The modern-day camera evolved from camera obscura, which was the process of projecting an image through a pinhole to another screen. The process needed to involve darkness, as the image needed to be surrounded by it in order to be projected clearly.

The evolution of this process created machines that involved tents, boxes, and curtains, which would mimic the dark room. The problem was, there was no way to record the projected pinhole images besides tracing them. The next process developed was called calotype, which involved silver iodine coated paper to record the images and was successfully attempt happened in 1835.

Following the calotype process came dry plates, and then film, which was pioneered by George Eastman and later named Kodak. Eventually, experimentation lead to what we now know as the digital camera, which has drastically changed the entertainment industry as well as personal documentation. We are now lucky enough to have high definition cameras on our cell phones, ready to capture a special moment whenever it presents itself.

It’s pretty amazing that some of the most monumental historical events have been photographed, as many of them happened unexpectedly, at a moments notice. In fact, some of the moments captured on this list were taken by the first cameras ever invented, while other’s are actually photo’s of spectacular inventions themselves. You’ve probably never seen the next thirty photographs, as many of them aren’t well known to the general public; they’re historical and worth discovering.

30. The Gettysburg Address

President Abraham Lincoln gave on of the most remembered speeches of all time after the Battle of Gettysburg on November 19th, 1863. The speech focussed on the reassurance of human equality, the national purpose, and the declaration of independence. The address was little over two minutes but remains to be one of the most influential presidential speeches ever recorded. Many people haven’t seen a photo of this speech, and if you look closely you can see the president indicated by the red arrow.

29. Last Lifeboat Off The Titanic

The tragic accident involving the ship the Titanic is one of the most well-known stories of its kind, thanks to the 1997 movie depiction. The morning of April 19th, 1912 the ship hit an iceberg that caused so much damage the ship sank, killing over 1500 people. The ship only had enough lifeboats to carry about half of the total amount of passengers, which is why the crash was so deadly. Photos of the ship before it set sail are common, but rare photos of the last lifeboat to leave the ship like this one, are not.

28. First Flight

The Wright brothers became global heroes as they successfully completed the first flight in 1903. The brothers, Orville and Wilbur, had been experimenting with flight for years before their first successful run, and before they ever used motored machinery they mastered the sky with gliding and precise skill. Can you imagine being there to witness this groundbreaking technological advance? Life as we know it would be so different without these brothers and their genius invention.

27. Nagasaki


The two times in history that atomic bombs were used was on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on August sixth and ninth, 1945. There was incomprehensible suffering and damage that lasted for generations as a result of these bombings and we can only hope that humanity doesn’t ever see the day that these are used again. Within the first two months of the bombing of Nagasaki, over 80,000 people died, a majority of those occurred in the first day. It seems as though the two people engaged in conversation have no idea what’s about to happen–these rare photos are chilling.

26. Neil Armstrong Right After Moon Landing

Neil Armstrong made history on July 20th, 1969 when he successfully completed the first manned landing on the moon with fellow astronauts Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin Jr. The landing was an incredible time for the human race and many photos of the event displace the moon’s surface. The photos are stunning and when paired with the recording of Armstrong’s words while stepping on the moon, are mesmerising. However, this photo of Armstrong right after returning to the spacecraft proves to be just as memorable as the look on his face is priceless.

25. First Photograph

In modern day society, we take the ability to take photos for granted, as many of us have never known any different. Cameras are so advanced we walk around with mini high-tech versions on our phones, and they’re constantly evolving. The eldest surviving photograph is pictured above, a truly historical event in itself, and it was captured in 1826-27 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. The photo is rough but it displays the view from a rooftop, captured over an eight-hour exposure period. Niépce used asphalt to coat the pewter plate during the process referred to as heliography.

24. Lincoln On The Battlefield

President Lincoln was rarely photographed and most of our surviving images of him are either painted or a few remaining studio shots, which is what makes this photograph so special. It captured Lincoln on the battlefield of Antietam, Maryland during the Civil War on October 3rd, 1862, as well as Allan Pinkerton (left) and Major General John A. McClernand (right). Pinkerton went on to essentially invent the Secret Service and McClernand was one of Lincoln’s good friends.

23. Tesla And His Transmitter

Nikola Tesla is probably one of the most famous names known to man because of his invention of the modern AC electrical supply system. He essential made electricity available to everyone who uses it today and will forever be known for his advancements in electrical engineering. The Serbian-American was raised in the Ottoman Empire where he had access to a high level of education and we’re all thankful for it. This picture is quite unique and captivating as it snapped him with his advanced version of the Tesla Coil, spewing electrical bolts. This screams mad scientist in the best and most amazing way possible.

