Top 25 Most Ancient Historical Photographs

13. First High Speed Photograph [1878]

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In 1887, using a series of trip wires, Eadweard Muybridge created the first high speed photo series which can be run together to give the effect of motion pictures. High speed photography is the science of taking pictures of very fast phenomena. In 1948, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) defined high-speed photography as any set of photographs captured by a camera capable of 128 frames per second or greater, and of at least three consecutive frames.


14. Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan [1888]

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Keller with Anne Sullivan vacationing at Cape Cod in July 1888. The photo was discovered while combing through a large family photo collection that was donated by a New England Historic Genealogical Society member. The photo was taken in Brewster, Cape Cod, Massachusetts and shows eight-year-old Helen Keller hand in hand with her teacher Anne Sullivan. Both Keller and Sullivan indicated later in their journals that “doll” was the first word Helen Keller learned in sign language in March 1887. This photograph was taken about sixteen months later and is believed to be the only known photograph of Helen Keller holding one of her dolls.


15. First Motion Picture [1888]

This film is the first celluloid film created and it gives us a true look at how people looked and, more importantly, carried themselves. The film only lasts for two seconds but it is enough time to see the characters walking. It was recorded at 12 frames per second by French inventor Louis Le Prince. It was filmed at the home of Joseph and Sarah Whitley, in Roundhay, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England on October 14 and the people who appear are Adophe Le Prince (Louis’s son), Sarah Whitley, Joseph Whitley, and Harriet Hartley.


16. Looking Down Sacramento Street, [San Francisco, April 18, 1906]

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Looking Down Sacramento Street, San Francisco, April 18, 1906 is a black and white photograph taken by Arnold Genthe in San Francisco, California on the morning of April 18, 1906 in the wake of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. This photograph shows the results of the earth quake, the beginning of the fire and the attitude of the people. It was taken the morning of the first day of the fire. Shows Sacramento St. at Miles Place (now Miller Place) near Powell St.


17. First Autochrome Lumière [1907]

It is an early color photography process. Patented in 1903 by the Lumière brothers in France and first marketed in 1907. It remained the principal color photography process available until it was superseded by the advent of subtractive color film during the mid 1930s.


18. Only Color Photograph of King Edward VII (1909)

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This recent find could be the only color photograph of King Edward VII. The photograph shows the King in Highland costume enjoying the autumn grouse season in Scotland. The picture is also an autochrome, making it the only autochrome of the King. The picture was found alongside 700 other images from the early 1900s, including this one which is probably the first color photograph of London Zoo, taken in 1909.


20. Hitler in Paris [Paris, 1940]

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This photograph was taken of Adolf Hitler visiting Paris with his architect Albert Speer, on June 23, 1940. Hitler’s army had captured Paris and Hitler went to check out his new City.


21. Victory Over Japan (V-J) Day [New York, 1945]

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Victory over Japan Day ( V-J Day , also known as Victory in the Pacific Day , or V-P Day ) is a name chosen for the day on which the Surrender of Japan occurred, effectively ending World War II, and subsequent anniversaries of that event. This The famous LIFE magazine photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt on August 14, 1945 from V-J Day. The soldier and the nurse are unknown but people have come forward to claim the fame. Apparently the nurse slapped the soldier immediately after. The event was the celebration of the end of the war and it was taken in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt.


22. Soviet Flag raised above the Reichstag [Berlin, 1945]

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Raising a flag over the Reichstag is a historic photograph taken on May 2, 1945, by Yevgeny Khaldei. It depicts a number of Soviet Troops raising the flag of the Soviet Union atop the German Reichstag building during the Battle of Berlin in World War II. The photograph was extremely popular, being reprinted in thousands of publications. It came to be regarded around the world as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war.

The true identities of the men in the picture are shrouded in mystery along with the photographer (Khaldei), who was only identified after the Soviet Union fell. The photograph represented a historic moment; the defeat of Germany in a war that had cost the Soviet Union tens of millions of lives. Celebrated as the image is, it was the reconstruction of a moment that had happened earlier but had been missed by the camera.


23. First Digitally Scanned Photograph [1957]

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The first image scanner ever developed was a drum scanner. It was built in 1957 at the US National Bureau of Standards by a team led by Russell Kirsch. The first image ever scanned on this machine was a 5 cm square photograph of Kirsch’s then-three-month-old son, Walden. The black and white image had a resolution of 176 pixels on a side. Technically, this is the very first digital photograph – all these years later, digital cameras are only just beginning to have the full capabilities of film cameras.


24. Footprint on the Moon [Lunar, 1969]

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On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong put his left foot on the rocky Moon. It was the first human footprint on the Moon. This photograph was taken by Buzz Aldrin. It was part of an experiment to test the properties of the lunar regolith. The first footprints on the Moon will be there for a million years.

8 thoughts on “Top 25 Most Ancient Historical Photographs

  1. How curious the similarities between the photo of the flag being raised over the Reichstag and the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima, in that the famous picture of the Marines was also a re-enactment of an earlier raising.

  2. Soldier, according to, can be “one engaged in military service”. That may not be the most common usage, but close enough for me!

    Picture #17 show French soldiers(I think) engaged in trench warfare. Since ww1 had not started yet, the date must be wrong, or that is not a Frenchman, or there was another war. I’d like to know. Anyone?

  3. There’s this black guy that’s ALWAYS in the crowd at Rockefeller Plaza in the Today show. I switch it on and the kids i always yell “SuperFly!!!!” when we spot him. I reference him as Don Cornelius.

  4. Watching American Bandstand,then Soul Train on Saturday mornings and dancing like happy epileptics would have been a great way to start the weekend. It was always after a slumber party with a friend or cousin’s house. Aretha Franklin singing “Rock Steady” may be the first one I remember-I was about five and would hula-hoop like Alvin on speed. Does anyone remember “the Bump”? The Afro-Sheen commercials were so fly. Even though Don Cornelius’s funeral is very private,I expect you will have a memorial/tribute show for him. Singers should be those who are capable of doing with dignity.It could be best to have people who appeared on Soul Train during its peak years. Any ideas,hussies?

  5. Maria, that is one of the most famous pictures ever and so is that naked girl as you call here. Her clothes were burned off by the impact of the bomb. She survived and is 49 today

  6. What’s the story regarding photo #9? Could this be the Orr Brothers Photographers…twins from Indiana, who moved to Illinois and then Oklahoma.
    The brothers Robert and William were born in 1863 and are shown in U.S. Census’s as being photographers and owning a Photography Shop. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  7. In regards to number 22 of the soviet forces raising the flag in Berlin you missed an important detail. There were to versions of this photograph, the first which you have displayed clearly shows two wristwatches on the soldier helping the one planting the flag. Russian brass had the photographer doctor the image to remove one of them as it was evidence of Russian soldiers looting after their victory.

  8. I have an image of a man dressed in a costume that I have seen in early childhood history books (I am 60) that I have nicknamed ” Ponce de leon” because for some reason that is who it reminds me of even though I know that cannot be correct. The big ruffled hat with feathers and such looks to me like some style of European dress from the 1700 something era. Image I guess must be a heliograph type thing from my great grand mothers things handed down to me over the years. I am only interested in its value and this is my first attempt to try to figure out how to do that. Oh I forgot to state that it is on metal.

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