On This Day January 15

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On This Day January 28

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1915 – The American merchant ship William P. Frye becomes the first casualty of World War I as a German cruiser opens fire and sinks the vessel. Despite apologies from the German government, the attack sparks outrage in the U.S.

1922 – Ninety-eight guests are killed, 133 others are injured when the roof of Washington, D.C.’s Knickerbocker Theatre collapses under the weight of a heavy snowfall. The disaster ranks as one of Washington’s worst, and the “Knickerbocker Snowstorm,” as it is known, still holds the record for Washington’s single greatest snowfall.

1958 – The interlocking stud-and-tube plastic Lego brick is patented by Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, whose father founded the Lego toy company (“Lego,” from the Danish term “leg godt,” meaning “play well”). The colorful bricks have covered playroom floors for generations. In fact, it’s estimated that Lego has since produced the equivalent of 62 bricks for every human being on the planet.

1964 – The State Department accuses the Soviet Union of shooting down an unarmed Air Force trainer jet over East Germany, killing its three occupants.

1986 – A nation watches in horror as Space Shuttle Challenger (STS-51-L) explodes 73 seconds into flight, killing teacher Christa McAuliffe — who was to have been the first civilian in space — and fellow crew members Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Judith Resnick, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair and Gregory Jarvis.

1997 – Four apartheid-era police officers, appearing before a tribunal in South Africa, admit to the 1977 killing of Stephen Biko, a leader of the South African “Black consciousness” movement.

On This Day January 26

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1788 –  Britain’s First Fleet sails into Sydney Harbor and begins the European colonization of Australia. The fledgling colony marks this event each year as Australia Day, however in recent years Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander have objected because they see the occasion as the beginning of the deliberate destruction of their people and culture.

1905 – A 3,106-carat diamond is discovered during a routine inspection at the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa. Weighing 1.33 pounds,  it is the largest diamond ever found, and is named the Cullinan after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine.

1926 – Scottish inventor John Logie Baird gives the first public demonstration of a true television system (called a “televisor”) in London, launching a revolution in communication and entertainment.

1950 – The Republic of India is formed as the Indian constitution takes effect.

1961 – President John F. Kennedy appoints Janet Travell, 59, as his personal physician, making her the first woman in history to hold that post. 

1979 – The General Lee, a bright orange Dodge Charger with a Confederate flag on its roof, kicks up dust clouds as “The Dukes of Hazzard” premieres on CBS.

1988 – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” has its first Broadway performance at the Majestic Theatre. 

1998 – During one of the most memorable news conferences of his presidency, Bill Clinton tells reporters, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” Clinton later confesses that he did indeed have an “improper physical relationship” with Monica Lewinksky, a 24-year-old White House intern.

2005 – Condoleezza Rice assumes the post of U.S. Secretary of State two months after her nomination by President George W. Bush. She becomes the highest ranking African American woman ever to serve in a presidential cabinet.

On This Day January 25

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On This Day January 24

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On This Day January 23

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman physician in U.S. history when she earns a medical degree from the all-male Geneva Medical College in upstate New York, graduating at the top of her class at the age of 28. Blackwell devotes her life to advocating for women in the healthcare professions and, in 1868, opens a women’s medical college in New York City.

1957 – The Wham-O toy company introduces the first aerodynamic plastic disc known as the Frisbee, and forever changes outdoor recreation. The disc was the creation of Walter Frederick Morrison, who originally named it the Pluto Platter.

1968 – North Korea seizes the U.S. intelligence-gathering ship USS Pueblo claiming it had violated North Korean territorial waters while spying. 

1973 – President Richard Nixon announces that a peace accord had been reached in Paris to end the Vietnam War.

1975 – The ABC sitcom “Barney Miller” debuts. It’s about an NYPD precinct captain played by Hal Linden, and the shenanigans he endures with his detectives.

1976 – Singer, actor, athlete and civil rights activist Paul Robeson dies at the age of 77. 

1977 – The miniseries “Roots,” based on the book by Alex Haley, debuts. It runs for eight consecutive nights on ABC Television and becomes the single most-watched program in American history, drawing about 100 million viewers.

1997 – One day after her unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Madeline Albright is sworn in as America’s first female Secretary of State by Vice President Al Gore.

On This Day January 22

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On This Day January 21

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On This Day January 19

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On This Day January 18

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History Highlights
History Highlights

1778 – British explorer Captain James Cook becomes the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands when he sails past the island of Oahu. Two days later, he lands at Waimea on the island of Kauai and names the island cluster the Sandwich Islands, after the voyage’s sponsor, the Earl of Sandwich.

1919 – Leaders of the Allied powers — the United States, France, Great Britain and Italy — convene in Paris, France to begin the long and complex negotiations that would pave the way for the end of World War I. The Paris Peace Conference, as it is known, leads to creation of the League of Nations, an international peacekeeping organization.

1975 – The sitcom “The Jeffersons,” one of several spin-offs from TV’s groundbreaking “All in the Family,” premieres on CBS and becomes a ratings bonanza of its own during an 11-season run. Another Norman Lear creation, it stars Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford as a successful African-American couple adjusting to life on Manhattan’s ritzy East Side after leaving their modest Queens neighborhood.

1977 – Scientists identify the cause of a mysterious outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed 34 people at a 1976 American Legion Convention in Philadelphia. 

1990 – An FBI sting leads to the arrest of Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry for possession of crack cocaine. After serving six months in federal prison, the so-called “mayor for life” makes one of the most improbable comebacks in the history of American politics in 1994 when D.C. residents elect him to a fourth term as mayor.

Musical Milestones
Musical Milestones

1944 – The first jazz concert — known as the Esquire All-American Jazz Concert — is held at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, featuring Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Artie Shaw, Roy Eldridge, Jack Teagarden and Billie Holiday.

1960 – Johnny Preston starts a three-week run at No. 1 on the singles chart with “Running Bear,” a song written by J. P. Richardson (a.k.a. “The Big Bopper”). The song was released shortly after Richardson’s death in the February 1959 plane crash that also claimed the lives of Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.

1964 – The Beatles make their U.S. singles chart debut when “I Want To Hold Your Hand” enters at No. 45. It goes on to spend seven weeks at No. 1. 

1969 – Marvin Gaye is midway through a seven-week ride atop the Billboard singles chart with “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” The track becomes Motown’s biggest-selling hit at that time.

1975 – Barry Manilow scores his first chart-topping single when “Mandy” reaches the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

1986 – “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne Warwick, featuring Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder, is the No. 1 single. The track, written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, wins Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Song of the Year Grammys.

1989 – At 38 years of age, Stevie Wonder becomes the youngest living person inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has excellent company, as other inductees in his class include The Rolling Stones, The Temptations and Dion (DiMucci).

1992 – Michael Jackson wraps up seven weeks as a chart-topper with “Black or White,” off his “Dangerous” album.

2003 – Eminem finds himself on top of the Billboard Hot 100 for another week with “Lose Yourself,” from the “8 Mile” soundtrack.