ON THIS DAY: May 12, 2019

May 12th is

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Day

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

Mother’s Day in the U.S.

National Limerick Day *

Nutty Fudge Day

Odometer Day

International Nurses’ Day

International Women in Mathematics Day *


MORE! Mary Reibey, Gabriel Faure and Maryam Mirzakhani, click



Hong Kong, Macau, and South Korea celebrate the birthday of Buddha

Czechia – Prague:
Spring Music Festival (through June 5)

Finland – Day of the Finnish Identity
(birthday of Johan Vilhelm Snellman)

Georgia – Day of Saint Andrea,
(Andrew) the First Called

Lebanon –
Resistance and Liberation Day

Netherlands – Music On Festival


On This Day in HISTORY

Alert: The 1937 entry contains vulgar words – I will not censor George Carlin

907 – Military governor Zhu Wen forces Emperor Ai into abdicating, ending the Tang dynasty after nearly 300 years of rule

1215 – English barons, fed up with high-handed “royal justice” and high taxes, have risen in rebellion against King John, and now present him with an ultimatum: sign the Magna Carta, meant to apply only to the King, the Nobles and the Church, but it becomes an inspiration for more extended liberties over time

Royal Mail commemorative stamp for the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta

1364 – Jagiellonian University, the oldest university in Poland, is founded in Kraków, Poland by Casimir III (the Great)

1551 – Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (National University of San Marcos), the first officially established and oldest continuously operating university
in the Americas, is founded in Lima, Peru

1593 – English playwright Thomas Kyd is among the authors arrested by the Privy Council for “divers lewd and mutinous libels.”  When his lodgings are searched for evidence, instead of libels, a few pages of an Arianist tract are found, which the investigator labeled “vile heretical conceits denying the eternal deity of Jesus Christ found amongst the papers of Thos. Kydd (sic), prisoner … which he affirmeth he had from C. Marley (sic).” Kyd is believed to have given evidence against playwright Christopher Marlowe, his former roommate, under torture. Marlowe was summoned by the Privy Council, but while waiting for his case to be decided, on May 30 he was stabbed to death, supposedly during an argument over payment of a bill. All three of the other disputants, Ingram Frizer, Nicholas Skeres and Robert Poley, had been employed at various times by Sir Francis Walsingham, known as Elizabeth I’s spymaster, or his cousin Thomas Walsingham, who was well-known as a patron of several poets, including Christopher Marlowe

The Spanish Tragedie and its playwright, Thomas Kyd

1777 – Mary H. Reibey born in England, transported to Australia at age 14 under the name James Burrow, because she ran away from service disguised as a boy, on a stolen horse.  At 17, she married Thomas Reibey, who had served as a junior officer aboard the ship that took her Australia, and they farmed land he was granted on the Hawkesbury River, then started a cargo business on the river, acquired more land, and Thomas went into partnership in a trading business; when he died in 1811, Mary took over all the enterprises while continuing to raise their seven children; she expanded her business interests, and helped found the Bank of New South Wales; to further her ambitions for her daughters, she took them to England in 1820, returning the following year; so in the 1828 census, she listed her status as “came free in 1821”; she gradually went into semi-retirement, undertaking  additional charitable works, and serving as one of the Governors of the Free Grammar School; she is featured on the obverse side of the Australian 20 dollar bill

1789 – William Wilberforce makes his first major speech advocating the abolition of slavery in the British House of Commons, propounding reasons the slave trade is morally reprehensible and an issue of natural justice

1806 – Day of the Finnish Identity *- Johan Vilhelm Snellman born in Stockholm, Sweden; influential Fennoman philosopher and Finnish statesman, ennobled in 1866. His family moved to the semi-autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland in 1813. When his lectureship at the University of Helsinki was temporarily recalled during a government crackdown on new and oppositional thought in1838, he went into exile in Sweden and Germany until 1842. Still banned from the university, he became headmaster of a school in Kuopio, far to the north, and published the paper Saima in Swedish, campaigning for the educated classes to take up the language of the overwhelming majority of Finns, and develop Finnish into a major language, useful for academic works, fine arts, state craft, and nation building. He published his major work, Läran om staten (Study of the State), in 1842. Saima was suppressed by the government, and Snellman moved back to Helsinki in 1850, where he and his family went through financial hardship until the death of Emperor Nicholas of Russia in 1855 made it possible for him to resume writing about political issues. He was the chief initiator of the Language Strife in Finland, but continued to be a contentious figure, even though he was called to a cabinet post in the Finnish Senate in 1863, and then served as Finance Minister, but forced to resign from the Senate in 1868. He was ennobled, and served in the Nobles’ Chamber of Parliament, but his ideas and personality remained controversial. Snellman’s image first appeared on Finnish money in 1960

1812 – National Limerick Day * – Edward Lear born, English poet, limericist and landscape painter

1820 – Florence Nightingale born, English nurse, social reformer and statistician, known as “The Lady with the Lamp” during the Crimean War, considered the founder of modern nursing

