A Silly Little Timeline You May Well Find Helpful

Note: If there are any dates you'd like to add, please advise me (but be sure you can verify the date - that said, thanks and a tip o' the hat to an anonymous Lit of Laughter student who added some dates from The Columbia Chronicles of American Life).


1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue (or, the sea pirates landed - take your pick)
1498 Michelangelo completes "Pietà" (St. Peter's, Rome); Da Vinci completes numerous scientific and technical drawings
1499-1563 Lots of stuff....

16th Century

1564 William Shakespeare born; Michelangelo died
1596 Tomatoes introduced in England; first water closets (indoor toilets) for the wealthy
1589 Forks used for the first time in French court; first knitting machine
1595 Shakespeare writes A Midsummer Night's Dream; heels put on shoes; bow & arrow abandoned as war weapons in England
1597 First field hospitals and field dispensaries


17th-19th Centuries

1600 Telescopes invented by Dutch opticians; Populations in millions: France 16, Germany 14.5, Poland 11, Spain 8, England & Ireland 5.5, Holland 3
1603 Heavy outbreak of plague in England; Monteverdi: Fourth Book of Madrigals
1605 Guy Fawkes arrested in cellars of Parliament in attempt to blow up House of Lords ("Remember Remember the 5th of November....")
1616 William Shakespeare died; Notre Dame Cathedral, Antwerp, finished (begun 1352)
1617-1834 A whole bunch of stuff happens [1621, Potatoes planted in Germany; 1652, Capetown, S.A., "founded" by Dutch (though, as you know, there were people who already lived there); 1692, Salem (MA) witchcraft trials begin; 1729, Swift's "A Modest Proposal" published anonymously; 1756, "Black Hole of Calcutta"; 1757, British rule established in India; 1767, Mason-Dixon Line established; Beethoven, 1770-1827; 1776, American Revolution begins; 1789, French Revolution begins; 1794, first telegraph; 1800, electric battery developed in Italy; 1804, Bonaparte crowns himself Napoleon I; 1809 Lincoln and Darwin born (same day, 12 Feb); 1819, Victoria born (queen of Britain, 1837-1901); 1823, J.F. Cooper writes The Pioneers and Monroe Doctrine effected; 1831, Hegel dies, chloroform discovered, cholera pandemic spreads from Russia to Central Europe, Darwin sails on H.M.S. Beagle]
1835 Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) born; Samuel Colt gets English patent for single-barreled rifle, pistol; P.T. Barnum begins showbiz career
1836 Betsy Ross dies; Aaron Burr dies; Alamo defeated, but Texas gains independence
1837 Sitting Bull born; Gag Law (suppressing debate on slavery) passed by Congress
1844 W.F. Nietzsche born in Röcken, Germany
1848 Communist Manifesto written; the "Year of Revolutions" in Europe; Jakob Grimm (Wilhelm's brother) writes History of the German Language
1859 D.D. Emmett composes "Dixie"; first oil well drilled (Titusville, PA); steamroller invented; Darwin's On the Origin of Species published
1861 Lincoln established as President and American Civil War fires up (both till 1865)
1863 Germ theory of disease popularized; scary Norwegian painter Edvard (The Scream ) Munch born
1868 Grant president; Marxism popularized; Johan Strauss's "Blue Danube" waltz popularized
1870s-1880s Impressionist movement in France; industrial nations begin ongoing technological arms race (machine guns to current "smart" war toys)
1876 US Centennial; Sitting Bull's hometeam defeats G.A. Custer's visiting 7th Cav team; Philadelphia hosts incredible World Exhibition; US National Baseball League founded
1880 T.A. Edison and J.W. Swan independently devise the first practical electric lights; Lew Wallace writes Ben Hur; Helen Keller born; 87,800 railroad miles in US
1885 Pasteur gives first inoculation against rabies; W.F. Cody's "Wild West Show" very popular
1892 Basketball invented; Kentucky becomes a state (take that, Indiana fans)


