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 word "massacre" conjures up images of the senseless slaughter of thousands. But some, while still tragic, claimed only a few lives. Here are five with huge historical impacts.

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

Accidents happen, they say, but some actually make the world a better place. Where would we be without the accidental discoveries of beer, penicillin or Popsicles?

By Dave Roos

What do Solomon Northup, George Washington's false teeth and the crew of Flight 19 have in common? They all vanished inexplicably.

By Patrick J. Kiger


The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom ensured the passage of the Civil Rights Act and made Martin Luther King Jr. an American hero. But its success was not assured at the beginning.

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

Everyone makes mistakes, but some lapses in judgment are spectacularly bad. What are some of history's most epic miscalculations?

By Maria Trimarchi

On May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg, the largest airship ever built, crashed and burned in Lakehurst, N.J. Thirty-six people were killed, including one person on the ground.

By Tracy V. Wilson

What do civil rights mean to you? Ultimately they represent freedom -- the freedom to live your life without being repressed or discriminated against by either the government or private institutions. See a visual chronicle of the Civil Rights movement.


The concept of revenge predates legal history, and one could even say that it's simply part of who we are as humans. But sometimes the need for vengeance can kick into overdrive – as it did in these 10 infamous acts of revenge.

By Josh Clark

The ideas of the Age of Enlightenment turned to action when the U.S. broke from King George III and British rule. How did 18th century intellectual ideals incite revolution?

By Jessika Toothman

Whether it's the topic of a holiday greeting card or a beauty pageant question, peace on Earth is on almost everybody's wish list. But has the world ever been truly peaceful?

By Meghan E. Smith

The United States economy crumbles and rebuilds itself with astonishing regularity, falling from periods of economic success into panic. What are five of the worst financial panics in history, and what can they teach us about our current recession?

By Jessika Toothman


The Revolutionary War involved bloody battles and courageous heroes, and led to the foundation of the U.S. Explore the historical moments of this nation-building rebellion.

The war that began with German dictator Adolf Hitler's rise to power left much blood in its wake. Learn about some of the worst battles of the war that led to nearly 50 million combatant and civilian deaths.

By Jane McGrath & Garth Sundem

The year 2008 in pictures includes everything from newsmakers like Robert Mugabe and Michael Phelps to events like the Myanmar cyclone. See 2008 in pictures.

If you haven't been keeping news clippings for your 2008 scrapbook, you might've forgotten what happened earlier this year. That's where HowStuffWorks comes in. Here are 10 headlines from 2008 that'll go down in history.

By HowStuffWorks.com Contributors


There's more to Beijing than meets the eye at street-level. Under bustling sidewalks is a subterranean city with its own classrooms, movie theater and restaurants.

By Josh Clark

Boston Tea Party, in United States history, the dumping of three cargoes of tea in Massachusetts Bay on December 16, 1773, shortly before the American Revolution.

Louisiana Purchase, the purchase of the French province of Louisiana by the United States in 1803.

Much of the ice has melted, and the woolly mammoths are long gone. But could we still be in an ice age and headed for another?

By Molly Edmonds


The Berlin Wall splintered a city and divided a country, but it may also have prevented nuclear war. Why block off a city with concrete, barbed wire and land mines?

By Ed Grabianowski

Continents aren't the unchanging, universally recognized land masses of our school studies. But they do help us make sense of our world. How did they get their names?

By Julia Layton

How does change happen? For the civil rights movement, it began with a group of people who decided that separate but equal wasn't good enough.

By John Fuller & Kathryn Whitbourne

In 1963, criminals pulled off the largest train robbery in Britain's history. How did 15 men stop a train, and why did it take a Monopoly board to catch them?

By Maria Trimarchi


Black Death, an epidemic of bubonic plague that appeared in Europe in the 1300's.

The Civil War divided the country, and in the case of the Crittendens, it divided a family. Was the family a microcosm of the troubles raging across the states?

By Josh Clark