ON THIS DAY: January 8, 2019

January 8th is

Argyle Day

Bubble Bath Day

Earth’s Rotation Day *

English Toffee Day

Joy Germ Day *

World Typing Day *


MORE! Elisabetta Sirani, Wilkie Collins and Gabby Giffords, click



Orthodox and Coptic Christian extended Christmas and Epiphany holidays

Bulgaria – Babinden
(Day of the Midwife)

Japan – Coming of Age Day

Northern Mariana Islands –
Commonwealth Day


On This Day in HISTORY

307 – Emperor Hui of the Jin dynasty is murdered by poison in his food, probably by the latest regent, Sima Yue, but this was never proven; because Hui was born developmentally disabled, his ‘reign’ was a constant battle between regents, relatives and his wife for control over him, and over the imperial administration, which severely undermined the stability of the Jin regime, and the loss of provinces in northern and central China to the competing Sixteen Kingdoms

387 – Siyaj K’ak’ (Fire is Born), a warlord believed to be serving the Teotihuacano  ruler Spearthrower Owl, conquered Waka. Waka was a pre-Columbian Mayan city-state in what is now northern Guatemala

871 – Alfred the Great leads a West Saxon army to repel a Danelaw Viking invasion

1037 – Su Dongpo born, Chinese writer, poet, essayist, painter, calligrapher, and statesman of the Song dynasty, an important figure in the dynasty’s politics, and widely regarded as a highly accomplished author in classical Chinese literature 

1454 – The papal bull Romanus Pontifex awards the Kingdom of Portugal exclusive trade and colonization rights to all of Africa south of Cape Bojador

1547 – First Lithuanian-language book, Simple Words of Catechism, is published in Königsberg

1638 – Elisabetta Sirani born, Italian Baroque painter and printmaker; best-known woman artist in Bologna in her day; established an academy for other woman artists which was so successful that, with her commissions, she supported her entire family; her sudden death at aged 27 led to her maidservant being suspected of poisoning her, but there was no evidence of poison; possibly she died from a ruptured peptic ulcer

Portia Wounding Her Thigh, by Elisabetta Sirani
(Based on a story from Plutarch: Portia Catonis, wife of Brutus, who became the only woman to know about the plot to kill Julius Caesar beforehand. Her husband would not confide in her, fearing she would confess under torture, so she stabbed her thigh in secret, and kept silence for a day to prove to him that she could withstand pain. The painting is probably an allegory, showing the lengths to which a woman has to go in order to prove herself worthy of a man’s trust and respect)

1675 – The New York Fishing Company becomes the first U.S. chartered corporation

1697 – Last execution for blasphemy in Britain;  Thomas Aikenhead, a student, at Edinburgh. From his indictment: “. . . the prisoner had repeatedly maintained, in conversation, that theology was a rhapsody of ill-invented nonsense, patched up partly of the moral doctrines of philosophers, and partly of poetical fictions and extravagant chimeras: That he ridiculed the holy scriptures, calling the Old Testament Ezra’s fables, in profane allusion to Esop’s Fables; That he railed on Christ, saying, he had learned magick in Egypt, which enabled him to perform those pranks which were called miracles: That he called the New Testament the history of the imposter Christ; That he said Moses was the better artist and the better politician; and he preferred Muhammad to Christ: That the Holy Scriptures were stuffed with such madness, nonsense, and contradictions, that he admired the stupidity of the world in being so long deluded by them: That he rejected the mystery of the Trinity as unworthy of refutation; and scoffed at the incarnation of Christ.”

