On This Day

December 1917 in History

Events in History

  • Dec 1 Boys Town founded by Father Edward Flanagan west of Omaha, Nebraska
  • Dec 2 Han Yong-woon, found Zen awakening at Osean Monastery Korea
  • Dec 3 After nearly 20 years of planning and construction, the Quebec Bridge finally opens to traffic after two prior collapses
  • Dec 3 The Supreme Allied War Council, meeting at Versailles to define war aim, fails to reach an agreement
  • Dec 5 Austro-German Forces launch an offensive against the Italians on the western end of their line, around Asiago
  • Dec 6 French munition ship "Mont Blanc" explodes in Halifax, Canada killing 1,700
  • Dec 6 Taking advantage of the temporary relaxation of authority in Russia, Finland declares itself a republic, following the Ukraine on 20 November
  • Dec 7 US becomes 13th country to declare war on Austria during World War I

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Dec 7 The USA's 42nd 'Rainbow' Division arrives in France (with Colonel Douglass MacArthur among its ranks)

US WWII General Douglas MacArthur
US WWII General
Douglas MacArthur
  • Dec 9 British forces under General Allenby capture Jerusalem
  • Dec 11 13 black soldiers hanged for participation in Houston riot
  • Dec 11 German-occupied Lithuania proclaims independence from Russia
  • Dec 12 French troop train derails in French Alps killing 543
  • Dec 12 Rev Edward Flanagan forms Boys Town outside Omaha, Nebraska
  • Dec 14 UFA, Universal Film AG, forms in Germany
  • Dec 15 Moldavian Republic declares independence from Russia
  • Dec 15 World War I: An armistice is reached between the new Russian Bolshevik government and the Central Powers.

Event of interestEvent of Interest

Dec 18 The Soviet government issues a decree recognizing Finland's newly-declared independence [N.S. December 31]

Marxist Revolutionary and Soviet Leader Vladimir Lenin
Marxist Revolutionary and Soviet Leader
Vladimir Lenin
Soviet General Secretary Joseph Stalin
Soviet General Secretary
Joseph Stalin

USAProhibition is Ratified

Dec 18 The 18th Amendment to the US Constitution, authorizing prohibition of alcohol, is approved by the US congress and sent to the states for ratification

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The Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which established prohibition
The Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which established prohibition
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  • Dec 20 Cheka formed - Soviet state security force and forerunner to the KGB, under Felix Dzerzhinsky after decree by Lenin
  • Dec 20 A second nationwide referendum on military conscription is rejected by the Australian public
  • Dec 22 Flanders declares its independence, under Pieter Tack
  • Dec 23 3 British warships come close to Holland
  • Dec 25 "Why Marry" 1st drama to win Pulitzer Prize, premieres in NYC
  • Dec 26 US Federal government took over operation of American railroads for duration of WW I
  • Dec 30 -32°F (-36°C) in Mountain City, Tennessee (state record)
  • Dec 30 -37°F (-38°C) in Lewisburg, WV (state record)
  • Dec 31 Dutch Social-democratic trade union NVV counts 159,450 members

Birthdays in History

  • Dec 5 Simone Gallimard, French editor and publisher (d. 1995)
  • Dec 6 Kamal Jumblatt, Lebanese politician and founder of the Progressive Socialist Party, born in Moukhtara, Chouf, Mutasarrifate of Mount Lebanon, Ottoman Empire (d. 1977)
  • Dec 6 Irv Robbins, Canadian-American entrepreneur (co-founded the Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor chain), born in Winnipeg, Manitoba (d. 2008)
  • Dec 9 James Angleton, Head of counterintelligence for the CIA (1954-75), born in Boise, Idaho (d. 1987)
  • Dec 9 James Rainwater, American physicist (Nobel 1975-determining the asymmetrical shapes of certain atomic nuclei), born in Council, Idaho (d. 1986)
  • Dec 10 Sultan Yahya Petra, 6th Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia (1975-79), born in Kota Bharu, Kelantan (d. 1979)
  • Dec 12 Edward Firth Henderson, British diplomat and arabist, born in Bristol (d. 1995)
  • Dec 14 June Taylor, American choreographer, born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 2004)
  • Dec 15 Shan-ul-Haq Haqqee, Pakistani Urdu linguist and writer, born in Delhi, British India (d. 2005)

Person of interestArthur C. Clarke

Dec 16 Arthur C. Clarke, English sci-fi author (2001: A Space Odyssey, Childhood's End), born in Minehead, England (d. 2008)

Sci-Fi Author Arthur C. Clarke
Sci-Fi Author
Arthur C. Clarke
  • Dec 16 Nabi Bux Khan Baloch, Sindhi scholar
  • Dec 20 David Bohm, American physicist, philosopher, and neuropsychologist, born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (d. 1992)
  • Dec 21 Sophie Masloff, American politician, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (d. 2014)
  • Dec 21 Diana Athill, English writer and editor (Stet), born in London, England (d. 2019)
  • Dec 22 Andrew Fielding Huxley, English physiologist (Nobel 1963), born in London, England (d. 2012)
  • Dec 22 Piet De Somer, Belgian physician & biologist (U of Leuven), born in Belgium (d. 1985)
  • Dec 24 Kim Jong-suk, Wife of Kim Il-sung, mother of Kim Jung-Il, "The Heroine of the Anti-Japanese Revolution" (d. 1949)
  • Dec 26 Rosemary Woods, Nixon's secretary, keep her away from your tapes
  • Dec 27 Onni Palaste, Finnish writer
  • Dec 28 Ellis Clarke, president Trinidad & Tobago (1976-87)

Person of interestTom Bradley

Dec 29 Tom Bradley, Mayor of Los Angeles (D-1973-93), born in Calvert, Texas (d. 1998)

American Politician Tom Bradley
American Politician
Tom Bradley
  • Dec 30 Seymour Melman, American industrial engineer (d. 2004)

Weddings in History


LoveWedding of Interest

Dec 24 Famous pilot James Doolittle (21) weds high school sweetheart Josephine E. Daniels

Aviation Pioneer Jimmy Doolittle
Aviation Pioneer
Jimmy Doolittle

Deaths in History

  • Dec 8 Mendele Moykher Sforim, Russian writer (b. 1836)
  • Dec 8 Arthur Matthew Weld Downing, British mathematician and astronomer, dies at 67
5th Prime Minister of Canada Mackenzie Bowell
5th Prime Minister of Canada
Mackenzie Bowell
  • Dec 17 Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, 1st qualified woman physician in Britain, first woman mayor (Aldeburgh), dies at 81
  • Dec 22 Francesca Saveria Cabrini, US saint/patron of immigrant, dies at 67
  • Dec 26 Judith Gautier, French poetess, novelist (Le Dragon Impérial) and daughter of Theophile Gautier, dies at 71
  • Dec 28 Alfred Edwin McKay, Canadian World War One flying ace (b. 1892)