ON THIS DAY: May 17, 2020

May 17th is

Cherry Cobbler Day

World Hypertension Day *

National Walnut Day *

Same Sex Marriage Day *

World Neurofibromatosis Day *

World Telecommunications & Information Society Day *

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia *


MORE! Rosalía de Castro, Erik Satie and Mary Kenner, click



Argentina – Navy Day

Denmark, Faroe Islands, Greenland –
Store Bebedag (Great Prayer Day)

Congo (DRC) – Liberation Day

Malaysia – Perlis: Raja’s Birthday

Nauru – Constitution Day

Norway, Svalbard & Jan Mayen –
Syttende Mai (Constitution Day)

Spain – Galicia:
Día del las Letras Galegas *
(Galician Literature Day)


On This Day in HISTORY

1155 – Jien of the Tendai born, a Japanese historian, poet and Buddhist monk; his masterwork, completed around 1220, is entitled Gukanshō (Jottings of a Fool)

Jien in the Hyakunin Isshu

1521 – Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, accused of listening to prophecies of of Henry VIII’s death and intending to kill the King, is executed for treason

1642 – Under the authority of the Roman Catholic Société Notre-Dame de Montréal, missionary Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve founds the Ville Marie de Montréal, in Nouvelle-France (now Quebec province of Canada)

1673 – Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette begin exploring the Mississippi River

1749 – Edward Jenner born, English physician and scientist who was the pioneer of smallpox vaccine, the world’s first vaccine

1792 – The Buttonwood Agreement: The New York Stock Exchange is founded by brokers meeting under a tree on what is now Wall Street

1794 – Anna Brownell Jameson born in Dublin, British author, early feminist, and considered the first British art historian; The Diary of an Ennuyée, The Loves of the Poets, Characteristics of Women 

1805 – Muhammad Ali Pasha, an Ottoman Albanian commander, becomes Wāli (administrative governor) of Egypt (1805-1848). Noted for instituting dramatic reforms to the military, nationalizing the fertile farmlands owned by the wealthy, requiring all goods producers to sell only to the state, creating a professional central bureaucracy and  professional police forces in Cairo and Alexandria, and the founding of a women’s school of medicine to train nurses and doctors to treat women and children. Under Egyptian law, women could not be seen by male doctors. Most of the women students were slaves or orphans, as education for women was frowned upon. The graduates greatly reduced the incidence of smallpox by vaccinating thousands of women and children, which furthered Muhammad Ali Pasha’s long-term goal of an expanded and more effective military

1818 – Ezra Otis Kendall born, American astronomer, celestial cartographer and mathematician

1836 – Virginie Loveling born in Belgium, Flemish poet, novelist, and children’s author; she was co-author with her sister Rosalie of poetry and two collections of essays, and also wrote solo under the pen name W. E. C. Walter; best known for her novels, Een Dure Eed (An Expensive Oath), De twistappel (The Twist Apple), and Een revolverschot (A Gunshot)

1838 – Mary Edwards Bryan born, American journalist, editor, and best-selling novelist; editor for multiple publications; one of the best paid women editors in New York in 1891

1845 – Jacint Verdaguer born in Spain, regarded as one of the greatest poets of Catalan literature, a Roman Catholic priest; noted for his epic poems L’Atlàntida and Canigó

1860 – Charlotte Barnum born, American mathematician and social activist; after being turned down for graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University because they did not accept women, she persisted, and became the first woman to receive a PhD in mathematics from Yale University (1895); from 1901 to 1913, she worked in Washington DC, for U.S. Naval Observatory, U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Barnum was one of the first women members of the American Mathematical Society

1863 – Rosalía de Castro publishes Cantares Gallegos, the first book in the Galician language – celebrated in Galicia since 1963 as Día del las Letras Galegas *

1865 – The International Telegraph Union (later the International Telecommunication Union) is established in Paris – see 1969 for World Telecommunications history*

1866 – Erik Satie born, French avant-garde composer and musician

1873 – Henri Barbusse born, French novelist, WWI soldier, communist and lifelong friend of Albert Einstein; Le Feu (Under Fire)

