On This Day

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.

On This Day

May 19, 1795

Johns Hopkins is born.

The namesake of a research leader in the COVID-19 pandemic started out at a grocery store.

On This Day

Don’t Forget The “S”

  • One of 11 children, Johns was his great grandmother’s maiden name.
  • Born to Quakers in Maryland who were early abolitionists.
  • Hopkins worked his family’s tobacco fields. One of his first jobs? Apprentice at his uncle’s wholesale grocery store.
  • Established himself as a trader (supplying goods), whiskey maker/seller, banker, investor, and leading business man in Baltimore.
On This Day

“It is my wish that the plan…shall provide for a hospital, which shall, in construction and arrangement, compare favorably with any institution of like character in this country or in Europe…”

Nine months before his death, Johns Hopkins wrote that he envisioned his $7M fortune would fund a hospital (and research university) that could provide equal care to the poor and wealthy. Comparable to about $11B in today's money, Hopkins' gift was the largest charity donation in America at the time.
On This Day

Claims To Fame

  • First hospital in America with central heat. Featured special ventilation systems to circulate air and curved corners in rooms to prevent the collection of dust.
  • First hospital to use rubber gloves in surgery.
  • First to discover CPR.
  • First major medical school in America to admit women; Hopkins purposefully also funded a school of nursing.
On This Day

Johns Hopkins never married, reportedly pledging never to do so after falling in love with a cousin as a teenager (his uncle disapproved). Hopkins set aside some of his fortune to also open an orphanage for African American children. Check out the interactive Johns Hopkins research models on our source page.

view sources

Read
On This Day

May 15, 1940

Two brothers open America’s first McDonald’s.

They didn’t start with hamburgers, or even french fries…and there was no “Ronald.”

On This Day

“At first it was a struggle and we didn’t know where our next cent was coming from. But we believed in our enterprise.”

Maurice McDonald, who with his brother Richard opened the first McDonald's. The two brothers left their home state of New Hampshire after the Great Depression, and headed to California to make it in the movie business. When their Hollywood adventure failed, they started with a hot dog stand, & later opened a restaurant in San Bernadino.
On This Day

Did You Know….

  • The first McDonald’s was actually “McDonald’s Bar-B-Q.”
  • 1948: A “revamped” McDonald’s opens, focusing on a limited menu with 15-cent burgers & fast service. Fries appear on the menu the following year.
  • 1954: Milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc visits restaurant, becomes a franchise operator & buys the business in 1961.
On This Day

“I was an overnight success alright, but 30 years is a long, long night.”

Ray Kroc developed the "McDonald's System" which later became the McDonald's Corporation. He focused on consistent, fast service across franchises, which also led to the development of Hamburger University where attendees received their degree in Bachelor of Hamburgerology. The program continues today.
On This Day

The world's largest fast food restaurant (by sales) just released guidance to its franchise owners in light of COVID-19. Some suggestions? Touchless sinks, automatic towel dispensers, and potentially face shields, a long with lingering questions about the expense for owners & the experience for customers.

view sources

Read
On This Day

April 24, 1800

Founded with $5,000 and not one book…the Library of Congress celebrates 220 years as the world largest library.

On This Day

ORIGINS

  • 1800: As part of moving the U.S. gov’t from PA to the newly formed capital in D.C., Pres. Adams approved $5k for a congressional library. First books took a year to arrive from England.
  • The Library survived two devastating fires (one when the British burned the Capitol in 1814, another accidental in 1851) – much of its early contents burned.
  • “The Library” now occupies 3 buildings.
On This Day

CONTENTS

  • 170 million items in 470 languages, including books, maps, pamphlets, manuscripts, photos, audio & video recordings, sheet music, drawings, comic books, and presidential papers.
  • An est. 50,000 items added each week.
  • If you put all the bookshelves in the Library of Congress end to end, they would stretch from Washington D.C. to Cape Canaveral, Florida.
On This Day

NOTABLE ITEMS

Can’t check them out but you can visit!

