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January 14, 1970 – Diana Ross and the Supremes perform their final concert


They were the most successful American pop group of the 1960s—a group whose 12 #1 hits in the first full decade of the rock and roll era places them behind only Elvis and the Beatles in terms of chart dominance. They helped define the very sound of the 60s, but like fellow icons the Beatles … Continue reading

January 13, 1128 – Pope recognises Knights Templar


On January 13, 1128, Pope Honorius II grants a papal sanction to the military order known as the Knights Templar, declaring it to be an army of God. Led by the Frenchman Hughes de Payens, the Knights Templar organization was founded in 1118. Its self-imposed mission was to protect Christian pilgrims on their way to and … Continue reading

January 12, 2010 – Massive earthquake strikes Haiti


On January 12, 2010, Haiti was devastated by a massive earthquake. It drew an outpouring of support from around the globe but the small nation has yet to fully recover. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, due largely to its history of colonization, occupation and exploitation by Spain, France and the United … Continue reading

January 11, 1964 – U.S. Surgeon General announces definitive link between smoking and cancer


United States Surgeon General Luther Terry knew his report was a bombshell. He intentionally chose to release it on January 11, 1964, a Saturday, so as to limit its immediate effects on the stock market. It was on this date that, on behalf of the U.S. Government, Terry announced a definitive link between smoking and … Continue reading

January 10, 1946 – First meeting of the United Nations


The first General Assembly of the United Nations, comprising 51 nations, convenes at Westminster Central Hall in London, England. One week later, the U.N. Security Council met for the first time and established its rules of procedure. Then, on January 24, the General Assembly adopted its first resolution, a measure calling for the peaceful uses … Continue reading

January 9, 1979 – Pop luminaries gather at the U.N. for the Music for UNICEF concert


In an effort to call attention to the poverty, malnutrition and lack of access to quality education affecting millions of children throughout the developing world, the United Nations proclaimed 1979 the “International Year of the Child.” To publicize the proclamation and raise money for UNICEF—the United Nation’s Children’s Fund—plans were laid for a concert fundraiser … Continue reading

January 8, 1946 – Elvis Presley receives his first guitar for 11th birthday


In competing versions of the story, what Elvis Presley really wanted for his birthday was a rifle or a bicycle—both fairly typical choices for a boy his age growing up on the outskirts of Tupelo, Mississippi. Instead, Elvis’s highly protective mother, Gladys—”She never let me out of her sight,” Elvis would later say—took him to the Tupelo Hardware … Continue reading

January 7, 1785 – Two explorers become first to cross the English Channel in a balloon


Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard and American John Jeffries travel from Dover, England, to Calais, France, in a gas balloon, becoming the first to cross the English Channel by air. The two men nearly crashed into the Channel along the way, however, as their balloon was weighed down by extraneous supplies such as anchors, a nonfunctional hand-operated … Continue reading

January 6, 1838 – Samuel Morse demonstrates the telegraph


On January 6, 1838, Samuel Morse’s telegraph system is demonstrated for the first time at the Speedwell Iron Works in Morristown, New Jersey. The telegraph, a device which used electric impulses to transmit encoded messages over a wire, would eventually revolutionize long-distance communication, reaching the height of its popularity in the 1920s and 1930s. Samuel Finley … Continue reading

January 5, 1933 – Golden Gate Bridge is born


On January 5, 1933, construction begins on the Golden Gate Bridge, as workers began excavating 3.25 million cubic feet of dirt for the structure’s huge anchorages. Following the Gold Rush boom that began in 1849, speculators realized the land north of San Francisco Bay would increase in value in direct proportion to its accessibility to the city. Soon, a plan … Continue reading

January 4, 1965 – L.B.J. envisions a Great Society in his State of the Union address


On January 4, 1965, in his State of the Union address, President Lyndon Baines Johnson lays out for Congress a laundry list of legislation needed to achieve his plan for a Great Society. On the heels of John F. Kennedy’s tragic death, Americans had elected Johnson, his vice president, to the presidency by the largest popular vote in the … Continue reading

January 3, 1987 – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts first woman


In 1986, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its first group of inductees: Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and the Everly Brothers. Since then, the Hall has added a new class of inductees each year, expanding by January 2008 … Continue reading

January 2, 1981 – The Yorkshire Ripper is apprehended


The so-called Yorkshire Ripper is finally caught by British police, ending one of the largest manhunts in history. For five years, investigators had pursued every lead in an effort to stop the serial killer who terrorized Northern England, but the end came out of pure happenstance. Peter Sutcliffe was spotted in a stolen car with … Continue reading

