Historical Events

From the Age of Enlightenment to the Christmas Truce, learn about some of history's most pivotal events.


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The Secret South Carolina 'Monkey Farm' That Helped Develop the Polio Vaccine

A little-known research facility in South Carolina housed thousands of monkeys and was key to developing the polio vaccine.

What Is Transcendentalism and How Did It Change America?

Transcendentalism was a 19th century philosophical movement with adherents like Thoreau, Emerson and Fuller, based on principles of freedom, feminism, abolition and the idea that people had divine truth within them.

5 Events in Hispanic History You Never Learned in School

Hispanics have contributed to American history since Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus stepped foot in the New World. These five events were turning points in Hispanic and American history.

The Tangled Line of Succession to the British Throne

Queen Elizabeth II has reigned over England for a record-breaking 68 years. But with Prince Harry and Meghan breaking the from the royal family, along with their baby son, how does the line of succession look now?

Why Did Hundreds of Americans 'Drink the Kool-Aid' at Jonestown?

In 1978, hundreds of followers of Reverend Jim Jones of the Peoples Temple died in Guyana, after being either coerced into suicide by their charismatic leader or actually murdered.

How 1968's Poor People's Campaign Continues Today

What began in 1968 with a call for a "revolution of values" in America has continued as a modern-day movement taking on everything from systemic racism and poverty to ecological issues and the war economy.

The Saltwater Underground Railroad Moved Slaves From Florida to Freedom

Believed to have operated between 1821 and 1861, the Saltwater Underground Railroad refers to the coastal escape route followed by fugitive slaves into the British-controlled Bahamas.

How Pirate Radio Rocked the 1960s Airwaves and Still Exists Today

When British radio wouldn't play 1960s rock 'n' roll, a station on a ship moored off the coast of England would. For many years, pirate stations have dodged government regulators to bring outlaw radio to the world at large. 

How the Mason-Dixon Line Unwittingly Became the Divider Between the North and the South

The Mason-Dixon Line has ties to slavery, which often overshadows its otherwise fascinating story about one of the most significant surveying achievements in North America.

The Sad, Strange Story of the Heaven's Gate Cult

"Internet cult" Heaven's Gate is seared in the memory of the '90s public for the fact that 39 members committed suicide wearing matching tracksuits and sneakers, as the Hale-Bopp comet approached Earth. But what made them do it?

The Cadaver Synod: When a Dead Pope Was Put on Trial

During one of the most political times in papal history, Pope Formosus' corpse was dug up and put on trial for crimes of the past. Who thought this was a good idea?

The Peace Sign: From No Nukes Logo to Anti-war Symbol

The nuclear disarmament movement in the 1950s needed a logo for a political march. What it got was one of the most ubiquitous and easily recognized symbols of all time.

20 Memorable Moments of the 21st Century So Far

The world has come a long way since we were prepping for Y2K to potentially crash computers and the economy as we know it. We've witnessed some major moments since then. Here are 20 of the biggest.

The War of 1812: The White House Burns and 'The Star-Spangled Banner' Is Born

The War of 1812 ended in a stalemate, which enabled the fledgling United States to escape a devastating defeat and grow into a world power.

The Great London Smog of 1952

A blinding smog enveloped London in 1952, wreaking havoc on the city, bringing life to a standstill and killing thousands.

The Dyatlov Pass Mystery: Were the Hikers Murdered?

In 1959, a group of nine Russian hikers disappeared and were later found dead in circumstances that, to this day, have mystified authorities and armchair sleuths alike.

Handel & Hendrix and Other Famous 'Next-Door Neighbors'

Yep, Jimi Hendrix could have borrowed a cup of sugar from George Frederick Handel — in a manner of speaking.

Quiz: What's This Country's Former Name?

Yugoslavia is no more. Prussia? Vanished from the face of the Earth. From war to political unrest to rebranding, there are all sorts of reasons that leaders rename their nations. Can you pick the former names for these countries? 

Including More Stories of Hope in Holocaust Teachings

Is graphically recounting the horrors of the Holocaust the only way to honor the dead and educate the living about this tragedy? One sociologist doesn't think so.

Changing the Guard Is More Than Pomp and Circumstance

While it's technically just a glorified shift change, the British monarchy's Changing the Guard ceremony is steeped in history and tradition.

A Holocaust Survivor's Surprising Message of Hope

Magda Herzberger was just a teen when she and her family were sent to Auschwitz. It was the last time she saw her father. Now 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, she talks about the Holocaust with a sense of urgency.

How Many People Died on the Trail of Tears?

A "trail of tears and death" is how a Choctaw leader described the experience of his people being forcibly removed from their tribal homelands and sent west of the Mississippi. How many people were affected?

Why the Korean War Still Matters

The Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953, ended with a stalemate and left North and South Korea as adversaries. It also changed the course of U.S. national security policy.

5 Polar Expeditions That Went Disastrously Wrong

Hundreds of explorers tried to locate the Northwest Passage. Many of those attempts ended badly.

What Really Happened in Salem Village?

The guys at Stuff They Don't Want You To Know break down some of the myths behind one of the darkest times in the colonies.