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11 historical photos now in color

Albert Einstein, JFK, Thomas Edison and Abraham Lincoln look like they were photographed yesterday.


April 3, 2017 | Latest Photo Prev Next
 Albert Einstein and David Rothman in New York, 1939. Albert Einstein and David Rothman in New York, 1939.Photo: Photo Retrofit / Facebook
April 3, 2017 | Latest Photo

I did a double take when I saw Albert Einstein in color, wearing some pretty cute shoes by a New York beach.

Color photography is a relatively recent invention, so early and mid-1900s photos are generally in black and white. I could look at Einstein in color because a digital artist had gone back and colored in the photo incredibly well ... So well that it looked like somebody had photographed the theoretical physicist yesterday.

"Einstein's face is the most recognizable face worldwide," Hanoch Gutfreund, the director of the Albert Einstein Archives at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told From The Grapevine. "The interest in Einstein does not fade into history. If one can say anything about this, the interest in Einstein increases with time. It's greater now."

Something about seeing colorized historical photos makes the past feel more real. Here, let me show you what I mean.

John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, 1953.John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, 1953. (Photo: Marina Amaral/www.marinamaral.com)

These newlyweds look familiar, right? American power couple John. F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy enjoy their wedding day outside, neither knowing that Jackie would one day be played by Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman in a Hollywood movie over 50 years later. Oh, and I think John went into politics or something.

American pilots, 1940s.American pilots, 1940s. (Photo: Benjamin Thomas/Facebook)

It was 1942, and the U.S. was desperately low on pilots. Somebody realized that snazzy, feminine hairstyles didn't get in the way of flying planes, so the Air Force started training female pilots. The Air Force general at the time said he wasn't sure "whether a slip of a girl could fight the controls of a B-17 in heavy weather," when the program got started.

"Now in 1944, it is on the record that women can fly as well as men," the general said at the women's flying graduation ceremony.

Blackfoot Piegan Native Americans in Northern Montana, ca. 1908Native Americans in Montana, 1908. (Photo: Captain-Cliche)

A group of Blackfoot Piegan Native Americans ride their horses through northern Montana at the beginning of the 20th century. Their lands were later divided up between the U.S. and Canada, and many still live on a reservation in northwestern Montana.

Children of miners in West Virginia, 1937.Children of miners in West Virginia, 1937. (Photo: Photo Retrofit/Facebook)

Coal miner children pose for a photo at Scott's Run in 1930s West Virginia. This five-mile-long hollow was a big center for coal mining a couple decades before, but by the '30s, many mines were closing down. These kids don't seem to mind.

Film star Dorothy Sebastian, 1929 American film star Dorothy Sebastian, 1929. (Photo: Benjamin Thomas/Colours of Yesterday)

Now that you've seen real historical female pilots, here's a pretend one. American actress Dorothy Sebastian reads a book titled "How to Fly an Airplane" (presumably for a role) as she prepares to get into an airplane, which can't possibly be a good idea.

Sebastian was born in Alabama, but she ran away to New York City to become an actress as a teenager. It worked out; she ended up starring in a bunch of popular Hollywood movies.

Early 20th century French cyclist Hippolyte Aucouturier.Early 20th century French cyclist Hippolyte Aucouturier. (Photo: Paul Edwards/Photo Retrofit)

At the very first Tour de France in 1903, French cyclist Hippolyte Aucouturier won two stages. He was apparently an outspoken guy, one whose iconic mustache and striped shirt looked so suspiciously French that I'm starting to wonder if he actually created my mental image for Frenchness in the first place.

American inventor Thomas Edison, 1921.American inventor Thomas Edison, 1921. (Photo: Marina Amaral/www.marinamaral.com)

Sometimes, American inventor and businessman Thomas Edison didn't feel like inventing light bulbs or doing business. Sometimes, he just wanted to go camping. That's why he, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and John Burroughs went on a bunch of fun summer camping trips, calling themselves the "Four Vagabonds" the whole time for some reason.

Actually, they were more glamping than camping – on one trip, they took over 50 vehicles, including a kitchen car equipped with a chef, stove and icebox; no cooking over a fire for these guys. They also brought electric lights (I assume Edison grabbed those) and a round table with a lazy Susan that seated 20.

New immigrants to Australia, 1908.New immigrants to Australia, 1908. (Photo: Benjamin Thomas/Facebook)

These Australians don't seem to be of the "You think that's a knife? This is a knife," variety. That's probably because they're new immigrants, moving to Sydney in 1908. They're sitting at the Garden Palace, an exhibition structure designed by architect James Barnet that burned down only a few years later.

Laurel & Hardy, an early 20th-century comedy duo.Laurel & Hardy, an early 20th-century comedy duo. (Photo: Photo Retrofit/Facebook)

These two looked vaguely familiar to me, like something out of an old cartoon. I discovered something I imagine most people older than me probably already know: these two are Laurel & Hardy, an American comedy duo known for their slapstick routines in the '20s, '30s and '40s. They appeared in more than 100 films together.

Abraham Lincoln and George McClellan, 1862.Abraham Lincoln and George McClellan, 1862. (Photo: zuzahin/Reddit)

Photography was only commercially available a few decades or so before this photo was taken in 1862. President Abraham Lincoln and soldier George McClellan sit for a surprisingly candid-looking photo at Antietam, even though they probably were posing for a pretty long time. This photo really engrossed me because it makes Lincoln look like, well, a regular person.

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