I found 20 lists of “Most Important People”, “Most Influential People” or “People Who Changed the World” and combined them into one list. The results are below – organized chronologically by date of birth. Each entry includes: (1) name; (2) birth and death dates; (3) country; and (4) a brief description of the person and their accomplishments. The number in parentheses at the end of each entry indicates the number of original source lists the person is on. As usual, you can click on most of the images to enlarge them.
IMHOTEP (c. 2650-2600 BCE) Ancient Egypt. Architect, engineer and physician. Served as chancellor and high priest under Pharoah Djoser. Designed the Step Pyramid of Djoser – the first known pyramid. (3)
Bronze statue of Imhotep in the Louvre (c. 330 BCE).
HAMMURABI (c. 1792-1750 BCE) Babylon (now Iraq). Military and political leader. King of Babylon. Established earliest known code of laws. Code of Hammurabi (c. 1772 BCE). (4)
Bas relief of Hammurabi receiving the law code from the god Shamash (c. 1750 BCE).
RAMESSES THE GREAT (Ramesses II) (c. 1303-1213 BCE) Ancient Egypt. Pharaoh of 19th Dynasty in the New Kingdom. Led Egyptian armies to many victories and greatly expanded territory. Built many cities, temples and monuments. (5)
Statue of Ramsses the Great.
ZOROASTER (Zarathustra) (c. 11th-10th Century BCE) Persia (now Iran). Philosopher, religious figure and writer. Founder of Zoroastrianism. The Gathas. (4)
Zoroaster (with globe) in detail from Raphael’s The School of Athens (1509).
HOMER (c. 750-650 BC) Ancient Greece. Poet. Traditional author of the epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey. (8)
Statue of Homer outside Bavarian Museum in Munich.
SAPPHO (610-570 BCE) Ancient Greece. Lyric poet. (4)
Bust of Sappho in Musei Capitolini, Rome. Roman copy of a 5th Century Greek original.
LAO TZU (Laozi) (fl. 6th Century BCE) China. Philosopher and writer. Traditional founder of Taoism. Tao Te Ching. (5)
Stone sculpture of Laozi at the foot of Mount Qingyuan from the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
PYTHAGORAS (c. 570-495 BCE) Ancient Greece. Mathematician and philosopher. Founder of Pythagoreanism (religious movement). (3)
Bust of Pythagoras from Musei Capitolini, Rome. Marble Roman copy of a 5th Century BCE Greek bronze original.
DARIUS THE GREAT (Darius I) (558-486 BCE) Persia (now Iran). Military and political leader. King of Persia. Expanded Persian Empire. (3)
Relief sculpture of Darius the Great (center) receiving tribute at Persepolis, c. 500 BCE.
CONFUCIUS (551-479 BCE) China. Philosopher. Founder of Confucianism, the dominant ethical and philosophical ideology of China for much of its history. (14)
Tang Dynasty painting of Confucius by Wu Daozi (c. 618-907).
PERICLES (c. 495-429 BCE) Ancient Greece. Military and political leader. Led Athens to victory in war. Created Athenian Empire. (4)
Bust of Pericles in the Museo Pio Clementino, Vatican City. It is a Roman-made marble copy of a Greek original by Cresilas dating from around 430 BCE.
EURIPIDES (c. 480–406 BCE) Ancient Greece. Prolific Athenian author of tragic plays. Medea. The Bacchae. Electra. (3)
Bust of Euripides in the Museo Pio Clementino. It is a Roman marble copy of a 4th Century BCE Greek original.
SOCRATES (c. 470-399 BCE) Ancient Greece. Skeptical philosopher known mostly through the writings of his student Plato. “All I know is that I know nothing.” His trial and death sentence are described in Plato’s Apology. (10)
Bust of Socrates in the Louvre, Paris. Probably a 1st Century CE Roman marble copy of Greek bronze original by Lysippos.
PLATO (428-347 BCE) Ancient Greece. Philosopher and writer. Founded and taught at The Academy in Athens. The Republic. The Symposium. (13)
Bust of Plato in the Centrale Montemartini, Vatican City. Roman copy of a Greek original by Silanion from 428 BCE.
ARISTOTLE (384-322 BCE) Ancient Greece. Philosopher and scientist. Created comprehensive system of Western philosophy. Nicomachean Ethics. Poetics. Metaphysics. Politics. (14)
Bust of Aristotle in National Museum of Rome. Roman marble copy of Greek bronze original by Lysippos from 330 BCE. The alabaster mantle is a more recent addition.
ALEXANDER THE GREAT (356-323 BCE) Macedon (now in Greece). Military general and political leader of vast empire. Defeated Persians. (14)
Portrait of Alexander the Great from floor mosaic found in Pompeii, Italy, dating from 100 BCE. Now in Naples National Archaeological Museum.
ASHOKA THE GREAT (Ashoka Maurya) (304-232 BCE) India. Military leader and Emperor of Maurya empire on Indian subcontinent. Encouraged spread of Buddhism in India. (6)
A relief sculpture of Ashoka the Great (left) found at Gulbarga stupa in southern India and dating from 100-200 CE.
EUCLID (fl. 300 BCE) Ancient Greece. Mathematician. Developed principles of what is now known as Euclidean geometry. Elements. (4)
Statue of Euclid at Oxford University Museum of Natural History, UK. Created by Joseph Durham between 1835 and 1877.
ARCHIMEDES (c. 287-212 BCE) Ancient Greece. Philosopher, mathematician, scientist, engineer and inventor. Developed hydrostatics, statics and the lever principle. Invented siege engines and screw pump. (8)
A painting of Archimedes by Domenico Fetti, from 1620.
QIN SHI HUANG (Zhao Zheng) (259-210 BCE) China. Military and political leader. First emperor of unified China. Undertook major economic and political reforms and building projects. (5)
A portrait of Qin Shi Huang.
JULIUS CAESAR (100-44 BCE) Ancient Rome. Political and military leader. Conquered Gaul. Established dynasty that ruled for the next century. Instrumental in Rome’s change from republic to empire. Assassinated. (11)
Bust of Julius Caesar in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. It is a 110 CE copy of a 50 BCE original.
VIRGIL (Publius Vergilius Maro) (70-19 BCE) Ancient Rome. Poet. Wrote the epic poem The Aeneid (29-19 BCE), which tells the legend of Rome’s founding by Aeneas, a Trojan warrior. (3)
A bust of Virgil from 45 BCE.
CLEOPATRA (c. 69-30 BCE) Ancient Egypt. Political leader. Last Pharoah of the Ptolemy Dynasty. Used relationships with Roman leaders Julius Caesar and Marc Antony to solidify her grip on the throne. (9)
A 1663 depiction of Cleopatra committing suicide with an asp, by Cesare Gennari.
AUGUSTUS CAESAR (formerly Octavian) (63 BCE-14 CE) Ancient Rome. Military and political leader. First Roman Emperor. Instituted Pax Romana.(9)
A statue of Augustus from the 1st Century CE, known as the Augustus of Prima Porta. It is now in the Chiaramonti Museum, Vatican City.
JESUS OF NAZARETH (c. 3 BCE-30 CE) Judea, Roman Empire (now Israel). Central figure of Christianity. The New Testament. Crucified by the Roman Empire. (14)
Mosaic of Jesus Christ from the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, from the late 13th Century.
PAUL THE APOSTLE (formerly Saul of Tarsus) (c. 5-67) Asia Minor (now Turkey). Early Christian missionary. Letters of Paul. (8)
A portrait of Paul the Apostle by Bartolomeo Montagna, from 1482. It is now in the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan.
BOUDICA (Boadicea) (died c. 60) Britannia (now UK). Queen of Celtic tribe, the Iceni. Led rebellion against Roman occupation. (3)
Boadicea Haranguing the Britons, from 1793. Original engraving by John Opie; print by William Sharp.
CONSTANTINE THE GREAT (272-337) Roman Empire. Military and political leader. Roman Emperor. Converted to Christianity. Founded Constantinople. (8)
A bust of Constantine the Great from the 4th Century CE. It is now in the Museo Chiaramonti, Vatican City.
AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO (354-430) Hippo Regius, Roman Empire (now Algeria). Christian theologian and author. Confessions. City of God. (3)
Portrait of St. Augustine by Peter Paul Rubens, from 1636-1638. It is now in the National Gallery of Prague.
ATTILA THE HUN (c. 410-453) Hunnic Empire (centered in Hungary). Political and military leader of Hunnic Empire. Led many invasions against Western and Eastern Roman Empires. Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (451). (5)
The Feast of Attila, an 1870 painting by Mór Than. Now in the Hungarian National Gallery.
CHARLEMAGNE (c. 747-814) Frankish Kingdom (now France). Military and political leader. King of the Franks, King of the Lombards and first Holy Roman Emperor. (6)
A depiction of Charlemagne and his illegitimate son, Pippin the Hunchback. This is a 10th Century copy of an early 9th Century original.
MURASAKI SHIKIBU (c. 978-1025) Japan. Novelist and poet. Lady-in-waiting at Japanese Imperial Court during Heian period. The Tale of Genji. (3)
A portrait of Murasaki Shikibu writing at her desk, by Suzuki Harunobu about 1767. This Edo period woodblock in the ukiyo-e style is now at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR (c.1028-1087) Normandy (now France)/UK. Military and political leader. Led Norman invasion of Anglo-Saxon England and became first Norman king of England. Possibly killed in battle. (8)
A depiction of William the Conqueror in battle, lifting his helmet to show he was still alive, part of the Bayeaux Tapestry, from the late 11th Century.
POPE URBAN II (c. 1042-1099) France/Vatican. Roman Catholic religious leader. Initiated the First Crusade to the Holy Land (1096-1099). (3)
Statue of Pope Urban II in Clermont-Ferrand, France by Henri Gourgouillon, in 1898.
SALADIN (1138–1193) Mesopotamia (now Iraq)/Syria. Political and military leader. First Sultan of Egypt and Syria and the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Led Arabs to victory over the Crusaders. (6)
Saladin the Victorious, a 19th Century engraving by Gustave Doré.
GENGHIS KAHN (c. 1162-1227) Mongolia. Political and military leader. Founder of Mongol Empire. Probably died in battle. (12)
Genghis Khan, as depicted in a 14th Century album of Yuan emperors, which is now in the National Palace Museum of Taipei.
THOMAS AQUINAS (1225-1274) Italy. Catholic priest, theologian and philosopher. Summa Theologica (1265-1274). (4)
Thomas Aquinas, as depicted by Gentile da Fabriano in a 1400 painting, now in the Pinacoteca di Brera, in Milan.
MARCO POLO (c.1254-1324) Venice (now Italy). Explorer. Improved trade between Europe and the Far East. Spread knowledge of Asia. The Travels of Marco Polo (c. 1300). (8)
Portrait of Marco Polo, possibly from the 16th Century.
JOAN OF ARC (1412-1431) France. Military leader and religious figure. Led France to numerous victories during Hundred Years War. Burned at the stake for heresy. (10)
A portrait of Joan of Arc taken from a 1505 illustrated manuscript.
ISABELLA OF SPAIN (Isabella I of Castile) (1451-1504) Spain. Monarch of Spain with Ferdinand II of Aragon. Persecuted Jews and Muslims. Sponsored voyages of Columbus. (6)
A 1520 portrait of Isabella of Spain.
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS (1451-1506) Italy. Explorer. First European to reach the West Indies, leading to lasting contact between Europe and the Americas. (14)
Posthumous portrait of Christopher Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo in 1519, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-519) Italy. Artist, inventor & scientist. The Last Supper (1494-1498). Mona Lisa (1503-1506). (14)
A portrait of Leonardo da Vinci by Francesco Melzi, from after 1510. It is located in the Royal Library at Windsor, UK.
NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI (1469-1527) Italy. Historian, politician, diplomat and philosopher. The Prince (1532). (6)
Posthumous portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito between 1550 and 1600. It can be found in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy.
NICOLAUS COPERNICUS (1473-1543) Poland. Astronomer. Developed heliocentric model of the universe. On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres (1543). (10)
A 1580 posthumous portrait of Nicolaus Copernicus. It is located in the Town Hall of Toruń, Poland.
MICHELANGELO BUONARROTI (1475-1564) Italy. Renaissance sculptor, painter and architect. Pieta (1498-1499). David (1501-1504). Sistine Chapel Ceiling (1508-1512). (10)
Portrait of Michelangelo Buonarroti by Jacopino del Conte from 1535. It is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
FERDINAND MAGELLAN (1480-1521) Portugal. Explorer. First European to cross the Pacific. Led first expedition to circumnavigate the globe. Killed in a battle with Philippine Islanders. (5)
A portrait of Ferdinand Magellan from the 16th or 17th Century. It may be found in the Mariner’s Museum Collection, Newport News, Virginia.
MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546) Germany. Theologian. Leader of Protestant Reformation against the Roman Catholic Church. The Ninety-Five Theses (1517). (12)
A portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder from around 1530. It is located in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
HENRY VIII (1491-1547) UK. Tudor king of England. Initiated English Reformation. (4)
A portrait of Henry VIII painted by the workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger between 1537 and 1547. It is located in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK.