20th Century

1900 Boxer Rebellion against Europeans in China; W.F. Nietzsche dies; first trial flight of Zeppelin; radon discovered; new Australian Commonwealth
1903 Wright brothers fly at Kitty Hawk, NC
1912 Titanic sinks; approx. 5,000,000 Americans going to movies daily; Carl Jung writes The Theory of Psychoanalysis; term "vitamine" coined
1914 World War I begins (ends 1918); Panama Canal opens
1917 Russian Revolutions; J.F. Kennedy born; Sigmund Freud writes Introduction to Psychoanalysis; "Buffalo Bill" Cody dies
1920 Prohibition of alcohol in US (till 1933); air travel popularized; women "given" the right to vote
1922 Kurt Vonnegut born; radio broadcasting boom
1924 Mark Twain dies; J. Edgar Hoover appointed head of (what will be called) FBI; "cowboy humorist" Will Rogers at height of his career; 2.5 million radios in US
1926 Lenny Bruce (Leonard Alfred Schneider) born; Fritz Lang releases Metropolis; cork-centered baseball introduced; George Burns new on radio, Al Jolson, Jack Benny, and Groucho Marx regulars on the air; Houdini stays underwater for 91 minutes with only 5 minutes of air, though he died later that year; Marlboro cigarettes 20¢ per pack; Lillian Gish stars in The Scarlet Letter
1927 Talking pictures popularized; Harlem Globetrotters established; Lindberg flies "Spirit of St. Louis" from New York to Paris in 33.5 hours
1928 First years for Academy Awards, Peter Pan peanut butter, Rice Krispies, Mickey Mouse, the Oxford English Dictionary; Alexander Fleming realizes penicillin mold destroys bacteria; popular songs include "Button Up Your Overcoat" and "Makin' Whoopee"; 78% of all motor vehicles are in the US; 75,000 arrests for Prohibition violations
1929 American Great Depression begins; Richard Byrd flies over the North Pole; first major conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine
1937 John Kennedy Toole born; Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs released; John Steinbeck publishes Of Mice and Men
1939 World War II begins (U.S. enters, 1941); antibiotics being discovered; Gone With the Wind made into a film; top box office stars include Mickey Rooney, Shirley Temple, and Clark Gable; kooky kollege antics include knock-knock jokes and swallowing live goldfish; Sigmund Freud dies; John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath a bestseller
1947 Cold War goes around (a-choo!); India gains independence; Tennessee Williams publishes A Streetcar Named Desire; Al Capone dies and arrives in hell
1949 Chinese People's Republic formed; world population approx. 2.3 billion (U.S., 151 million); NATO established
1950 Korean War begins; Joseph McCarthy heads House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC)
1953 Televisions highly popular; H-bomb hap-hap-happily invented by unapologetic protofascist Edward Teller; discovery of genetic structures revolutionize modern biology
1955 Montgomery, AL, bus lines boycotted (civil rights movement begins); UHF TV waves first produced at MIT; modern rock and roll born with Bill Haley and the Comets' "Rock Around the Clock"
1956 Miner's "Body Ritual among the Nacirema" published in American Anthropologist
1960 Hitchcock's Psycho; Leonid Brezhnev president of USSR; #1 song in US: "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"; JFK installed as President
1963 Lenny Bruce publishes first edition of How to Talk Dirty and Influence People: An Autobiography (Playboy Press, 65¢ then); Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show"; JFK murdered by ... ARRrrrrrggghhhhhh....
1966 Lenny Bruce dies with a needle in his arm; U.S. Catholics may now eat Friday meat (except during Lent)
1968 Everything you now take for granted: Hendrix, MLK, RFK; everything they want you to forget: Nixon, the Pueblo "incident," healthy student unrest
1969 John Kennedy Toole suicides; Manson Family Values; Woodstock (the real one); humans on the moon and riots in the streets
1973 gasoline "shortage"; National Lampoon's Lemmings (co-starring, for instance, Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, and Chris Guest) tours
1976 US Bicentennial; Jimmy Carter president; Bernstein and Woodward publish The Final Days; Legionnaire's Disease problem; former Chicago mayor Richard Daley finally dies and arrives in hell
1980 Thelma D. Toole (JKT's mom) publishes A Confederacy of Dunces; Reagan dynasty begins, though he doesn't take office till 20 January 1981
1987 Carolyn See publishes Golden Days; Tony Hendra publishes Going Too Far: The Rise and Demise of Sick, Gross, Black, Sophomoric, Weirdo, Pinko, Anarchist, Underground, Anti-Establishment Humor; jug-eared Iran-Contra scandal "hero" (former) Lt. Col. Oliver North disregards vows, lies to Congress through his uncapped teeth
1988 Dr. Hunter S. Thompson publishes Generation of Swine; Reagan dynasty continues when his former CIA head is elected President with his super-rich, dope-smoking, draft-dodging, spoiled white boy VP
1990 William Keough publishes Punchlines: The Violence of American Humor
1991 $24+ billion S & L scandal about to be focus of inquiry when public distracted by going ballistic with first postmodern war in the Gulf
1992 Not-so-wealthy, dope-non-inhaling, draft-dodging white boy Boomer installed as President in White House with fairly-rich, dope-smoking white boy Viet Nam-vet as VP
1994 Former David Letterman-lover white girl Merrill Markoe publishes How to be Hap-Hap-Happy Like Me; those terrifying Duracell commercials with the plastic-faced people begin
1997 You read and write your butt off in class and (possibly) learn the word "hegemony"


21st Century

2001 (Midnight) Idiots who thought the 21st century began at the stroke of Midnight in 2000 have egg on their faces.


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Note: the contents of this page are © 1995-1997, John A. Dowell. Feel free to use the material as long as you cite this URL (http://www.msu.edu/~jdowell/timeline.html). Cheers!