History May This Day in History


May This Day in History, Historic Events

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What Historic May Events Occurred on Your Birthday?

Our “This Day in History for May” section contains historical May 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 May.

Kentucky Dery May Event, holidays in May

Major Historical May Events

May 1 Historical Events

England releases the first 1st adhesive postage stamp. (1840)

The first wagon train leaves Independence, Mo for California. (1841)

“Buffalo Bill” Cody’s first Wild West Show. (1883)

Construction begins on the first skyscraper, the 10-story Home Insurance Company building in Chicago, IL. (1884)

 The Empire State Building is dedicated. (1931)

The cereal “Cheerios” hits store shelves. (1941)

Slugger Mickey Mantle hits his first home run. (1951)

Mr. Potato Head is introduced. (1952)

May 2 Historical Events

The U.S. stops minting the 20-cent coin. (1878)

Good Housekeeping Magazine first hits the newsstands. (1885)

Jack Benny’s first radio show premieres. (1932)

Lou Gehrig plays in his 2,130th game, a baseball record that will last for 57 years until Cal Ripken comes along. (1939)

May 3 Historical Events

Christopher Columbus discovers “St Iago”. It is later renamed Jamaica.  (1494)

Joe DiMaggio makes his major-league debut with 3 hits for the NY Yankees. (1936) 

Margaret Mitchell wins the Pulitzer Prize for “Gone With the Wind”. (1937)

Digital Equipment Corporation sends the first bulk unsolicited commercial emails… spam is born! (1978)

May 4 Historical Events

Manhattan Island is sold! Native American Indians agree to the deal in exchange for $24 in cloth & buttons. (1626)

The phonograph is played for the first time at the Grand Opera House. (1878)

Atlanta Penitentiary has a new resident after Al Capone is convicted of income tax evasion. (1932)

The Academy of Motion Pictures is founded. (1934)

 Soap operas “Another World” and “As the World Turns” premiere.  (1964)

Margaret Thatcher becomes the first woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. (1979)

May 5 Historical Events

Kublai Khan the grandson of Genghis Khan becomes ruler of the Mongol Empire. (1260)

Mexican forces under Benito Juarez defeated French troops in the Battle of Puebla. Today this battle is celebrated as Cinco de Mayo. (1862) 

North Bend, Ohio gets on the map. It’s the site of the first US train robbery. (1865)

The New York Stock Exchange crashes, causing the “Great Panic of 1893”. (1893)

Cy Young pitches the first perfect game in modern baseball history. (1904)

Alan Shepard rides “Freedom 7” to become 1st American in space. (1961)

Senator Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated. (1968)

May 6 Historical Events

John Deere produces the first steel plow. (1833)

 The Paris Exposition opens with the just-completed Eiffel Tower as its centerpiece. (1889)

The Yale lock is patented. (1915)

Future Baseball Hall of Famer Babe Ruth hits his first home run. (1915)

The Dirigible Hindenburg explodes into flames at Lakehurst, NJ. (1937)

Chunnel linking England & France officially opens. (1994)

Entrepreneur Elon Musk forms SpaceX. (2002)

May 7 Historical Events

The first inaugural ball is held in honor of George Washington and his wife. (1789)

George Eastman patents the Box Camera.  (1888)

The World’s largest pearl (6.4kg.) is discovered in the Philippines.  (1934)

Big band leader Glenn Miller records the “Chattanooga Choo Choo”. (1941)

Germany signs an unconditional surrender at Rheims, France, ending WWII in Europe. (1945)

The Beatle’s last album is released- “Long and Winding Road”.  (1970)

The maiden voyage of the space shuttle Endeavor. (1992)

May 8 Historical Events

The U.S. Post Office is established. (1791)

Richmond, Virginia is named the capital of the Confederacy. (1861)

George Selden files the first patent for a gas-driven automobile. (1879)

V-E Day, Germany signs unconditional surrender. (1945)

Mad Magazine hits the newsstands. (1952)

