2013 was a big year for American anniversaries. The US reflected on the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg – the bloodiest battle to take place on its soil, and one hauntingly documented by a profession then still in its infancy. 

It also marked 50 years since shots rang out in Dallas as John F. Kennedy was assassinated. An event recalled today as much through the extraordinary footage taken by a bystander as through the professional lenses that documented a nation in shock.

50 years ago too, thousands marched on Washington and bore witness to Martin Luther King’s 'I Have A Dream' address, the galvanizing speech that would become the most famous of the 20th century. The defining images and footage taken and broadcast from that day will continue to provide inspiration for generations.

Elsewhere it was 75 years since Neville Chamberlain who proclaimed ‘Peace For Our Time’ - and waved white paper in front of the world's press, only for Europe to be plunged into war less than a year later. A poignant reminder that what you see is not always what you get.

And the Profumo Affair of 1963: the mix of government, glamour and scandal gifting London's Fleet Street the perfect story - changing forever the trust between public and politician.

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  • November 22, 1963: Pres. John F. Kennedy & bouquet-carrying Jackie Kennedy (fore) arriving at Love Field, on campaign tour w. VP Lyndon & Lady Bird Johnson (C rear) et al in tow. (Photo by Art Rickerby/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
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  • Jacqueline and Caroline Kennedy kneel beside President John F. Kennedy's flag-draped coffin, Capitol Rotunda, Washington, D.C. (Photo by Bob Gomel/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
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  • Commuters reading of John F. Kennedy's assassination, 22nd November 1963. (Photo by Carl Mydans//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
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  • British statesman and prime minister Neville Chamberlain (1869 - 1940) at Heston Airport on his return from Munich after meeting with Hitler, making his 'peace in our time' address. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)
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  • Hudson River waterfront, New York, New York, 1947. (Photo by Andreas Feininger/Getty Images)
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  • Caption: Crowded by police and members of the press, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald (1939 - 1963) (second left, in handcuffs), is taken down the hall on the second floor of the Dallas Police Department building, Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963. He was shot, in the same police station, two days later by Jack Ruby. (Photo by Lawrence Schiller/Polaris Communications/Getty Images)
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  • (MANDATORY CREDIT Jurgen Schadeberg/Getty Images) South Africa's first black President Nelson Mandela revisits his prison cell on Robben Island, where he spent eighteen of his twenty-seven years in prison, 1994. (Photo by Jurgen Schadeberg/Getty Images)
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  • View of Civil Rights demonstrators, many with signs, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Washington DC, August 28, 1963. The march provided the setting for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's iconic 'I Have a Dream' speech. (Photo by Paul Schutzer/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)
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  • Close-up of Edith Lee Payne of Detroit, a young marcher participating in the March for Jobs and Freedom to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, August 28, 1963. The march coincided with her 12th birthday. (Photo by Rowland Scherman/Getty Images)
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  • Leaders of March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom marching w. signs (R-L) Rabbi Joachim Prinz, unident., Eugene Carson Blake, Martin Luther King, Floyd McKissick, Matthew Ahmann & John Lewis. (Photo by Robert W. Kelley/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
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  • DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES - AUGUST 28: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressing crowd of demonstrators outside the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. (Photo by Francis Miller/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)
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  • A dead Confederate sharpshooter in Devil's Den during the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1863. Photograph by Alexander Gardner. (Photo by Library of Congress/Getty Images)
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  • Christine Keeler, key figure in the 1963 Profumo Scandal which rocked the government, wearing a swimsuit as she relaxes on a sun lounger, 1963 (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
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  • 22nd July 1963: Models and showgirls Mandy Rice-Davies, (centre, right), and Christine Keeler, (behind), surrounded by press photographers as they leave the Old Bailey during the trial of Dr Stephen Ward, a major figure in the Profumo Affair. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)
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See more images

From the great, the good, the revered and the reviled – the fast-laners and the slow-burners we also said farewell to the famous names that died this year.  We covered over 400 obituaries through 2013. Not all will be able to lay claim to uniting or dividing nations, but collectively, those individual stories add up to a sum still greater even than its wonderfully varied parts.

And the Getty Images Archive welcomed many new collections and new photographers through 2013 – from the mighty US archives of the New York Historical Society, The Estate of Berenice Abbott and Andreas Feininger through to Russian and Chinese holdings from Fotosoyuz and ChinaFotoPress to name but a few. In short, between the contributors we work with and our Archive Editors and Researchers selecting the best content from our own files, we add around 5000 new historical images to the Getty Images site every month, constantly expanding and enriching our picture of history. And in 2014 we will see more – much more indeed.

About Bob Ahern

Bob Ahern is the Director Of Archive Photography for Getty Images, has been with the company for 14 years and is currently based in New York. 

He is responsible for managing the Getty Images Global Archive offering across its editorial and creative platforms.

His team of editors based in London, Chicago and Los Angeles work with over 30 Image Partners and hundreds of archive contributors to offer our customers access to over 80 million archive images -  making it one of richest seams of historical content in the world.

Check out our Archive Calendar - photographs of past and present world events, anniversaries and personalities. 

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