On This Day

Historical Events in 1939

Events 1 - 200 of 431

Historic Event

Jan 1 Hewlett-Packard is founded by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in a garage in Palo Alto, California "the birthplace of Silicon Valley"

  • Jan 1 Sydney, Australia, swelters in 45 ˚C (113 ˚F) heat, a record for the city.
  • Jan 1 25th Rose Bowl: #7 Southern California beats #3 Duke, 7-3

Sports History

Jan 2 Master batsman Don Bradman scores 107 for South Australia in a Sheffield Shield match against Victoria for his 4th consecutive century in first-class cricket

  • Jan 2 5th Sugar Bowl: #1 TCU beats #6 Carnegie Tech, 15-7
  • Jan 2 5th Orange Bowl: #2 Tennessee beats #4 Oklahoma, 17-0
  • Jan 3 Gene Cox becomes 1st girl page in US House of Representatives
  • Jan 4 Frieda Wunderlich elected 1st woman dean of a US graduate school
  • Jan 7 US worker's union leader Tom Mooney freed (jailed since 1916)

Historic Event

Jan 12 Timely Comics (later Marvel) founded by American publisher Martin Goodman in New York

Treaty of Interest

Jan 13 Belgian premier signs Burgos Treaty for trade relations with Franco's Spain

  • Jan 13 The Black Friday bush fires burn 20,000 square kilometres of land in Australia, claiming the lives of 71 people.
  • Jan 14 All commercial ferry services between San Francisco and East Bay end
  • Jan 14 Norway claims Queen Maud Land in Antarctica

Sports History

Jan 15 1st NFL All Star Game, Wrigley Field, Chicago: New York Giants beat All America All-Stars, 13-10

  • Jan 15 Municipal Railway & Market St RR begin service to Transbay Terminal
  • Jan 16 Daily newspaper comic strip "Superman" debuts
  • Jan 16 The Irish Republican Army (IRA) begins a 14 month long bombing campaign in England
  • Jan 17 Ed Barrow is elected Yankee president succeeding deceased J Ruppert
  • Jan 19 Ernest Hausen of Wisconsin sets chicken-plucking record of 4.4 sec
  • Jan 20 Charles Ives' 1st Sonata "Concord" premieres
  • Jan 20 LPGA Titleholders Championship Women's Golf, Augusta CC: Patty Berg wins 3rd straight title by 2 strokes ahead of Dorothy Kirby

Historic Event

Jan 21 George Kaufman and Moss Hart's "American Way" premieres in NYC

  • Jan 21 US female Figure Skating championship won by Joan Tozzer
  • Jan 21 US male Figure Skating championship won by Robin Lee
  • Jan 22 Aquatic Park, near Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco dedicated
  • Jan 24 30,000 killed by earthquake in Concepcion Chile

Hall of Fame

Jan 24 Eddie Collins, Willie Keeler & George Sisler elected to Hall of Fame

  • Jan 24 Spanish government moves to Figueras
  • Jan 25 Earthquake hits Chillan Chile, 10,000 killed

Boxing Title Fight

Jan 25 Joe Louis KOs John Henry Lewis in 1 for heavyweight boxing title

Historic Event

Jan 25 1st nuclear fission experiment (splitting of a uranium atom) in the US, in basement of Pupin Hall, Columbia University by a team including Enrico Fermi

  • Jan 26 Federal Hall National Monument established
  • Jan 26 Filming begins on film adaptation of "Gone With The Wind"
  • Jan 26 Francisco Franco's troops conquer Barcelona
  • Jan 27 First flight of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning
  • Jan 28 Australian Championships Women's Tennis: In an all-Australian final Emily Hood Westacott beats Nell Hall Hopman 6-1, 6-2 for her only Grand Slam singles title
  • Jan 28 Australian Championships Men's Tennis: Australian John Bromwich wins his 1st Australian title; beats doubles partner Adrian Quist 6-4, 6-1, 6-3

Historic Event

Jan 30 Adolf Hitler threatens Jews during his speech to the German Reichstag (Parliament)

