50 inspiring photos of resilience from American history
The old saying goes that a picture speaks a thousand words—but some photographs speak more loudly than others. Although the click of a photographer's shutter captures only the briefest moment in time, the greatest photographs communicate through the ages.
Using a variety of sources, Stacker compiled a list of 50 photographs that continue to instill hope and inspire action just as they have throughout this country's history—or at least from the time that cameras were invented. Some are portraits of individuals, and others capture sweeping before-and-after moments in history that were larger than any one person. All, however, are physical representations of integrity, courage, determination, and resilience.
You may also like: 50 ways the news industry has changed in the last 50 years
American abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman is the most enduring symbol of the Underground Railroad. Famous for her courage and fortitude, she made frequent and perilous return trips to the South to shepherd hundreds of family members and other enslaved people to freedom.
Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island
Immigrants landing at Ellis Island, New York, like this group circa 1900, were moved through a processing center immediately after arriving. Those pictured here are carrying papers with entry numbers that they hope will soon be traded for visas. Ellis Island served as America's main entry point for immigrants between 1892 and 1943, with some 20 million passing through during that time.
Relief for survivors of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
Crowds of men who survived the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and subsequent citywide fires sit and eat at an outdoor soup kitchen in San Francisco in 1906. The soup kitchen is enclosed by a fence and surrounded by the remnants of destroyed buildings. An estimated 225,000 people were left homeless from the destruction of the disaster, and people came together to provide relief efforts like this, playing a critical role in recovery.
Photographer Lewis Hine documents child labor conditions
Breaker boys, like these children at the Hughestown Borough Coal Company in 1911 in Pittston, Pennsylvania, were tasked with separating impurities from coal. Lewis Hine's photographs for the National Child Labor Committee documenting child labor in the United States were major catalysts for labor reform.
Silent sentinels of the Suffrage Movement
Suffragettes picket for the release of 10 of their colleagues who were confined to a workhouse after serving a 60-day sentence for obstructing traffic. Suffragists were commonly arrested during their protests for women's voting rights and were frequently subjected to harsh conditions and brutal punishments while in jail.
An American soldier in Neuilly, France, during World War I
A U.S. soldier recovers in American Military Hospital #1, which was supported by the American Red Cross in Neuilly, France, in 1918. During WWI, 116,516 Americans were killed, and another 320,000 were listed as casualties from injury or illness.
Red Cross Motor Corps on duty during the 1918 influenza epidemic
Masked women with the Red Cross Motor Corps are shown bearing stretchers near their ambulances during the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918. About 500 million people—roughly one out of three human beings on Earth at the time—became infected, and at least 50 million died. About 675,000 deaths were in the United States.
Suffragists celebrate the ratification of the 19th Amendment
Alice Paul, national chair of the Woman's Party, unfurls a ratification banner from suffrage headquarters in Washington D.C. when Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment on Aug. 18, 1920. Tennessee was the 36th state to ratify, which was enough to satisfy the Constitution's requirement of a two-thirds majority and give women the right to vote.
Jobless New Yorkers selling apples during the Great Depression
Unemployed New Yorkers are pictured selling apples on the sidewalk during the Great Depression in 1930. The stock market crash the year before triggered the greatest global economic catastrophe in modern history. Within a few years, unemployment would peak near 25% in the United States.
WPA construction of the Hoover Dam
Workers shave rock off the walls of Black Canyon 550 feet above the Colorado River during the building of the Boulder Dam, later renamed Hoover Dam, in 1935. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created during the Depression to spearhead large-scale public construction and infrastructure projects to put millions of unemployed Americans back to work.2018 All rights reserved.