January 1, 1863 – Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation


On January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation. Attempting to stitch together a nation mired in a bloody civil war, Abraham Lincoln made a last-ditch, but carefully calculated, decision regarding the institution of slavery in America. By the end of 1862, things were not looking good for the Union.  The Confederate Army had overcome Union troops in significant battles … Continue reading

December 31, 1999 – Panama Canal turned over to Panama


On December 31, 1999, the United States, in accordance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, officially hands over control of the Panama Canal, putting the strategic waterway into Panamanian hands for the first time. Crowds of Panamanians celebrated the transfer of the 50-mile canal, which links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and officially opened when the SS Arcon … Continue reading

December 30, 1922 – USSR established


In post-revolutionary Russia, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is established, comprising a confederation of Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine, and the Transcaucasian Federation (divided in 1936 into the Georgian, Azerbaijan, and Armenian republics). Also known as the Soviet Union, the new communist state was the successor to the Russian Empire and the first country in the … Continue reading

December 29, 1940 – London is bombed during the ‘Blitz’, resulting in almost 3,000 civilian deaths


The Battle of Britain, or the Blitz, was an intense bombing campaign in England in World War II by the German air force, the Luftwaffe. The Blitz took its name from the German word Blitzkrieg, meaning ‘Lightning War’. Prior to the attacks on England, the German air force had spent a month attempting to decimate … Continue reading

December 28, 1612 – Galileo becomes the first astronomer to observe Neptune, but catalogues it as a star.


Galileo Galilei was an Italian astrologer, physicist and astronomer. Born on 15 February 1564 in Pisa, Italy, he is best known for his improvements to the telescope, and his own subsequent celestial observations. He pioneered the use of quantitative experiments, analysing results mathematically – a legacy passed on to him through the influence of his … Continue reading

December 27, 1983 – Pope John Paul II visits the man who attempted to assassinate him almost two years earlier


Pope John Paul II was elected to the papacy following the death of the popular “Smiling Pope”, Pope John Paul, after just 33 days in office. Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland took the name of Pope John Paul II in deference to his predecessor. At just 58 years old, the new Pope became the youngest … Continue reading

December 26, 2004 – Tsunami devastates Indian Ocean coast


A powerful earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, on December 26, 2004 sets off a tsunami that wreaks death and devastation across the Indian Ocean coastline. The quake was the second strongest ever recorded and the estimated 230,000 dead made this disaster one of the 10 worst of all time. It was 7:58 a.m. … Continue reading

December 25, 1990 – The first successful communication between an HTTP client and server over the Internet spawns the World Wide Web


The Internet and World Wide Web have revolutionised modern life. Now, by pressing a few buttons on the computer, all your physical needs and wants can be met. But where and when did it all begin? In the 1980s, English physicist Tim Berners-Lee was a software consultant at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (better … Continue reading

December 24, 1953 – 151 die in New Zealand as an express train plunges off a damaged bridge


Mount Ruapehu, at 2,797 metres high, is the highest point on New Zealand’s North Island. One of the largest active volcanoes in New Zealand, it is part of Tongariro National Park. On Christmas Eve 1953, a lahar, or flow of rock, mud, water and other volcanic debris, swept down the valley towards the railway bridge … Continue reading

December 23, 1888 – Vincent van Gogh chops off his ear


On December 23, 1888, Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, suffering from severe depression, cuts off the lower part of his left ear with a razor while staying in Arles, France.  He later documented the event in a painting titled Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. Today, Van Gogh is regarded as an artistic genius and his masterpieces sell for … Continue reading

December 22, 1989 – The Brandenburg Gate between East and West Berlin is opened for the first time in nearly thirty years


Berlin, the capital city of Germany, was divided following World War II. With the development of the Cold War, tensions began to increase between the Soviet Union which controlled the East, and the western allies which controlled West Berlin. The border between East and West Germany was closed in 1952, but people continued to defect … Continue reading

December 20, 1957 – Elvis Presley is drafted


On December 20, 1957, while spending the Christmas holidays at Graceland, his newly purchased Tennessee mansion, rock-and-roll star Elvis Presley receives his draft notice for the United States Army. With a suggestive style—one writer called him “Elvis the Pelvis”—a hit movie, Love Me Tender, and a string of gold records including “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be … Continue reading

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