History December This Day in History


December This Day in History, Historic Events

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What Historic December Events Occurred on Your Birthday?

Our “This Day in History for December” section contains historical December events categorized by month and day. See what happened on your birthday, or any day of the year. Find out what happened on this day in December.

Holiday Cut Out Cookies

Major Historical December Events

December 1, 1878 – A telephone is installed in the White House for the first time.

December 1, 1887 – Sherlock Holmes appeared for the first time in print in “A Study in Scarlet.”

December 1, 1891 – High School teacher James Naismith nails up peach baskets at opposite ends of the school gym and gives students soccer balls to toss into the baskets, creating basketball.

December 1, 1896 – The first certified public accountants receive their certificates.

December 1, 1941 – The Civil Air Patrol is founded.

December 1, 1953 – Hugh Hefner publishes the first edition of Playboy Magazine. Marilyn is the first centerfold.

December 1, 1955 – In Montgomery, Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to give up her seat in the front section of a bus.

December 1, 2019 – A 55-year-old man in Wuhan China, is the first person known to have the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

December 2, 1816 – The first savings bank is opened in the U.S.

December 2, 1823 – President James Monroe declares the “Monroe Doctrine” opposing European colonialism in the Americas.

December 2, 1891 – The toilet paper roll was patented (Patent #465,588)

December 2, 1927 – The first Ford Model A is sold. The price: $382.

December 2, 1976 – Communist revolutionary leader Fidel Castro becomes President of Cuba.

December 2, 1982 – Barney B. Clark receives the world’s first artificial heart transplant.

December 3, 1989 – Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and US President George H. W. Bush, declare the Cold War over.

December 3, 2016 – Astronauts aboard the International Space Station hold the first pizza party in space.

December 4, 1920 – The first professional football playoff game is held at the Polo Grounds in NYC. The score: Buffalo (NOT the Bills) 7, Canton 3.

December 4, 1930 – The Vatican approves the “Rhythm Method” for birth control.

December 4, 1954 – The first Burger King is opened in Miami, FL.

December 4, 1957 – The first edition of “Chase’s Calendar of Events” is published.

December 4, 1996 – NASA’s first Mars Rover is launched from Cape Canaveral.

December 5, 1360 – The French Franc is first coined.

December 5, 1933 -The 21st Amendment repeals Prohibition. I’ll drink to that!

December 5, 1985 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 1,500 for the first time. And, just look at where we are now!

December 6, 1790 –  The U.S. congress moves from New York City to Philadelphia.

December 6, 1923 – President Calvin Coolidge holds the first presidential address to be broadcast on radio.

December 6, 1964 – “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” airs on television for the first time.

December 6, 1877 – Thomas Edison exhibits the phonograph.

December 7, 1934 – Wiley Post discovers the jet stream.

December 7, 1941 – Pearl Harbor was bombed in a surprise Japanese attack. It marked the U.S. entry into WWII.

December 7, 1967 – Otis Redding records “Sittin on the Dock of the Bay”.

December 7, 1979 – “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” is released.

December 8, 1941 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt makes his “Day in Infamy” speech to the U.S. Congress on the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

December 8, 1967 – The Beatles release “Magical Mystery Tour” album.

December 8, 1980 – John Lennon, singer, guitarist, songwriter, and poet for the Beatles, was assassinated in New York City by Mark David Chapman.

December 8, 2010 – Space-X launches the Dragon spaceship, becoming the first privately held company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft.

December 9, 1965 – “A Charlie Brown Christmas” premieres on television on CBS.

December 9, 1990 – Lech Walesa wins Poland’s first direct presidential election.

December 10, 1768 – The Encyclopedia Britannica was first published in Edinburgh, Scotland.

December 10, 1869 – Wyoming, a territory of the U.S., allowed women to vote and hold office.

December 10, 1964 – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Menorah and Boy

December Historical Events: The U.S. Bill of Rights is Enacted (1791)

December 11, 1620 – Miles Standish and a group of 18 settlers are attacked by 30 Indians. It became known as “The First Encounter”.

