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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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Actress Lula McGrath in the 1922 movie “Wonders of the Sea.”
A royal elephant hunt leaves the ancient Thai city of Ayuthaya, Siam, in 1903.
Parched remains of a traveler are found in the Sahara’s Tanezrouft region in 1924.
Four children and a dog pose on South American water lilies in Salem, North Carolina, in 1892.
A French officer and his dog don gas masks in 1917 during World War I.
June photos 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5
Glimpse into a century of photographs from Cuba.

A Nigerian hunter wears a headress that resembles an Abyssinian ground hornbill. Published in 1944.
German students burn books in Berlin, Germany, in 1933.
Houseboats float on a river in Kashmir. Published in 1929.
Mummified corpses hang on pegs in a crypt in Guanajuato, Mexico. Published in 1916.
November photos 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5
View photos of the Panama Canal during its early construction period in the early 1900s.
Local girls in Hesse, Germany, in 1920 wear traditonal caps that were thought to have inspired Little Red Riding Hood.