this face tattoo. Although Oatman confessed that she was treated poorly at the beginning of her life in captivity, she was traded to the Mohave people after a year, where she was treated with relative kindness.
Al Capone’s Soup Kitchen
Although Al Capone was a notorious gangster and a criminal, he was also known for his charitable and outreach efforts in his local community. He reportedly did this in an effort to clean up his image and show Chicago that he was more than a gangster, and one of his best-received efforts came in the form of a soup kitchen. He opened this for the local community during the Great Depression.
In this colorized photo taken in 1931, you can see a long line of unemployed men taking advantage of Al Capone’s soup kitchen. Without any other way to feed themselves or their families, they relied on these kitchens to keep them fed and watered. Al Capone even offered them coffee and donuts.
Albert Einstein on Vacation
When you think of Albert Einstein, you probably imagine the fames physicist working tirelessly in his laboratory or teaching eager students across the globe. However, it’s important to remember that he was also just a man – and he always took time out of his busy schedule to enjoy himself. He was particularly fond of sailing, which is why he regularly stayed at his vacation home in Nassau Point, Long Island.
This amazing colorized photo shows Albert hanging out at Nassau Point in the summer of 1939. Here he is sitting on a rock next to his friend and local department store owner David Rothman. And while he wanted to enjoy the sunshine and the water, Einstein reportedly sent President Franklin D. Roosevelt a letter, warning him of Nazi Germany’s nuclear weapons.
A Portrait of Marilyn Monroe
Before she sadly passed away at such a young age, Marilyn Monroe was on a path to success that was only going up. She was not only famed for her beauty but also her acting talent and her singing ability – and it seemed as though everyone was in awe of her. Almost every photo taken of the icon during her lifetime showed her in this “perfect” light, but this particular photo is unique.
This portrait of the Hollywood legend was taken by Richard Avedon in 1957, and was, of course, shot in black and white. Even then, it was considered to be one of the most honest shots ever taken of the actress. It shows her with sad eyes and a pensive nature, and seeing it in color makes it even more haunting.
Alfred Hitchcock and The Birds
While he may have passed away in 1980, the legacy of famed filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock still lives on. When fans think of his work, they often immediately think of his 1963 movie The Birds. Even today, this movie is considered to be one of the greatest movies of all time – and this colorized photo shows the filmmaker himself on the set of the action.
This behind-the-scenes photo has been colorized from the original black and white image, and it just makes the whole thing even more striking. You can see Hitchcock himself directing the cast and crew, and you can see the large number of birds used in filming. Amazingly, Hitchcock used a combination of live trained birds and mechanical birds to bring this film to life.
Living in the Dust Bowl
The 1930s saw the people of the South and Midwestern USA struggle more than most people realize. During this time, the Southern Plains were battered with high winds and severe dust storms that choked the surrounding areas. States like Nebraska and Texas suffered a loss of life, as well as a loss of livestock and livelihoods as a whole.
This colorized photo taken in Oklahoma in 1936 shows the full effect of this Dust Bowl. This young farmer’s son attempts to walk around his father’s land – and what once was a fertile ground full of soil and dirt was instead covered with dust and sand. Of course, the long and tedious droughts of the ’30s didn’t help this situation at all.
The Harlem Hellfighters
When looking back at photos of the First and Second World Wars, it’s easy to come across photos of white soldiers fighting for their countries. That’s why historical photos like this one are so important, as they shed new light on the many soldiers from all backgrounds who sacrificed themselves. Yes, the colorized photo below shows the incredible “Harlem Hellfighters.”
This unit fought not only during World War One but also during the Second World War as well. They were men from the 369th infantry regiment in New York. Amazingly, this regiment was made up almost entirely of black soldiers – and they suffered greatly during these battles. During the First World War, the regiment suffered a whopping 1,500 casualties.
David Bowie’s Mugshot
Today, David Bowie is considered to be one of the most iconic musicians to have ever lived. While his life was sadly cut short, he achieved so much during his career, and he brought some of our favorite songs to life. What many people don’t realize, though, is that Bowie was actually arrested in 1976 – and this is his mugshot.