  • Jan 30 Heavy aftershocks destroy some of Chile
  • Feb 4 Glenn Cunningham (top miler) says 4-min mile beyond human effort
  • Feb 6 Spanish government flees to France
  • Feb 9 Belgian Spaak government falls

Film Premier

Feb 10 "Stagecoach" western film directed by John Ford, starring Claire Trevor and John Wayne, premieres in Miami

Film & TV History

Feb 14 Victor Fleming replaces George Cukor as director of film "Gone With The Wind"

  • Feb 15 German battleship Bismarck was launched

Theater Premiere

Feb 15 Lillian Hellman's play "The Little Foxes" premieres in New York City

  • Feb 17 Katwijk soccer team forms in the Netherlands
  • Feb 18 Golden Gate International Exposition opens on Treasure Island
  • Feb 20 The American pro-Nazi organization German American Bund hold a rally at Madison Square Garden and 20,000 attend
  • Feb 21 Belgian government of Pierlot forms
  • Feb 22 Netherlands recognizes Franco regime in Spain

Sports History

Feb 23 Lou Thesz beats Everett Marshall in St Louis, to win National Boxing Association world heavyweight title for 2nd time

Academy Awards

Feb 23 11th Academy Awards: "You Can’t Take It With You", Spencer Tracy & Bette Davis wins

  • Feb 24 Roy Harris' 3rd Symphony premieres in Boston
  • Feb 25 1st Anderson bomb shelter in Britain erected in an Islington garden
  • Feb 27 Belgian government of Pierlot falls
  • Feb 27 Borley Rectory, "the most haunted house in England", destroyed in a fire
  • Feb 27 Britain and France recognize Francisco Franco's government in Spain
  • Feb 27 Supreme Court outlaws sit-down strikes
  • Feb 28 Great Britain recognizes Franco regime in Spain
  • Feb 28 The first issue of Serbian weekly magazine Politikin zabavnik is published.
  • Feb 28 The erroneous word "Dord" is discovered in the Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, prompting an investigation.
  • Mar 1 Japanese Imperial Army ammunition dump exploded at Hirakata, Osaka, Japan, killing 94

Historic Event

Mar 2 Eugenio Pacelli chosen as Pope Pius XII

  • Mar 2 Massachusetts Legislature votes to ratify the US Bill of Rights - 147 years late

Historic Event

Mar 3 Mahatma Gandhi begins a fast in Mumbai (Bombay) to protest against autocratic rule in India

  • Mar 7 Glamour magazine begins publishing
  • Mar 7 Guy Lombardo & Royal Canadians 1st record "Auld Lang Syne"
  • Mar 8 Lenore Coffee & William Joyce Cowan's "Family Portrait" premieres
  • Mar 10 17 villages damaged by hailstones in Hyderabad, India
  • Mar 12 Pope Pius XII crowned in Vatican ceremonies
  • Mar 14 England draw with South Africa at Durban on the 10th day
  • Mar 14 Nazi Germany dissolves Republic of Czechoslovakia

Hitler Invades Czechoslovakia

Mar 15 Adolf Hitler summons Czech President Emil Hácha to a meeting in Berlin and informs him of the impending attack by Germany; Hácha suffers a heart attack and later capitulates

  • Mar 15 Reneging on his pledge in the Munich Agreement, Adolf Hitler and Germany occupy and annex Czechoslovakia
  • Mar 16 Germany occupies Czechoslovakia
  • Mar 16 Hungary annexes republic of Karpato-Ukraine
  • Mar 16 NHL record 10 goals in 1 period-NY Rangers (7), NY Americans (3) & a record 26 points in the 3rd period
  • Mar 17 Battle of Nanchang between the Kuomintang and the Japanese breaks out (Sino-Japanese War 1937-1945)
  • Mar 18 England beats Scotland, 9-6 at Murrayfield, Edinburgh to force a share of the Home Nations Rugby Championship with Wales and Ireland
  • Mar 20 7,000 Jews flee German occupied Memel Lithuania
  • Mar 21 Nazi Germany demands the return of Danzig (Gdańsk) from Poland
  • Mar 22 Lithuania forced to give Memel territory to Germany
  • Mar 24 98th Grand National: Irish jockey Tim Hyde wins, riding 100/8 shot Workman

