ON THIS DAY: May 15, 2020

May 15th is

UN International Day of Families *

Chocolate Chip Day

National Straw Hat Day

Nylon Stockings Day *

Peace Officer Memorial Day *

TSC Global Awareness Day *

International Conscientious Objectors Day


MORE! Pierre Curie, Grace Ogot and “Utah” Phillips, click



Columbia/Mexico – Teachers’ Day
(San Juan Bautista de la Salle)

Lithuania –
Constituent Assembly Day *

Paraguay – Día de la Madre

Gaza Strip/West Bank: Nakba Day *
(Palestinian displacement & exodus)

Spain – Madrid: San Isidro
(Madrid’s patron saint)

South Korea – Teachers’ Day
 (Birth of Sejong the Great)


On This Day in HISTORY

495 BC – A newly constructed temple in honor of the god Mercury  is dedicated in ancient Rome on the Circus Maximus, between the Aventine and Palatine hills

221 – Liu Bei, Chinese warlord, proclaims himself emperor of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period, the successor of the Han dynasty

1252 –After the murder of Peter of Verona, the papal inquisitor of Lombardy, Pope Innocent IV issues papal bull ad extirpanda,  which calls heretics “murderers of souls as well as robbers of God’s sacraments and of the Christian faith …”, they are “to be coerced—as are thieves and bandits—into confessing their errors and accusing others…” The bull states the limits of torture: that it is not to cause loss of life or limb (citra membri diminutionem et mortis periculum); that it is to be used only once; and when the Inquisitor is virtually certain of the evidence against the accused

1536 – Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, stands trial in London on charges of high treason, adultery, witchcraft and incest; she is condemned to death by a specially-selected jury

1567 – Claudio Monteverdi born, Italian composer, musician and Catholic priest; transitional composer between the Renaissance and Baroque periods

1618 – Johannes Kepler confirms his previously rejected discovery of the Third Law of Planetary Motion (which he first discovers on March 8 but rejects after his initial calculations are made)

1718 – James Puckle, a London lawyer, patents the Defense Gun, a tripod-mounted, multi-shot weapon capable of firing up to 9 rounds per minute – it resembles a large revolver, and is meant for shipboard use to repel boarders

1759 – Maria Theresia Paradis born, Austrian musician and composer, who lost her sight before the age of five and by age 16 was performing as a singer and pianist in Viennese salons and concerts, having committed by ear dozens of concertos, solos and other works accurately to memory; she wrote five operas, three cantatas and numerous solo pieces for piano and voice; founded a music school for girls in Vienna (1808-1824)

1776 – The Fifth Virginia Convention instructs its Continental Congress delegation to propose a resolution of independence from Great Britain, paving the way for the U. S. Declaration of Independence

1791 – Maximilien Robespierre proposes the Self-Denying Ordinance, to bar any member of the Constituent Assembly, elected in 1789, from sitting in the Legislative Assembly convened in 1791 to replace it

1793 – Spanish inventor Diego Marín Aguilera flies a glider for “about 360 meters” at a height of 5–6 meters, one of the first attempted manned flights

1808 – Michael Balfe born, Irish singer and composer; The Bohemian Girl

1817 – The first private U.S. mental health hospital opens, the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason (now Friends Hospital, Philadelphia PA)

1836 – Francis Baily observes “Baily’s beads” during an annular eclipse, as the moon’s edge aligns with the sun, the rugged topography of its surface allows sunlight to shine through in depressed areas while higher features block the light, creating the bead effect

1845 – Élie Metchnikoff born, Russian zoologist-microbiologist; won 1908 Nobel Prize for Physiology for his discovery of phagocytosis, a fundamental immune response

1856 – L. Frank Baum born, American writer; noted for his Wizard of Oz books

1857 – Williamina S. Fleming born, Scottish astronomer, catalogued over 10,000 thousands stars; she was the first to identify and name ‘white dwarf’ stars, and also discovered the Horsehead Nebula. She was one of the women known as the Harvard “computers” and became their supervisor; in 1899, she was named as Harvard’s Curator of Astronomical Photographs

1858 – The opening of the present Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London

Royal Opera House in Covent Garden 1861

1859 – Pierre Curie born, French chemist; shared 1903 Nobel Prize for Physics with his wife, and Henri Becquerel, discoverer of radioactvity

Pierre Curie and Marie Sklodowska Curie – 1895

1862 – President Abraham Lincoln signs a bill into law creating the U.S. Bureau of Agriculture, later renamed the U.S. Department of Agriculture

1862 – Arthur Schnitzler born, Austrian playwright and novelist; La Ronde, The Green Cockatoo, None But the Brave

1869 – In New York, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Woman Suffrage Association

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton – NWSA supporters 

1879 – First group of 463 Indian indentured laborers arrive in Fiji aboard the Leonidas

1887 – Edwin Muir born, Scottish poet, literary critic; his translations of Kafka into English established Kafka’s reputation in Britain