1705 – Premiere performance of George Frideric Handel’s Almira in Hamburg

1746 – Second Jacobite rising: the forces of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, “Bonnie Prince Charlie,” occupy the town of Stirling, and begin the siege of Stirling Castle

1790 – George Washington delivers first State of the Union address in New York City

1806 – Cape Colony (Dutch Kaapkolonie)  in South Africa becomes a British colony

1811 – An unsuccessful revolt of over 200 slaves in St. Charles and St. James, Louisiana, is led by Charles Deslondes, a slave brought to Louisiana from Haiti after slaves there overthrew French control of the island

1812 – Sigismond Thalberg born, Swiss virtuoso pianist and composer

1815 – Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson’s American forces are victors over the British, two weeks after the War of 1812 officially ended, before either side got the news

1824 – Wilkie Collins born, English writer; Woman in White

1835 – The United States national debt is zero for the first and only time

1836 – Lawrence Alma-Tadema born in Holland, Pre-Raphaelite British painter, notable for his exaggerated romanticization of “classical” subjects

The Favourite Poet (1888) by Lawrence Alma Tadema

1851 – Earth’s Rotation Day * – Léon Foucalt demonstates how the earth rotates with a lead-filled brass ball, now known as the Foucalt Pendulum

1854 – Fanny Bullock Workman born, American mountaineer, geographer, travel writer and cartographer; one of the first professional women mountaineers, setting several women’s altitude records; a champion of women’s rights and suffrage; in the picture below, she is on the Silver Throne Plateau in Kashmir (at almost 21,000 feet above sea level), holding a newspaper with the headline “Votes for Women”

1856 – Borax is discovered by Dr. John Veatch

1860 – Emma Booth born, daughter of the founders of the Salvation Army; ran the Salvation Army’s first training school for women; married Frederick Tucker and they worked together in India, then returned to London headquarters, and  were assigned to America; Emma’s success there, primarily proselytizing prisoners and working on a farm colony experiment for the urban poor, earned her the title ‘The Consul’; she was killed at age 43 in a train accident on her way to Chicago

1867 – African American men are granted the right to vote in Washington, D.C.

1865 – Winnaretta Singer born, Princesse Edmond de Polignac, one of the heirs to the American Singer sewing machine fortune, whose mother was French; Painter and Patron of the Arts. The family moved to Paris just after the American Civil War, then to England when the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870. She moved back to Paris with her mother in 1875. She was a lesbian, and both her marriages were never consummated, the first being annulled, and the second, a “lavender marriage” to Prince Edmond de Polignac, a gay amateur composer, was based on their love of music, mutual respect and understanding. They established a salon in Paris which became a haven for avant-garde music, and brought attention to the young composers Debussy, Fauré and Ravel. She had affairs with numerous women. After de Polignac’s death, she used her fortune to benefit the arts, science and letters, commissioning works from Stravinsky, Eric Satie, and Kurt Weill, among several others, and became an important leader in the development of public housing in Paris. Her 1911 building of a housing project for the working poor became a model for future projects. She also commissioned noted architect Le Corbusier for several public shelters for the Paris Salvation Army. After her death, the Foundation Singer-Polignac carried on her many projects, and continued to present concerts and recitals 

Self-Portrait by Winnaretta Singer

1867 – Emily Greene Balch born, American economist, sociologist, academic and pacifist; a central leader of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), for which she won the 1946 Nobel Peace Prize

1877 – Crazy Horse and his warriors fight their last battle against U.S. Cavalry at Wolf Mountain, Montana Territory

1881 – Linnie Marsh Wolfe born, American librarian and author; won the 1946 Pulitzer Prize for Biography for her book Son of the Wilderness: The Life of John Muir

1886 – The Severn Railway Tunnel, Britain’s longest, opens

1889 – Herman Hollerith is issued a US patent for the ‘Art of Applying Statistics’ — his punched card calculator; his company Tabulating Machine Company, becomes IBM

1891 – Bronislava Nijinska born, Polish ballet dancer and innovative choreographer; founder of a dance school called L’Ecole de Mouvement (School of Movement) to train dancers in more modern movement for ballet

Bronislava Nijinska on right with her brother Vaslav Nijinski

1891 – Storm Jameson born Margaret Storm Jameson, English journalist and novelist; noted for novels published under the pen name Mary Harvey Russell, her Triumph of Time series, and non-fiction which includes critical essays and biographies

1904 – The Blackstone Library is dedicated, marking the beginning of the Chicago Public Library system

