“We try to come up with funky stuff that is full of surprises,” says illustrations editor Susan Welchman, who picks the images each month for National Geographic’s most popular feature. “They have to be light, related to the stories in the magazine, and, if possible, funny.”

Click a year to display the archive at right.

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A National Geographic photographer squats in seawater clumped with icebergs to develop his film in 1909.
Tourists at Kilauea volcano in Hawaii dip postcards into hot cracks of active lava flows in the 1920s.
Confined by weather, members of a British Antarctic expedition watch a slide show in 1910.
A squirrel sports a vintage healthcare ensemble during World War II in 1944.
A team of 32 mules muscles a combine over wheat fields in Washington in the early 1900s.