5 Historical Photos That Don’t Actually Depict The Famous People They Claim

Published November 20, 2017
Updated November 27, 2017

Kate Warne

Kate Warne

Alexander Gardner/Library of CongressJohn C. Babcock (holding pole), often purported to be Kate Warne

Kate Warne is known for being the first female detective, a Civil War spy, and a bodyguard for Abraham Lincoln, all while working for famed detective and spy Allan Pinkerton. Google her name and you will find many articles, often with the above image. In these articles, the person standing with their hand on the pole is identified as Kate Warne.

This misidentification started around the year 2000, when someone writing for a private detective history website decided the person standing behind Pinkerton looked female and, believing Warne was with Pinkerton at this time, decided it must be her.

This was backed up by an “analysis” of the person’s appearance that concluded they were a female. Since then, the image, with the Warne misidentification attached, has spread like wildfire.

But those seeking to identify the person in the photograph failed to do one thing: Check the identification on the original image. The sleeve that holds the original negative (owned by the Library of Congress) identifies the person behind Pinkerton as John C. Babcock. Other, easily found images of Babcock confirm that it is him.

John Babcock

Alexander Gardner/Library of CongressJohn C. Babcock

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John Kuroski
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.