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Editor’s Picks: Ten Beloved Photographs from the Archives

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Teenagers run and play on large white sand dunes in New Mexico, 1957.

As the curator of the Found Tumblr, I often find myself lost in the pages of history when searching through the National Geographic archives. You might not know this, but National Geographic was one of the first publications to have photographs on its pages. Our first photograph was an engraving of a topographic map in 1889, just one year after our founding in 1888. The archive contains photos unlike many others taken during the 1800s and early 1900s. When staged family portraits and celebrity pinups were the norm, National Geographic staked its claim as a forbearer of modern photojournalism, capturing daily life one frame at a time.

I’m often attracted to images that have what I call “good energy”—bright colors, a surprising scene, and a hint of excitement. Here I share a few of my favorites from Abu Dhabi, South Dakota, France, Romania, and more.

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Thomas Jefferson at Mount Rushmore under construction, 1939 Photograph by Edwin L. Wisherd
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A regular at Le Louis IX in Paris, “Caramel” keeps a client company, 1988. Photograph by James L. Stanfield
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Iron and manganese seepage creates streaks on a sandstone wall on Lake Powell in Utah, 1967. Photograph by Walter Meayers Edwards
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Two bubble eye goldfish stare outside their aquarium, 1973. Photograph by Paul Zahl
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An American restaurant chain is patroned by local Abu Dhabian men, 1975. Photograph by Winfield Parks

painting of a diner

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Women enjoy the benefits of a heated whirlpool in Saint Petersburg, Florida, 1973. Photograph by Jonathan Blair
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The glow of an atomic bomb test draws Las Vegas casino workers, 1953. Photograph by Volkmar K. Wentzel
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Cranes lift the face of a statue from the Abu Simbel Temples in Egypt, 1966. Photograph by Georg Gerster
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Buckets of iron ore are transported to a major steelworks in Hunedoara, Romania, 1975. Photograph by Winfield Parks

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From the Archives

Look through a curated collection of historical photos from our archives on National Geographic's Found Tumblr.


Picture Stories

Check out the latest work from National Geographic photographers and visual storytellers around the world.

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