 December 11, 1913 – The Mona Lisa is recovered two years after being stolen from the Louvre.

December 11, 1951 – Joe DiMaggio announces his retirement from baseball.

December 11, 1980 – The original “Magnum PI” detective series starring Tom Selleck, premieres on television.

December 11, 1981 – In his 61st and last boxing fight, Mohammad Ali loses to Trevor Berbick in a unanimous decision after 10 rounds.

December 12, 1792 – Ludwig von Beethoven receives his first lesson in music composition from Franz Joseph Hadyn.

December 12, 1946 – Tide detergent hits the market.

December 12, 1977- The movie Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta, premieres.

December 12, 1980 – Apple makes its initial public stock offering.

December 13, 1636 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony organizes three military regiments to defend the colony against Pequot Indians. It is the founding of the National Guard.

December 13, 1928 – The Clip-on tie is created. Or, should we say “invented”?

December 13, 2017 – Prehistoric bones of a penguin as tall as a human is found in Otage Beach, New Zealand.

December 14, 1542 – Princess Mary Stuart, upon the death of her father James V, becomes Queen Mary I of Scotland at just 6 days old.

 December 14, 1961 – Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John” is the first country song to get a gold record.

December 14, 2003 -President George W. Bush announces the capture of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.

December 15, 1791 – The Bill of Rights is enacted, amending the U.S. Constitution

December 15, 1890 – Sioux Chief Sitting Bull was killed by Indian police.

December 15, 1939 – Gone with the Wind premiered in where else but Atlanta, Georgia.

December 15, 1944 – Infamous band leader Glenn Miller died in a plane crash over the English Channel.

December 16, 1773 – Boston residents protesting British taxation threw tea overboard on a British ship. The Boston Tea Party was the beginning of the American fight for independence.

December 16, 1913 – Charlie Chaplin begins his career at Keystone. He makes $150/week.

December 16, 1944 – The famous World War II “Battle of the Bulge” began.

December 16, 1950 – Shirley Temple retires from making movie films at the age of 22.

December 16, 2019 – Mariah Carey’s single “All I Want for Christmas Is You” hits #1:

December 17, 1538 – Pope Paul II excommunicates King Henry VIII of England.

December 17, 1843 – Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” was published.

December 17, 1903 – The Wright Brothers made their first airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C.

December 17, 1900 – A prize of 100, 000 francs is offered for communications with extraterrestrials. Martians are excluded because it is considered too easy.

December 18, 1849 – William Bond takes the first photograph of the moon through a telescope.

December 18, 1956 – The game show “To Tell the Truth” premieres on CBS.

December 18, 1964 – The cartoon “Pink Panther” premieres.

December 18, 1966 – Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas airs for the first time.

December 19, 1686 – Robinson Caruso leaves his island after being marooned for 28 years.

December 19, 1843 – Charles Dickens publishes “A Christmas Carol”.

December 19, 2001 – “The Fellowship of the Ring” is released. It is the first of the Lord of the Rings movies.

December 20, 1790 – The first U.S. cotton mill begins spinning yarn in Pawtucket, RI.

December 20, 1812 – “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm is published.

December 20, 1920 – Bob Hope becomes an American citizen.

December 20, 1946 – Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” premieres.

December 20, 1970 – Elvis Presley receives his draft notice.

December 20, 2019 – The United Space Force is founded as an armed branch of the military dedicated to space warfare. 

Christmas Stockings

December Historical Events - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Premieres

December 21, 1620 – The Mayflower pilgrims land at Plymouth, Massachusetts.

December 21, 1898 -Pierre and Marie Curie discover radium.

December 21, 1937 – Coco the Clown first appears in a circus in Manchester, England.

December 21, 1937 – “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” premieres at theaters. 

December 21, 1959 – Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry accepts the coaching job at Dallas Cowboys. He stays until 1988.

December 22, 1777 – The U.S. Navy is formed with 7 ships.

December 22, 1871 – Seth Wheeler receives U.S. Patent #465,588  for the toilet paper roll.

December 22, 1882 – Thomas Edison creates the first string of Christmas tree lights.

