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 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.

By John Donovan

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.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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

By Kate Kershner

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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. But a new theory points to an avalanche as the solution to the mystery.

By Nathan Chandler

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

By Kathryn Whitbourne

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? 

By Nathan Chandler

Is graphically recounting the horrors of the Holocaust the only way to honor the dead and educate the living about this tragedy? Sociologist Arthur Shostak says no.

By John Donovan

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

By Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.

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 77 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we tell her story of survival and why we must never forget.

By John Donovan

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?

By Dave Roos

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.

By Patrick J. Kiger

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

By Mark Mancini

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.

By Diana Brown

These engraved stones may hold the key to a 400-year-old American mystery, but they also might just be forgeries.

By Jesslyn Shields

The 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I offers up a reminder — and a second chance — for us to remember the soldiers' sacrifices and to learn from our past mistakes.

By John Donovan

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Ron Stallworth was a black detective in Colorado Springs who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan to the point that he was asked to lead a local chapter. How he pulled that off is now the subject of a major motion picture.

By Dave Roos

There's a popular story that George Washington was offered the chance to be crowned king of the U.S. but turned it down in favor of a truly republican government. But what really happened?

By Dave Roos

The trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, which involved immigrants, anarchy and chaos, is one of the 20th century's most controversial and famous.

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

Blackface is alive and well. HowStuffWorks explores the history behind the practice, from minstrel and Halloween costumes to Shirley Temple and Drake.

By Yves Jeffcoat

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When a shipwreck is found, who gets the loot? The case of the San Jose has got interested parties battling and legal scholars scratching their heads.

By Chris Opfer

What really happened when the late Senator Ted Kennedy's car plunged off a bridge in 1969 killing Mary Jo Kopechne?

By Diana Brown

The plague took millions of lives in the 1600s, but Parisians fought back with tart, sweet lemonade.

By Laurie L. Dove

In 1928, Glen and Bessie Hyde embarked on an ambitious trip down the Colorado River. But their adventurous honeymoon came to an unfortunate early end. What happened?

By Kate Kershner

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From 1967 to 1975, an ambulance crew recruited from a poverty-stricken black neighborhood in Pittsburgh became the first-ever set of trained EMTs in America. Here is their untold story.

By Dave Roos

The raid amplified tensions between the North and South and intensified fear of slave rebellion.

By Kate Kershner