Film Premier

Mar 24 "Wuthering Heights" film based on the Emily Brontë novel, directed by William Wyler and starring Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier, premieres in Los Angeles

  • Mar 25 Billboard Magazine introduces hillbilly (country) music chart
  • Mar 27 1st NCAA Men's Basketball Championship: U of Oregon beats Ohio State, 46-33; Ohio State forward Jimmy Hull is named tournament Most Outstanding Player
  • Mar 28 Dutch hunter shoots down British bombers
  • Mar 28 Philip Barry's comic play "Philadelphia Story" about a socialite's impending wedding premieres at the Shubert Theater in NYC; star Katherine Hepburn also led the 1940 film version
  • Mar 28 Renaissance Big 5 win 1st pro basketball championship
  • Mar 28 Spanish Civil War ends, Madrid falls to the Nationalists headed by Francisco Franco
  • Mar 30 Heinkel He 100 fighter sets a world airspeed record of 463 mph
  • Mar 30 First flight of the Australian C.A.C. CA-16 Wirraway military aircraft
  • Mar 31 Britain & France agree to support Poland if invaded by Germany

Film Release

Mar 31 "The Hound of Baskervilles" first of 14 films starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson is released

  • Apr 1 US recognizes Francisco Franco's government in Spain at end of Spanish civil war. Pope Pius XII congratulates Generalissimo Franco's victory in Spain

US Masters Golf

Apr 2 6th US Masters Tournament, Augusta National GC: Ralph Guldahl wins his only Masters title with a tournament record 279 (−9), 1 stroke ahead of runner-up Sam Snead

  • Apr 4 Faisal II ascends to throne of Iraq
  • Apr 5 Membership of Hitler Youth becomes obligatory
  • Apr 5 Alexander Gretchaninov's 5th Symphony premieres at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia with Leopold Stowkowski conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra
  • Apr 6 Great Britain & Poland sign military pact
  • Apr 6 US & UK agree on joint control of Canton & Enderbury Is (Pacific)
  • Apr 7 Italy invades Albania
  • Apr 8 King Zog I of Albania flees after Italy invades

Music History

Apr 9 Marian Anderson sings before 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

  • Apr 10 Colijn's Dutch government opens camp Westerbork for German Jews
  • Apr 10 Grens mobilization due to Italian invasion in Albania
  • Apr 11 Hungary leaves League of Nations
  • Apr 13 W Saroyan's "My Heart's in the Highlands" premieres in NYC
  • Apr 13 The Hindustani Lal Sena (Indian Red Army) is formed and vows to engage in armed struggle against the British.

Historic Publication

Apr 14 John Steinbeck novel "The Grapes of Wrath" published

  • Apr 15 Albert Lebrun elected president of France

Agreement of Interest

Apr 16 The Soviet Union proposes an alliance with Britain and France to counter Nazi Germany; the Soviets would later sign a secret agreement with the Nazis

  • Apr 16 Stanley Cup Final, Boston Garden, Boston, MA: Boston Bruins beat Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-1 for a 4-1 series win; first best-of-7 SC Final series
  • Apr 17 Joe Louis KOs Jack Roper in 1 for heavyweight boxing title
  • Apr 17 SN Behrman's "No Time for Comedy" premieres in NYC
  • Apr 17 43rd Boston Marathon won by Ellison Brown in 2:28:51.8; his second victory in the event

Historic Event

Apr 18 Franz von Papen becomes German ambassador in Turkey

  • Apr 18 Hubert Pierlot forms Belgian government
  • Apr 19 Connecticut finally approves Bill of Rights (148 years late)

Sports History

Apr 20 Ted Williams' first MLB hit comes off of NY Yankees fellow future HOF'er Red Ruffing in Boston's 2-0 opening day defeat at Yankee Stadium, NYC

Music Premiere

Apr 23 1st performance of Béla Bartok's 2nd Concerto for violin

  • Apr 23 Boston Red Sox Ted Williams hits his 1st HR
  • Apr 28 Adolf Hitler claims German-Polish non-attack treaty still in effect
  • Apr 29 Whitestone Bridge connecting the New York boroughs of Bronx and Queens opens
  • Apr 30 New York World's Fair opens

Television Debut

Apr 30 NBC/RCA 1st public TV demo with FDR at opening of NY World's Fair

  • Apr 30 Tropicana ballet of Havana, Cuba, forms

Baseball Record

Apr 30 Lou Gehrig sets a MLB record playing his 2,130th consecutive and final game for the New York Yankees.

