History Life

Major Historical Events That Aren’t Well Known By History Buffs

Major Historical Events That Aren’t Well Known By History Buffs December 29, 2020Leave a comment

Remember back when we were kids and our history teacher taught us about George Washington chopping the apple tree as a kid and then confessing to his dad that he was the one who did it? What about the terrible events that lead to Abraham Lincoln’s death? You might think you know all there is to know about history, but the major historical events on this list weren’t part of the curriculum.

The Boston Marathon Was a Men’s Only Thing


Back in the day, the Boston Marathon only allowed men to participate. But in 1967, a woman named Kathrine Switzer decided to defy society’s rules and run the race. Sadly, a race official and some of the male racers tried to force her out. But over the years, Switzer continued running in marathons.

The Eiffel Tower Gets Repainted All the Time

Wikimedia Commons

This image shows a team of men painting the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, in 1924. But this isn’t an isolated incident. Every seven years, painters climb up the tower and repaint it a yellow-brown color.

Flight Attendants Had to Retire Early

PSA History

A couple of decades ago, female flight attendants were required to look like models and wear short skirts that showed off their legs. And there’s even a rumor that they had to be young and beautiful, meaning that they had to retire by the time they were 32.

Quakers Petition Against Slavery

Public Domain

In 1688, a religious sect known as Quakers or The Society of Friends, believed that slavery was wrong. So, they sent a letter to the colonists to appeal to their humanity and asked that they put themselves in the shoes of the slaves to see how they would feel in their place.

The 1799 Gold Rush


In 1799, a young boy discovered a gold nugget in North Carolina. Ironically, his family had been using it as a doorstop but it turns out that the 17-pound nugget was gold. Once news spread about the discovery, the first gold rush in the US occurred and 600 gold mines were found in North Carolina.

Alcohol Was Illegal

Media Drum World

Between 1920 and 1933, the United States made alcohol illegal, which meant that alcohol was the drug of choice on the black market. So, to keep people from buying it, the U.S. government tainted industrial alcohol with deadly chemicals, which cost approximately 10,000 people their lives.

Woman Protested Segregation in 1855

Kansas State Historical Society

Long before Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus, another woman named Elizabeth Jennings Graham rode in a horse-drawn streetcar designated for whites only. She was forced to get off by cops, which led to a lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court. The court ultimately ruled that black people were entitled to use public transportation like everyone else.

Germans Blew Up Military Items in New York

New York Public Library

In the early 20th century, Germans broke into a munition shipment in New York harbor and blew it up. This led to the entire harbor being polluted by military debris that resulted in a financial loss of $20,000,000 in 1916.

New York Factory Went Up in Smoke


In 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York caught on fire. It was considered one of the deadliest fire incidents in U.S. history. Investigators blamed the fire on the deplorable conditions inside the factory. Sadly, 146 employees lost their lives.

Bats Were Almost Used as Bombs


The U.S. government had considered capturing about a million bats in Texas, arming them with napalm and releasing them over major Japanese cities during WWII. Fortunately for Japan, the plan never left the proverbial drawing board.

Hats Were the Norm in the 1930s

Margaret Bourke White

Take a look at this photo which was taken by Margaret Bourke White in 1930. This bird’s eye view of New York’s Garment District shows that everyone was wearing a hat because in those days, it was considered the norm.

Cotton Helped Egypt Break Free

Cotton Egypt Association

The United Kingdom was forced to look for a new source of cotton after the Union gained a major victory during the Civil War. So, they opened negotiations with Egypt and after an agreement was struck, the UK ended up boosting the Egyptian economy, which allowed Egypt to break free of the Ottoman Empire.

The Iceberg That Sunk the Unsinkable

United States Coast Guard

The Titanic, which was deemed unsinkable at the time, sank when it hit an iceberg and led to the death of 1,500 people. And when rescue teams went looking for survivors, they discovered an iceberg with red and black paint from the massive vessel.

Washington Started the Seven Years’ War

Journal of the American Revolution

In 1756, George Washington murdered a French military commander, which sparked the Seven Years’ War. The conflict affected several different countries and was financially costly. It also led to the American Revolution and the French Revolution as well.

The Brits Burnt the White House Down


It began with the War of 1812 when the US attempted to trade with France and the UK during the war. France started trade negotiations, which angered the UK and led US congress to declare war against Britain. And in 1814, the British managed to burn the White House down.

Black Slaves Enlisted in the Army

National Archives

American soldiers recruited approximately 8,000 Black men, some of whom were still enslaved, by offering to give them freedom in exchange for their service. They agreed and these brave Black soldiers increased the US’s number of soldiers during the American Revolution.

The Massive Acadian Deportation

Expulsion of the Acadians by Lewis Parker

The Acadians were the descendants of Indigenous people and French colonist living in Nova Scotia. Sadly, in 1755, the British deported their population. And in the process, thousands of Acadians died at the hands of their oppressors.