1828 – Dante Gabriel Rossetti born, English painter and poet

1845 – Gabriel Faure born, influential French composer; Pavane and Requiem

1849 – Matilda Coxe Stevenson born, American ethnologist; the first woman anthropologist hired by the U.S. Government, she did substantial field work with the Zunis; first president of the Women’s Anthropological Society of America

1862 – Louise Phelps Kellogg born, American historian, author and educator; a leading authority on the French and British eras in the Great Lakes region; The British Regime in Wisconsin and the Northwest

1870 – Manitoba becomes a province of Canada

1874 – Clemens von Pirquet born, Austrian physician; devised the tuberculosis skin test

1898 – Louisiana adopts a new state constitution with a “grandfather clause” designed to eliminate black voters

1899 – Indra Devi born as Eugenie Peterson in the Russian Empire; in 1917, she and her mother, a Russian noble, escaped to Berlin as the Bolsheviks came to power. In Germany, she became an actress and dancer, but had been fascinated for years by India and yoga. In 1927, she sailed for India and adopted her stage name. In 1930, she married Jan Strakaty, an attaché in the Czechoslovak consultate. She was eventually accepted as a student by the famed Yoga guru Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, and in 1938 she became the first foreign women among the dedicated yogi. When she told the guru that her husband was being transferred to China, he asked her to work there as a yoga teacher. In 1939, she held what are considered the first Yoga classes in China, and opened a school in Shanghai with help from Madame Chiang Kai-shek. She also has many American and Russian students. She gave lectures on yoga and free lessons in orphanages. After her husband died unexpectedly in 1946, she moved the following year to the U.S., then opened a yoga studio in Hollywood in 1948. Among her students were Greta Garbo, Eva Gabor, Gloria Swanson, Robert Ryan, Jennifer Jones, and the violinist Yehudi Menuhin. In 1961, she opened the Indra Devi Foundation in Tecate, México, where she trained yoga instructors. In 1985, she moved to Argentina, and died in Buenos Aires at age 102 in 2002

1900 – Mildred H McAfee born, American educator and first director of the WAVES in the United States Navy, dean of women at Centre College and Oberlin College, president of Wellesley College

1902 – 140,000 miners of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania go out on a strike called by the United Mine Workers after the owners refuse to recognize the UMW, negotiate or submit to arbitration

1903 – Faith Bennett born as Margaret Riddick, British film actress and WWII ATA pilot; while working in motion pictures in the 1930s, she took flying lessons and earned both a British aviator’s certificate and an American flying license; she joined the Air Transport Auxiliary, a civilian group that ferried new, repaired and damaged military aircraft, and ferried service personnel; in 1943, the women began to receive the same pay as the male ATA pilots, a first for the British government; after she was injured in a crash landing made in bad weather with a stalled engine, she was assigned to the Training Ferry Pool, and remained with the ATA until July 1945. The British Women Pilots’ Association, formed in 1955, awards the Faith Bennett Navigation Cup for special merit during a challenging navigation exercise

1907 – Katherine Hepburn born, American movie star, a stage, film and television actress whose career spanned over 60 years, but who was fiercely protective of her life off-camera; during the McCarthy era, she joined the Committee for the First Amendment, but denied being a Communist sympathizer; politically a Democrat, she supported birth control and abortion rights, announced publicly that she was an atheist, and received the 1985 Humanist Arts Award from the American Humanist Association; nominated 12 times for Best Actress Oscars, and won for Morning Glory, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Lion in Winter (tied with Barbra Streisand) and On Golden Pond

Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter – 1968

1910 – Dorothy Hodgkin born, British biochemist and X-ray crystallographer. She won the 1964 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances.” She is the only British woman scientist to have been awarded a Nobel Prize in the sciences. Hodgkin improved X-ray crystallography, confirmed the structure of penicillin and discovered the structure of vitamin B12 and insulin. Her achievements included not only these structure determinations and the scientific insight they provided, but also the development of methods that made such structure determinations possible. In 1946, she took part in the meetings which led to the foundation of the International Union of Crystallography, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1947

Dorothy Hodgkin xray quote

1910 – Gordon Jenkins born, influential American composer, songwriter and arranger of popular music, who did orchestrations for Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra among many others

1918 – Mary Kay Ash born, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, which became a multi-billion dollar business with millions of consultants worldwide

1919 – The Transvaal British Indian Association calls a mass meeting to organize opposition to the proposed Asiatics (Land and Trading) Amendment Act, which will prohibit Transvaal Indians from owning shares in limited companies

1921 – Farley Mowat born, controversial Canadian author and environmentalist; best known for Never Cry Wolf