SULEIMAN THE MAGNIFICENT (1494-1566) Ottoman Empire (now Turkey). Military and political leader. Sultan of Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566. Greatly enlarged and strengthened empire. (3)
A copy of Titian’s portrait of Suleiman the Magnificent from about 1530-1540.
ANDREAS VESALIUS (1514-1564) Brabant (now Belgium). Anatomist, physician and author. Father of modern human anatomy. On the Fabric of the Human Body (1543). (3)
This portrait of Andreas Vesalius was included as an illustration in his 1543 book about the human body.
CATHERINE DE’ MEDICI (1519–1589) Italy/France. Noblewoman and French monarch. Queen consort of King Henry II until his death and powerful leader during reigns of her children Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III. (4)
A portrait of Catherine de’ Medici from between 1547 and 1559. It is located in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
ELIZABETH I (1533-1603) UK. Protestant Queen of England (1558-1603). Final Tudor monarch. Expanded British power. Defeated Spanish Armada. (11)
Portrait of Elizabeth I from 1575, known as The Darnley Portrait. It is located in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
MIGUEL DE CERVANTES (1547-1616) Spain. Novelist, poet and playwright. Don Quixote (1605, 1615). (3)
A 1600 portrait purported to be Miguel de Cervantes, possibly by Juan de Jauregui. It is located at the Real Academia de la Historia in Madrid.
FRANCIS BACON (1561-1626) UK. Philosopher, statesman, scientist and writer. Popularized the scientific method. Essays (1597). Novum Organum (1620). The New Atlantis (1623). (4)
A 1617 portrait of Francis Bacon by Frans Pourbus the Younger. It is located in the Palace on the Water, Warsaw.
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616) UK. Playwright and poet. Hamlet (1600). King Lear (1603-1606). The Sonnets (1609). (15)
A 1610 portrait of a man many believe to be William Shakespeare, probably painted by John Taylor. It is located in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
GALILEO GALILEI (1564-1642) Italy. Physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher. Made many scientific discoveries through experiment and observation, including proof of Copernicus’s heliocentric model. Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632). (13)
Portrait of Galileo Galilei by Justus Sustermans, from 1636. It is located in the National Maritime Museum, London.
WILLIAM HARVEY (1578-1657) UK. Physician. First described circulation system and properties of blood. (4)
Portrait of William Harvey from 1627, attributed to Daniel Mytens. It is located in the National Portrait Gallery. Used by permission.
RENÉ DESCARTES (1596-1650) France/Dutch Republic. Philosopher, mathematician and writer. “I think, therefore I am.” Meditations on First Philosophy (1641) (7)
A late 17th Century copy of Franz Hals’ 1649 portrait of René Descartes. It is located in the Louvre, Paris.
OLIVER CROMWELL (1599-1658) UK. Military and political leader. After winning civil war, helped overthrow and execute English king Charles I. Became Lord Protector of Puritan Commonwealth until his death. (7)
A 1656 portrait of Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper. It is located in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
REMBRANDT VAN RIJN (1606-1669) The Netherlands. Dutch Golden Age painter and printmaker. The Night Watch (1654). The Jewish Bride (1665). Self-Portrait with Beret and Turned-Up Collar (1659). (4)
Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait of 1658. It is located in the Frick Collection, New York.
JOHN LOCKE (1632-1704) UK. Enlightenment philosopher and physician. Two Treatises of Government (1689). An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689). (6)
A 1697 portrait of John Locke by Sir Godfrey Kneller. It is located in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
ANTONIE VAN LEEUWENHOEK (1632-1723) The Netherlands. Scientist and tradesman. Pioneer of microbiology. Improved accuracy of microscopes. (6)
A portrait of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek by Jan Verkolje from between 1670 and 1693. It is located in the Museum Boerhaave in Leiden.
ISAAC NEWTON (1643-1727) UK. Mathematician and physicist. Established basic principles of what is now called Newtonian physics. Developed theory of gravity. Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (1687). (15)
This portrait of Sir Isaac Newton was painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller in 1689, when Newton was 46. It is on display at Farleigh House, Somerset, UK.
PETER THE GREAT (1672-1725) Russia. Romanov Tsar and Emperor of Russia. Instituted many Europe-oriented reforms. (6)
A portrait of Peter the Great by Paul Delaroche in 1838. It is located in the Hamburg Kunsthalle.
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750) Germany. Baroque composer and musician. Brandenburg Concertos (1721). The Well-Tempered Clavier (1722, 1742). Mass in B Minor (1749). (6)
A portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach. This is a 1748 copy of Elias Haussmann’s 1746 original, which hangs in the Old Town Hall in Leipzig, Germany.
