12 Historic Photographs That Were Manipulated


Although photo editing has become more common in recent years, it actually dates back almost as far as the invention of photography.

Amazingly here are some of the more notable instances of photo manipulation in history.

1. Abraham Lincoln’s Head on John Calhoun’s Body, circa 1860

abraham lincoln doctored photoshopped john calhoun body 12 Historic Photographs That Were Manipulated

This portrait of U.S President Abraham Lincoln is actually a composite of Lincoln’s head and the Southern politician John Calhoun’s body.




2. General Ulysses. S. Grant on a Horse in front of Troops, circa 1864

general ulsses s grant on horst doctored photosopped 2 12 Historic Photographs That Were Manipulated

general ulsses s grant on horst doctored photosopped 12 Historic Photographs That Were Manipulated

Researchers at the Library of Congress uncovered this gem after extensive detective work. The image appears to show General Ulsses S. Grant in front of his troops at City Point, Virginia during the American Civil War. Investigation now shows the image to be made of three separate prints: (1) the head is taken from a portrait of Grant; (2) the horse and body are those of Major General Alexander M. Cook; and (3) the background is of Confederate prisoners captured at the battle of Fisher’s Hill, Virginia.


3. General Francis P. Blair Added to Photograph of General Sherman Posing with his Generals, circa 1865

general francis p blair added to general sherman photograph 2 12 Historic Photographs That Were Manipulated

general francis p blair added to general sherman photograph 1 12 Historic Photographs That Were Manipulated

In this famous photograph taken by Matthew Brady, General Sherman is seen posing with his generals. General Francis P. Blair (standing far right) was added to the photograph as he was not in attendance for that specific shot. His image was taken from the second photograph shown, which was taken during the same sitting.


4. Stalin Airbrushes Out His Enemies, circa 1930

stalin photoshop doctored airbrushed out enemy 12 Historic Photographs That Were Manipulated

Stalin was notorious for routinely airbrushing his enemies out of photographs. As people fell out of favor with Stalin, so to did their photographic identity. In this image we see a commissar removed after falling out of Stalin’s good graces.


5. Mao Tse-tung Removes Po Ku, 1936

mao tse tung removes po ku from photo 12 Historic Photographs That Were Manipulated

Mao Tse-tung, (Just like Joseph Stalin) was known for removing people after they fell out of favor. In this image we see Po Ku removed for just that.


6. Hitler Removes Joseph Goebbels, 1937

hitler doctored photoshop airbrushes removes joseph goebbles 1937 12 Historic Photographs That Were Manipulated

Not to be outdone by Stalin and Mao, Hitler also liked to tamper. In this doctored photograph we see Joseph Goebbels removed, though it is unclear why Goebbels fell out of favor with Hitler.


7. Canadian PM William Lyon Mackenzie King Removes King George VI, 1939

canadian prime minister removes king george vi from photo with queen for political poster 1939 12 Historic Photographs That Were Manipulated

Prime Minster of Canada, William Lyon Mackenzie King, removed King George VI from the original photograph with the PM alongside Queen Elizabeth. The photograph was used on an election poster for the Prime Minister, so the theory is that an image of just Mackenzie with the Queen put him in a more powerful light.


8. Benito Mussolini Removes Horse Handler, 1942

benito mussolini removes horse handler 1942 12 Historic Photographs That Were Manipulated

Benito Mussolini had the horse handler removed from the original photograph to make himself look more epic and heroic in this iconic capture.


9. Watch Removed from WWII Russian Flag Raising Photograph, 1945


raising russian flag wwii watch removed photoshop doctored 12 Historic Photographs That Were Manipulated

The editor-in-chief of Russian Magazine Ogoniok, removed a soldier’s watch as they raised the soviet flag atop the German Reichstag building during WWII. The reason? If you look closely, the soldier has a watch on his other hand as well. This suggests that ‘looting’ may have occurred before this photo was taken.

10. US Olympic Hockey Team Adds Missing Players, 1960

1960 us hockey team wins gold medal photoshop doctored faces cleary mayasich 12 Historic Photographs That Were Manipulated

In this rather obvious tampering, the faces of Bill Cleary (front row, third from left), Bob Cleary (middle row, far left), and John Mayasich (top row far left), are superimposed onto the bodies of Bob Dupuis, Larry Alm and Herb Brooks. It’s unclear why those players were selected as ‘replacements’. The US Olympic Hockey team defeated the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia to win its first Olympic Gold Medal in Hockey.

11. Russian Cosmonaut Grigoriy Nelyubov Removed, 1961

1961 russian cosmonaut removed 12 Historic Photographs That Were Manipulated

On April 12th, 1961, a Russian team of cosmonauts led by Yuri Gagarin were the first humans to complete an orbit of Earth. One of the cosmonauts, Grigoriy Nelyubov, was removed from a photo of the team taken after their journey. Nelyubov had been expelled from the program for misbehavior.


12. Kent State Massacre Fencepost Removal, 1970

kent state massacre fencepost removal photoshop doctored 12 Historic Photographs That Were Manipulated

In this Pulitzer Prize winning photograph by John Filo, we see Mary Ann Vecchio screaming as she kneels over the body of student Jeffrey Miller at Kent State University. The Kent State Shootings occurred when National Guardsmen had fired into a crowd of demonstrators, killing four and wounding nine. The photo originally featured a visually distracting fencepost behind Mary Ann Vecchio’s head, but this was removed by an unknown photo editor in the early 1970’s. The modified photo then was published in Life magazine and other publications.

On-line Newspaper Archives

Newspaper Archives provide a wealth of primary source material for Genealogist’s research.


You can often gain access to an extensive range of regional, national and international newspapers in digital format. With most newspaper archives you can now search by keywords and dates.