December 22, 1984 – Madonna’s hit “Like a Virgin” goes #1 and stays there for six weeks.

December 23, 1690 – English Astronomer John Flamsteed observes Uranus, without realizing it is undiscovered.

December 23, 1922 – BBC radio begins broadcasting.

December 23, 1947 – The transistor was invented by U.S. physicists John Bardeen, Walter H. Britain, and William Shockley.

December 23, 1954 – The first human kidney transplant is performed by Dr. Joseph E. Murray in Boston, MA.

December 23, 1968 – Jim Lovell, Frank Borman, and William Anders become the first to orbit the moon.

December 24, 1818 – Franz Joseph Gruber composed “Silent Night”.

 December 24, 1948 – The first completely solar-heated house is occupied in Dover, MA.

December 25, 00 – Jesus Christ is born in a manger in a little town in Bethlehem.

December 25, 597 – England adopts the Julian calendar.

December 25, 1066 – William the Conqueror is crowned the King of England.

December 25, 1223 – St. Francis of Assisi sets up the first Nativity scene. It is displayed in Greccio, Italy.

December 25, 1741 – Astronomer Andres Celsius introduces the Centigrade temperature scale.

December 25, 1939 – Robert May, an Employee of Montgomery Ward, creates the poem “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. Montgomery Ward uses it as a highly successful marketing campaign.

December 26, 1854 – In Buffalo, NY, paper made from wood pulp is first displayed.

December 26, 1865 – James Mason invents the coffee percolator.

December 26, 1986 – The TV soap opera “Search for Tomorrow” ends after 35 years. 

December 27, 1903 – “The song “Sweet Adeline”, popular among barbershop quartets, is first sung.   

December 27, 1932 – Radio City Music Hall in New York City opens.

December 27, 1939 – Skimobiles first hit the U.S. market.

December 27, 1947 – The “Howdy Doody Show’ premieres on NBC.

December 28, 1832 – Citing differences with President Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun is the first Vice President to resign from office.

December 28, 1869 – William F. Semple patented chewing gum.

December 28, 1902 – The first professional football game is played indoors Syracuse beats Philadelphia at Madison Garden in NYC.   

December 28, 1981 – The first U.S. test tube baby is born. She is Elizabeth Jordon Carr, born n Norfolk, VA.

December 29, 1837 – A steam-powered threshing machine is patented in Winthrop, Maine.

December 29, 1837 – Gas lighting is installed at the White House.

December 29, 1852 – Emma Snodgrass is arrested in Boston for wearing pants.

December 29, 1862 – The bowling ball is invented.

December 30, 1809 – Wearing masks at balls in Boston is prohibited. Dial forward a couple of centuries to 2020 and masks of a different kind will be mandatory in many areas of the world.

December 30, 1918 – John E. Hoover changes his name to J. Edgar Hoover.

December 30, 1924 – Edwin Hubble announces the existence of other galactic systems. Yes, the Hubble telescope was later named after him.

December 30, 1951 – The Roy Rogers Show premieres on television. 

December 30, 1968 – Frank Sinatra records “My Way”.

December 31, 1695 – Shopkeepers in England brick up their windows to avoid a Window tax.

December 31, 1904 – The first New Year’s Eve celebration is held in New York City’s Times Square.

December 31, 1907 – To mark the arrival of the new year, the ball is dropped in Times Square for the first time.

December 31, 1935 – Charles Darrow patents the board game “Monopoly”. It was on the market the month before. See Play Monopoly Day.

December 31, 1966 – The Monkee’s song “I’m a Believer” hits #1 and stays there for seven weeks.

December 31, 1970 – Congress authorizes the Eisenhower dollar coin.

December 31, 2010 – The zombie series “Walking Dead” premieres on television.

Additional Resources

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Famous Birthdays Who else was born on your Birthday? Find out!

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Did You Know? There are literally thousands of holidays, special events and observances, more than one for every day of the year. Many new holidays are being created on a very frequent basis. At Holiday Insights we strive to thoroughly research and report details of each one as accurately as possible.