21. Samurai In Action

Samurai fighters were the warrior class associated with medieval times and early-modern Japan. The warrior class served the noble class and from the 1600’s to the late 1800’s they became the highest ranking military and social class. The camera wasn’t invented during the peak of the Samurai, but the culture extended late into the 19th century, which is why there are a few captured in black and white. This picture captured a Samurai in action in 1860.

20. Robert F. Kennedy’s Last Moments

Bobby F. Kennedy’s assassination was felt by the entire country rather quickly after it happened. He was giving a speech at the Embassador hotel in Los Angeles, California on June 5th, 1968 when he was shot several times by Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian/Jordanian immigrant who wasn’t happy with his support for Israel. This photograph captured the moment right after the shooting, and the look on his face sends chills down my spine. Bobby’s dreams of becoming president ended the following day when he died in hospital from his injuries.

19. D-Day From The Eye Of A Soldier

During the carnage of WWII, many of it was documented because of the prevalence of cameras by then. Many journalists actually worked rather close to the front lines and captured much of the footage and photography that we see today. Photographs that are rare, are ones like the one pictured above, which happens to have captured D-day from the perspective of the front-line soldiers. We can see here how allied forces are in the process of storming the beaches and making history.

18. Gettysburg Battlefield

There are very few actual photographs of the Civil War, especially the battle of Gettysburg. There are many paintings depicting the battlefield of the costliest American battle known to date, but few photographs like this have been circulated. So many people died in this battle, it’s referred to as “A harvest of death” with a body count of nearly 8,000, but it swayed the war in favour of the Union and shaped America as we know it today.

17. Construction Of Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is located in Paris, France and is one of the most famous buildings in the world. It was named after the engineer who designed and built it, Gustave Eiffel  and is made out of wrought iron. It was constructed in 1887-1889 and was originally created to be the entrance to the World Fair in 1889, and it wasn’t always loved by all. In fact, a lot of fellow engineers turned their nose up against the shape of the building, but it’s now one of the most iconic buildings on earth. The actual construction of the tower was in fact photographed yet not widely viewed.

16. Statue Of Liberty Delivery

Among the other rare historical photos on this list is the documentation of the unboxing of the statue of liberty. The statue was a gift from France to the U.S. in 1884 and there was a very formal and celebratory unveiling in 1885, but a lucky few actually got to see the assembly of the amazing statue. Seeing the bronze statue up close must have been an extraordinary opportunity, as it’s 305 feet tall. The well-known designer of the Eiffel tower, Gustave Eiffel designed the statue and it was finished in France before being shipped to the U.S. in 214 crates.

15. Pearl Harbor From The Ground


Pearl Harbor was a tragically attacked at 7:55 am on December 7th, 1941 and it happened in two waves almost 45 minutes apart. The attack was documented by people with cameras, but shots like this are rare because of how intimate the setting is. The photographer was right in the middle of the front-line, with two others who seem to be in shock, as many of us would. The attack lasted around 110 minutes, which would have seemed like an eternity to those who were there. Over 2,000 Americans lost their lives that day and pictures like this keep their memory alive.

14. San Fransisco Earthquake 1906


San Fransisco, California was hit with an enormous 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 18th, 1906 at 5:12 am. The earthquake had one of the highest possible ratings on the Mercalli intensity scale and more than 3,000 people were killed during the natural disaster. Fires continuously broke out for days making the area a living hell for those who resided there. To date, this is the worst natural disaster to hit the region and the photo shown above is evidence of a fraction of the damage done that day.

13. Van Gogh’s Portrait

Van Gogh is one of the most influential artists throughout history, and he would be described as a post-impressionist. He painted over 2,100 artworks in just over ten years and they include portraits and self-portraits, but his own photographed portrait is one of the rarest. In fact, the only abundant pictures of the painter are crafted out of oil, and this photo gives the world a better vision of what he actually looked like.

12. Lincoln’s Funeral

Another photo that has to do with President Lincoln, but this one has to do with his funeral. He was assassinated six days after the end of the civil war, April 15th, 1865 by John Wilkes Booth. Following his death was three weeks of funeral processions mourning the loss of the president and his burial took place in Springfield, Illinois, his hometown, but the photograph shown above was taken on April 19th, in Washington DC.

11. Assassination Of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

Image: Pinterest

Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina will forever be known as the place where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot and killed, directly causing WWI. Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip shot the Archduke on June 28th, 1914 and the immediate chaos is depicted here. The chaos was so intense that police actually mistook a bystander for Princip at first, which lead to some initial confusion on who shot the Archduke. His wife, Sophie the Dutchess of Hohenberg, was shot and killed, too.

