31 Rare Historical Photos You Had No Idea Even Existed

Published November 2, 2016
Updated July 22, 2020

These historical photographs finally provide a look at landmark events you didn't know were even photographed like this in the first place.

Rare Historical Photos Gettysburg
Rare Historical Photos Titanic Rescue
Wright Brothers' First Flight
Nagasaki Explosion
31 Rare Historical Photos You Had No Idea Even Existed
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Today, with a multi-megapixel camera in every pocket and more than 350 million images uploaded to Facebook alone each day, fewer and fewer events escape visual capture and thus a certain immortality.

Thus it's now easy to forget that the photograph, first invented in 1826 or 1827, has only existed for the most recent three percent of recorded history, and only been in regular use for an even smaller fraction of that time.

Still, there are plenty of post-1826 historical events that many of us probably don't realize were actually photographed.

These are the landmark events that either happened so long ago, so unexpectedly, or amid such chaos that you'd never think someone was on hand with a camera to capture the moment -- and often in remarkably stunning detail and quality.

Then there are the special few events whose photographs are indeed widely known, yet perhaps the most important images are the ones that are, for some reason, relatively lesser known.

Either way, the rare historical photos above provide a chance to put an image to the pivotal moments you know well but probably haven't actually seen. From the Gettysburg Address to the rescue of the Titanic to the capture of Saddam Hussein, you know these events. Now see them brought to life.

Fascinated by these rare historical photos? Next, immerse yourself in 50 influential photographs that changed our world. Then, check out famous historical images that were actually photoshopped.

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 of history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.