On the day in question, David had been performing in Rochester New York when he was arrested for the possession of marijuana alongside fellow musician Iggy Pop. Although the charges against the singer were eventually dropped, he never performed in Rochester again. This amazing colorized photo also gives you the chance to really see his heterochromia or his different colored eyes.
The ”I Have a Dream” Speech
When remembering the famed civil rights activist Martin Luther King, most people remember his iconic I Have a Dream speech. King delivered this speech on August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – and to this day it’s considered to be one of the most powerful speeches ever written. It called for an end to racism and resonated with people across the globe.
While many black and white photos of this event exist online and in print, seeing this moment in color brings it to life even more. We can see the concentration on Martin Luther King’s face, we can see the green, khaki uniforms, and we can see tiny little details that prove what a moving and important moment this was in history.
Manhattan in Color in 1900
There are many streets in New York City that have oodles of history attached to them, and Mulberry Street in Manhattan is one of them. Although it’s now considered to be a principal thoroughfare in Lower Manhattan, it was once the heart of Little Italy – full to the brim with Italian-American culture.
This picture was taken on Mulberry Street in 1900, and in color, you can really see the bustling and vibrant vibe of the street. Instead of cars and cabs, there are horses and carts and market stalls, and it was a hub of people, produce, and more. Seeing this photo proves how much time has really passed since New York looked like this.
Protestors in Little Rock, 1959
It’s fair to say that, while society still has a long way to go before every single person on this planet feels accepted, times have changed in the past few decades. Back in the 1950s, it was still illegal for a black student to attend a white school – but by 1954 activists were fighting back against this segregation. That same year, public schools in the US were desegregated.
However, not everyone was happy about this. Many people were against this motion, and this colorized photo shows protestors in Little Rock, Arkansas, fighting back against school integration. Although they tried their hardest to stop this from happening, ultimately their efforts weren’t enough. Thankfully, schools have been desegregated ever since.
An Orphan and His Teddy Bear
This heartwrenching colorized photo was taken in 1945 in London and shows an orphan cradling his teddy bear after his home and his family were destroyed. Seeing this in color brings to life the harsh realities of what people and children as young as this had to go through during the Second World War.
The pain on this boy’s face is apparent, and while his teddy bear is certainly dusty and dirty after the bombings, it seems to be the only thing keeping him from crying. When looking at photos like this, it’s even more important to realize how lucky many of us have it in today’s day and age.
Keeping Themselves Entertained
Many countries rely on various strands of their military to keep citizens safe, and this was even true back in the 1800s. In 1890, the USS New York was laid down, and this armored cruiser quickly became the first of its kind to enter the U.S Navy service. Seamen traveled around the globe on this vessel, but long days at sea can get boring.
Because of this, the naval service personnel would often organize boxing matches to keep them entertained. This amazing colorized photo dates back to July 3, 1899, and shows one of these matches in full swing. As you can see, their fellow servicemen are betting on who they think will win, and they seem captivated by the fight in front of them.
V-J Day in Times Square
There’s a high chance that you’re familiar with the image below – especially in black and white. This famous image is still iconic to this day, but not many people know the story that surrounds this “Kissing Sailor.” The fact that we can now see it in color makes the moment seem even more real, and even more powerful.
This particular photo was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt on V-J Day, August 14, 1945, in Times Square. This day marked the day in which Imperial Japan surrendered in World War II, effectively ending the war as everyone knew it. To celebrate, Navy sailor George Mendonsa picked up a nearby dental assistant called Greta Zimmer Friedman and kissed her. Amazingly, they didn’t even know each other.
Putting Their Masks to Good Use
In 1941, the siege of Tobruk was well underway, and soldiers from across the world made their way to Libya to fight. During this time, these soldiers had to survive in hot and dusty conditions in the desert – but they still tried to keep some sense of normalcy. Here, we can see two soldiers peeling onions for their troop’s dinner.
This photo was taken on October 15, 1941 – and seeing it in color really brings it to life. What makes this photo even more incredible is the fact that they were doing what many people today still do. In order to avoid crying due to the onions, they put a mask over their faces. Of course, most people don’t have gas masks to hand, but many people today use goggles or ski masks.
