The invention of photography has metamorphosed the way we document historic events, with word of mouth being replaced by visual evidence. What's more photos allow us to better understand what really went on, with some shots becoming text book essentials, while other snaps remain hidden away in museums, libraries or family albums.
Here's a fascinating selection of photos that haven't all made it into school text books, but which do throw a different slant on historic events: a range of intimate, moving or even disturbing visual accounts of our past.
1. Two brothers who survived the sinking of the Titanic
Their father saved them when the Titanic began to sink by putting them in one of the lifeboats. Sadly, their dad died and as these kids couldn't speak English, no one was able to find out exactly who they were. They were nicknamed Louis and Lola, and their photograph was published in numerous papers in an attempt to track down their mom. And that's where the plot thickened... Their dad wanted to leave their mom and decided to kidnap them in order to take them to America and start a new life. Having found their mother, the authorities discovered that their real names were Michel and Edmond Navratil. This photo not only brings home the tragedy that was the Titanic disaster, but also the role that fate played in a family that had already been torn apart.
2. A 'retired' worker
S. M. Prokudin-Gorsky was a Russian photographer who toured the then empire documenting everyday life and took this photo in 1909. It shows 84 year-old Pinhus Karlinsky who by that time had been the lockkeeper at Chernigov for 66 ans. We often forget how lucky we are when we consider that 'retirement' didn't exist for our ancestors!
3. Soldiers paying homage to their trusty steeds
An incredibly moving First World War photo showing troops lined up to form a horse's head in honor of the horses, donkeys and mules that lost their lives during the Great War.
4. The calm before the storm
Taken in 1942 at Fairlop Airfield in Essex, UK, this photo shows an RAF pilot enjoying a haircut and a read before once again taking to the skies. The pilot was called Francis Mellersh and his relaxed pose is a far cry from his heroic performance as a flying ace. He was later knighted in honor of his flying skills during both the First and the Second World Wars.
5. Smirking in front of a firing squad
Resistance fighter Georges Blind was arrested by the Nazis in 1944, taken to the Blechhammer concentration camp and sentenced to death by firing squad. Before this photo was taken he'd already been placed in front of the firing squad as part of the Germans' attempt to make him talk, but each time he kept his mouth shut. The smirk may be because he thought this was just another 'interrogation' attempt, but sadly this time they fired. This photo epitomizes the courage and brutality that was witnessed during the Second World War.
6. Threatening behavior...
On the eve of the elections in May 1939, two Ku Klux Klan members drove around the black neighborhood in Miami with a noose hanging out of the car window in an attempt to stop minorities from voting the next day...
7. From Hiroshima to Boston
A touching memento from the Boston Marathon in 1951 when a Japanese man called Shigeki Tanaka crossed the finish line. 6 years' earlier he survived the atomic bomb dropped by the Americans on Hiroshima and, as you can see, he wasn't met with wild applause, but rather a stony silence.
8. A migrant family in 1936
This photo was named the 'Migrant Mother' and depicts a single mother with her 7 children. Photographic evidence of the Great Depression, it was taken by Dorothea Lange, who left her studio in the 1930s so that she could document the desperation caused by the economic crisis. Taken in 1936, this photo became symbolic of the suffering and squalor of the times and it was published in newspapers across the globe.
9. The demise of a Chilean president
On September 11th 1973, Pinochet lead a coup d'état to overthrow the Chilean president, Salvador Allende. Here you can see Allende coming outside holding an automatic firearm that was given to him by Fidel Castro. Later in the day he apparently used this gun to commit suicide.
10. The knife-sharpening 'Yellow Bellies'
The beginning of the 20th Century in Auvergne, France saw a boom in the cutlery industry. Manufacturers took full benefit of torrential rivers to drive the grinders that sharpened knives. The French workers would lie on their bellies above the grinders and as they worked, they'd get covered in a yellow dust, hence their unusual nickname. They'd often get a small dog to lie on their legs to keep them warm, but despite this small comfort, this was a grueling job representative of French industry at the time.
11. Japanese kamikaze pilots, heroes of their time
Japanese women and children pay homage to kamikaze pilots before they set off on a suicide mission in 1945.
12. East-west collaboration during the Cold War
An amazing shot of east meets west friendship at the height of the Cold War as the American astronaut Donald Slayton poses with his Russian counterpart, Alexey Leonov, during the Apollo-Soyuz mission. This photo was taken in July 1975, at time when the two world superpowers seemed to be on the brink of all-out war.
13. New York before the big clean-up
Before 1994, gangs ruled the streets of New York, hence the presence of cops in this graffiti-covered subway carriage. It was Rudolph Giuliani, the mayor of New York between 1994 and 2001, who managed to clean up the Big Apple as well as lower its crime rate in order to boost the tourist trade.
14. Samurais by the Sphinx in 1864
The Ikeda mission was the name given to the 2nd Japanese embassy in Europe and included a group of Samurai who were sent to Paris. They stopped off in Egypt and decided to tour its famous sites. This photo shows these noble warriors alongside their leader, Ikeda Nagaoki.
15. 2 revolutionaries
Taken on July 26th 1961, this photo shows Fidel Castro hugging the famous astronaut Yuri Gagarine during the anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. During the celebrations, Castro awarded Gagarine with a medal of honor called the Order of the Playa Giron.
17 years before The Good Friday Agreement, this photo was taken of a soldier joking with Northern Irish kids.
17. The best day of the year
In Ukraine, May 1st 1968 was designated the best day of the year... Except for this little girl in Lviv, whose expression, despite her balloons and the impressive May Day Parade in the background, summed up the mood of many people at the time.