1906 – Arthur Rubinstein makes his debut at New York’s Carnegie Hall

1908 – “Fearless Nadia” (Mary Ann Evans) born in Australia, Bollywood stuntwoman and actress whose father’s military career took the family to India and Pakistan, where she took ballet and tumbling, then become a touring performer, and worked for the Zarko Circus; she tried out for Hindi film mogul J.B.H. Wadia, and started appearing in his movies, starring in Hunterwali (Woman with a whip – 1935); she married J.B.H.’s younger brother, director Homi Wadia, in 1961, becoming Nadia Wadia

1909 – Ashapoorna Devi born, Indian feminist, prolific Bengali-language author and poet; her mother taught her to read and got books for her because as a girl she wasn’t allowed to go to school; when she was 13, she sent out one of her poems secretly, and “Bairer Dak” (The Call from the Outside) was published. In spite of her arranged marriage at age 15, and running a household for an extended family, she wrote and published hundreds of poems, novels, books for children, and short stories, many of them opposing traditional Hindu gender-based discrimination; honored with many Indian literary awards

1909 – Evelyn Wood born, American creator of “speed reading,” a reading program designed to increase both the reader’s reading rate and comprehension. Co-founder of the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Dynamics company, which held seminars at 150 outlets in the U.S. at the program’s peak of popularity

1912 – The African National Congress is founded, now the Republic of South Africa’s governing social democratic political party

1913 – The poet Harold Munro opens the doors of the Poetry Bookshop in London, where Robert Frost and Ezra Pound meet for the first time

The Poetry Bookshop in Bloomsbury, and Harold Munro

1918 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson announces his “Fourteen Points” for the aftermath of World War I. an outline of the steps he believed needed to assure world peace, including the founding of the League of Nations

1925 – Russian composer Igor Stravinsky debuts in America, conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in a program of his own compositions

1925 – The women of the Texas All-Woman Supreme Court take the oath of office, for a special session of the Supreme Court of Texas, the first all-female Supreme Court in U.S. history, sitting for five months to consider the case of Johnson v. Darr, a dispute over the ownership of two tracts of land in the city of El Paso. Trustees acting for the El Paso chapter of the Woodmen of the World deeded the tracts to F.P. Jones, and the deed was properly recorded. On the same day, Jones signed an agreement to hold the property in trust and deed it back to the Woodmen upon request, but this agreement was not recorded. When the creditors of Jones claimed the land as payment for his debts, the trustees brought suit to establish the unrecorded agreement and stop the transfer to the creditors. The trial court ruling split the ownership, giving one tract to the Woodmen, and the other to the creditors.  Upon appeal, the El Paso Court of Civil Appeals held for the Woodmen on both tracts. Because the Woodmen of the World were very influential in Texas politics, and nearly all the state’s elected officials and most lawyers were members, Chief Justice C. M. Cureton notified Governor Pat Neff that the state Supreme Court justices had to recuse themselves. Texas law required the governor to find impartial replacements to hear the case, but after 10 months, he was unable to find any suitable candidates who were not members of the Woodmen. Finally, he hit upon a solution.  As a fraternal organization, the Woodmen barred women from membership. As long as a woman was eligible under Texas law to serve on the court, there was no barrier to their appointment. Governor Neff had already appointed women to state boards and commissions during his tenure. There was still a problem because the law required that appointees to the state Supreme Court must have been licensed to practice law in the State of Texas for at least seven years, and two of his first choices were just two or three months shy of meeting the requirement. So Horense Sparks Ward of Houston was appointed as acting chief justice, with Hattie L. Henenberg of Dallas and Ruth V. Brazzil of Galveston as associate justices.  At the time, there was no requirement in state law that trust agreements had to be recorded for them to be legally binding, the special court handed down a unanimous decision in favor of the Woodmen on May 23, 1925. Thereafter, the court disbanded. Women were not allowed to serve on Texas juries for another 30 years, and no other woman served on the state supreme court until 1982, when Ruby Kless Sondock became the first regular woman appointee. She replaced Justice Denton who had died of a heart attack, and served out the rest of his term, but did not seek election to the court in her own right. The next state high court to have a majority of women was the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2015

