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Don’t go to the Retronaut photo web site. I’m serious. Don’t do it.


I’ll be honest. I don’t know much about Retronaut. I just found out about the site this week and am still playing it. So I’m not quite sure how to explain it.

Retronaut is an archive of historical photographs. But not just normal historical photographs. The site’s tagline is:

Retronaut – see the past like you wouldn’t believe.

The photos are, mmm . . . different. As in quirky. Kooky. Unexpected. As in Lenin without a beard, Hitler signing autographs, England’s Prince Charles performing a Cossack dance, Nixon with Robocop kind of unexpected.

But trust me. Do not go to Retronaut. It’s like a re-start of a NASCAR race with three laps to go. You know there’s gonna be a crash but you can’t look away. Retronaut will suck you in and you can’t get out. I have no idea where it gets its photos but they are addictive. Do. Not. Go. There.

I’m serious. It’s too late for me. Save yourself.

Really? Still here? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I’m not sure how many photos are in the database but there’s enough to keep you busy for hours. The home page has variety of pics organized in a random NASCAR crash sort of way but you can sort the collection in three ways:

  • Eras
  • Categories
  • Clusters
WWI listening devices. Yes. really.

WWI listening devices. Yes. really.

Eras are split into chunks of time – 1700s and earlier, 1800s, 1900s, then by decade up to the present. Categories are things like Famous People, Maps, and Politics. Clusters are more specific topics such as Batman, Elvis, and Star Wars. You can also search for specific things by keyword.

Once you found something you like, a free account lets you save them as favorites.

This looks like an awesome place to find photos for the Visual Discrepant Event Inquiry activity that I’ve talked about before. But there are lots of ways to use photos and images as part of your instruction and now that you’ve entered Retronaut zone, you might as well bookmark the site and make it a regular stop.

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