15 Shocking Historical Facts They Don’t Teach You In School


The subject ‘history’ is one of the most boring courses in schools. The mere idea of listening to the teacher rambling on about wars or people, and expecting us to know all the dates makes us want to go back to sleep and not wake up until we are free from torture. Not many students look forward to hour-long history lectures.

Why don’t our teachers make this hour exciting by telling us things that might actually arouse our interest in the lecture? Here we present to you 15 shocking historical facts that are not taught in school.

  1. The Pony Express

Source: https://www.geni.com

One of the most familiar icons in the old west lore of America is The Pony Express. After the discovery of gold in 1848, the demand for faster mail service with quick routes grew as investors and businessmen were making their way to California. The demand kept on growing as the population grew until American Civil War when the demand was great. Three businessmen had this idea to use horses instead of the usual stagecoaches for quicker delivery. After every 10 miles, they made a station which in total went up to 184. The delivery system only lasted 19 months.Postmortem Photography

2. Postmortem Photography

source: mdolla.com

It used to be very difficult for middle class people to get the painting of their loved ones. This problem was solved when the first camera was invented in 1839. These sessions were not expensive and gave the picture much faster. Due to high child mortality rate, the camera was used to take pictures of the dead loved ones and this became very common in Victorian Britain. For this purpose, they would position their dead to appear as sleeping or prop them up against a chair or even with the entire family.

3. Heroin As Medicine

source: www.deamuseum.org

Before heroin was called an illegal narcotic, it was used as a medicine. It was used to suppress a cough, soothe a fussy baby, or as an antidiarrheal. Opium was used by the medical professionals to develop morphine which had the ability to lessen pain. Morphine was named after Morpheus, the Greek God of dreams as the drug induced euphoria. Germany produced heroin in 1894. It was available for use until the 1920s.

4. Leif Eriksson

source: tarnmoor.com

What we are told is that Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover America but in reality, 500 years before Columbus, Leif Eriksson, a Norse explorer was the first European to discover North America. He was a Viking and the founder of Greenland. Eriksson traveled to Norway after leaving Greenland in 999 A.D. After turning into a Christian, he went back to Greenland to bring the religion there. He was blown off course on his way back and landed in Newfoundland.

5. Swastika

source: upload.wikimedia.org

5000 years before it became the Nazi symbol, the swastika represented good luck and well-being. It is still a sacred symbol in religions like Hinduism and Buddhism and is seen on the walls and doors of homes and temples. But by 1920, people started associating it with the German ideology of “pure race” ultimately being adopted by Nazi during World War 2.

6. World’s Shortest War

source: https://upload.wikimedia.org

In 1896 there was a conflict between the British government and the Zanzibar Sultanate. This war was known as the Anglo-Zanzibar war. The problem began after the death of the pro-British king. Within the hour of his death, the palace was taken over by his successor and cousin without British diplomat’s approval. When he was warned to stand down, he began preparing his armies. In retaliation, the British also gathered their militaries. The British threatened the Sultan to step down or be destroyed. After his refusal, the British opened fire. The Sultan ran away, leaving his people to fend for themselves. The war ended within 38 minutes.

7. Dr. Eugene Lazowski

source: https://upload.wikimedia.org

Remembered as Polish Schindler, Eugene Lazaowski was a doctor during World War 2. During German invasion in Poland, with the help of a fellow doctor, Lazowski experimented with bacterial injections. They found out that the vaccine for typhus, which was a very deadly bacterium, made the test of the disease to come positive but did not show any symptoms. They knew that Nazis were afraid of diseases, and so injected the people in the town causing a fake epidemic. This made the Nazis treat the residents rather than taking them to the death camp. This saved around 8,000 lives.

8. As Mad As A Hatter

source: http://www.phrases.org.uk

Instead of the popular belief that the expression ‘As mad as a hatter’ originated from Alice in Wonderland, the expression came to be in the 19th century when the felt hats were in fashion. Hatters, the makers of the hat, worked the animal fur through a solution which had mercury. Though it was discovered after long exposure that the vapors caused mental problems like confusion and neurological diseases which made the hatters look insane. The syndrome was then known as ‘Mad Hatter Disease.’

9. Foot Binding

source: dailymail.co.uk

Sometimes known as the lotus feet, foot binding was practiced in Imperial China by binding the foot of six-year-old girls to stop them from growing. The toes would be bent under the sole. Until their foot broke, the girls were made to walk like that. After the foot broke, the binding would get even tighter. After three years, the feet would get deformed and stay that way for the rest of their lives. These girls were considered beautiful and attractive and had a higher rank in the society. The practice finally started to die down in 1920 but did not end until the 1950s. There were many attempts to ban these activities in the past, but they were not successful until the 1920s.

10. Teratorn Bird

source: upload.wikimedia.org

At the natural history museum in LA, the magnificent Argentine bird is on display. The bird has a wingspan of 25 ft and is considered to be the largest bird ever known. It is said to live six million years ago in the plains of Argentina. It looks like a vulture and stork. The size of its feather is a long as a samurai sword.

11. Musicians On Titanic

source: https://www.joytunes.com

When Titanic began to sink, the people on board began to panic. The real heroes were the musicians on the ship who instead of saving their lives, started to play music to soothe the tension and bring the chaos down in the ship. The ship had eight musicians. The survivors said that the leader of the band, Hartley and his crew members kept on playing until the end to calm the passengers while they were boarding on the lifeboats.

12. Frozen Corpse Of Dutch Freighter SS

source: http://mysteriousuniverse.org

In February 1948, a Dutch Freighter SS Ourang Medan made a distress call to the nearby ships near Indonesia. The message was “All officers, including captain, are dead lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead.” The message was followed by another message in indecipherable Morse code that meant “I die.” When the ship was found, and people looked into it, they found frozen corpses looking toward the sun with their mouth open, arms outstretched, and faces contorted. No injuries were found on their bodies.

13. Grigori Rasputin

source: upload.wikimedia.org

Even after multiple attacks on him, Grigori Rasputin escaped every attempt. He was shot, stabbed, and poisoned by a lot of people in one day in 1916. He managed to evade all of them. He was taken to a local surgeon who attempted an emergency surgery which made Rasputin survive. What finally killed him was the cold waters in Russia. Some accounts say that after several attempted murders, he was finally shot. The dead body was wrapped in a cloth and thrown in the river.

14. Fashionable Flour Sacks

source: https://ameripics.wordpress.com

When the sack manufacturers came to know that poor people used to make dresses for themselves and their children with the flour sack, they decided to make the sacks with more patterns and designs to make the sacks look attractive. This helped the poor make beautifully designed clothes from the sacks. This fashion was started during the Dust Bowl as the money at that time was very tight for people. The designs were of flowers and sometimes even of toys and cartoons for children. The labels were in washable ink. This was greatly appreciated by families who were in great financial difficulty.

15. Joseph Stalin

source: history.com

Joseph Stalin could be said to have invented Photoshop (not the app). He used to get his pictures retouched every time one of the people from the photograph died. This was most probably done to evade questioning the families of the deceased people.
These are some of the facts that are not well known to us. This might be because people do not really know these things or that they try to keep it down because of the bias.