The Breath of Life

Rare Historical Photos

In 1967, a utility worker named Randall G. Champion was working on a pole when he was electrocuted. The shock didn’t kill him, but it left him hanging from his harness near death. So, his fellow worker, J.D. Thompson climbed up and gave him mouth to mouth, which ultimately saved Champion’s life.

The Tulsa Race Massacre

McFarlin Library University of Tulsa

In the early 20th century, Black-owned businesses were plentiful in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood District. Unfortunately, white people weren’t happy with this at all, so in 1921, they banded together and destroyed the once-thriving businesses.

The Untouched Tomb of King Tut


Archaeologist Howard Carter spent six years looking for King Tutankhamen’s tomb, and in 1922 he found it. This photo shows the seal which had remained unbroken for 3,245 years. Ironically, there were other entrances which had been broken into and the tomb is said to have been robbed more than once.

Small Pox Devastated Native Americans

Library and Archives of Canada

In the 1500s, settlers unintentionally infected Smallpox to the Native American community. And in the blink of an eye, 99 percent of the Native population perished, crippling them in the process. Sadly, this was not the worst thing the colonists did to Native Americans.

German POWs Were Forced to Watch


This photo shows a group of German prisoners of war who had been forced to look at footage of what the Nazis had done to Jewish people during the concentration camps. Many of the POWs appeared so emotionally disturbed by what their people had done that they covered their eyes with their hands.

Life Was Still Chaotic After the Civil War

Public Domain

The Civil War between the North and the South came to an end in 1865. But the victory was as bitter as defeat as everyone’s lives was in a state of flux, especially in relation to race. Approximately four million former slaves and Confederate states were slowly being re-integrated with the rest of the US.

JFK Paid His Dad One Last Visit

Viral Zerg Net

This photo shows US President John F. Kennedy paying his dear old dad a visit at their home in Massachusetts. This photo is so iconic because this was the last time these two saw each other. A couple of days later, JFK was shot while riding his motorcade in Dallas, Texas.

Blair Mountain Miners Rebelled

Courtesy Kenneth King

In August 1921, the Blair Mountain Miners were fed up with the way they were being treated, especially since their lives were put in danger while working in hazardous mines. So, they rebelled in what became a terrible battle, which historians compared to a mini-Civil War.

Job Hunter in the 1930s

Public Domain

The internet did not exist during the Great Depression, so looking for jobs was pretty difficult. Some men would wear signs like this and walk around the city hoping a business or company would hire them. Sometimes they would have to travel from far away to the closest city and stay in public shelters only to wake up and walk around wearing that sign again until they found something.

People Weren't Just Sad About General Patton's Death

Public Domain

General Patton died on December 21, 1945, 12 days after breaking his neck in a car accident near Mannheim, Germany. Many people were heartbroken, but it seems not just humans suffered from the loss. Patton's dog Willie would follow him where ever he went and days after he passed Willie was snapped here mourning by his belongings. Willie was later sent to live with Patton's wife and kids.

The Morning After Sweden Changed Driving Lanes

Public Domain

On September 3, 1967, Sweden switched from driving on the left side of the road to the right, and this day in history is now called Högertrafikomläggningen or Dagen H (H Day) which means "The right-hand traffic diversion." People were still confused and had to take some time to acclimate to the switch as you can tell from the photo. It was the largest logistical event in Sweden's history.

A Woman Arrested For Wearing a One-Piece Bathing Suit

Public Domain

In the 1920s, fashion for women was much more modest than it is today, and there were laws enforced that kept it that way. This photo, taken in 1922, is not the only one of its kind. Even men were escorted away from public beaches for not wearing shirts, because it was thought to be indecent. 

Berlin Families Separated by the Wall

Rare Historical Photos

The Berlin wall was built in August 1961 and separated tons of friends and, more importantly, families. Here are residents of West Berlin showing their children to their grandparents who now resided on the opposite side, on May 9, 1961. The wall was eventually demolished in 1989.

Filming MGM's Credits

Public Domain

Everyone knows the iconic MGM movie intro showing a lion roaring, it is iconic and legendary. Here is a snapshot of the filming of the scene and how relatively simple it was. Though their mascot is referred to as "Leo the Lion," the lion's name was Jackie and was a very good boy during filming in 1928.

First White American Woman with a Tattoo

Public Domain

Olive Oatman and her family were attacked while traveling from Illinois to California. Many of her family members died during the attack, but she and her youngest sister were captured, enslaved and then traded to the Mohave people. Her youngest sister died but five years after the massacre Olive escaped and returned to white society wearing a blue tattoo on her chin given to her by the Mohaves.

Computers in the 1980s

Twitter / SEGAbits

It's crazy to realize how big computers first were when they were created. Pictured here is a Space Invaders competition in the 1980s. It was the earliest large scale video game competition attracting more than 10,000 competitors and really established esports as we know it today.

