1909: Kinemacolor, the first successful color motion picture process, was first shown to the general public at the Palace Theatre in London.
1917: The Original Dixieland Jass Band recorded the first jazz record, for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York. (The spelling of the band’s name was changed to “Jazz” later in the year.)
1919: President Woodrow Wilson signed an act of the U.S. Congress establishing most of the Grand Canyon as Grand Canyon National Park.
1929: President Calvin Coolidge signed an executive order establishing the 96,000-acre Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
1935: Radar was first demonstrated in England, leading to a system that helped the Royal Air force win the Battle of Britain against Nazi Germany.
1971: U.N. Secretary General U Thant signed the United Nations proclamation of the vernal equinox as Earth Day.
1995: U.S. singer-songwriter Selena gave her last televised concert in front of over 66,746 people, for a record breaking third time at the Houston Astrodome, nearly a month before she was shot to death by Yolanda Saldívar, the former president of her fan club.
1807: Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine.
1827: Students in masks and costumes took to the streets of New Orleans, celebrating the first Mardi Gras.
1860: Abraham Lincoln made a speech at Cooper Union (college) in New York City that was largely responsible for his election to the presidency.
1897: Great Britain recognized the United States’ authority over the Western Hemisphere.
1951: The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, limiting presidents to two terms, was ratified.
1964: The Italian government announced it would accept suggestions on how to save the renowned Leaning Tower of Pisa from collapsing. Successful restorative work began in 1999.
1973: The American Indian Movement occupied Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in a siege that lasted 71 days,
1784: John Wesley chartered the Methodist Church.
1827: The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was incorporated.
1883: The first vaudeville theater opened in Boston.
1935: DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invented nylon.
1939: The erroneous word “dord” was discovered in the Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, page 771, prompting an investigation.
1953: Scientists James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick discovered the double helix structure of DNA, the molecule that contains the human genes.
1954: The first color TV sets were offered for sale.
1983: The last episode of M*A*S*H, which ran 11 seasons, aired and was watched by 77 percent of TV viewers, the third largest audience in TV history after Super Bowl XLV in 2011.
2013: Pope Benedict XVI resigned as the pope of the Catholic Church, becoming the first pope to do so since 1415.
1940: Hattie McDaniel became the first black performer to win an Oscar for her portrayal of “Mammy” in Gone With The Wind.
1980: Buddy Holly’s signature eyeglasses—missing since he was killed in a plane crash on February 3, 1959, near Clear Lake, Iowa—were discovered in an envelope at the Cerro Gordo County sheriff’s office in Mason City, Iowa. The glasses were eventually returned to Holly’s widow and can now be seen in the exhibit at the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas.
1565: The city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was founded.
1642: Georgeana, Mass., (now known as York, Maine), became the first incorporated city in what would become the United States.
1692: The first three women in Massachusetts were charged in what would be known as the Salem witch trials.
1781: The Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation.
1790: The first U.S. census was conducted.
1803: Ohio was admitted as the 17th U.S. state.
1845: President John Tyler signed a bill authorizing the United States to annex the Republic of Texas.
1867: Nebraska became the 37th U.S. state. Lancaster, Neb., was renamed Lincoln and became the state capital.
1872: Yellowstone National Park was established as the world’s first national park.
1893: Electrical engineer Nikola Tesla gave the first public demonstration of radio in St. Louis, Mo.
1912: Albert Berry made the first parachute jump from a moving airplane over Jefferson Barracks, Mo.
1927: Singer and actor Harry Belafonte and U.S. attorney Robert Bork were born on this day.
1936: Hoover Dam was completed.
1941: In Nashville, Tenn., W47NV (now known as WSM-FM) became the first commercially licensed FM radio station.
1954: Born this day, actors Ron Howard and Catherine Bach.
1961: The Peace Corps was established by President John F. Kennedy.
1995: Yahoo! was incorporated in Sunnyvale, Calif.
1998: Titanic became the first film to gross over $1 billion worldwide.
2005: U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the execution of juveniles found guilty of murder is unconstitutional.
1807: Congress outlawed the African slave trade.
1877: Just two days before inauguration, the U.S. Congress declared Rutherford B. Hayes the winner of the election even though Samuel J. Tilden had won the popular vote on Nov. 7, 1876.
1903: The Martha Washington Hotel opened in New York City, becoming the first hotel exclusively for women.
1931: Born this day: former Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and U.S. author Tom Wolfe.
1933: The film King Kong opened at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
1942: Born this day: Author John Irving and rock singer-guitarist Lou Reed.
1949: The first automatic street light was installed in New Milford, Conn.
1962: Wilt Chamberlain set the single-game scoring record in the National Basketball Association by scoring 100 points.
1983: Compact discs and players were released for the first time in the United States and other markets. They had previously been available only in Japan.
1987: American Motors Corporation was purchased by Chrysler Corporation and the AMC name was discontinued in the United States.
2005: Microsoft founder Bill Gates was named an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.
1284: The principality of Wales was incorporated with England.
1776: The first amphibious landing of the U.S. Marine Corps began the Battle of Nassau in the British Bahamas during the American Revolutionary War.
1836: Texans celebrated the first Texas Independence Day with the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence, officially breaking Texas from Mexico and creating the Republic of Texas.
1845: Florida was admitted as the 27th U.S. state.
1875: Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen premiered at the Opéra-Comique in Paris. The first organized indoor game of ice hockey was played in Montreal, Canada, as recorded in The Montreal Gazette.
1887: Anne Sullivan began teaching deaf and blind Helen Keller in Tuscumbia, Ala.
1904: Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany became the first person to make a sound recording of a political document, using Thomas Edison’s phonograph cylinder.
1915: NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), the predecessor of NASA, was founded.
1923: Time magazine was published for the first time.
1931: Congress passed a resolution naming “The Star-Spangled Banner” the national anthem. (Hail Columbia had been considered the unofficial national anthem before then.)
1938: Oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia.
1951: Jackie Brenston, with Ike Turner and his band, recorded “Rocket 88,” often cited as “the first rock and roll record,” at Sam Phillips recording studios in Memphis, Tenn.
1980: The USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register.
1991: An amateur video captured the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers.
2005: Steve Fossett became the first person to fly an airplane solo non-stop around the world without refueling.