In Photos: Historical Figures in Their Youth

From Abraham Lincoln to Albert Einstein to Queen Elizabeth II, some of modern history’s most famous faces exist in our minds solely as they appeared in old age. Just try to picture Lincoln, or, say, Mahatma Gandhi as a young man and you’ll probably come up blank.

Whether it’s because these people didn’t truly make their mark on history until late in life or because they didn’t assume their now iconic appearance until at least middle age, they’ll live on in our minds, not to mention the history books, looking old.

But if you’ve ever been curious about what some of modern history’s most important leaders, thinkers, and artists looked like in their youth, take a look at the rarely-seen photos below.

Theodore Roosevelt

1880. Age 21-22.

Library of Congress


Bill Gates

1977. Age 22.

Public Domain


Bill Clinton

1963. Age 16. (Left, shaking hands with President John F. Kennedy.)

Arnold Sachs/Getty Images


Pope Francis

Date unspecified.

Jesuit General Curia via Getty Images


Barack Obama

1990. Age 28.

Joe Wrinn/Harvard University/Corbis via Getty Images


Mark Twain

Circa 1859. Age 24.

Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images


Sigmund Freud

1872. Age 15-16. (With his mother.)

Wikimedia Commons


John McCain

1965. Age 28-29.

Library of Congress


Winston Churchill

1895. Age 20-21.

Imperial War Museums/Wikimedia Commons


Pablo Picasso

1908. Age 26-27.

Wikimedia Commons


Maya Angelou

1957. Age 28-29.

Library of Congress


Nikola Tesla

1879. Age 23.



Fidel Castro

1955. Age 28-29.

Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images


Gerald Ford

1933. Age 20.

Gerald R. Ford Library


Franklin Delano Roosevelt

1904. Age 22.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum


Ernest Hemingway

Circa 1918. Age 18-19.

National Archives


Frederick Douglass

Circa 1847-1852. Age 28-32.

Samuel J. Miller/Art Institute of Chicago/Wikimedia Commons


Calvin Coolidge

Circa 1891-1895. Age 19-22.

Wikimedia Commons


Eleanor Roosevelt

1908. Age 23-24. (With husband Franklin Roosevelt and two of their children.)

Wikimedia Commons


Dwight Eisenhower

1912. Age 21-22.

National Archives


Benito Mussolini

1903. Age 20.

Wikimedia Commons


Thomas Edison

Circa 1878. Age 30.

Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons


Vladimir Lenin

1887. Age 17.

Culture Club/Getty Images


Harry Truman

1912. Age 27-28.

National Archives


Marie Curie

Circa 1886. Age 18-19. (Left, with her sister.)

Wikimedia Commons


Mao Zedong

1927. Age 33-34.

Wikimedia Commons


Herbert Hoover

1898. Age 23.

State Library of Western Australia/Wikimedia Commons


Susan B. Anthony

Circa 1848-1849. Age 28.

Wikimedia Commons


Pope John Paul II

1945. Age 24-25.

Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images


Muammar Gaddafi

Date unspecified.

Stevan Kragujević/Wikimedia Commons


Nelson Mandela

1937. Age 19.

Wikimedia Commons


Abraham Lincoln

Circa 1846-1847. Age 36-38. (His first known photographic image.)

Nicholas H. Shepherd/Library of Congress


Mahatma Gandhi

1906. Age 36-37.

Wikimedia Commons


Albert Einstein

Circa 1904-1905. Age 24-26.

Wikimedia Commons


Adolf Hitler

Circa 1914. Age 24-25.

National Archives

Saddam Hussein

1963. Age 25-26.

Laurent VAN DER STOCKT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images


Richard Nixon

Circa 1930. Age 17.

Fox Photos/Getty Images


Hillary Clinton

1969. Age 21.

Wellesley College/Sygma via Getty Images


Stephen Hawking

1965. Age 23.


Vincent van Gogh

1873. Age 19.

Wikimedia Commons


Vladimir Putin

1971. Age 18-19.

Laski Diffusion/Getty Images


Queen Elizabeth II

1952. Age 26.

Douglas Miller/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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