  • May 1 Pulitzer Prize awarded to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (Yearling)
  • May 2 New York Yankee Lou Gehrig ends 2,130 consecutive game streak, Yanks beat Detroit Tigers 22-2
  • May 3 The All India Forward Bloc is formed by Subhash Chandra Bose
  • May 6 65th Kentucky Derby: James Stout aboard Johnstown wins in 2:03.4
  • May 7 Germany and Italy announce an alliance known as the Rome-Berlin Axis
  • May 13 64th Preakness: George Seabo aboard Challedon wins in 1:59.8
  • May 13 SS St Louis departs Hamburg with 937 Jewish fugitives
  • May 14 Lina Medina of Peru becomes the world's youngest confirmed mother in medical history at the age of five
  • May 16 1st AL night game, Philadelphia Shribe Park (Indians 8, Athletics 3 in 10)
  • May 16 US food stamps are 1st issued in Rochester, New York
  • May 17 1st televised baseball game is broadcast on NBC, with Princeton defeating Columbia 2-1
  • May 20 "3 Little Fishies" by Kay Kyser swam to #1
  • May 20 1st regular transatlantic airmail (Pan Am: NY to Marsseille France)
  • May 23 British parliament plans to make Palestine independent by 1949

Appointment of Interest

May 23 Dmitri Shostakovich appointed professor at conservatory of Leningrad

  • May 23 Adolf Hitler proclaims he wants to move into Poland
  • May 23 Submarine USS Squalus sinks in the Gulf of Maine, drowning 26, 33 remaining crew rescued from a depth of 243 ft (74 m) by divers using newly developed heliox air systems (divers later awarded the Medal of Honor)
  • May 25 Carl Storck becomes 2nd NFL president
  • May 30 Indianapolis 500: Reigning champion Floyd Roberts is killed in crash on lap 109; Wilbur Shaw wins his second of 3 Indy 500 titles
  • Jun 1 First major boxing match on US television is the heavyweight bout from NY's Yankee Stadium between former world champion Max Baer and Lou Nova; Nova wins by TKO in 11th round
  • Jun 1 First night MLB game takes place at Philadelphia's Shribe Park; Phillies lose 5-2 to Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Jun 1 British submarine "Thetis" sinks in Liverpool Bay with all 99 aboard
  • Jun 1 Retired German Colonel-general Gerd von Runstedt returns to service
  • Jun 3 71st Belmont: James Stout riding Johnstown wins in 2:29.6
  • Jun 3 "Beer Barrel Polka" by Will Glahe hits #1 on the pop singles chart
  • Jun 6 NY Giants beat Reds 17-3, with 5 HRs in 4th inning
  • Jun 6 NY supreme court justice J F Crater legally declared dead
  • Jun 6 The ship MS St. Louis, carrying 907 Jewish refugees from Europe, begins sailing back to the continent after it was refused entry into America. Approximately a quarter of those on board would perish in the Holocaust.

Historic Event

Jun 7 George VI and Elizabeth become the 1st king and queen of Britain to visit USA

  • Jun 10 MGM cartoon character Barney Bear debuts
  • Jun 11 King and Queen of England taste 1st "hot dogs" at FDR's party

US Golf Open

Jun 12 US Open Men's Golf, Philadelphia Cricket Club: Byron Nelson wins by 3 strokes from Craig Wood and 7 ahead of Denny Shute in a 36-hole playoff to claim the second of his 5 major titles

  • Jun 12 Baseball Hall of Fame is dedicated in Cooperstown, New York
  • Jun 12 Shooting begins on Paramount Pictures' Dr. Cyclops, the first horror film photographed in three-strip Technicolor.
  • Jun 17 Last public guillotining in France. Eugen Weidmann, a convicted murderer, is guillotined in Versailles outside the prison Saint-Pierre

