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Scary Historical Photos

Historical photos that scare us or are so funny that they're scary! Read more >>

Scientists say that they can't quantify what scares us - they only know that fear is individual. We can also say that it varies from decade to decade. These are photos from the past that gave our ancestors chills. But what are the top ten things people were scared of in 2017?
  • Corrupt Government Officials
  • Poor Heathcare
  • Pollution of Oceans, Rivers and Lakes
  • Pollution of Drinking Water
  • Not having enough money for the future
  • High medical bills
  • A third world war
  • Global Warming / Climate Change
  • North Korea using weapons of mass destruction
  • Air Pollution

These modern fears would not occur to our ancestors - they define the state of our minds currently and what is happening now in the world. But there are also human phobias that are carried through time such as heights; snakes; spiders; direct eye contact; public speaking; sudden movements, sounds, or suprises (think firecrackers and thunder and lightening); small spaces (claustrophobia); the sight of blood; being in the dark; flying; dying; and mice and rats. Then there are clowns, scary movies, amusement park rides, ghosts, ghost towns . . . the list goes on and on. These are spooky photos from the past - some will be scary to you, some will not. But all of them evoke a fear factor in some people. << Read less
A photo of a snake charmer in carnival which came to Santa Clara, California, for the Holy Ghost fiesta
A photo of a poster for Thurston the Great, magician - the wonder show of the universe.
A shape moved suddenly past me into the flame
Photo taken by G.S. Smallwood: A double exposure "spirit" photograph of a girl holding flowers, surrounded by "spectral" faces of four people. You may look at this and just see a double exposure. But this kind of "spirit" photo (often purposely faked, not accidental) was very popular around the turn of the 20th century. Photography was relatively new and spiritualism was very popular. This photo would have been seen as proof that the girl had three spirit guides around her, protecting her. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, G.S. Smallwood photographer
Reverend Clara Smith annointing Mrs. Ella Watson, a government charwoman (janitor). Is this a double exposure or is there also a pastor annointing another woman? This was at the "flower bowl demonstration," a service held once a year at the St. Martin's Spiritual Church. Reverend Vondell Gassaway was the pastor - I just don't understand the composition of this photo. It wasn't meant to be artistic, just to record an event. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Parks, Gordon, photographer
People in this photo:
Ella Watson
Born: Apr 3, 1857
This looks like a picture of the walking dead - zombies - at the height of fashion in formal dress in 1914. It is Mrs. Middleton Elliot, Jr and Capt. C.B. Morgan, U.S.N. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain News Service
People in this photo:
The remains of Cardinal Francois Marie Benjamin Richard, Archbishop of Paris, lying in state at Notre Dame Cathedral. A priest for 63.1 years, a bishop for 36.0 years, a cardinal for 18.7 years Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain News Service
People in this photo:
This photographer was taking pictures of the construction of the Met Building in New York City. Before Buster Keaton filmed it, he was doing daredevil stunts! He's on the 33rd floor, taking pictures of construction workers. Scary! Wish I knew his name. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain News Service
The picture shows Alverta Violet Sprague in a casket. It says "Our Darling" on the top of the casket. It's probably from Ohio or Michigan.
People in this photo:
Left to right:  Maureen, Corliss, "Boris Karloff" and Marc Traut at the Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park Calif, about 1962.  We live about five miles from there. "Boris Karloff" of course was a wax figure.
People in this photo:
Before the 1950's, almost all Halloween costumes were homemade. This is definitely a picture from the 1930's or 1940's and so these masks were probably homemade - but pretty good, if so. It's just that they are scary in their own way - like giant heads on small bodies! Those noses! Those lips!!
A bicycle outing for two - when one of the two is a skeleton! An obvious studio Halloween photo from the turn of the century. Funny and a bit macabre - it probably reflects the humor of the time. Or it could be a message against dangerous bicycle riding!
It looks like this Daddy is ready for Halloween but the little girl? Not so much! The date, location, and names in this photo are unknown but it looks to be the 1930's. And to tell you the truth, if I saw this face on Halloween, I might be scared, too!
A family dressed up for Halloween - before the Adams family. Actually, the pillowcases tight over their faces are seen in a lot of photos in the 1920's or 1930's. I wonder where that idea started?