The Only Female to Strike Out Babe Ruth

Public Domain

Seventeen year old Jackie Mitchell, a southpaw who pitched against the New York Yankees on April 2, 1931 striked out not only Babe Ruth but Lou Gehrig, too. There are still rumors today saying that it was done for promotional purposes and wasn't genuine but hey, staged or not, it is still a pretty big credit to strike out the Great Bambino.

American Soldiers Return Home After World War II

Rare Historical Photos

World War II was one of the largest wars of all time but you really don't realize how many people fought in the war until you see it photo form. The United States alone had more than 12 million men and women in the armed forces at the end of World War II of whom 7.6 million were stationed abroad. Here is a photo of some of the soldiers returning home from war.

The Night Prohibition Ended

Rare Historical Photos

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which was passed in 1919, prohibited the sale of alcohol within the United States. On December 5th, 1933, the Amendment was repealed, leading to many celebrations (with plenty of drinks) across the country.

First Black Person to Attend an All-White School in North Carolina

Don Sturkey

In 1957, fifteen year old Dorothy Counts was the first black person to attend Harding High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. Pictured here you can see it wasn't very easy for her as white boys bullied her as she walked into the school. But her role in desegregation and this photo of her ignoring them really paved the way for the future.

Muhammad Ali Underwater

Rare Historical Photos

In September 8, 1961 a series of photos was published of Muhammad Ali training underwater and Ali explaining his underwater training process. It turns out that the training was a complete hoax and Ali actually didn't even know how to swim let alone train underwater. Even though it's based off of a lie, the photo is still pretty cool.

Circumcision Used to Identify People

Public Domain

In 1971 during Bangladesh's War of Independence, soldiers used circumcision to identify whether or not men were Hindus. Men were often made to undress to prove that they had been circumcised and hence were Muslim. Many Hindu male and women were either killed or raped during this war.

Prisoners Used as Test Subjects

Public Domain

While this looks like a fun sport of some sort it is actually a prisoner testing safety nets in 1958. Back in the '50s, capital punishment was utilized everywhere in America and prisons used their captives as test subjects while they were awaiting the death penalty or some other fatal ending in prison.

Bison Skull Mountain

Public Domain

This mini-mountain made of bison skulls actually isn't a creepy art installation. Originally, bison were hunted for their skins in the 1800's but the left over bones weren't used by hunters so, instead of just tossing them, they used the bones in refining sugar, making fertilizer and fine bone china. Pictured here are a few hundred skulls in 1870 before being used.

A Woman Gets a Ticket For Wearing a Bikini

Rare Historical Photos

The bikini was designed in 1946 by a French engineer named Louis Réard. The one-piece bathing suit remained the more popular choice for many years though, and beaches in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Australia prohibited or discouraged the wearing of two-piece bathing suits. This image, taken in Italy, shows that these rules were enforced at the time.

Water-Surfing Elephant

Public Domain

Owners of a Florida tourist attraction called De Leon Springs introduced Queenie to water-skiing in the 1950s and she actually didn't mind it! She would put her trunk in the water and get a big scoop of water and spray it all over the place. Queenie was billed as "The World's Only Water Skiing Elephant" after she replaced the world's first water skiing elephant, Sunshine Sally.

Gravity-Free Feline


Before we could take people into space, humans had to test out weightlessness. They would use cats to see how they reacted without gravity and the medical after effects of the experience. Pictured here is a pilot who took a cat up 25,000 feet in the air in the 1960s.

Original Mount Rushmore

Public Domain

Gutzon Borglum sculpted the design of Mount Rushmore from 1927 to 1941. The original design of the gigantic landmark shows more than just four heads of the United States' founding fathers but also the top portions of the bodies and even Lincoln fixing his tie with his hands. This plan was made before funding ran out.

Children for Sale

Rare Historical Photos

This photo, which was taken in Indiana in 1948, was claimed to be staged at the time, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Within two years of the photo being taken, all four of the children in the picture, and another child who hadn’t yet been born, were sold to different families. Lucille Chalifoux, the children’s mother, considered this option only because her situation was so dire that she had no way to provide for the children.

Bill Gates and a Data Tower


Creator of Microsoft and billionaire, Bill Gates wanted to show how much storage a CD-Rom could hold so he did so in this photo. In 1994 he crafted a "data tower" with paper pages to show how much information it could hold. This was quite a lot of data and pretty groundbreaking for the time.

The Headquarters of Mussolini

Recuerdos de Pandora / Flickr

We all know that Mussolini was the Italian dictator who created the fascist party and was an all-around not good person, but you won't really realize how creepy he was until you see his headquarters during election season. The Palazzo Braschi in Rome, the headquarters of the Fascist Party Federation is decorated here during the 1934 elections with his creepy face and "Si, Si, Si" (meaning "yes") written over and over behind it.