French Open Men's Tennis

Jun 17 French Championships Men's Tennis: American collegiate champion Don McNeill beats countryman Bobby Riggs 7-5, 6-0, 6-3

  • Jun 17 44th Women's French Championships: Simonne Mathieu beats Jadwiga Jedrzejowska (6-3, 8-6)
  • Jun 20 Test flight of 1st rocket plane using liquid propellants
  • Jun 21 NY Yankees announce Lou Gehrig's retirement after doctors reveal he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Meeting of Interest

Jun 22 Princess and future Queen Elizabeth meets future husband Prince Philip of Greece (Midshipman Mountbatten, RN)

Sports History

Jun 23 Bronko Nagurski beats Lou Thesz in Houston, to win National Wrestling Association world heavyweight title

  • Jun 23 France turns over Sanjak of Alexandretta (Hatay) to Turkey
  • Jun 23 US Congress establishes US Coast Guard Reserve (renamed US Coast Guard Auxiliary 1941) as uniformed volunteer units supporting the Coast Guard
  • Jun 24 Pan Am's 1st US to England flight
  • Jun 27 1st night game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium (Indians 5, Tigers 0)
  • Jun 27 Brooklyn Dodgers tie Boston Bees, 2-2 in 23 innings; called on account of darkness after 5 hours 15 minutes
  • Jun 27 Brilliant West Indies batsman George Headley scores 107 to follow his 106 in the 1st innings in 1st cricket Test v England at Lord's; England still wins by 8 wickets
  • Jun 28 Joe Louis TKOs Tony Galent in 4 for heavyweight boxing title
  • Jun 28 Pan Am opens southern route transatlantic air service (Dixie Clipper)
  • Jun 28 Yanks hit 13 HRs, sweep A's 23-2 & 10-0
  • Jun 29 4th Dutch government of Colijn falls
  • Jun 29 Dixie Clipper completes 1st commercial plane flight to Europe
  • Jun 30 Heinkel He 176 rocket plane flies for 1st time, at Peenemunde
  • Jul 3 Ernst Heinkel demonstrates 800 kph (500 mph) rocket plane to Adolf Hitler
  • Jul 4 Red Sox 3rd baseman Jim Tabor hits record-tying 2 grand slams in one MLB game, 18-12 win v Phillies
  • Jul 4 Lou Gehrig is first MLB player to have his number (4) retired on his "Appreciation Day" at Yankee Stadium, makes iconic "luckiest man" speech
  • Jul 5 Flash floods kill 79 in Northeast Kentucky
  • Jul 6 German Nazis close last Jewish enterprises
  • Jul 7 Wimbledon Men's Tennis: Bobby Riggs beats fellow American Elwood Cooke 2-6, 8-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 for Wimbledon sweep, also won doubles & mixed doubles titles
  • Jul 7 British Open Men's Golf, St Andrews: In the last Open played for 7 years, due to WWII, England's Dick Burton wins by 2 strokes from American Johnny Bulla
  • Jul 7 "The Rules of the Game", French film directed by Jean Renoir, starring Nora Gregor and Paulette Dubost, premieres in Paris

Wimbledon Women's Tennis

Jul 8 Wimbledon Women's Tennis: American Alice Marble wins her only Wimbledon singles title beating Kay Stammers of England 6-2, 6-0

  • Jul 9 A meeting of 6,000 Indians, held at the Indian Sports Ground in Johannesburg South Africa, launch the Passive Resistance Campaign against apartheid and racial policy in South Africa
  • Jul 11 7th All Star Baseball Game: AL wins 3-1 at Yankee Stadium, New York NY Yankee/AL maanager Joe McCarthy starts 6 Yankees

Music History

Jul 13 Frank Sinatra makes his recording debut, with The Harry James Orchestra, singing "From the Bottom of My Heart" and "Melancholy Mood"

  • Jul 15 Clara Adams (NYC) is 1st woman to complete round world flight
  • Jul 17 PGA Championship Men's Golf, Pomonok CC: 1938 Masters champion Henry Picard wins his 2nd major title defeating Byron Nelson with a birdie at the 37th hole