Category Archives: This day in History

The Valentich Disappearance (1978)

On October 21, 1978, 20-year-old Frederick Valentich disappeared while piloting a Cessna light aircraft over Australia. He was supposed to land at King Island, pick up a few friends, and return to Moorabbin Airport, but during his flight, he reported to air traffic control that a strange aircraft was flying close above him. No trace of Valentich or his aircraft was ever found, prompting some to speculate that he had been captured by a UFO. What was the last thing he told flight controllers? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Anglo-American Convention (1818)

The Anglo-American Convention was a treaty signed in 1818 between the US and UK resolving their standing border issues and allowing for joint rights to the Oregon Country. Though it marked the beginning of improved relations between the two countries, tensions remained over the shared territory in Oregon. The British-chartered Hudson’s Bay Company had already established a trading network there and sought to exclude US fur traders. What harsh policy did they implement to ward off competition? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Automaker John DeLorean Arrested in Cocaine Trafficking Sting (1982)

After years of designing cars for others, John DeLorean went into business for himself and designed the DeLorean DMC-12, a distinctive stainless steel sports car with gull-wing doors that was immortalized in 1985’s Back to the Future. Prior to the film’s release, however, DeLorean was better known for his arrest for cocaine trafficking than for his cars. At the time, DeLorean’s car company was failing, and drug smuggling offered him much-needed cash. How did he manage to beat the rap? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Women in Canada Finally Recognized as "Persons" (1929)

In the early 20th century, Canadian women were often prohibited from hearing court testimony deemed inappropriate. Emily Murphy protested and became the first woman magistrate in Canada—and all of the British Empire—but her rulings were often challenged because women were not legally considered “persons.” Murphy and four other women, the “Famous Five,” submitted a petition for constitutional clarification. The subsequent Persons Case granted Canadian women personhood. What else did it establish? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Loma Prieta Earthquake Disrupts World Series (1989)

Game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics was scheduled to begin at 5:35 PM on October 17, 1989, but Mother Nature intervened. The Loma Prieta earthquake struck San Francisco at 5:04 PM with 60,000 fans already inside Candlestick Park. Due to the timing, it was the first major earthquake to be broadcast on live TV, and a blimp covering the game was able to coordinate emergency efforts. How long is the earthquake believed to have lasted? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

World Food Day (1981)

More than 150 countries celebrate World Food Day every year on October 16, the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. World Food Day aims to heighten public awareness of the world food problem and to promote cooperation in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. It has been observed since 1981 with different themes each year, such as “United against Hunger” and “The Right to Food.” What was the theme of the first World Food Day? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

11-Year-Old Grace Bedell Urges Abraham Lincoln to Grow a Beard (1860)

A few weeks before Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the US, 11-year-old Grace Bedell sent him a letter urging him to grow a beard to win over voters. Bedell claimed that “all the ladies like whiskers” and would urge their husbands to vote for a bearded Lincoln. Days later, Lincoln drafted a noncommittal response in which he wondered whether such a change in appearance would be well received. Within months, he was sporting his now-iconic beard. What did he say when he later met Bedell? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

"Baby Jessica" Falls Down a Well (1987)

Though she is now 27 years old and has kids of her own, Jessica McClure is still known to most Americans as “Baby Jessica.” At 18 months old, McClure fell into an 8-inch (20-cm) wide well in Midland, Texas. The 58-hour rescue effort captivated the country. For those few days, in the words of US President Ronald Reagan, “everybody in America became godfathers and godmothers of Jessica.” Donations poured in from those moved by the child’s plight. What were the physical ramifications of her ordeal? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Young Readers Get Their First Taste of Paddington Bear (1958)

Michael Bond first introduced Paddington Bear to the world in his 1958 children’s book A Bear Called Paddington. Paddington, a polite immigrant bear from Darkest Peru, is taken in by the Brown family after they find him in a London train station. A variety of books feature the well-meaning bear, whose adventures have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. An award-winning TV show helped the series retain its popularity well into the 1990s. What inspired Brown to create Paddington? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

WWI Nurse Edith Cavell Executed for Aiding Allied Soldiers (1915)

An English nurse, Cavell was working to improve the nursing standards at a Brussels hospital when World War I broke out. After Germany occupied Belgium, she became involved with an underground group that helped about 200 Allied soldiers escape to the Netherlands. In 1915, she was arrested by the German occupation authorities and court-martialed. Despite diplomatic pressure on Germany, she was executed and became a celebrated martyr of the Allies. What reportedly went wrong at the execution? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary