What’s already a surprising incident at face value becomes all the more unbelievable when you learn the seldom-heard story behind the photo of Elvis Presley meeting President Richard Nixon at the White House on December 21, 1970. Presley was there to ask for a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, which he believed would allow him to carry drugs and guns with him wherever he traveled. That of course wasn’t the case, and the badge that Presley was given was, whether he knew it or not, purely ceremonial.Ollie Atkins/National Archives

Although this image of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức setting himself ablaze in protest in Saigon on June 11, 1963 is known to millions around the world, what’s surprising is how few of those people (at least in the West) likely realize what exactly Đức was protesting. While the self-immolation has become linked wholly with the Vietnam War in the West, the act was actually a demonstration against South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem’s violent persecution of Buddhists, exemplified by a massacre of nine Buddhist protesters the month before the immolation.Malcolm Browne/Library of Congress

Little-known tidbits about this 1932 photo of California “migrant mother” Florence Owens include the fact that she was just 32 years old when it was taken, her identity remained unknown for decades, and she was falsely promised by the photographer that the image wouldn’t be distributed. On the bright side, the widespread distribution of the photo convinced the government to send 20,000 pounds of food to the migrant camp in question.Dorothea Lange/Library of Congress

 

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What's already a surprising incident at face value becomes all the more unbelievable when you learn the seldom-heard story behind the photo of Elvis Presley meeting President Richard Nixon at the White House on December 21, 1970. Presley was there to ask for a badge from the Bureau of...