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January 23, 1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell becomes first woman in US to receive a medical degree


At a graduation ceremony at a church in Geneva, New York on January 23, 1849, Geneva Medical College bestows a medical degree upon Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in the United States to receive one. Despite the near-uniform opposition of her fellow students and medical professionals, Blackwell pursued her calling with an iron will and dedicated … Continue reading

January 22, 1943 – Australian and American forces defeat Japanese army and navy units in Battle of Buna–Gona


The Battle of Buna–Gona was part of the New Guinea campaign in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. It followed the conclusion of the Kokoda Track campaign and lasted from 16 November 1942 until 22 January 1943. The battle was fought by Australian and United States forces agasinst the Japanese beachheads at Buna, Sanananda and Gona. From these, the Japanese had launched an … Continue reading

January 22, 1901 – Queen Victoria dies


The death of Queen Victoria on January 22, 1901, ends an era in which most of her British subjects know no other monarch. Her 63-year reign saw the growth of an empire on which the sun never set. Victoria restored dignity to the English monarchy and ensured its survival as a ceremonial political institution. Born in 1819, … Continue reading

January 21, 1931 – Sir Isaac Isaacs is sworn in as the first Australian-born Governor-General of Australia


Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs, GCB, GCMG, PC, KC (6 August 1855 – 11 February 1948) was an Australian lawyer, politician, and judge who served as the ninth Governor-General of Australia, in office from 1931 to 1936. He had previously served on the High Court of Australia from 1906 to 1931, including as Chief Justice from 1930. Isaacs was born in Melbourne and grew up in Yackandandah and Beechworth (in country Victoria). He … Continue reading

January 21, 1968 – Battle of Khe Sanh begins


One of the most publicized and controversial battles of the Vietnam War begins at Khe Sanh, 14 miles below the DMZ and six miles from the Laotian border. Seized and activated by the U.S. Marines a year earlier, the base, which had been an old French outpost, was used as a staging area for forward patrols and was … Continue reading

January 20, 1990 – Birth of Ray Thompson, Australian rugby league player


Ray Thompson (born 20 January 1990), also known by the nickname of “Ray-Ray“, is a former Papua New Guinea international rugby league footballer who played as a five-eighth, halfback and hooker. He was an Indigenous All Stars representative and spent his entire professional career with the North Queensland Cowboys in the National Rugby League (NRL). Born in Cairns, Queensland, Thompson is of Indigenous Australian and Papua New Guinean descent. He played his junior football for Centrals … Continue reading

January 20, 1981 – Iran Hostage Crisis ended


Minutes after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration as the 40th president of the United States, the 52 U.S. captives held at the U.S. embassy in Teheran, Iran, were released, ending the 444-day Iran Hostage Crisis. On November 4, 1979, the crisis began when militant Iranian students, outraged that the U.S. government had allowed the ousted shah of Iran to travel … Continue reading

January 19, 1935 – Birth of Johnny O’Keefe, Australian singer-songwriter


John Michael O’Keefe was an Australian rock and roll singer, born in Bondi Junction on January 19, 1935. His career began in the 1950s. Some of his hits include “Wild One” (1958), “Shout!” and “She’s My Baby”. In his twenty-year career, O’Keefe released over fifty singles, 50 EPs and 100 albums. O’Keefe was also a radio and television entertainer and … Continue reading

January 19, 1966 – Indira Gandhi becomes Indian prime minister


Following the death of Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi becomes head of the Congress Party and thus prime minister of India. She was India’s first female head of government and by the time of her assassination in 1984 was one of its most controversial. Gandhi was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister … Continue reading

January 18, 1977 – Australia’s worst rail disaster occurs at Granville, Sydney, killing 83


The Granville rail/train disaster occurred on Tuesday 18 January 1977 at Granville, New South Wales, a western suburb of Sydney, when a crowded commuter train derailed, running into the supports of a road bridge that collapsed onto two of the train’s passenger carriages. The official enquiry found the primary cause of the crash to be poor fastening of … Continue reading