1926 – Dmitri Shostakovitch’s First Symphony premieres in Leningrad

1926 – Paulette Poujol-Oriol born, Haitian author, dramaturge, actress and feminist. She was fluent in  French, Creole, English, Spanish, German, and Italian. Her family moved to Paris when she was an infant, then returned to Haiti when she was six. She founded the Piccolo Teatro, to teach drama to children; Poujol-Oriol was president of the Ligue  Féminine d’Action Social (Feminine League for Social Action) from 1997 until her death in 2011, and was a founding member of the Club des femmes de carrière libérale et commerciale (Liberal and Commercial Career Women’s Club) in 1994, and of the Alliance des Femmes Haïtiennes, an umbrella body coordinating the work of fifty feminist organizations; author of the novel Le creuset (The Crucible), which won the 1980 Prix Littéraire Henri Deschamps. She was the second woman to win the award

1928 – Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini ends women’s rights in Italy; he rescinded women’s suffrage, restricting the right to vote only to men aged 21 and over, who would have to pay a tax of 100 lire for the privilege, no small amount in those days

1928 – Burt Bacharach born, major American popular music composer and songwriter; multiple Grammy and Academy Award for Best Song winner

1930 – Marc Connelly is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Green Pastures, which is the first play with an all-black cast to be performed on Broadway

1933 – The Federal Emergency Relief Administration and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration are formed to help the needy and struggling farmers

1934 – Duke Ellington’s “Cocktails for Two” is #1 on the charts

1937 – Miriam Stern Stoppard born, Lady Hogg, English physician, author, television presenter on medical and science programmes, and columnist for the Daily Mirror newspaper. She was born into an Orthodox Jewish family, and grew up on a council housing estate (British public housing). As a teenager, she attended the Central High School in Eskdale Terrace on a scholarship, then trained as a nurse at Newcastle General Hospital. She then studied medicine at King’s College, Durham. After qualifying as a doctor, she worked as a dermatologist, and became a senior registrar (senior resident) at Bristol Royal Infirmary, then switched to research at the Syntex pharmaceutical laboratories, where she was promoted to managing director. Author of several advice books on pregnancy, parenting and healthcare for children. After her divorce from playwright Tom Stoppard, she married industrialist Sir Christopher Hogg, but has kept the name Stoppard professionally

1937 – George Carlin born, American comedian, author and social critic

1949 – Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit of India is the first foreign woman ambassador to be received in U.S.

1950 – Helena Kennedy born, Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, British barrister, Labor member of the House of Lords (1997 to the present, noted for rebelling against the party whip more frequently than any other Labour Peer); principal of Mansfield College, Oxford (2011- due to retire in 2018)

1965 – Israel and West Germany exchange letters beginning diplomatic relations

1965 – The Rolling Stones record their song “Satisfaction”

1967 – Mireille Bousquet-Mélou born, French mathematician, specialist in enumerative combinatorics, and senior researcher for the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS – French National Center for Scientific Research) at the computer science department (LaBRI) of the University of Bordeaux. She won the French Academy of Sciences’ Charles-Louis de Saulces de Freycinet Prize in 2009, and the silver medal of the CNRS in 2014

1967 – The Jimi Hendrix Experience debut album, Are You Experienced, is released

1968 –The “Poor People’s March” led by Reverend Ralph Abernathy reaches Washington DC, a multiracial demonstration for economic and human rights

1977 – Maryam Mirzakhani born, Iranian mathematician and professor of mathematics at Stanford University. Her research work included Teichmüller theory, hyperbolic geometry, ergodic theory, and symplectic geometry. In 2014, she was honored with the Fields Medal, to date the only woman and the first Iranian to receive the most prestigious award in mathematics, for her work in “the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces.” In 2013, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, which spread to her bones and liver by 2016. She died in 2017 at age 40. Memorials by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and in Iranian newspapers broke taboo by including pictures of her with her hair uncovered. Her death has also renewed debates within Iran regarding matrilineal citizenship for children of mixed-nationality parentage; Fars News Agency reported that 60 Iranian MPs urged the speeding up of an amendment to a law that would allow children of Iranian mothers married to foreigners to be given Iranian nationality, in order to make it easier for Mirzakhani’s daughter to visit Iran. The Women’s Committee within the Iranian Mathematical Society campaigned successfully for the International Council for Science to declare Mirzakhani’s birthday as International Women in Mathematics Day *

1982 – Novelist John Updike awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Rabbit is Rich

1999 – Sir David Steel becomes the first Speaker of the modern Scottish Parliament

2002 – Jimmy Carter becomes the first present or former U.S. president to visit Cuba since Fidel Castro seized power in 1959

2006 – The worst outbreak of violence in Brazilian recorded history begins on this night in São Paulo. Forty São Paulo police officers had been killed by gang violence, and this escalates into violent clashes between police and gang members which leave over 160 people dead, causing mass panic among the civilian population

2012 – The discovery of a missing Mayan calendar piece disproves 2012 Armageddon

2016 – The Italian Parliament approves a law recognizing civil unions for same-sex couples, but it does not recognize same-sex marriages, and will not allow couples in these civil unions to legally adopt a partner’s biological children


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.
This entry was posted in History, Holidays, On This Day and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.