Last Quagga Dies at Amsterdam's Artis Magistra Zoo (1883)

Once found in great numbers on the plains of South Africa, the quagga was heavily hunted by Dutch settlers and became extinct in 1883. A century later, it was the first extinct animal to have its DNA studied. This research determined that the quagga was most likely a variant of the common zebra, contrasting the theory that it was a separate species. The quagga had a sandy brown coat but—like the zebra—had dark stripes on its head, neck, and shoulders. Where did the name “quagga” come from? Discuss

Christian III of Denmark and Norway (1503)

Christian III was king of Denmark and Norway from 1534 to 1559. Early in his reign, he allied with Sweden to defeat the German city of Lübeck, which had invaded Denmark in an attempt to reinstate the deposed Christian II. That victory broke the power of the Hanseatic League and made the Danish fleet supreme in northern waters. As ruler, Christian established Lutheranism in Denmark and laid the foundation for the absolutist Danish monarchy of the 17th century. On what holiday did Christian die? Discuss

The Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond is a large, blue diamond, currently housed in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. Its history can be traced to the “Tavernier Blue,” a crudely cut diamond of about 112 carats originally mined in India, which King Louis XIV of France later purchased and cut into “the Blue Diamond of the Crown,” or “the French Blue.” Legend has it that the Hope Diamond is cursed and causes misfortune to befall its possessors. How did it acquire this reputation? Discuss

The Watts Riots Begin (1965)

As Los Angeles, California, became a hub for the production of munitions and supplies during World War II, thousands of African Americans moved to the city to work. Massive suburban growth in Los Angeles after the war, however, created or exacerbated a variety of urban problems. In 1965, the African-American community of Watts was the site of six days of race rioting that left 34 people dead and caused extensive property damage. What happened on the evening of August 11 to trigger the riots? Discuss

Eiji Yoshikawa (1892)

Yoshikawa was a popular Japanese historical novelist. Despite the fact that many of his novels are actually revisions of past works, Yoshikawa was awarded the Order of Cultural Merit in 1960. Just before his death from cancer two years later, he received the Mainichi Art Award as well. His success is especially impressive given his lack of formal education—he had not been able to study beyond primary school due to his family’s financial troubles. What are some of Yoshikawa’s novels? Discuss

The Cannes Film Festival

This prestigious international film festival is held annually in Cannes, France. It takes place at the Palais des Festivals, and its most illustrious award is the Palme d’Or—meaning “Golden Palm”—for the best film. First held in 1946, the festival marked a resurgence for the film industry, which had been shattered by World War II, and became a meeting place for those interested in the art and influence of the movies. Why wasn’t the festival held in either 1948 or 1950? Discuss