Gale Sondergaard was initially cast to play the role of the Wicked Witch of the West in MGM's famous film the Wizard of Oz (1939). Gale changed her mind about the role after MGM decided the Wicked Witch of the West should be evil and ugly as opposed to the glamorous villainess Gale thought she would play (as seen in this photo). Gale was afraid that playing an ugly role would forever hurt her career. Of course Margaret Hamilton would end up playing the role of the Wicked Witch of the West in MGM's classic movie.
People in this photo:
Gale Sondergaard
Feb 15, 1899 - Aug 14, 1985
Howard Carter, born May 9th 1874, died March 2nd, 1939 was an English archaeologist who is best remembered for his legendary discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. Tutankhamun of course was the famous 14th century BC pharaoh of Egypt. Archaeologist Howard Carter is seen in this photo with a member of his excavation team (name unknown) posing in front of Tutankhamun's sarcophagus located in the Valley of the Kings, Egypt, February 1923.
People in this photo:
Howard Carter
Born: May 9, 1874
This is a photo of The Haunted House, New Orleans, La. added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
This is a photo of View down Royal Street to the "Haunted House" (Lalaurie... added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
A photo of a purported haunted house (taken when it was the Warrington home) in New Orleans.
This is a photo of Enter fiends - La Pucelle--See! They forsake me / Fuseli,... added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
This is a photo of "The demon vanished" added by Ancient Faces on January 10, 2012.
A drawing of a woman embracing ghostly man to the surprise of onlookers - an illustration in "The Mystery of Holcomb Hall"
"One of his wet, shiny arms was round Mamie's waist." Published in Collier's Weekly as an illustration to the story "Man Overboard"
This drawing harks back to the origins of Halloween - Samhain - and shows that even at the turn of the 20th century, those roots were still a part of our culture. Illustration shows a young dryad (or wood nymph) balanced in treetop branches among a bat, owl and insects.
A drawing published in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow of the headless horseman.
This is a photo of The crocodile : a ghost story added by Ancient Faces on January 9, 2012.
This is a photo of The tenement - a menace to all / Keppler. added by Ancient Faces on January 9, 2012.
This is a photo of The Haunted Lane added by Ancient Faces on January 9, 2012.
This is a photo of One-hundred-tale ghost story gathering added by Ancient Faces on January 9, 2012.
This is a photo of Great Oregon caves, the Ghost chamber, Oregon, U.S.A.,... added by Ancient Faces on January 9, 2012.
This is a photo of Haunted castle added by Ancient Faces on January 9, 2012.
This is a photo of Botandōrō added by Ancient Faces on January 9, 2012.
This is a photo of Chas. H. Yale's fantastic spectacle, The evil eye, or The... added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
This is a photo of Thurston the great magician the wonder show of the universe. added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
This is a photo of Mel Roy on the stage mid-nite, spook party talking... added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
This is a photo of Newmann's wonderful spirit mysteries added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
This is a photo of Chas. H. Yale's fantastic spectacle, The evil eye, or The... added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
This is a photo of Bannack, Montana. Formerly a booming gold camp, now a... added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
This is a photo of Russell Gulch, ghost mining town near Central City, Colorado added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
This is a photo of Russell Gulch, ghost mining town near Central City, Colorado added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
This is a photo of Russell Gulch, ghost mining town near Central City, Colorado added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
This is a photo of Russell Gulch, ghost mining town near Central City, Colorado added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
This is a photo of Russell Gulch, ghost mining town near Central City, Colorado added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
This is a photo of Russell Gulch, ghost mining town near Central City, Colorado added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
This is a photo of Russell Gulch, ghost mining town near Central City, Colorado added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
This is a photo of Road to Ashcroft, Colorado. Ghost mining town after early... added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
This is a photo of Ashcroft, Colorado. Ghost mining town after early blizzard added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
This is a photo of Ashcroft, Colorado. Ghost mining town after early blizzard added by Ancient Faces on January 6, 2012.
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