10. Hitler Declaring War On U.S.

Adolf Hitler was one of the most horrendous leaders ever to exist as he is single-handedly responsible for ordering the death of over 11 million people. On December 11th, 1941 Hitler held a press conference declaring war on the United States as a retaliation for the US entering WWII. The scenery isn’t the only thing that’s dramatic (it was held in a gaudy opera house) but so was the entire event down to his speech. This photograph, although being historic and further evidence of Hitler’s love of putting on a show, is rarely shown or broadcast.

9. Lincoln’s Assassinator’s Execution

Back to talking about President Lincoln, his assassin John Wilkes Booth and his ten accomplices were eventually tracked down and publically hung. The goal of all the conspirators and the confederate was to take over the government by assassinating everyone in line to the presidency, but luckily they didn’t succeed. The violent plan they had was inexcusable, but the public hanging is quite shocking and surprisingly, it was photographed.

8. Billy The Kid

Although there is much speculation about whether this photo is an authentic photo of Billy the kid, many believe that there is no way it’s anyone else. Billy the kid was born Henry McCarty and he is best known for being a wild west gunman, who was never afraid to pull his pistol. Billy was an outlaw that participated in the territorial Lincoln Couty War, during which he personally killed eight people. He escaped jail and was a federal fugitive after killing three officers and evaded capture for more than two months while multiple states published stories about his crimes. On July 14th, 1881 he was shot and “killed”, yet rumours circulated for years that he was still alive and many people claimed to be him.

7. The Moment The Civil War Ended

The American Civil War lasted only four years but an estimated 750,000 soldiers lost their lives during the brutal and bloody conflict. The war began when seven out of the 36 states wanted succession to form the Confederate States of America, but the southern states were defeated and the war ended on April 9th, 1865. This is a photograph of the unintentional surrender of General Robert E. Lee to the Union General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appotomax Courthouse in Virgina. Lee originally intended to gather more supplies at the courthouse when his army was intercepted by the Union and eventually after a small altercation, the war ended.

6. The Armenian Genocide

The seriousness of the Armenian Genocide can be sensed by the name, as it is often referred to as the Armenian Holocaust. The Ottoman Empire executed over 1.5 million Armenians over the course of eight years and it began on April 24th, 1914. First came the extermination of all the able-bodied males through labour camps and slaughter, and the second wave targeted women, children, and the elderly, which ended in death marches into the Syrian desert. The picture above is the devastating sight of a mother leaning over the body of her child. The most surprising element of the genocide is some countries like Turkey, deny the obvious evidence of the genocide and denies that it ever happened.

5. Thomas Edison And The Phonograph

Thomas Edison is perhaps on of the most famous inventors of all time because of his many useful inventions like the light bulb, the motion picture camera, and pictured here the phonograph. Edison invented the phonograph in 1877 when he was developing a machine that could record and play back sound. It’s no secret that Edison invented the phonograph, but have you ever actually seen the photograph of him unveiling it? I didn’t think so–pretty cool, isn’t it?

4. Wounded Knee Massacre

The Wounded Knee Massacre isn’t something widely taught in history classes and yet it represents one of the most unjust acts done to Native Americans. The massacre occurred on December 29th, 1890 when US troops rounded up Miniconjou Lakota and 38 Hunkpapa Lakota men and made a camp for them near Wounded Knee Creek. On the morning of the 29th, the US troops went to disarm the Native men when a deaf tribesman Black Coyote refused to give up his rifle (for good reason) and gunfire erupted. By the end of the chaos over 300 Lakota men, women, and children were either killed or seriously injured, and then buried in a mass grave. Over 20 US soldiers were given honourable metals for their horrendous acts.

3. The Battle Of Little Bighorn

The Battle of Little Bighorn is also referred to as The Battle of Greasy Grass by some Plain Indians and was the largest battle in the Great Sioux War. The battle was won by the Native forces made up of men from the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes, and their victory can be attributed to their strong leaders. Crazy Horse, Cheif Gall, and Sitting Bull were the leaders behind the victory and are all known for their warrior abilities. The battle lasted a day and took place on eastern Montana territory where bones of both men and horses can still be found.

2. The Klondike Gold Rush

The Klondike Gold Rush happened between 1896-1899 and nearly 100,000 people migrated to the Yukon region in north-western Canada. When the first locals discovered gold in 1896 it didn’t take long before American’s from Seattle and San Fransico made their way to the profitable region, yet most actually left empty handed. The region wasn’t nearly as saturated with gold as once thought, and the tough terrain made the trip extremely hard for most people, as Canadian authorities demanded each Klondiker to carry a year supply of food.

1. The Completion Of The Transcontinental Railroad

The first transcontinental railroad opened up communication and transportation across the US connecting the existing railroad from Omaha to the San Fransico Bay. The railroad began construction in 1863 and was completed in 1869 on May 10th. The completion was signified by a golden spike being drilled into the railway in Promontory, Utah. The railway, although dated by today’s travel standards, boosted the economy and life as American’s knew it.