Left to Right: Hattie L. Henenberg – Horense Sparks Ward – Ruth V. Brazzil

1926 – Hanae Mori born, Japanese fashion designer, one of only two Japanese women to present her collections on the runways of Paris and New York, and the first Asian woman to be admitted as an official haute couture design house by the fédération française de la couture in France. Her fashion house, opened in Japan in 1951, grew to be a $500 million international business by the 1990s

1935 – Elvis Presley born, American Rock ‘n Roll icon

Elvis with Sweetpea

1937 – Shirley Bassey born in Wales, daughter of a Nigerian father and English mother, jazz and contemporary singer; notable for recording James Bond theme songs, including Goldfinger

1940 – World War II: Britain introduces food rationing

1942 – Stephen Hawking born, British physicist and author; A Brief History of Time

1944 – Terry Brooks born, American fantasy author; Shannara and Landover series

1945 – Nancy Bond born, American children’s, fantasy and historical fiction author

1947 – David Bowie born, chameleon British rocker

1951 – Nancy Tei Yamashita born, Japanese-American novelist and playwright; Tropic of Orange and Through the Arc of the Rain Forest

1952 – My Friend Irma, starring Marie Wilson, debuts on TV

1955 – Joan M. Kingston born, Canadian nurse and politician; member and past president of the Nurses Association of New Brunswick; member of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick for New Maryland (1995-1999), served on the New Brunswick Executive Council as Minister of the Environment and Minister of Labour; currently working in the Office of the Premier of New Brunswick

1958 – Bobby Fisher, age 14, wins the U.S. Chess Championship for the first time

1959 – Charles De Gaulle becomes president of France’s Fifth Republic

1961 – French referendum supports Charles de Gaulle’s Algerian policies

1963 – Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is exhibited in the United States for the first time, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson declares a “War on Poverty” in the U.S.

1968 – Otis Redding’s single “Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay” released

1971 – Bowing to international pressure, President of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto releases Bengali leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from prison, arrested after declaring the independence of Bangladesh

1973 – Soviet space mission Luna 21 is launched

1973 – The trial of seven men accused of illegal entry into Democratic Party headquarters at Watergate begins

1975 – Ella T. Grasso becomes Governor of Connecticut, the first woman elected as a U.S. Governor who was not succeeding her husband

1978 – The Northern Mariana Islands commonwealth status with U.S. goes into effect

1979 – Sarah Polley born, Canadian director, actress, screenwriter and political activist; she made her feature film directorial debut in 2006 with Away from Her, followed by Take This Waltz and her first documentary, Stories We Tell. She wrote the miniseries Alias Grace, based on the novel by Margaret Atwood. She is a prominent member of the Ontario New Democratic Party (ONDP), and during a protest in 1995 against the provincial government under right wing politician Mike Harris, she lost two back teeth after being struck by a riot police office, and has been active in the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. In 2017, she wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times about her experience with Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood’s treatment of women in general

1981 – Joan White launches ‘Joy Germ’ Day on her mother’s birthday to celebrate the contagious spreading of Joy

1982 – Bell System Break-up: AT&T agrees to divest itself of twenty-two subdivisions

1994 – Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov on Soyuz TM-18 leaves for the Mir space station, staying until March 22, 1995, for a record 437 days in space

2002 – President George W. Bush signs ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ into law

2004 – The RMS Queen Mary 2, the largest ocean liner ever built, is christened by her namesake’s granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II

2005 – The cost of a U.S. first class Postage Stamp is raised to 39¢

2009 – Archeologists discover Queen Sesheshet’s mummy in a 4300 year old pyramid

2011 – The attempted assassination of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, and subsequent shootings in Casas Adobes AZ in which five people are killed

2011 – The first World Typing Day * is launched in Malaysia by Junior Chamber International, celebrated with a Speed Typing Contest


About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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