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Flashback Archive "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."
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Afghanistan's now deposed King Mohammad Zahir Shah takes a leisurely moment to browse his personal copy of the April 1949 issue of National Geographic.

Shrouded in secrecy, members of the Brethren of the Misericordia in 1910 Italy serve their community by shouldering the sick to the hospital.

Workers entering a South African mine traveled by a system of cables stretched from rim to pit floor. The tramway also served to bring diamonds up from below.

A man and his horse make a precarious river crossing in 1921 Tibet.

Pigs carved from lard celebrate in song the benefits of fat. The 1942 display featured at the International Livestock Show in Chicago focused attention on the wartime shortage of fat supplies.

Men perform the attan, a traditional Pashtun folk dance, in a village near Farah in southwestern Afghanistan. This photograph, received at the Society in 1948, was never published in the magazine.

Representatives of the 13 original states give a white-gloved salute before a backdrop of a floral flag in 1938 Philadelphia.

Volunteers beat back flames caused by a careless camper near Madison, Tennessee, during the drought of 1925.

As if standing at attention, the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan seem to salute the United States as the ship steamed past on her 1952 maiden voyage.

In the early 1900s, Islamic tradition discouraged Turkey’s Muslim women from being seen by men other than their husbands. So photographers sometimes recruited men to pose dressed as women for exotic postcards.

On March 17, 1953, Las Vegas casino workers stood captivated by the glow of an atomic bomb test 65 miles (100 kilometers) away at Yucca Flat, Nevada.

Geography students at a New York elementary school compare notes with National Geographic in 1934 to construct a table-top Sahara Desert.