VOLTAIRE (pen name of François-Marie Arouet) (1694–1778) France. Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher. Candide (1759). (7)
A portrait of Voltaire by Nicolas de Largillière from 1724-1725. It is located at the Palace of Versailles in France.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (1706-1790) US. Revolutionary leader, diplomat, scientist, inventor and writer. Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1791). (12)
A portrait of Benjamin Franklin by Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis from about 1785. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU (1712-1778) Switzerland/France. Enlightenment philosopher, social reformer and writer. The Social Contract (1762). Confessions (1782, 1789). (7)
A portrait of Jean-Jacques Rousseau by Maurice Quentin de la Tour between 1750 and 1775. It is located in the Musée Antoine Lécuyer in Saint Germaine, France.
CATHERINE THE GREAT (1729–1796) Russia. Political leader. Empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796. Made Russia stronger and larger. (9)
A portrait of Catherine the Great by Fyodor Rokotov in 1763. It is now in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
GEORGE WASHINGTON (1732-1799) US. Military and political leader. Led US armies to victory in American Revolution. Presided over Convention that drafted U.S. Constitution. 1st US president (1789-1796). (14)
Gilbert Stuart’s 1797 portrait of George Washington, which can be seen in the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
JOHN ADAMS (1735-1826) US. Lawyer, statesman, diplomat and revolutionary. Leader in American Revolution. 2nd US president (1797-1800). (3)
Official Presidential portrait of John Adams by John Trumbull, from 1792 or 1793. Now located in the White House, Washington, D.C.
JAMES WATT (1736-1819) UK: Scotland. Inventor and engineer. Pioneer of steam technology; improved the steam engine. (7)
A portrait of James Watt by Carl Frederik von Breda in 1792. It can be seen in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
THOMAS JEFFERSON (1743-1826) US. American revolutionary, diplomat, political leader, inventor, and architect. Principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776). First US Secretary of State (1790-1793). 3rd US president (1801-1808). Authorized Louisiana Purchase (1803). Founded University of Virginia (1819). (9)
This 1800 portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale hangs in the White House, Washington, D.C.
EDWARD JENNER (1749-1823) UK. Physician and scientist. Pioneer of vaccination and immunology. (3)
A portrait of Edward Jenner by James Northcote, from between 1803 and 1823. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791) Austria. Musician and composer. Piano Concerto No. 20 (1785). The Marriage of Figaro (1786). Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1787). Symphony No. 40 (1788). (7)
This portrait of Mozart is taken from a group portrait of his family, painted by Johann Nepomuk Della Croce in 1780 or 1781. The painting hangs in the Stiftung Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.
ADMIRAL HORATIO NELSON (Lord Nelson) (1758-1805) UK. Naval commander. Led British fleet to victories, especially during Napoleonic Wars. Killed at Battle of Trafalgar (1805). (3)
A 1799 portrait of Horatio Nelson by Lemuel Francis Abbott 1799. It is now in the National Maritime Museum in London.
MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT (1759-1797) UK. Writer, philosopher and women’s rights advocate. A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). (6)
John Opie’s portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft, from about 1797, is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
WILLIAM WILBERFORCE (1759-1833) UK. Politician and philanthropist. Leader of British anti-slavery movement. (4)
A 1794 portrait of William Wilberforce by Anton Hickel. It may be found at Wilberforce House, Kingston upon Hull, UK.
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (1769-1821) France. Military and political leader. After military successes as general, became First Consul, then Emperor of France (1799-1815). (15)
Napoleon Crossing the Alps, by Jacques-Louis David (1801). The painting is located at the Château de Malmaison in Rueil-Malmaison, France.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827) Germany. Composer and musician. Moonlight Sonata (1801). Fifth Symphony (1808). Ninth Symphony (1824). Late String Quartets (1824-1826). (11)
Portrait of Beethoven composing the Missa Solemnis, by Joseph Karl Stieler, from 1820. It may be seen at Beethoven-Haus, in Bonn, Germany.
SIMÓN BOLÍVAR (1783-1830) Venezuela. Military and political leader in struggle for Latin American independence. (9)
A portrait of Simón Bolívar. This is a late 19th or early 20th Century copy of an original work made before 1830.
LOUIS DAGUERRE (1787-1851) France. Artist and physicist. Invented early type of photography known as daguerrotype photography. (5)
Daguerrotype of Louis Daguerre in 1844, taken by Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot. On display at the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York.