  • Drafts of American’s founding documents e.g. The Constitution.
  • Largest rare-book collection in all of North America.
  • The Gutenberg Bible (one of only 3 surviving copies printed on calf-skin. The 15th century book is the first printed with moveable metal type in Western Europe).
On This Day

Fun Fact: A rule in 1812 exempted Congressional members from late fees! You don't have to visit in person to benefit from the the Library of Congress. We use the LOC website every week, and they might be useful to you at home: Check out these fun (and free) learning resources for you and your family.

view sources

Read
On This Day

April 17, 1964

 

 

 

America’s “Flying Housewife” becomes the first woman to complete a solo flight around the world.

On This Day

Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock

  • Housewife in Columbus, Ohio.
  • Studied aeronautical engineering at Ohio State University, but left school early to get married.
  • She got her private pilot license with her husband between the births of her sons and daughter.
  • Mock’s husband reportedly jokingly told her to fly around the world when she talked about being bored at home. So she did.
On This Day

“I didn’t think it was such a great thing; it was just lots of fun.”

Jerrie Mock reflecting on her journey 50 years after completing the trip. When she was 38-years-old, she left her husband and 3 children (17-year-old, 16-year-old & 3-year-old) to spend 29 days flying around the world solo. During the journey, she managed a potentially deadly fire, brake failure, and wore a blue drip-dry skirt and kitten heels when outside of the plane.
On This Day

Mesmerized by flight as a little girl, Mock was 11-years-old when Amelia Earhart disappeared attempting her around-the-world flight. Like Earhart, Mock broke numerous flight records, but she insisted until her death that she flew mostly for fun.

view sources

Read
On This Day

April 3, 1968

 

 

 

The final speech

On This Day

“We’ve got some difficult days ahead. … Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will … I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

MLK, April 3, 1968, in his last speech before he was assassinated.
On This Day

24 Hours Later:

  • MLK Jr. was in Memphis on April 4, 1968 helping sanitation workers on strike when he was killed.
  • Despite MLK’s dedication to nonviolent protest, riots broke out across the U.S. after his murder.
  • Lone gunman convicted for MLK’s murder, but his family never believed he worked alone.
On This Day

Lasting Legacy

His leadership changed America…
leading to the end of segregation, the 1964 Civil Rights Act (ending discrimination based on race, gender, creed) & the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

MLK Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream speech” in 1963.

On This Day

MLK is one of only two people with a U.S. federal holiday honoring their birth (the other one is George Washington). How it became a holiday (and how it almost didn't):

view sources

Read
On This Day

April 2, 1917

 

 

 

The first woman representative was sworn into Congress – three years before women were granted the constitutional right to vote.

On This Day

“I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won’t be the last.”

Jeannette Rankin (R-MT) when she was elected in 1916. Montana had granted women the right to vote two years earlier and she had gained notoriety, in part, as a suffragist. Today, 26 women serve in the U.S. Senate & 101 women serve in the House. Women make up nearly 24% of Congress. Rankin hoped, “We’re (women) half the people; we should be half the Congress.”
On This Day

“As never before the Nation needs its women—needs the work of their hands and their hearts and their minds.”

Congresswoman Jeanette Rankin (R-MT) delivering a speech on women's right to vote. She helped pass a women's suffrage resolution in the House in 1918; the same resolution died in the Senate. She was not in office two years later when the 19th Amendment was officially adopted, altering the Constitution to grant women the right to vote.
On This Day

JEANNETTE RANKIN

  • Daughter of a rancher & school teacher.
  • Republican, suffrage leader & pacifist.
  • The only Member of Congress to vote against the entrance to World War I & World War II. Voted out of office each time: “As a woman I can’t go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.”
  • In 1973, just before her death at age 92, she contemplated a third run because of America’s involvement in Vietnam.
On This Day

Rankin reportedly received applause as she was sworn into Congress. Later that evening, Pres. Wilson asked lawmakers to vote to declare war on Germany; Rankin was one of 50 lawmakers who voted "no." She said, "I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war."

view sources

Read
On This Day

March 10, 1876

First successful test of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell.

