Gems from National Geographic's Archives

Wednesday, August 06, 2014 - 08:00 AM

Locals enjoy the view of the Surrey Hills in England, 1928. (Photograph by Clifton R. Adams, National Geographic) Locals enjoy the view of the Surrey Hills in England, 1928. (Photograph by Clifton R. Adams, National Geographic)

Like many Americans, my family held on to their National Geographic magazines like treasures. I was always in awe of the sheer volume the collection took up — hundreds of glossy covers containing thousands of photographs. But when you consider the ratio of what photographers shoot versus what ends up in print, those iconic shots are just the tip of the iceberg. National Geographic sits on a massive archive, most of which has never seen the light of day, until now.

In honor of the magazine’s 125th anniversary, National Geographic started a Tumblr, aptly called "Found." Each day it offers shots from preeminent photographers capturing everything from a play performance in Greece (1930) to a Native American sending smoke signals (1909), to a Casablanca boutique (1971). And like great albums, the B-sides of National Geographic rival the hits. These images aren't just examples of great photojournalism they're splendid compositions.

A woman walks a dachshund across pavement with undulating wave patterns in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 1955. (Photograph by Charles Allmon, National Geographic)
A woman walks a dachshund across pavement with undulating wave patterns in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 1955. (Photograph by Charles Allmon, National Geographic)

 

A flock of birds fly up from an enclosed courtyard in Old Havana, December 1987.
A flock of birds fly up from an enclosed courtyard in Old Havana, December 1987. (Photograph by James L. Standfield, National Geographic)

 

Geometric patterns enliven a wall of an auditorium in Caracas, Venezuela, March 1963. (Photograph by Thomas J. Abercrombie, National Geographic)
Geometric patterns enliven a wall of an auditorium in Caracas, Venezuela, March 1963. (Photograph by Thomas J. Abercrombie, National Geographic)

 

The small monastic church of St. John at Kaneo sits perched atop a rocky precipice overlooking Lake Ohrid in Macedonia, Yugoslavia, April 1982. (Photograph by James L. Stanfield, National Geographic)
The small monastic church of St. John at Kaneo sits perched atop a rocky precipice overlooking Lake Ohrid in Macedonia, Yugoslavia, April 1982. (Photograph by James L. Standfield, National Geographic)

 

A teacher and a deaf student practice making sounds in front of mirror at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Massachusetts, March 1955. (Photograph by Willard Culver, National Geographic)
A teacher and a deaf student practice making sounds in front of mirror at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Massachusetts, March 1955. (Photograph by Willard Culver, National Geographic)

 

A British airman gives a signal to another friendly aircraft, 1918. (Photograph by Central News Photo Service, National Geographic Creative)
A British airman gives a signal to another friendly aircraft, 1918. (Photograph by Central News Photo Service, National Geographic Creative)

 

A welder works on cowls for liberty ships in California, 1942. (Photograph by Acme News Pictures, Inc.)
A welder works on cowls for liberty ships in California, 1942. (Photograph by Acme News Pictures, Inc.)

 

View of the Hagi city landscape through a fish aquarium in Japan, 1980. (Photograph by Sam Abell, National Geographic Creative)
View of the Hagi city landscape through a fish aquarium in Japan, 1980. (Photograph by Sam Abell, National Geographic Creative)

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Comments [2]

Logan from Brooklyn

Yeah, these photos are amazing. I spent about an hour scrolling through all of them.

Aug. 07 2014 10:20 AM
Window on the World from East Coast

Heart-stopping photographs.
Apart from the telephone, The National Geographic may have been Alexander Graham Bell's greatest gift to humanity.

Aug. 06 2014 08:48 AM

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