The World Health Organization announces that Smallpox has been eradicated worldwide. (1980)

May 9 Historical Events

A “Golden Spike” is driven into the railroad tracks at Promontory Summit, Utah, connecting the tracks of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads, creating the first Transcontinental railroad.  (1869)

The syrup for Coca-Cola is invented by Atlanta Pharmacist John Styth Permerton. (1886)

The lawnmower is patented. (1899)

President Woodrow Wilson declares Mother’s Day. (1914)

Americans Richard Boyd and Floyd Bennett becomes the first to fly over the North Pole. (1926)

The Birth control pill is approved by the FDA. (1960) 

May 10 Historical Events

The first U.S. Navy ship, named United States”, is launched. (1797)

The first Mother’s Day is observed in Philadelphia, PA. (190)

The first color pictures of Earth from space are sent back from Apollo 10. (1969)

Nelson Mandela becomes South Africa’s first black president.  (1994)

Lilac Flower Purple

Celebrate Mom on Mother's Day

May 11 Historical Events

Einstein presents his Theory of General Relativity. (1916)

General Electric opens the world’s first television station in Schenectady, NY. (1928)

BF Goodrich manufactures the first tubeless tire. (1947)

Jay Forrester patents computer core memory. (1951)

May 12 Historical Events

The flush toilet is patented. (1792)

Mormon pioneer William Clayton invents the odometer while crossing the western plains in a covered wagon. (1847)

The first National Hospital Day is celebrated honoring the birth of Florence Nightingale. (1921)

May 13 Historical Events

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s first opera “Apollo et Hyacinthus” premieres in Salzburg. He wrote it when he was 11 years old. (1767)

The Rolling Stones record the now-infamous song “Satisfaction”. (1965) 

The Beatle’s movie “Let it Be” premieres. (1970)

“Mr. October”, Reggie Jackson becomes the first major league ballplayer to strike out 2,000 times. (1983)

May 14 Historical Events

A party of settlers led by John Smith established the first permanent English settlement in the New World at Jamestown Va. (1607)

Delegates gather in Philadelphia to draw up the Constitution of the United States of America. (1787)

Physician Edward Jenner develops a vaccine for smallpox. (1796)

Vaseline petroleum jelly slides onto store shelves for the first time. (1878)

The first U.S. space station, “Skylab” is launched. (1973)

The last episode of Seinfeld is aired. It’s a sad day in May for millions of Seinfeld followers. (1965)

May 15 Historical Events

President Abraham Lincoln establishes the Department of Agriculture (USDA) (1862) 

Regular airmail service is inaugurated (between New York, Philadelphia & Washington DC. (1918)

Nylon stockings hit the market for the first time. (1940)

“If I Had a Hammer” by Peter, Paul, and Mary wins a Grammy. (1963)

May 16 Historical Events

Mississippi River steamboat service begins. (1817)

Charles Hires invents Root Beer. (1866)

Joan of Arc is canonized as a saint. (1920)

Michael Jordan is named “NBA Rookie of the Year”. (1985)

May 17 Historical Events

“And They’re Off!” as the first Kentucky Derby is held at Churchill Downs. (1875)

“The Wonderful World of Oz” is published. (1900)

Alaska becomes a U.S. territory. (1884)

The first “Running of the Kentucky Derby” is held at Churchill Downs. (1954)

May 18 Historical Events

Napoleon Bonaparte becomes Emperor of France. (1804)

The Republican party nominates Abraham Lincoln for president. (1860)

 Grumman’s Chinese Theater opens in Hollywood, CA. (1927)

Gene Roddenberry suggests 16 names for Star Trek Captain. The list includes Kirk.  (1965)

May 19 Historical Events

Ann Boleyn, second wife of English King Henry VIII is beheaded. (1836)

Ringling Brothers circus premieres. (1884)

 American actress Meghan Markle marries England’s Prince Harry in a ceremony at Windsor Castle and becomes the Duchess of Sussex. (2018)

May 20 Historical Events

The fountain pen is patented. (1830)

