For many of us, when we think about famous individuals from the past, we tend to think of them as they were after they had made a name for themselves. For most of them, this was in the later years of their life, so many of us only envision them in their older years. Of course, they weren’t always that old, so here are some rare photographs of those individuals in the prime of their youth.
Born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi was a civil rights leader that led a peaceful campaign for India’s independence from British rule.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, his actions have established him as a symbol of civil rights throughout the world, inspiring other activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. to follow his example of peaceful resistance and human rights. October 2, Gandhi’s birthday, is now known worldwide as the International Day of Nonviolence.
Mother Teresa was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic Nun that was eventually named Saint Teresa of Calcutta by the Catholic Church. Some of her work includes founding the Missionaries of Charity, a congregation of nuns in over 133 countries that devote their lives to helping those in need.
In her life, Mother Teresa received the Roman Magsaysay Peace Prize, the Novel Peace Prize and was canonized as a saint in September 2016. Despite her charitable work, she is still viewed as a controversial individual.
Richard Nixon was a member of the Republican Party and made a name for himself in politics as a representative and senator from California. Between 1969 and 1974, he served as the 37th president of the United States.
During his presidency, he established the Environmental Protection Agency, saw the end of the Vietnam War, and helped to relax the tension between the United States, the Soviet Union, and China. He also became the first president to resign from the position after the Watergate scandal.
Born in Germany in 1879, Albert Einstein was is considered to be one of the most genius and revolutionary physicists of all time. His most well-known contribution to science is his theory of relativity, while also being vital to the study of quantum mechanics, both of which are the basis of modern physics.
His mass-energy equivalence equation is considered the most famous equation in the world, and his name is now closely associated with “genius.”
Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh was a post-impressionist painter that is credited with more than 2,100 works, with around 860 of them being oil paintings done in the final two years of his life.
Although he was not well-known during his life, he became posthumously celebrated as one of the most influential painters in Western art for his portraits, landscapes, and still lifes that became an inspiration to modern art. Unfortunately, he also suffered from mental illness, leading him to take his own life at 37 in 1890.
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II was born in 1926 to the Duke and Duchess of York, with her parents becoming King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. After her father’s death in 1952, she became the Queen of the United Kingdom and a number of other Commonwealth territories.
The longest-reigning and longest-lived British monarch, Queen Elizabeth is also the oldest, longest-reigning, and longest-serving female head of state in history. To this day, she is still well-liked by her people after all these years.
As a young adult, Hillary Clinton graduated from Wellesley College and earned a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School where she met her future husband, Bill Clinton. A successful lawyer in her own right, Clinton went on to become the First lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001.
As First Lady, she advocated for healthcare reform and oversaw a number of other projects. She went on to serve as the 67th United States Secretary of State and was the first woman to be nominated for President of the United States.
Theodore Roosevelt was a man of many titles, serving first as the 33rd Governor of New York and the 25th Vice President of the United States before becoming the 26th president of the United States from 1901 to 1909.
On top of his political successes, Roosevelt was also a naturalist, historian, writer, and conservationist. He remains the youngest person to be elected president and is known for his Progressive policies and countless groundbreaking achievements as the leader of the United States.
Along with his friend Paul Allen, in 1975, Bill Gates would go on to co-found Microsoft, which would grow to become the biggest personal computer company in the world. Serving as both chairman and CEO of the company, Gates became one of the most impressive entrepreneurs of the 1970s and 80s, especially in the world of technology.
On numerous occasions, Gates held the title of the richest person in the world according to Forbes and spends most of his time now working on philanthropic ventures.
In his youth, Joseph Stalin joined the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party before becoming a political leader of the newly established Communist Party following the October Revolution. He then helped to establish the Soviet Union from which he ruled from 1927 until 1953.
Although the Soviet Union initially ran as collective leadership, Stalin managed to consolidate power to become the country’s dictator. Although he was a cult of personality during his time in power, he is also associated with horrific acts that resulted in the deaths of millions.
Born in 1874, Winston Churchill is one of the most celebrated Britains in modern history. He served as Prime Minister during World War II from 1940 to 1945 and then again from 1951 to 1955.
Although he started out as a member of the Liberal Party, for the majority of his political career he was a member of the conservative party. On top of his time as Prime Minister, Churchill was also a soldier, painter, historian, and even won the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Credited as one of the founders of the Cubist movement, Pablo Picasso was a Spanish artist of multiple mediums, although he spent the majority of his life in France. Picasso showed promise as an artist early in his youth and became increasingly experimental with his work as he aged, co-inventing the collage and inventing the constructed sculpture.
Today, Picasso’s work is broken down into periods of his artistic style and is considered one of the most influential people in 20th-century art.
Gerald Ford’s career in politics began in 1949 as the representative for Michigan’s 5th congressional district, serving 25 years. Then, after President Spiro Agnew’s resignation, Ford became the Vice President of the United States after President Nixon appointed him under the 25th Amendment.
When Nixon then resigned from the presidency, he was then sworn in as the 38th president of the United States. Ford remains the only Vice President and President without being elected by the public or the Electoral College.
The 33rd President of the United States, Harry Truman grew up in Missouri before fighting as a captain in France during World War I. In 1934, he was elected to the Senate from Missouri and was the Truman Committee chairman, making a name for himself in politics.
He would then succeed in the presidency, following the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, where he authorized the use of nuclear weapons that resulted in the end of World War II. He would then win the next presidential election with the help of the New Deal coalition.
Ernest Hemingway was a writer in almost all forms. He created a very matter-of-fact writing style called the “iceberg theory,” which would influence countless writers in the future.
