This Week In History – January 13-19


by Dianne Hermann

“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
– Winston Churchill

Week of January 13-19, 2014

January 13

1794 – Congress changes the U.S. flag to 15 stars and 15 stripes.

1888 – The National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, DC.

1906 – Telimco advertises the first radio set for $7.50 in Scientific American. It claimed to receive signals up to one mile.

1930 – The first “Mickey Mouse” comic strip appears in print.


1948 – The first country music TV show, Midwestern Hayride, premieres in Cincinnati.

1957 – Wham-O Company produces the first Frisbee.

1972 – Former housewife Bernice Gera wins the lawsuit she initiated on March 15, 1971 to become a minor league baseball umpire. Gera becomes the first professional female umpire of a minor league baseball game in June 1972 but later resigns because male umpires refuse to work with her. Gera died in 1992 at age 61.

Rep. Mario Biaggi joins Bernice Gera at Hilton at annoucemen

1979 – The YMCA files a libel suit against The Village People’s “YMCA” song. The lawsuit is later dropped.

1982 – Air Florida 737 takes off from Washington, DC in a snowstorm, crashes into the 14th Street Bridge, and falls into the Potomac River, killing 78 passengers.

1990 – Douglas Wilder (D-Virginia) is inaugurated making him the first elected black U.S. governor.


1995 – America3 becomes the first all-female crew to win an America’s Cup yacht race.


January 14

1699 – Massachusetts holds a day of fasting for wrongly persecuting “witches.”

1784 – The Revolutionary War ends when Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris.

1794 – Dr. Jesse Bennett of Edom, Virginia, performs the first successful Cesarean section operation in the U.S. He performs the surgery on his wife Elizabeth after the family physician refuses to operate. Elizabeth and their daughter both survive.

1954 – The Hudson Motor Car Company merges with Nash-Kelvinator Corporation forming the American Motors Corporation (AMC).

1963 – George C. Wallace is sworn in as the governor of Alabama for the first of four nonconsecutive terms. In his address he states, “Segregation now; segregation tomorrow; segregation forever!” He is shot and left paralyzed in 1972. Wallace died in 1998 at age 79.


1979 – President Jimmy Carter proposes that Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday be a holiday. President Ronald Reagan signs legislation in 1983 designating the third Monday in January as an annual federal holiday. The first official celebration takes place on January 20, 1986.


January 15

1762 – Fraunces Tavern opens in New York City. Samuel Fraunces buys an existing house and converts it into a tavern. In December 1783, future President George Washington, then commanding general of the Continental Army, summoned his military officers to Fraunces Tavern in New York City to inform them that he would be resigning his commission and returning to civilian life.

1870 – A donkey is first used as a symbol of the Democratic Party in Harper’s Weekly. The donkey is first associated with Democrat Andrew Jackson’s 1828 presidential campaign. Critics insulted Jackson by calling him a jack—.

1889 – The Coca-Cola Company, then known as the Pemberton Medicine Company, is officially incorporated in Atlanta, Georgia.

1943 – The world’s largest office building, the Pentagon, is completed.


1947 – The butchered, mutilated corpse of Elizabeth Short (“The Black Dahlia”) is found in Leimert Park, Los Angeles, California. Her murder remains unsolved.

1967 – The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in the first Super Bowl, which is held in Los Angeles, California. The Super Bowl MVP is Green Bay Quarterback Bart Starr.

1976 – Sara Jane Moore is sentenced to life for attempting to assassinate President Gerald Ford in September 1975. Moore is released from prison in 2007. She is now 83 years old.

1988 – Broadcaster Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder makes controversial remarks about black athletes. He is fired the following day. Snyder died in 1996 at age 77.

2001 – Wikipedia, a free Wiki content encyclopedia, goes online.

2009 – U.S. Airways Flight 1549, piloted by Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, makes an emergency landing in the Hudson River shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York City. All passengers and crew survive.


January 16

1847 – John C. Frémont is appointed the Governor of the new California Territory. Frémont is the first presidential candidate of the new Republican Party in 1856.

1868 – The refrigerator railroad boxcar is patented by William Davis, a fish dealer in Detroit, Michigan.

1919 – Prohibition is ratified by 3/4 of the states when Nebraska becomes the 36th state to vote in favor of the prohibition of alcohol. Prohibition is repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933.

1938 – The first jazz concert was held at Carnegie Hall, featuring Benny Goodman.

1970 – Curt Flood files a $1 million civil lawsuit challenging baseball’s reserve clause. The Supreme Court rules in favor of major league baseball in its 1972 decision.

1970 – Buckminster Fuller, author of over 30 books, receives the Gold Medal award from the American Institute of Architects. He is awarded the patent for the geodesic dome, although it is created by Dr. Walther Bauersfeld 30 years earlier.

1974 – The book “Jaws” by Peter Benchley is published. It is made into a movie starring Roy Scheider in 1975.

2003 – The Space Shuttle Columbia takes off for mission STS-107 on what would be its final space flight. Columbia disintegrates 16 days later on re-entry.


January 17

1861 – The flush toilet is patented by plumber Thomas Crapper.

1916 – Professional Golfer Association (PGA) forms in New York City. Englishman Jim Barnes wins the first PGA Championship at Siwanoy Country Club Bronxville, New York.

1954 – Oceanographer Jacques Cousteau’s first U.S. network telecast airs on “Omnibus” on CBS-TV.

1984 – The Supreme Court rules (5-4) that the private use of home VCRs to tape TV programs for later viewing does not violate federal copyright laws.

1991 – Operation Desert Storm begins as the U.S. lead allies against Iraq.


January 18

1778 – Captain James Cook stumbles over the Sandwich Islands (later renamed Hawaiian Islands).

1896 – An X-ray machine is first demonstrated in U.S. in New York City.

1911 – The first shipboard landing of a plane is successfully completed when Eugene Burton Ely lands his Curtiss pusher airplane from Tanforan Park onto the USS Pennsylvania.

1929 – The “New York Daily Mirror” with columnist Walter Winchell debuts on radio.

1948 – “Ted Mack and The Original Amateur Hour” talent show debuts and airs until 1970. It follows the “Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour” radio show after the death of Bowes.


1962 – The U.S. begins spraying foliage in Vietnam with Agent Orange to reveal Viet Cong guerrillas.

1974 – “$6 Million Man” starring Lee Majors premieres on ABC-TV. It airs until 1978.


1983 – The International Olympic Committee restores Jim Thorpe’s Olympic medals 70 years after they were taken from him for being paid $25 in semipro baseball. Thorpe died in 1953 at age 64.


1991 – Eastern Air Lines goes out of business after 62 years, citing financial problems.


January 19

1883 – The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires, built by Thomas Edison, begins service at Roselle, New Jersey.

1922 – The U.S. Geological Survey says the U.S. oil supply will be depleted in 20 years.

1955 – The letter tile board game “Scrabble” debuts.

1961 – The first episode of the “Dick Van Dyke Show” is filmed. It airs until 1966.


1977 – President Ford pardons World War II propaganda broadcaster Iva Toguri D’Aquino (a.k.a. Tokyo Rose). She was arrested, tried, and convicted of treason in 1949. She served six years of a ten-year sentence. D’Aquino died in 2006 at age 90.

2006 – The New Horizons probe is launched by NASA on the first mission to Pluto.

2013 – Lance Armstrong admits to doping in all seven of his Tour de France victories. He is stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. Armstrong is 42 years old.


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