1890 – Katherine Anne Porter born, American journalist, author and leftist political activist, recipient of the both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for The Collected Stories in 1965; Ship of Fools

1897 – Elizabeth Fouché Vermeulen born, South African Afrikaans novelist, and author of children’s reading primers,  Goggas and What They Had to Say, and When the World was Young; noted for her novel Plains and Stars, and the trilogy Temmers of the NorthwestStormlaagte and Elsa

1900 – Ida Rhodes born in the Ukraine as Hadassah Itzkowitz, and came to America with her family when she was 13; mathematician who joined the Mathematical Tables Project in 1940, working under Gertrude Blanch as a pioneer in analysis of programming systems; co-designer with Betty Holberton of the C-1o programming language for UNIVAC; awarded a Gold Medal by the Department of Commerce for “significant pioneering leadership and outstanding contributions to the scientific progress of the Nation in the functional design and the application of electronic digital computing equipment”; after she retired in 1964, continued to consult for the Applied Mathematics Division of the National Bureau of Standards, traveling and lecturing; created “the Jewish Holiday” algorithm still used in calendar programs today

1901 – Dorothy Hansine Andersen born, American physician and educator, first person to identify cystic fibrosis, first American physician to describe it, inductee into the National Women’s Hall of Fame

1903 – Maria Reiche born, German mathematician and archaeologist, known for her research into the Nazca Lines in Peru, which she made her life’s work, helping to gain recognition for the site, and Peru’s protection of them, as well as Nazca’s classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995

1905 – The city of Las Vegas NV is founded when 110 acres of what will be downtown are auctioned off

1909 – Clara Solovera born, Chilean folk musician and composer

1911 – In Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court declares Standard Oil to be an “unreasonable”  monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act and orders the company to be broken up

1915 – Hilda Bernstein born in Britain, South African author, artist and activist against apartheid and for women’s rights; a founding member of the multi-racial Federation of South African Women, and one of the organizers of the Women’s March to Pretoria in 1956. By 1958, she was banned from writing or publishing, and in 1960 was working entirely undercover; in 1963, after her husband was arrested, acquitted, then re-arrested, and put under house arrest awaiting another trial, she and her husband fled from South Africa on foot to Botswana, an ordeal described in her book The World that was Ours. They went into exile in England where they continued to advocate for an end to apartheid. They returned to South Africa for the 1994 election in which Nelson Mandela was voted into office as President

1916 – Catherine East born, American feminist, worker for Civil Service Commission, and the first Presidential Advisory Commission on the Status of Women; uses her access to official data to disprove claims of opponents to feminist-advocated legislation, and helps reconcile differences between labor activists and feminists; Legislative Director of the National Women’s Political Caucus; Betty Friedan called her “the midwife of the contemporary women’s movement”

1920 – Constituent Assembly Day * – the Constituent Assembly of Lithuania meets for the first time

1924 – Maria Koepcke born, German-born Peruvian ornithologist and zoologist; noted for her work with Neotropical bird species; four species of birds are named in her honor. She was killed in a plane crash in 1971 at the age of 47. Her 17-year-old daughter Juliane, the only survivor of the crash, though injured and without food, hiked through the rainforest for 11 days before she reached help. She became a mammalogist, and studies bats

Maria Koepcke and daughter Juliane, dressed for a dance,
just days before she became the sole survivor of the plane crash

1925 – Mary F. Lyon born, English geneticist who discovered the X-chromosome inactivation, which prevents females from having twice as many X chromosome gene products as males. For example in tortoiseshell and calico cats, for any given patch of fur the inactivation of an X chromosome that carries one gene results in the fur color being that of the other, active gene

1930 – Grace Ogot born, Kenyan nurse, author, journalist, politician and diplomat, delegate to the United Nations and UNESCO, helped found the Writers’ Association of Kenya, Member of Parliament and cabinet minister; writes in both English and her native language of Luo

1935 – “Utah” Phillips born, American Industrial Workers of the World member, labor organizer, folk singer, storyteller, poet, pacifist and train-hopper

1936 – Amy Johnson arrives in England, and is greeted with much acclaim, after her record flight of twelve days and fifteen hours from London to Cape Town and back

1936 – Anna Maria Alberghetti born, Italian-American actress and operatic singer, Tony Award winner

1937 – Madeleine Albright born in Czechoslovakia, American politician, diplomat and academic, first woman to serve as United States Secretary of State, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

1938 – Diane Nash born, American activist and strategist in the civil rights movement, involved in the Freedom riders, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Selma Voting Rights movement

1938 – Nancy Garden born, American fiction author for children and young adults, best known for the lesbian novel Annie on My Mind; recipient of the 2003 ALA Margaret Edwards Award for “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature”

1940 – Nylon Stockings Day * – Nylon fabric and nylon stockings had first been introduced to the public at the New York World’s Fair by DuPont; the first full-scale nylon manufacturing plant went into production at the end of 1939, and nylon stockings are offered for sale on this day; 64 million pairs of nylons are sold the first year