1873 – Dorothy Richardson born, British journalist, feminist and author of Pilgrimage, a sequence of 13 novels, beginning with Pointed Roofs. Richardson’s work fell out of favour in the 1930s, but was reprinted by Virago Press in the 1970s, and she is now considered a pioneer in ‘stream of consciousness’ narration

1875 – The first Kentucky Derby is run, won by Aristides

1899 – Carmen de Icaza born, later Baroness of Claret, Spanish journalist and novelist; (1925-1930) worked for newspaper El Sol; noted for novel, Cristina Guzmán

1902 – Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discovers the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient mechanical analog computer

1903 – Lena Levine, American psychiatrist and gynecologist; director, Margaret Sanger Research Bureau of New York, prominent in the development of marriage counseling and advocating for birth control

1904 – Marie-Anne Desmarest born as Anne-Marie During, French novelist;  La passion de Jeanne Rieber (The passion of Jeanne Rieber) won the 1935 Prix de l’Alsace littéraire, and Torrents, won the 1939 Prix Max Barthou de l’Académie française

1912 – Mary B. Davidson Kenner born, African American inventor most noted for developing the sanitary belt with a moisture-proof napkin pocket, but the company that first showed interest in her invention rejected it after discovering that she was a black woman, so it wasn’t used until 30 years after she invented it. She earned her living as a professional floral arranger, eventually owning her own business

1918 – Birgit Nilsson born, Swedish dramatic soprano, famed Wagnerian interpreter

1919 – Merle D. Miller born, American author and gay rights pioneer; wrote Plain Speaking, a best-selling biography of Harry S. Truman, and “came out of the closet” in a 1971 New York Times Magazine article called “What It Means to Be a Homosexual” which became a book, On Being Different: What It Means to Be a Homosexual

1937 – Hazel R. O’Leary born, American lawyer and educator; first woman and first African American to serve as U.S. Secretary of Energy (1993-1997); president of Fisk University (2004-2012)

1938 – Marcia Freedman born in the U.S., American-Israeli activist for peace, women’s and LGBT rights, and politician; she and her family moved to Israel in 1967, and she was one of the early leaders of the feminist movement in Israel. Freedman was founding president of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom (Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace); served in the Knesset (1974-1977); was a co-founder of Israel’s first shelter for battered women in Haifa in 1977, and a founder of the Community of Learning Women in the 1990s, which provided education in women’s studies and computer literacy. Her memoir, Exile in the Promised Land, was published in 1990

1946 – U.S. President Truman seizes control of the nation’s railroads, delaying a threatened strike by engineers and trainmen

1950 – Valeriya Novodvorskaya born, Soviet dissident, and writer; founder and chair of the Democratic Union party (1988-2014); member of the editorial board of The New Times. She became active in the Soviet dissident as a student, and arrested by Soviet authorities in 1969, for distributing leaflets criticizing the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and confined in a Soviet psychiatric hospital, where she was diagnosed, like many dissidents, with ‘sluggish schizophrenia.’ She underwent two years of ‘treatment,’ and described her experiences in Beyond Despair. In 1972, she helped to copy and distribute an underground publication. She continued her political activities while working. She was tried in 1978, 1985 and 1986 for her dissident activities, and spent more time in mental hospitals. Novodvorskaya continued to organize unauthorized meetings, helped found the Democratic Union Party, and wrote for the underground newspapers like Svobodnoye Slovo (Free Word).  In 2014, she died from   toxic shock syndrome, caused by an acute infection in her left foot

1954 – The United States Supreme Court hands down a unanimous landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, declaring that racially segregated public schools were inherently unequal

1956 – Annise Parker born, American Democratic politician and LGBT activist, second woman Mayor of Houston (2010-2016); Houston City Controller (2004-2010); Houston City Council member (1998-2004)

1958 – National Walnut Day * is proclaimed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower

1961 – Enya born as Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin, Irish singer-songwriter, former member of Clannad before pursuing her solo career; Ireland’s top selling solo artist; winner of 7 World Music Awards, 4 Grammy Awards for Best New Age Album, and an Ivor Novello Award; nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Song for “May It Be” which she wrote and performed for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

1962 – Lise Lyng Falkenberg born, Danish writer of fantasy fiction, rock musician biographies, literary studies, and freelance journalist

