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“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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January photos 1 , 2
Swedish explorers check their balloon for leaks while preparing for the first aerial Arctic expedition in July 1897.
Insecticide billows over a beach in New York’s Jones Beach State Park as part of a mosquito-control program in 1945.
Yaks cross Xinjiang’s Sanju Pass in China in 1926.
Fishermen in Wyoming cook trout over a hot spring in Yellowstone Lake in 1919.
A woman lies back and takes the heat in a “sweatbox” at a Palm Springs resort at the edge of the California desert. Published in 1934.
June photos 1 , 2
Before and after photos of the Stari Most bridge in Bosnia after it was damaged by Croatian shelling in 1993.

Xhosa dancers from South Africa performing for their coming-of-age ceremonies. Published in 1925.
Winemaking workers turn grapes into pulp in Parras de la Fuente, Coahuila, in 1922.
Highland hunting dogs take a breather above Scotland’s Loch Lomond. Published in 1917.
An Ainu girl from Japan with a traditional tattooed mustache in 1922.
A Marquesan chief poses in a cape of human hair taken from dead enemies. Published in 1919.
A seven-foot-five-inch (2.3-meter) man poses for a photo in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in 1922.