1948 – Hours after declaring its independence, the new state of Israel was attacked by Transjordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon

1948 – Kate Bornstein born, American author, playwright, performance artist and gender theorist, She identifies as gender non-conforming, and says, “I don’t call myself a woman, and I know I’m not a man.” She was assigned male at birth, but later received gender affirmation surgery. She teaches workshops and is the author of several gender theory books, including Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us and Hello Cruel World, written to discourage non-conforming teens and others from committing suicide

1948 – Nakba Day * – Palestinian commemoration of their displacement and exodus after Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence, inaugurated by Yasser Arafat in 1998

1948 – Kathleen Sebelius born, American Democratic politician; U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (2009-2014); second woman Governor of Kansas (2003-2009); first woman chair of the Democratic Governors Association (2007); Kansas Insurance Commissioner (1995-2003)

1953 – Athene Donald born, British physicist; Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge, and Master of Churchill College, Cambridge; noted for work on soft matter physics, particularly as it applies to living organisms, and on protein aggregation; awarded the Faraday Medal by the Institute of Physics in 2010

1954 – Diana Liverman born in Ghana to British parents, expert on human dimensions of global environmental change and the impact of climate on society; first woman appointed to a chair (Environmental Science) in the School of Geography at Oxford, and Director of the Environmental Change Institute

1958 – The musical film Gigi, based on a story by Colette, premieres, starring Leslie Caron; 1959 Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director Vincent Minnelli , Screenwriter Alan Jay Lerner, and Score Composer André Previn

1963 – The first Peace Officer Memorial Day * proclaimed to pay tribute to law enforcement officers who sacrificed their lives in service to their communities, and to voice appreciation for those who currently protect and serve the American people

1967 – Lauren Hillenbrand born, American non-fiction writer; best known for  Seabiscuit: An American Legend, and Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

1968 – Cecilia Malmström born, Swedish Liberals party politician and Member of the European Parliament (1999-2006); European Commissioner for Trade (2014-2019); European Commissioner for Home Affairs (2006-2010); Minister for European Union Affairs (2006-2010)

1969 – Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas resigns amid a controversy over his past legal fees

1970 – Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington, nominated by President Nixon, become the first women U.S. Army Generals

1984 – Jessica Nabongo born in Detroit to Ugandan parents, American world traveler, writer, public speaker, and blogger at her site Catch Me If You Can. In October 2019, Nabongo became the first documented black woman to visit every country in the world

1988 – The USSR begins withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan

1991 – Édith Cresson becomes France’s first woman prime minister (1991-1992)

1993 – International Day of Families * is acclaimed by the UN General Assembly as an opportunity for nations and civil society to consider what measures might support and enrich families, especially those mired in poverty

2006 – Saddam Hussein refuses to enter a plea at his trial for crimes against humanity, insisting he is still Iraq’s president.

2008 – California’s Supreme Court declared gay couples in the state can marry – a temporary victory for the gay rights movement that is overturned by the backlash passage of Proposition 8 the following November. The state of California refused to defend the the law  resulting from Prop 8 in court, and the proposition was overturned in federal court. Then on appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for California to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples, only to take them away shortly after. This ruling was stayed, pending appeal to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled that the proponents of initiatives such as Proposition 8 did not possess legal standing in their own right to defend the law in federal court, and remanded the case for further proceedings. On June 28, 2013, the Ninth Circuit, on remand, dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction and dissolved their previous stay of the district court’s ruling, enabling California Governor Jerry Brown to order same-sex marriages to resume

2010 – Jessica Watson unofficially becomes the youngest person to sail, non-stop and unassisted around the world solo. (Her route didn’t meet the criteria for circumnavigation of the globe set by the World Sailing Speed Record Council)

2011 – The first TSC Global Awareness Day * is launched by the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance (TS Alliance) and other groups to bring attention to Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), a rare genetic disorder affecting over a million people worldwide, causing tumors in organs, primarily the brain, eyes, heart, kidney, skin and lungs, which can cause seizures, developmental delay, intellectual disability or autism. A child with a parent who has TSC has a 50 % chance of inheriting TSC, but two-thirds of affected children have no history of TSC in their family

2017 – The first prosecution for violence against a transgender person under the 2009 U.S. Hate Crimes Act begins. 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson was brutally murdered by her 29-year-old intimate partner, who claimed he killed her because he feared the gang he belonged to would kill him if they discovered his girlfriend had been born a man. After using a stun gun to incapacitate her, he stabbed her multiple times, and finally hit her with a hammer until she died



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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2 Responses to ON THIS DAY: May 15, 2020

  1. Pingback: ON THIS DAY: May 15, 2020 — Flowers For Socrates | Novel Writing Festival

  2. wordcloud9 says:

    Thanks Novel Writing Festival

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