On-line collections comprise both digital newspaper archives and full-text newspaper article databases offering powerful search capabilities.

Researching old newspapers archives can reveal more about your family history than you might actually realise.

I knew the date and where he died so I researched which newspapers were in print at that time. I found an article on my own grand-uncle’s tragic death via ‘Brooklyn Newsstand‘ .

If you know locations and dates then begin your research. When you have identified a national or local newspaper of interest, then do a little more research checking if have an on-line archive.

With a little bit of research you maybe surprise what you find. Maybe a good place to start are theses following websites:


There are lots of digital archives out there…get searching

Here is a list from Wikipedia of On-line Newspaper Archives


The Whitehouse – Visitor Access Records

More than 4.95 Million Records Released

In September 2009, President Obama announced that—for the first time in history—White House visitor records would be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. Today, the White House releases visitor records that were generated in August 2015.

Whitehouse Vistors Disclosure

The latest release brings the total number of records made public by this White House to more than 4.95 million—all of which can be viewed in the Disclosures section.


Duncannon Hoax Sputnik

Ingenious Hoax at Duncannon

Ingenious Hoax at Duncannon (1962) (Co Wexford, Ireland)
via ‘The People’ paper – 15/09/1962

Army Expert Examines “Mysterious Object” 

Clonsharragh Ramsgrange, a quite and peaceful townland about one mile from Duncannon harbour, almost became world-famous overnight last week-end, when firsts reports of a SPUTNIK landing on the farm of Mr Robert Nolan, reached Dublin, where a large number of foreign newspapermen were gathered to cover the international air transport association conference.

Early reports of a flashing light from the sky. A loud explosion which was heard in a half-mile radius and the finding of a black metal ball with four spikes sticking out of it, indicated ingredients for a front page story on the world newspapers.

Area Cordoned off

Local people who first found the shining black object were mystified. They immediately notified Duncannon Garda Station. They in turn, contacted Supt. W. M. O’Brien, New Ross who informed the Army authorities whose experts said they would make the one hundred miles journey from Dublin to inspect the object and were expected to arrive about 4am some five hours after Mr Joseph Wallace, Kilbride, saw the flashing light and felt the ground tremble beneath him.

In the meantime, Garda T. Kerigan, Duncannon, remained at the scene and was replaced around four o’clock by a force from New Ross.

At nine o’clock in the morning, the area was cordoned off and no one was allowed within a considerable distance of the object, which was known to be sitting on top of some yellow clay in a five feet in diameter crater.

People came from a wide area to hear about the mysterious object, but they made no move to go near it even if they could – they were afraid in case it would blast them into eternity. What was it? Various opinions were put forward.

“It is a guided missile.” Said one local. “It was probably fired from Cape Canaveral and meant to land in the harbour.” He added.

“I’d say ‘tis a sputnik.” Said another. “or one of those yokes the Americans have for testing the upper atmosphere.”

“Whatever it is. ‘tis highly dangerous.” Said another. “I wouldn’t like to go near it anyhow.”

“It looks awful like a ball-cock to me.” Said one of those who braved to go near it before the area was cordoned off.

 Mystery Solved

And that is exactly what it turned out to be – a perfectly harmless cistern ball-cock with four brass rods sticking out of it, three from the top hemisphere.

The mystery was solved about one o’clock on Saturday when Comdt. P. I. McCourt, Sergt. M. P. Walsh and Cpl. M. J. Cleary, Ordnance Corps, Eastern Command Dublin, arrived to inspect the object.

Comdt. McCourt’s offical description – an ingenious hoax, a cistern back-cock designed to give a Telstar effect.

Thus ended all the speculation which had been rife from the time Mr Wallace, who was in the adjoining sports field, saw the flashing light and felt the ground tremble beneath him after a loud explosion. Mr Wallace related his experience to a few other local people and they decided to explore for themselves before notifying the Gardai.

When our representative called to the scene early on Saturday morning, there was quite a crowd of people gathered, including a number of tourists who were holidaying in Duncannon. A member of the Garda Siochana saw to it that no one entered the field and a lone soldier walked to and fro about a hundred yards from the mysterious object.

Shortly after the writer’s arrival two big sows came in through a gap into the cordoned off field, but they, too, apparently sensed the danger and went away from the danger zone.


Amongst those present was Mr. Andrew Knox, Clonsharagh, who said he was going to bed when he heard the explosion, which was like a discharge from a shotgun or burst tyre, but three times louder.

The “mystery” object was painted on the outside with black shellac and had four brass rods sticking out of it, each about six inches long and were probably stair rods. The inside was expertly assembled and obviously the work of someone who knew quite a bit about electronics. It contained transistors and resistors, elaborate wiring and electronic devices probably taken from a wireless set.

The “sputnik” was found on the top of a sauce bottle top laid on top of a hole five feet in diameter, which had obviously been dug beforehand.

When asked to explain the explosion, which caused the earth to tremble for a considerable distance around, Comdt. McCourt said there was strong evidence to prove it was caused by gunpowder.

Before taking back the “sputnik” to headquarters with him, Comdt. McCourt said he would be able to trace the various items when he got time to examine them in detail. A piece of sponge inside originated in Kilmallock, Co Limerick, he said.

Local people believed that the incident had consequences, which were not at all intended by the person or persons responsible. It is thought to have been an experiment by some space-minded person or persons who had hopes of establishing a Cape Canaveral in Ramsgrange. The incident, it is believed, would have passed unnoticed were it not for the fact that Mr Wallace was in the adjoining field. The Gardai, however, may have different ideas, as it was they and the military who were most upset by the Hoax.

‘The People’ paper – 15/09/1962




Photograph Restoration