On This Day

“…the day is coming when telegraph wires will be laid on to houses just like water and gas — and friends converse with each other without leaving home.”

Alexander Graham Bell wrote this in a letter to his father on the day of his first successful telephone test when "articulate speech was transmitted." Like his father, Bell taught school for the hearing impaired; his mother & wife were both deaf. His knowledge of speech and sound are said to have helped inspire his invention.
On This Day

DID YOU KNOW?

Alexander Graham Bell: lifelong inventor.

  • Bell invented a modern version of a metal detector used when Pres. Garfield was shot to try to find the bullet; he was unsuccessful.
  • Bell became involved in aeronautics, building kites that carried passengers and powered aircrafts.
  • Bell co-founded the National Geographic Society.
On This Day

Bell was 29 when he first successfully tested the telephone. Today, more than 95% of Americans own a cell phone of some kind.

view sources

Read
On This Day

March 4, 1933

The 40-hour work week, child labor laws, and social security, all policies she helped create after becoming the first woman named in a presidential cabinet on this day in 1933.

On This Day

“The people are what matter to government, and a government should aim to give all the people under its jurisdiction the best possible life.”

Frances Perkins began her work in public service as a social worker. Her pursuit for workers' rights was shaped during a trip to NYC on the day of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, when nearly 150 workers died. She held many positions in the New York government under then-Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt and his predecessor.
On This Day

“I came to Washington to work for God, FDR, and the millions of forgotten, plain common workingmen.”

Sec. Perkins, who came to the White House to help President Roosevelt draft and implement labor and economic policies during the height of the Great Depression, became the FIRST female cabinet secretary and the LONGEST-serving Labor Secretary in history. As the head of the labor department, she also oversaw the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
On This Day

Perkins’ Lasting Legacy

Perkins played a key role in several key parts of FDR’s New Deal – many of which are still in effect today, including:

  • establishing the Social Security program (1935)
  • creating union & collective bargaining laws (1935)
  • enacting child labor laws (1936)
  • setting up federal minimum wage laws & the 40-hour workweek (1938)
On This Day

In 2008, the Frances Perkins Center was established in Maine to honor Perkins' legacy and continue her work. The nonprofit and nonpartisan center recently purchased Perkins' ancestral homestead, which was designated a National Historic Landmark.

view sources

Read
On This Day

“Twas the Night Before..”

Today, in 1823, a newspaper published what some now call the most well-known poem ever written by an American.

But who REALLY wrote it?

On This Day

“We know not who we are indebted for the following description of that unwearied patron of children – that homely but delightful personification of parental kindness – Santa Claus…but, from whomever it may have come, we give thanks for it.”

Troy Sentinel, the weekly newspaper that published, "ACCOUNT OF A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS" on Dec. 23, 1823. At the time, the author remained a mystery, and in some ways, still is.
On This Day

Clement Moore

  • Born into a prominent New York family.
  • Reportedly penned the poem on Christmas Eve in 1822, while on the way home to see his 6 children.
  • Clue: Said to have a Dutch sleigh driver the night he composed the poem.
  • A professor & scholar, some suggest he was embarrassed by the playful poem, which is why he stayed anonymous.
  • Published poem under his own name in 1844 – 20 years after first published.
On This Day

Henry Livingston, Jr.

  • Prominent Dutch farmer in upstate New York, served in Revolutionary War.
  • His family (children), and others, say they heard him recite the poem YEARS before it was published.
  • Clue: Original reindeer names “Dunder & Blixem” translate to “Thunder” & “Lightening” in Dutch. Later edits changed to German “Donder & Blixen.”
  • Never took credit for the poem; Died 5 yrs after the poem was first published.
On This Day

Why It Matters

“Though legend has it that Santa Claus hails from the North Pole, he was actually a New Yorker…”

The poem’s author solidified the image of Santa and his reindeer for the newly formed United States (& beyond), and has continued to do so for the last *nearly* 200 years.

