A Gallery of the Most Shocking Historical Photos

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Are you drawn to old black and white photographs of people and places from a historical time period? Time travel into the past from the comfort of your couch – prepare to be amazed by twenty of the most shocking historical photos you will ever see on your computer screen!

Photographs capture memories of a time that has long since passed. They educate us about how life used to be and remind us that history can teach us valuable lessons.

The job of black and white photography is to communicate and tell stories as opposed to impressing with visually pleasing colors. We have included mostly black and white photographs in this post : let us know what you think of them.

1. A Clever Trick or a Ghostly Image?

 

1. A Clever Trick or a Ghostly Image
Scary reflection

This photo dating to the 1900s at a burial ground gave everyone the jitters many years after the sinister ‘extra’ girl was captured on film. The setting, the sombre face, and the freaky reflection defying the laws of nature make the photograph particularly compelling. Don’t know about you, but we’re reminded of the spooky twins from The Shining.

2. Swimming in Air

 

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2. Swimming in Air
Swimming lessons

More kids, this time doing some kind of drill or playing a game you might think. But this photo taken in 1922 is actually a lesson in swimming for young boys – minus the water. Do you get it now when your great grandfather said that life was tough back in the days? If you have air guitar now, there was ‘air swimming’ back then if your school couldn’t afford a pool.

3. 90s AIDS Outbreak
3. 90s AIDS Outbreak
Young man dying of AIDS
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The incidence of AIDS peaked in the 1990s, and up to 85 per cent of those who contracted the disease were in the 20-49 age group. LIFE magazine offered a poignant look into the anguish of people suffering from the deadly disease with this photograph taken at the scene of a young AIDS sufferer’s deathbed, where he is surrounded by his grieving family. A heart wrenching image that will stay with you for a long time.

4. Eerie Asylums

 

4. Eerie Asylums
Early 20th century mental institution
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America is home to a number of abandoned asylums from the past when there was a huge supply of crazy people, and the poor souls had to endure ice pick lobotomies, frequent sedation, and brusque care.

5. Armenian Holocaust

 

5. Armenian Holocaust
Starving children

The Armenian Genocide was a series of heinous and systematic eliminations of the minority Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire by the Turkish government. Armenians were tortured, massacred, starved, deported or banished to the deserts to die a lingering death. This 1915 photograph of a Turkish government official mocking malnourished kids with a piece of bread is an example of the atrocities suffered during this grim period in history.

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