That’s Who?! 44 Rare Photos Of Historical Figures In Their Youth

Published November 28, 2017
Updated September 28, 2018

You can probably only picture these famous faces when they were old, but here they are like you've never seen them before.

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Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln Young
Circa 1846-1847. Age 36-38. (His first known photographic image.)Nicholas H. Shepherd/Library of Congress

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi Young
1906. Age 36-37.Wikimedia Commons

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein Young
Circa 1904-1905. Age 24-26.Wikimedia Commons

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler Young
Circa 1914. Age 24-25.National Archives

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa Young
Circa 1928-1929. Age 18.Vittoriano Rastelli/Corbis via Getty Images

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein Young
1963. Age 25-26.Laurent VAN DER STOCKT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon Young
Circa 1930. Age 17.Fox Photos/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth Ii Young
1952. Age 26.Douglas Miller/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin Young
1902. Age 23-24.Wikimedia Commons

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Young
1969. Age 21.Wellesley College/Sygma via Getty Images

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking Young
1965. Age 23.Hawking.org

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh Young
1873. Age 19.Wikimedia Commons

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin Young
1971. Age 18-19.Laski Diffusion/Getty Images

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt Young
1880. Age 21-22.Library of Congress

Bill Gates

Bill Gates Young
1977. Age 22.Public Domain

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton Young
1963. Age 16. (Left, shaking hands with President John F. Kennedy.)Arnold Sachs/Getty Images

Pope Francis

Pope Francis Young
Date unspecified.Jesuit General Curia via Getty Images

Barack Obama

Barack Obama Young
1990. Age 28.Joe Wrinn/Harvard University/Corbis via Getty Images

Mark Twain

Mark Twain Young
Circa 1859. Age 24.Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud Young
1872. Age 15-16. (With his mother.)Wikimedia Commons

John McCain

John Mccain Young
1965. Age 28-29.Library of Congress

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill Young
1895. Age 20-21.Imperial War Museums/Wikimedia Commons

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso Young
1908. Age 26-27.Wikimedia Commons

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou Young
1957. Age 28-29.Library of Congress

Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla Young
1879. Age 23.Wikimedia

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro Young
1955. Age 28-29.Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images

Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford Young
1933. Age 20.Gerald R. Ford Library

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Young
1904. Age 22.Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway Young
Circa 1918. Age 18-19.National Archives

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass Young
Circa 1847-1852. Age 28-32.Samuel J. Miller/Art Institute of Chicago/Wikimedia Commons

Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge Young
Circa 1891-1895. Age 19-22.Wikimedia Commons

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt Young
1908. Age 23-24. (With husband Franklin Roosevelt and two of their children.)Wikimedia Commons

Dwight Eisenhower

Dwight Eisenhower Young
1912. Age 21-22.National Archives

Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini Young
1903. Age 20.Wikimedia Commons

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison Young
Circa 1878. Age 30.Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

Vladimir Lenin

Vladimir Lenin Young
1887. Age 17.Culture Club/Getty Images

Harry Truman

Harry Truman Young
1912. Age 27-28.National Archives

Marie Curie

Marie Curie Young
Circa 1886. Age 18-19. (Left, with her sister.)Wikimedia Commons

Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong Young
1927. Age 33-34.Wikimedia Commons

Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover Young
1898. Age 23.State Library of Western Australia/Wikimedia Commons

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony Young
Circa 1848-1849. Age 28.Wikimedia Commons

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul Ii Young
1945. Age 24-25.Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images

Muammar Gaddafi

Muammar Gaddafi Young
Date unspecified.Stevan Kragujević/Wikimedia Commons

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela Young
1937. Age 19.Wikimedia Commons

From Abraham Lincoln to Albert Einstein to Queen Elizabeth II, some of modern history's most famous faces exist in our minds solely as they appeared in old age. Just try to picture Lincoln, or, say, Winston Churchill or Mahatma Gandhi as a young man and you'll probably come up blank.

Whether it's because these people didn't truly make their mark on history until late in life or because they didn't assume their now iconic appearance until at least middle age, they'll live on in our minds, not to mention the history books, looking old.

But if you've ever been curious about what some of modern history's most important leaders, thinkers, and artists looked like in their youth, take a look at the rarely-seen photos above.


Next, see what some of modern history's most reviled dictators looked like when they were just kids. Then, see 29 images of American presidents when they were young.

author
John Kuroski
author
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Kuroski, John. "That’s Who?! 44 Rare Photos Of Historical Figures In Their Youth." AllThatsInteresting.com, November 28, 2017, https://allthatsinteresting.com/famous-historical-figures-young. Accessed May 25, 2024.