The King of Tattooists, 1930s
Today, it’s not uncommon to walk down the street and see people with countless tattoos adorned on their bodies. However, this permanent inking has long been seen as a taboo – and it’s only recently become a common part of human existence. So, you might be surprised to learn that this photo was actually taken during the 1930s.
During this time, the wealthy started to experiment with ink – and that’s where the “King of Tattoos” came into play. British tattoo artist George Burchett became known for his secrecy and his client confidentiality, which is why he became one of the most popular tattoo artists of the time. He reportedly tattooed the likes of George V of the United Kingdom, Frederick IX of Denmark, Horace “The Great Omi” Ridler, and more.
Just a Man and His Decoy Ducks
The word “decoy” essentially means a cage or a trap and has been used by humans for centuries. It’s long been suggested that the idea of using decoy animals to lure other animals into a trap was invented by the Native Americans, but Joe Lincoln is perhaps most famous for making these decoys. You can see him in this colorized photo below, alongside his decoy ducks.
This photo was taken at his home in the Accord area of New England in 1926, and it’s clear to see the craftsmanship that went into making his ducks. He refused to use power tools to make his decoys, as he believed that they offered less control. So, he carved them all by hand using solid cedar and pine. By the time he passed away, he was considered to be a champion decoy maker.
Segregation in Oklahoma, 1939
In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson changed the course of history when he abolished segregation. After signing the Civil Rights Act, it was deemed to be unlawful to continue the segregation that had been institutionalized by Jim Crows laws. Before that, though, segregation was rife in the United States – as seen by this colorized photo below.
This photo was taken in July 1939 at a streetcar terminal in Oklahoma City. While at first glance this photo just seems to show a black man drinking water, on closer inspection you can see how strict the segregation rules were. This man was forced to drink from a “colored” water cooler, while white people had their own water cooler.
John F. Kennedy at His Graduation Ceremony
When public figures make their way into the public eye, a new portion of their life begins – and many people remember them for that portion and that portion only. Because of this, it’s interesting to see a young John F. Kennedy before he became famous, and before he became the 35th President of the United States.
This colorized photo shows a young John F. Kennedy on the day of his graduation in the summer of 1940. He had just graduated cum laude from Harvard with a Bachelor of Arts in government, with a strong focus on international affairs. His father had also attended Harvard, so attending this Ivy League school was in his blood from the day he was born.
Louis and Lucille Armstrong at the Sphinx
To this day, Louis Armstrong is considered to be one of the most iconic musicians of all time. The American trumpeter and vocalist became a huge spearheader in the jazz world, and he toured the world with his bands – and sometimes his wife, Lucille Armstrong. He did just that in the early 1960s when he took his wife along with him during a tour that saw him travel to Egypt.
During this trip in 1961, Louis and Lucille were invited by renowned archeologist Kamal el-Mallakh to take a tour of Egypt’s greatest historical gems. Amongst other places, he took them to the Great Sphinx of Giza, and Louis took the opportunity to play for his wife. This was the resulting photo, and seeing it in color is truly mesmerizing.
The Burning Monk
The image of the “Burning Monk” has become one of the most famous photos of all time. And while this photo is certainly upsetting, it’s also extremely powerful – especially when you see it in color. This image was taken in 1963, when Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức burned himself to death during a protest.
Thích Quảng Đức grew uncomfortable with the South Vietnamese Diem regime’s discriminatory laws against the Buddhist community, and he knew that something had to be done about it. So, he headed to the busy streets of Saigon and made the ultimate sacrifice. He hoped that this sacrifice would fight against the oppression his people were facing.
New York City on D-Day
The beginning of the end is always an important and poignant moment, and that’s why D-Day is considered to be one of the most legendary moments in history. Before this day, World War II had been in full swing – but on June 6, 1944, 1560,000 American, Canadian, and British forces landed on Normandy beaches to end the war once and for all.
This amazing colorized photo shows citizens and tourists in New York City looking up at the news on a nearby building, as word of the battle made its way across the pond. For those living in those times, this would have been an incredibly powerful moment. They had no idea at that time that this one battle would end the war that had caused insurmountable death and destruction.