MICHAEL FARADAY (1791-1867) UK. Scientist and inventor. Discovered electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis. (5)
Photograph of Michael Faraday from about 1861, probably taken by John Watkins.
SAMUEL MORSE (1791-1872) US. Inventor and painter. Developed single-wire telegraph. Invented Morse code. (4)
An 1840 photograph of Samuel Morse, which is kept in the Archives of American Art, Washington, D.C.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1809-1865) US. Political leader. 16th US president (1861-1865). Led North during US Civil War. Preserved Union. Emancipated enslaved Americans. Assassinated. (15)
A daguerrotype of Abraham Lincoln in 1863, taken by Alexander Gardner.
CHARLES DARWIN (1809-1882) UK. Naturalist and biologist. Developed theory of evolution. The Origin of Species (1859). (15)
A photograph of Charles Darwin by Henry Maull and John Fox, probably taken in 1854.
CHARLES DICKENS (1812-1870) UK. Writer and social critic. Oliver Twist (1838). David Copperfield (1850). Great Expectations (1860-1861). (5)
A photograph of Charles Dickens by Herbert Watkins, dated 1858. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
OTTO VON BISMARCK (1815-1898) Germany. Political leader and diplomat. First chancellor of united Germany. (6)
A photograph of Otto von Bismarck from about 1875. It is located in the German Federal Archives, Koblenz.
KARL MARX (1818-1883) Germany/UK. Political philosopher and economist. Originator of Marxism and communism. The Communist Manifesto (1848) (with Frederick Engels). (16)
A photograph of Karl Marx, taken about 1875. It is now at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam.
FREDERICK DOUGLASS (1818-1895) US. Social reformer, author and orator. Leader in US abolitionist movement. (3)
A photograph of Frederick Douglas from 1856. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
GEORGE ELIOT (pen name of Mary Anne Evans) (1819-1880) UK. Novelist, journalist and translator. The Mill on the Floss (1860). Middlemarch (1871-1872). (3)
A photograph of George Eliot from about 1865. It is now in the National Library of France.
FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE (1820-1910) UK. Social reformer and statistician. Helped popularize the use of statistical data. Founder of modern professional nursing. (7)
A photograph of Florence Nightingale taken about 1860. This is a 1920 print from the original negative.
HARRIET TUBMAN (1820-1913) US. Abolitionist, humanitarian and spy. Instrumental in creating Underground Railroad to rescue enlaved Americans. (3)
A photograph of Harriet Tubman by H. Seymour Squyer, taken about 1885.
LEO TOLSTOY (1828-1910) Russia. Author and philosopher. War and Peace (1869). Anna Karenina (1877). (5)
A photograph of Leo Tolstoy taken between 1880 and 1886. It is in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
EMILY DICKINSON (1830-1886) US. Reclusive but prolific poet. Because I Could Not Stop for Death. I Heard a Fly Buzz – When I Died. (3)
The only known photograph (actually a daguerrotype) of Emily Dickinson as an adult. It was taken between 1846 and 1848.
JAMES CLERK MAXWELL (1831-1879) UK: Scotland. Theoretical physicist. First described electromagnetic radiation. (3)
An undated portrait of James Clerk Maxwell. This is an engraving by G. J. Stodart, based on a photograph by Fergus of Greenock.
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE (1844-1900) Germany. Philosopher, philologist, critic, poet and composer. Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883-1885). Beyond Good and Evil (1886). (3)
A photograph of Friedrich Nietzsche from about 1875, taken by F. Hartmann.
ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL (1847-1922) UK: Scotland/Canada/US. Scientist, inventor and engineer. Credited with inventing first practical telephone. (11)
A photograph of Alexander Graham Bell taken at Moffett Studio between 1914 and 1919. It is now part of the Library and Archives of Canada in Ottawa.
VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890) The Netherlands/France. Post-Impressionist painter. The Night Café (1888). The Starry Night (1889). (5)
Self-Portrait by Vincent Van Gogh in 1889. It is now at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
OSCAR WILDE (1854-1900) Ireland/UK. Writer, poet and playwright. Persecuted for his homosexuality. The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). (6)
A photograph of Oscar Wilde by Napoleon Sarony, taken in 1882.
WOODROW WILSON (1856-1924) US. Statesman and scholar. 28th US president (1913-1920). Sponsored reform legislation. Led US into World War I. Sparked creation of the League of Nations. Nobel Peace Prize (1919). (7)
A photograph of Woodrow Wilson taken in December 1912 by Pach Brothers.
