North Korea used to buy full-page ads in The New York Times


Strange as it may sound today, North Korean ads such as this were relatively common in major Western newspapers from 1969 to as late as 1997. In an attempt to impress the West during the Cold War (and beyond), the North Korean government placed full-page ads in The Guardian, The New York Times, The Irish Times, The London Times, The London Evening Standard, The Sun, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post touting the exploits of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, the Juche ideology and the reunification of Korea.

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Abandoned Suitcases of Mental Institution Patients


These interesting photographs capture abandoned suitcases belonged to residents of the Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane between the 1910s and early 1960s. in 1995 when the institution was closed, staff came across the forgotten belongings, and donated them to the New York State Museum. In a Collectors Weekly article, editors brought up the interesting point: “If you were committed to a psychiatric institution, unsure if you’d ever return to the life you knew before, what would you take with you?”

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In 1941 a Group of Americans Arranged a Hex Party to Kill Adolf Hitler by a Voodoo Spell

Revelers make their way to a "hex party" in the Maryland woods, 1941.
Revelers make their way to a “hex party” in the Maryland woods, 1941.

On January 22, 1941 a group of young idealists went to a cabin in the Maryland woods to put a voodoo spell on Hitler. Black magic or not, these Nazi-haters knew how to party. According to LIFE magazine, the party featured “a dressmaker’s dummy, a Nazi uniform, nails, axes, tom-toms and plenty of Jamaica rum,” and was inspired by a book by occultist and writer William Seabrook that was popular at the time: Witchcraft: Its Power in the World Today.

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Smooth Moves of a 66-Year-Old Chinese Figure Skater

Jack Wilkes—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Jack Wilkes—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

In the forties during the winter, this bearded 66-year-old Chinese man named Wu Tang-shen used to skate on the ice pond near the Forbidden City in Beijing. In February of 1946 LIFE photographer Jack Wilkes discovered and photographed Mr. Wu while he was executed his pirouettes with the ease of an accomplished figure skater of the old school.

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In 1951, Children Could Buy DIY Nuclear Reactor Kit


You don’t see toys like this around anymore. Who wants the kid next door to create his own Manhattan project in the backyard? The Atomic Energy Lab set was available from 1951 to 1952 and sold for a whopping $50.

“The set came with four types of uranium ore, a beta-alpha source (Pb-210), a pure beta source (Ru-106), a gamma source (Zn-65?), a spinthariscope, a cloud chamber with its own short-lived alpha source (Po-210), an electroscope, a geiger counter, a manual, a comic book (Dagwood Splits the Atom) and a government manual “Prospecting for Uranium.””

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The German Hair Force: A Failed Military Experiment


For almost year and half during the 1970s, German army, the Bundeswehr, permitted its soldiers to wear long hair, reflecting the new cultural trends. During the Cold War this decision annoyed the country’s NATO allies and earned the military the derogative nickname of the “German Hair Force.”

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The Ouija Board – Toy or Gate to Another World?


Every person with a little bite of interest in magic knows what an Ouija board is. Believed to be a gate to another world, this “talking board” or “spirit board”, as it was called, is a rectangular slate, usually made of wood or plastic, which is used to contact spirits or souls of various people who passed away. On the other hand, it is frequently used as a simple way to have fun and spend time with friends.

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Army Literacy Test: Used on recruits in WWI

How literate are you by 1918 standards? Here is one version of the Devens Literacy Test, used on Army recruits during World War. The test was designed by psychologist E.A. Shaw and named after Camp Devens, in Ayer, Mass., where it was developed. It begins with simple queries meant to be answerable by people with minimal education, moving forward into more and more difficult questions targeted at soldiers who had been to college.


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It was once a common practice to conceal shoes in the structure of a building to ward off evil spirits

It’s believed that people as far back as the 14th century thought that concealed shoes would ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. They are often found near chimneys, perhaps because evil spirits would enter through the highest point of the house, as well as near other access points like doors and windows. The shoes are usually well-worn, and are more likely to have belonged to children or women than men.

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