1962 – Jane Moore born, English journalist, author and presenter for Channel 4 online videos. Best known as a columnist for The Sun newspaper, and is also as a contributor to The Sunday Times. Noted for her novels Fourplay and The Second Wives Club 

1962 – Rosalind Picard born, American computer scientist and engineer, pioneer of affective computing, which recognizes the importance of emotion in human communication; her work expanded into the fields of autism and developing devices to help humans recognize emotional nuances; Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT; co-founded Affectiva; Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers since 2005

1969 – Soviet Venera 6 begins its descent into the atmosphere  of Venus, sending back atmospheric data before being crushed by pressure

1969 – The Who release their album Tommy in the U.S

1969 – World Telecommunication Day is first celebrated, to mark the founding of the International Telecommunication Union in 1865. In 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society asks the UN General Assembly to declare May 17 as World Information Day. In 2006, the two events are merged into World Telecommunications and Information Society Day *

1973 –The Watergate Hearings begin in the U.S. Senate, and are televised nationally

1978 – The Children’s Tumor Foundation is formed, the first grassroots organization solely dedicated to finding treatments for Neurofibromatosis (NF), a multi-symptom disease which can be inherited from a parent, but half of those diagnosed with NF have no history of the disease in their family. NF can cause non-cancerous tumors to grow on nerves anywhere in the body, but may also affect cognitive skills, hearing and bone structure.  The CTF helps to coordinate and publicize World Neurofibromatosis Day * events and fundraising worldwide

1980 – Rioting causes 18 deaths in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood after an all-white jury in Tampa acquits four former Miami police officers of beating a black man to death

1983 – The U.S. Department of Energy declassifies documents showing world’s largest mercury pollution event in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (ultimately found to be 4.2 million pounds), in response to the Appalachian Observer’s Freedom of Information Act request

1990 – The General Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) eliminates homosexuality from the list of psychiatric diseases – see also 2004 entry

1996 – U.S. President Bill Clinton signs “Megan’s Law,” requiring neighborhood notification when sex offenders move in

1997 – Zaire is officially renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

2000 – Two former Ku Klux Klansmen are arrested on murder charges in the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham AL, killing four black girls

2004 – The first legal same-sex marriages in the U.S. are performed in the state of Massachusetts, now celebrated as Same Sex Marriage Day *

2004 – The first International Day Against Homophobia (Transphobia and Biphobia * are added later) is launched to coordinate international events which spotlight LGBT rights violations. On this day in 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of psychiatric diseases

2005 – World Hypertension Day * is inaugurated by the World Hypertension League, a section of the International Society of  Hypertension, to promote regular checks of blood pressure levels, and promote prevention and treatment of this “silent killer”

2007 – For the first time since 1953, trains from North and South Korea cross the 38th Parallel in a test-run agreed upon by both governments

2011 – Arnold Schwarzenegger issues a statement confirming a Los Angeles Times report that he had fathered a child with a woman on his household staff over a decade earlier

2012 – A report on American Roman Catholic nuns from the Vatican’s orthodoxy watchdog, the Congress for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was publicly released by the United States Conference of Bishops, causes controversy. The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, made up of representatives from 80% of Roman Catholic orders in the U.S., who have been vocal about social justice issues, were praised for their work with the needy. But they were taken to task for being unacceptably silent on issues like opposition to same-sex marriage, contraceptives and abortion. The Vatican ordered the nuns to focus more on promoting church orthodoxy

Nuns on the Bus, an advocacy group for the poor, announcing
their tour to protest proposed federal budget cuts

2015 – Iraqi Civil War, Fall of Ramadi: after days of fighting, the Iraqi Army and Special Forces fled the city of Ramadi, provincial capital of Al Anbar Governorate, Iraq’s largest province by area, after ISIL bombed their military headquarters and police stations. ISIL claimed its troops have complete control of the city, but the Iraqi defense ministry said Iraqi warplanes are launching air strikes against their positions

2019 – The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, legislation amending the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act to explicitly ban discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. It would ban discrimination in housing, education, finances, and other federally funded areas, a long-discussed expansion to the 1964 law. The bill was passed 236-173 in the Democratically-controlled House. Eight Republicans voted to approve the legislation. The Republican-majority Senate has not taken any action on the bill

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act at the White House, July 2, 1964 – (PhotoQuest)


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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