Month In History

Discover the global events and personal stories of January

January 1, 1819

The Bicentennial of Herman Melville’s Birth

It wasn't until he visited the Holy Land and wrote the longest poem in American literature about it, though, that he  gave up the idea of ever publishing again. He was finished: Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land did him in.

Mark Twain, 1907. A.F. Bradley. Library of Congress.
January 1, 1887

Read Across America Day – Mark Twain Lists His Favorite Books For Children, and Himself

It’s noble to teach oneself, Mark Twain once remarked, but still nobler to teach others - and less trouble.

January 1, 1852

Mark Twain and the Adams Colony

American colonists followed preacher George J. Adams from New England to Ottoman-ruled Palestine on a messianic mission to prepare the Holy Land for the return of the Jews. “We are going to become practical benefactors of the land and the people,” Adams stated, “to take the lead in developing its great resources.” A year after arriving, some of these impoverished colonists wanted a ticket home. It was at that moment that author Mark Twain came to town while on a five-month pleasure trip through Europe and the Middle East.

January 5, 1895

The Alfred Dreyfus Degradation Ceremony – Paris, France

The Dreyfus Affair was "one of the great commotions of history. " It began in 1894 against a backdrop of espionage and antisemitism, when Jewish French Army captain, Alfred Dreyfus, was wrongly convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment.

January 13, 1919

The 100th Commemoration of the Death of Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt, having wanted his whole life to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral, finally got at least half of his wish when, on January 8, 1919, he was buried, quietly, in his parish church in Oyster Bay. Reporters watching as President Wilson read the message that Roosevelt had died, swore he broke into a wide transcendent smile. Why, is the story told here, in one of the very last letters Roosevelt ever wrote...

January 13, 1743

Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday: JFK on Jefferson

President Kennedy laments he hasn't time to write about Thomas Jefferson, and then carefully does so.

January 19, 1865

Lincoln Asks Grant, Not As President But As a Friend, For a Favor: Find a Place For His Son, Robert, on His Staff

Lincoln may have been hailed, during the Civil War, as the Father of the Nation, but at home, with his eldest son Robert, Lincoln was mostly the President of the United States.

January 20, 1961

A New Presidency: The First 100 Days

Truman on Kennedy: inexperienced and hopeful.

January 28, 1986

The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

Schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe Writes About Her Excitement Going into Space on the Ill-Fated Challenger.
On January 28, 1986, the NASA Space Shuttle orbiter Challenger lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 11:38 EST and, 73 seconds into its flight, exploded nine miles above the Atlantic Ocean. All seven crew members were killed, including 37 year-old McAuliffe, who had been selected from 11,000 applicants to be a "Teacher in Space." Largely because of her presence, some 17% of Americans watched the live coverage of the launch.

January 30, 1933

The Holocaust

Manuscripts exploring the mounting dangers before the Holocaust, the devastation it wrought, and the way the Jewish people both resisted in the face of the Holocaust, and re-established their homeland in the wake of it.

January 31, 1967

The Anniversary of the Funeral of the Apollo I Astronauts

President Lyndon B. Johnson writes to the parents of astronauts killed in the Apollo I disaster.



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