January 18, 1919 – Post-World War I peace conference began in Paris


On January 18, 1919, in Paris, France, some of the most powerful people in the world met to begin the long, complicated negotiations that would officially mark the end of the First World War. Leaders of the victorious Allied powers—France, Great Britain, the United States and Italy—would make most of the crucial decisions in Paris over … Continue reading

January 17, 1877 – Birth of May Gibbs, English-Australian author and illustrator


Cecilia May Gibbs MBE (17 January 1877 – 27 November 1969) was an Australian children’s author, illustrator, and cartoonist. She is best known for her gumnut babies (also known as “bush babies” or “bush fairies”), and the book Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. Gibbs was born in Sydenham, Kent, in the United Kingdom, to Herbert William Gibbs (1852 – 4 October 1940) … Continue reading

January 17, 1966 – NBC greenlights “The Monkees”


The inspiration came from the Beatles, the financing came from Screen Gems, the music came from Don Kirshner and the stars came from an exhaustive audition process that began with this ad in Daily Variety in September 1965: Madness! Auditions For Acting Roles in New TV Series Running Parts for 4 Insane Boys, Age 17-21 The ad … Continue reading

January 16, 1918 – Birth of Clem Jones, 8th Lord Mayor of Brisbane


Clem Jones AO (16 January 1918 – 15 December 2007), a surveyor by profession, was the longest serving Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Queensland, representing the Labor Party from 1961 to 1975. He was Chair of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission from 1975 to 1978. He was a successful businessman and philanthropist. Public life During Jones’ 15 years in office as the head of the Brisbane … Continue reading

January 16, 1979 – Shah flees Iran


Faced with an army mutiny and violent demonstrations against his rule, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the leader of Iran since 1941, is forced to flee the country. Fourteen days later, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of the Islamic revolution, returned after 15 years of exile and took control of Iran. In 1941, British … Continue reading

January 15, 1842 – Birth of Mary MacKillop, nun and Australia’s first saint


Mary Helen MacKillop RSJ (15 January 1842 – 8 August 1909) was an Australian religious sister who has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church, as St Mary of the Cross. Of Scottish descent, she was born in Melbourne but is best known for her activities in South Australia. Together with the Reverend Julian Tenison-Woods, she founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the Josephites), … Continue reading

January 15, 1972 – “American Pie” hits #1 on the US pop charts


On January 15, 1972, “American Pie,”, an epic poem in musical form that has long been etched in the American popular consciousness, hits #1 on the Billboard charts. The story of Don McLean’s magnum opus begins almost 13 years before its release, on a date with significance well-known to any American who was alive and … Continue reading

January 14, 1960 – Reserve Bank of Australia established


On January 14, 1960, The Reserve Bank of Australia, the country’s central bank and banknote issuing authority, was established. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has had this role since 14 January 1960, when the Reserve Bank Act 1959 removed the central banking functions from the Commonwealth Bank. The bank has the responsibility of providing services to the Government of Australia in addition to also providing services … Continue reading

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, 2003 – Death of Maurice Gibb, Manx-Australian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer


Maurice Ernest Gibb CBE (22 December 1949 – 12 January 2003) was an English musician, singer, songwriter and record producer who achieved fame as a member of the Bee Gees.  Although his elder brother Barry Gibb and fraternal twin brother Robin Gibb were the group’s main lead singers, most of their albums included at least one or two songs featuring Maurice’s lead … 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, 1986 – The Gateway Bridge, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia is officially opened


The Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges are a side-by-side pair of road bridges on the Gateway Motorway (M1), which skirts the eastern suburbs of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The western bridge carries traffic to the north and the eastern bridge carries traffic to the south. They are the most eastern crossing of the Brisbane River, the closest to Moreton Bay, crossing at the Quarries Reach, between Eagle … 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, 1945 – Birth of John Fahey, New Zealand-Australian lawyer and politician, 38th Premier of New South Wales


John Joseph Fahey AC (10 January 1945 – 12 September 2020) was an Australian politician who served as Premier of New South Wales from 1992 to 1995 and as the federal Minister for Finance from 1996 to 2001. He was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1984 to 1996 and the federal House of Representatives from 1996 to 2001. Fahey also served … Continue reading

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