NIKOLA TESLA (1856-1943) Serbia/US. Inventor, engineer and physicist. Contributed to development of alternating current (AC) electricity system. (3)
An 1890 photograph of Nicolas Tesla by Napoleon Sarony.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT (1858-1919) US. Politician, military leader, naturalist and explorer. 26th US president (1901-1908). Led Progressive Movement. Completed Panama Canal. Nobel Peace Prize (1906). (4)
A photograph of Theodore Roosevelt from about 1902, by M.P. Rice.
JANE ADDAMS (1860-1935) US. Progressive Era social worker, sociologist, author and advocate for women’s suffrage and world peace. Co-founded Hull House, first settlement house in US. Nobel Peace Prize (1931). (3)
Jane Addams in 1915.
MOHANDAS K. GANDHI (Mahatma Gandhi) (1869-1948) India. Leader of Indian independence movement. Advocate of non-violent resistance. The Salt March (1930). Assassinated. (16)
Mohandas Gandhi (right) with Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1944.
WINSTON CHURCHILL (1874-1965) UK. Political leader and historian. British Prime Minister during World War II (1940-1945). A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (1956-1958). Nobel Prize in Literature (1953). (13)
Winston Churchill giving the “V for Victory” sign in 1940.
KONRAD ADENAUER (1876-1967) Germany. Political leader. First post-war Chancellor of West Germany. Restored Germany’s economy and international relations. (3)
Konrad Adenauer in 1955 speaking to the Bundestag.
ALBERT EINSTEIN (1879-1955) Germany/US. Theoretical physicist. Developed special and general theories of relativity. Nobel Prize in Physics (1921). (18)
Albert Einstein in Vienna in 1921. Photo by F. Schmutzer.
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973) Spain/France. Innovative modernist painter and sculptor. Developed Cubism with Georges Braque. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907). Guernica (1937). (11)
Pablo Picasso in 1908 or 1909.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (1882-1945) US. Statesman and politician. Longest serving US president, through Great Depression and World War II. The New Deal. (10)
Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the Lend-Lease Act in 1941.
BENITO MUSSOLINI (1883-1945) Italy. Military and political leader. Fascist dictator of Italy from 1922-1943. Joined Hitler and Hirohito in Axis during World War II. Executed after trying to escape. (5)
Benito Mussolini in Germany in 1938.
JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES (1883-1946) UK. Economist. Developed Keynesian economics, which emphasized government spending. The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936). (4)
John Maynard Keynes (right) with painter Duncan Grant.
ELEANOR ROOSEVELT (1884-1962) US. Politician, activist and reformer. Outspoken First Lady. United Nations delegate. Co-drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Chair of Presidential Commission on the Status of Women. (6)
Eleanor Roosevelt speaking at the United Nations in 1947.
HARRY S TRUMAN (1884-1972) US. Businessman and politician. 33rd US president (1945-1952). Used atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II. (3)
Harry S. Truman after winning election in November 1948. Associated Press photo by Rollins.
DAVID BEN-GURION (1886-1973) Israel. Political and military leader. Led successful movement for independent state of Israel. Co-founded State of Israel and became its first Prime Minister. (3)
David Ben-Gurion in 1960.
JAWAHARLAL NEHRU (1889-1964) India. Statesman and independence activist. First prime minister of independent India. Architect of the modern socialist, secular democratic India. (8)
Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (1890-1969) US. Military and political leader. Supreme Allied Commander in World War II. 34th US president (1953-1960). (4)
Dwight D. Eisenhower when he was General of the US Army.
HO CHI MINH (1890-1969) Vietnam. Revolutionary, military and political leader. Led communist revolution for Vietnamese independence and unification. Founder and first leader of of North Vietnam. (5)
Ho Chi Minh in 1946.
HAILE SELASSIE I (formerly Tafari Makonnen) (1892-1975) Ethiopia. Political leader. Leader of Ethiopia from 1916-1974 including five years in exile after Italy (under Mussolini) invaded and occupied Ethiopia. (3)
Haile Selassie in 1923.
MAO ZEDONG (1893-1976) China. Military and political leader. Led Communist Revolution against Nationalist China (1927-1949). Joined with Nationalists to fight Japan in World War II. First leader of People’s Republic of China (1949-1976). Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung (1964-1976). (13)
The large portrait of Mao Zedong by Ge Xioguang in Beijing’s Tianenmen Square is 15 feet wide and 20 feet tall.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY (1899–1961) US. Writer and sportsman. Known for his spare writing style. The Sun Also Rises (1926). For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). The Old Man and the Sea (1952). Nobel Prize in Literature (1954). (5)
Ernest Hemingway in 1958.