Thomas Edison says Americans prefer silent movies over talkies. (1926)

Hubble Space Telescope transmits photographs from space. (1990)

Memorial Day

May Historic Events - Memorial Day

May 21 Historical Events

Captain Bartholomew Gosnold is the first to see Martha’s Vineyard. (1602)

Richmond, VA is designated the capital of the Confederacy. (1861)

The American Red Cross is formed. (1881)

May 22 Historical Events

The opening battle in England’s 30-year “War of the Roses”. (1455)

Former Vice President Aaron Burr is tried and acquitted of treason.  (1807)

The Great Train Robbery. (1868) 

The steamship Savannah departs Savannah, GA to Liverpool, England on the first trans-Atlantic crossing by a steamship. (1819)

The Wright Brothers are granted a patent for their “flying machine”. (1906)

Canned rattlesnake meat goes on sale in Florida. (1931)

First reported sighting of the Loch Ness Monster.  (1933)

The debut of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”. (1967)

After a 94-year run, the Orient Express takes its final trip across Europe. (1977)

May 23 Historical Events

Benjamin Franklin invents bifocals. (1785)

Associated Press News Service is formed. (1900)

Legendary bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde Barrow are shot to death in a police ambush in Louisiana. (1934)

Cliff Notes are first used by U.S. schoolchildren. (1958)

May 24 Historical Events

John Hancock is unanimously elected president of the Continental Congress. (1775)

The nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb” is written by Mary Hale of Boston. (1830)

Samuel Morse opens the first telegraph line between Baltimore, MD, and Washington, DC. (1844)

The Brooklyn Bridge is formally opened. (1883)

May 25 Historical Events

Ford ceases production of the Model “T”. (1927)

President John F. Kennedy announces a goal to put an American astronaut on the moon before the end of the decade. (1961)

Gateway Arch in St. Louis is dedicated. (1968)

The original movie blockbuster “Star Wars, Episode IV” is released. (1977)

First National Missing Children’s Day is held. (1983)

A SpaceX Dragon becomes the first commercial spacecraft to dock at the International Space Station. (2012)

May 26 Historical Events

Lewis and Clark are the first to see the Rocky Mountains. (1805)

During WWII, the trapped British Expeditionary Force evacuates the European mainland from Dunkirk, France. (1940)

Michael Jackson marries Elvis Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie Presley. (1994)

May 27 Historical Events

Achsah Young is the first woman to be executed as a witch in Massachusetts. (1647)

The pop-up toaster is patented. (1919)

Richard Gurley Drew receives a patent for cellophane tape. (1930)

The San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge opens. Over 200,000 people go across it on opening day. (1937)

The German battleship Bismarck is sunk by the British Navy. (1941)

May 28 Historical Events

Dodge Brothers Inc. and Chrysler Corporation merge. (1928)

May 29 Historical Events

Famous Abraham Lincoln quote: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of time”. (1849)

The official flag of the President of the United States is adopted. (1916)

Albert Einstein publishes his Theory of Relativity. (1919)

Bing Crosby sings “White Christmas” into the record books as the biggest-selling record. (1942)

Sir Edmund Hillary is on top of the world. He is the first person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. (1953)

May 30 Historical Events

During the Hundred Years’ War, 19-year-old Joan of Arc is burned at the stake. (1431)

James Boyd patents the fire hose. (1821)

The brassiere is invented. As we understand, it received a lot of support. (1889)

The Lincoln Memorial is completed and dedicated by Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Taft. (1922)

May 31 Historical Events

U.S. Copyright law is enacted.  (1790)

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg patents “flaked cereal”. (1884)

Scotch Tape is patented. Invented by Richard Gurley Drew at 3M Company. (1930) 

John Lennon and Yoko Ono record the song “Give Peace a Chance”. (1969)

The Trans-Alaska pipeline is completed. (1977)

Seinfeld television comedy show premieres. (1990)

The television reality show “Survivor” premieres. (2000)

Additional Resources

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