On This Day

How did the paper get the poem? Another mystery. The paper wrote on that day: "We hope our little patrons, both lads and lasses, will accept it as proof of our unfeigned good will toward them—as a token of our warmest wish that they may have many a merry Christmas."

view sources

Read
On This Day

Dec. 17, 1903

First Human Flight

2 brothers
12 seconds
120 feet

On This Day

“For some years, I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. My disease has increased in severity and I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money if not my life.”

Wilbur Wright writing in a letter 1900, 3 years before he and his brother, Orville, successfully took flight.
On This Day

Backstory

  • The Wright Brothers assembled their first glider and “flyer” (first airplane with an engine) in the back of their bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio.
  • First successful flight of the “flyer” took place in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, using the tall sand dunes for momentum.
  • The brothers took 4 flights that day – the longest lasting nearly a minute and flying for roughly 1/6th of mile.
On This Day

During testing in North Carolina, the Wrights came under assault by a creature that already mastered the art of flying - mosquitoes. Orville writing in 1901: “They [mosquitoes] chewed us clear through our underwear and socks. Lumps began swelling up all over my body like hen’s eggs. . . . Misery! Misery!”

view sources

Read
On This Day

150 Years Ago Today …

Wyoming granted women the right to vote – more than fifty years before the U.S. Constitution was amended to guarantee women equal voting rights.

On This Day

Women’s Suffrage In WY

  • Wyoming was still a territory in 1869 when a bill was signed into law granting women the right to vote, sit on juries, and hold public office.
  • Some saw the bill as a joke; others saw it as way to increase population in the new territory.
  • When WY applied for statehood in 1889, the legislature said it would rather stay out of the Union for 100 yrs than join without voting rights for women.
On This Day

Bigger Picture

  • Suffragists took a two-pronged approach – aiming to legalize voting for women on *both* state & fed levels.
  • Before the 19th Amendment passed in 1920 granting women the right to vote in all (federal, state & local) elections, 15 states allowed women to vote in state elections and 12 had laws allowing women to vote for president.
  • Women in 21 states gained the right to vote as a result of the 19th Amendment.
On This Day

Name To Know

Louisa Swain

  • On September 6, 1870 in Laramie, WY, the nearly 70-year-old became the FIRST woman to legally vote in the America. Swain beat #2 (a 27-year-old) to the polls by 30 minutes.
  • In 2008, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution proclaiming September 6th as “Louisa Swain Day.”
On This Day

December 10 is "Wyoming Day" to honor the first of many achievements toward women's equality in the Equality State. Wyoming, also home to the U.S.’s first female governor, marked the 150th anniversary of Wyoming Day this year by declaring 2019 the "Year of Wyoming Women."

view sources

Read
On This Day

November 14, 1732

How the simple hiring of a librarian in Philadelphia set the stage for the world’s largest library before America even existed.

On This Day

What Happened:

A young 20-something Benjamin Franklin helped found the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1731

On November 14, 1732, the Library Company hired its first librarian.

Operating like a membership service (costing 40 shillings to join &10 shillings per year), patrons could visit & borrow books arriving from Europe that would be too expensive for them to buy.

On This Day

Historical Importance

  • The library became the first lending library in America.
  • “The Club” allowed members of the first Continental Congress to use it as a resource for free. This privilege continued for politicians post-revolution and set the groundwork for The Library of Congress – “the oldest cultural institution in the nation.”
On This Day

We discovered this "On This Day" while perusing one of our favorite websites: LOC.gov (Library of Congress). If you put all the bookshelves in the Library of Congress end to end, they would stretch from Washington D.C. to Cape Canaveral, Florida.

view sources

Read