WERNER HEISENBERG (1901-1976) Germany. Theoretical physicist. Pioneer in developing quantum mechanics. Articulated the uncertainty principle. Nobel Prize in Physics (1932). (3)
Werner Heisenberg in 1933. (We can know the date of the photo or the location, but not both.)
LYNDON B. JOHNSON (1908-1973) US. Political leader. 36th US president (1964-1968). Sponsored Great Society programs and civil rights legislation. Increased US involvement in Vietnam War. (3)
Lyndon Johnson taking the oath of office on Air Force One, shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy, November 1963.
RICHARD NIXON (1913-1994) US. 37th US president (1969-1974). Improved US relations with Communist China and USSR. Implemented new environmental legislation. Resigned amid Watergate scandal. (3)
Richard Nixon announcing the release of edited White House transcripts in 1974.
FRANCIS CRICK (1916-2004) UK. Molecular biologist, biophysicist and neuroscientist. Co-discoverer of structure of DNA. Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine (1962). (4)
Francis Crick (right) and James Watson with DNA model.
JOHN F. KENNEDY (1917-1963) US. 35th US president (1961-1963). Engaged in Cold War with USSR, including Cuban missile crisis (1962). Set goal for man to walk on the Moon. Started Peace Corps. Assassinated. (8)
John F. Kennedy speaking to Congress in 1961.
INDIRA GANDHI (1917–1984) India. Political leader. Third Prime Minister of India. Strengthened Indian economy and military, and secured status as regional power. Ruled by decree during 1975-1977 state of emergency. Assassinated. (7)
NELSON MANDELA (1918-2013 ) South Africa. Political leader. Anti-apartheid activist. First democratically-elected president of South Africa. Long Walk to Freedom (1994). Nobel Peace Prize (1993). (14)
Nelson Mandela casting his ballot in 1994.
ELIZABETH II (1926-) UK. Constitutional monarch of 16 Commonwealth realms, including the United Kingdom of Great Britian and Northern Ireland from 1952 to present. (4)
Elizabeth II after her coronation in 1953.
ELVIS PRESLEY (1935-1977) US. Musician, performer and actor. Popularized rock and roll music. Mystery Train (1955). Heartbreak Hotel (1956). Don’t Be Cruel (1956). (10)
Elvis Presley at his 1968 “comeback” concert.
JOHN LENNON (1940–1980) UK/US. Musician, songwriter, performer, political activist and writer. Member of The Beatles. In My Life (1965). All You Need Is Love (1967). Revolution (1968). Imagine (1971). Murdered by Mark David Chapman. (7)
John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1980. Photo by Jack Mitchell.
STEPHEN HAWKING (1942- ) UK. Theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author. Developed theories regarding gravitational singularities and black hole radiation. A Brief History of Time (1988). (4)
Stephen Hawking during a visit to NASA in the 1980s.
LECH WAŁĘSA (1943- ) Poland. Politician, union organizer and human rights activist. Leader of independent trade union Solidarity. President of Poland from 1990-1995. Nobel Peace Prize (1983). (5)
Lech Wałęsa in 1980.
AUNG SAN SUU KYI (1945- ) Burma. Politician. Leader of opposition party, National League for Democracy. Under house arrest for nearly 15 years between 1989 and 2010. Nobel Peace Prize (1991). (4)
Aung San Suu Kyi in 2011.
BILL CLINTON (1946- ) US. 42nd president of US (1993-2001). Known for signing NAFTA, DOMA and welfare reform. Military interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo. (3)
Official Presidential potrait of Bill Clinton in 1993.
GEORGE W. BUSH (1946- ) US. 43rd President of US (2001-2009). Started wars against Afghanistan and Iraq after terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. (4)
George W. Bush shortly after the terrorist attacks of 2001.
BENAZIR BHUTTO (1953–2007) Pakistan. Politician and stateswoman. Held many public offices, including prime minister (1988-1990; 1993-1996). First woman to lead Pakistan or any other Muslim state. Assassinated. (4)
Benazir Bhutto in 2004.
OSAMA BIN LADEN (1957-2011) Saudi Arabia. Leader of Islamic Fundamentalist Al Qaeda terrorist organization, responsible for many civilian deaths around the globe. Killed in Navy Seal ambush. (3)
Osama bin Laden in 1998.
BARACK OBAMA (1961- ) US. Political leader. 44th US president (2009-Present). First African-American president of US. Nobel Peace Prize (2009). (3)
Official Presidential portrait of Barack Obama in 2009.