Over the course of his writing career, which mainly took place from the 1920s to the 1950s, Hemingway published seven novels, six short-story collections, and two non-fiction books. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work, and today, many of his novels are considered to be classics in American literature.
Thomas Edison is an American inventor credited with introducing countless revolutionary devices to society, such as the motion picture camera, phonograph, and the earliest versions of the lightbulb.
Along with his personal accomplishments, Edison is also noted for establishing team-based scientific research, creating the first industrial research laboratory, and working with several different researchers. By the time of his death from diabetes in 1931, Edison had a total of 1,093 US patents to his name.
Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony was a women’s rights activist and social reformer who is best known for her actions during the women’s suffrage movement during the 19th century. Throughout her life, she founded the New York Women’s State Temperance Society, the Women’s Loyal National League, the National Woman Suffrage Association, among other organizations.
Although she was first criticized for her beliefs in her youth, by her 80th birthday, she was celebrated at the White House at the invitation of President William McKinley.
A communist revolutionary, Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China, with his political ideologies based on Marxist-Leninist theories known as Maoism. Zedong ruled as chairman of the Chinese Communist Party from 1949 until 1976.
Although he is considered one of the most notable individuals of the 20th century, he is also a highly controversial figure, being accused of being the cause of death between 40 to 80 million people through starvation, mass executions, prison labor, and more.
Vladimir Lenin was a Russian politician who was the Founding Head of Government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1924 and of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. Under Lenin, Russia and eventually the Soviet Union became a socialist state controlled by the Soviet Communist Party, with his political and social ideologies later being known as Leninism.
An incredibly important and powerful figure during the 20th century, following his death, he became a cult of personality and a symbol for the communist movement.
Benito Mussolini began his career as a social politician and journalist, becoming a member of the National Directorate Italian Socialist Party (PSI) in 1912. After leaving the PSI, he founded the fascist movement and was named Prime Minister of Italy after the Fascist coup.
He remained in the position from 1922. His execution closely followed in 1945 during the Italian Civil War. As Italy’s dictator, Mussolini inspired other rulers such as Adolf Hitler, Francisco franco, and more.
The niece of former president Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor grew up in a prominent American family, eventually marrying her fifth cousin once removed, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Eleanor went on to become First Lady of the United States following her husband’s win in the 1933 election and remained First Lady until 1945, making her the longest-serving First Lady.
Although seen as progressive today, during her time, Eleanor was viewed as a controversial First Lady for being outspoken on civil rights issues in favor of African Americans.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Before serving as the 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower served as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War II. For his actions during the war and the Allied forces’ successes under his command, he was named a Five-star General in the Army.
Following the war, he was the Army Chief of Staff, President of Columbia University, and Supreme Commander of NATO before winning the 1952 presidential race as a republican.
Fidel Castro was a Marxist-Leninist and Cuban nationalist who served as the Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976 and President from 1976 to 2008. In his youth, he was involved in the Cuban Revolution, in which he overthrew Cuban president Fulgencio Batista, taking over the country’s military and political power.
After making Cuba a one-party communist state, the United States opposed him, resulting in Castro becoming allies with the Soviet Union, starting the Cold War between the three countries.
A poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, is a prolific writer, publishing seven autobiographies, multiple books of essays, books of poetry, as well as scripts for films and television shows. Over her life, she received more than 50 honorary degrees and countless awards for her works throughout the years.
She is well-known for pushing the boundaries of what is considered an autobiography, as several of her works have been labeled as autobiographical fiction, with many critics considering them autobiographies.
Born in 1961, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, before graduating from Columbia University and becoming the first black person to be the president of Harvard Law Review at Harvard Law School.
He then became involved in Chicago politics as a civil rights attorney and even teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School. After being elected to the Senate in 2008, he became the nominee for the Democratic Party and became the first African American president as the 44th President of the United States.
Prior to his political career, John McCain became a naval aviator and fought during the Vietnam War where he was shot down over Hanoi during Operation Rolling Thunder and was captured by the North Vietnamese.
He retired from the Navy in 1981 as captain and went on to serve as a United States Senator for Arizona from 1987 until his death in 2018. He also served two terms in the House of Representatives and was the republican nominee for the 2008 presidential election.
Known as the “Father of Psychoanalysis”, Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist who became a doctor of medicine at the University of Vienna in the early 1880s. Although many of Freud’s theories surrounding human psychology have been deemed revolutionary for their times, they have also received their fair share of criticism, especially those regarding human sexuality.
Although psychoanalysis is slowly becoming a less and less common practice, Freud’s theories and ideologies remain a hotbed for debate today.
Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Mark Twain has been described as “the father of American literature” who began his writings as a journalist for the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City.
He was known for his incredible wit, mastery of satire, and novels such as Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and was beloved by common people, presidents, and European royalty alike. Although Twain would make a great deal of money from his writings and lecturing, he was notoriously bad at managing it, eventually declaring bankruptcy.
After studying law at Leningrad State University, Vladimir Putin worked as a KGB foreign intelligence officer, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before resigning in pursuit of a career in politics. In 1996, he joined President Boris Yeltsin’s administration, and after Yeltsin’s resignation, he became the acting president before he was voted into the office.
After his two terms as president of Russia, he became prime minister before being reelected as president once again in 2012 and again in 2018. Recently, he has made a constitutional change that will allow him to serve as president for two more terms.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, also known as FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a member of the Democratic Party. He set a record during his presidency for winning four presidential elections and is considered to be one of the key figures in 20th-century world politics.
Not only was he involved in getting the United States out of the Great Depression, but he also led the country through the majority of World War II. Unfortunately, he died in 1945 while still in office.