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American history from the year you were born

  • American history from the year you born

    A lot has changed in America over the past century. In the early 1900s, cocaine was a top-selling pharmaceutical, women could not vote, and alcohol was illegal. Agricultural progress and improved medical care in the last 100 years have almost doubled life expectancy. Meanwhile, technological advances gave rise to televisions, digital cameras, the internet, and finally smartphones that combine all these services into one handheld device. Cultural milestones have taken longer to progress. Sexual harassment in the workplace wasn't officially prohibited until 1980; while public services (including schools) were racially segregated until well into the second half of the 20th century.

    Each passing year brings scientific breakthroughs, landmark achievements, and major cultural shifts. Stacker took a look at news archives and historical accounts to compile a comprehensive list of historic American events from the last 100 years. Click through to see which groundbreaking moments occurred the same year you were born.

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  • 1919: Prohibition begins

    Congress marked the start of Prohibition on Jan. 16, 1919, by ratifying the 18th Amendment to make the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol illegal. While the law’s intent was to reduce illegal activity, it ironically led to more organized crime—including the rise of notorious gangsters like Al Capone. This year also marked the end of World War I, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles by Allied forces and Germany.

  • 1920: Women gain access to vote

    Congress ratified the 19th Amendment on Aug. 18, 1920, in order to extend the right to vote to “adult women.” However, the amendment did not guarantee the right to black women, who experienced barriers in Southern states. Voter discrimination based on race was not prohibited until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

  • 1921: Emergency Quota Law

    The recession of 1919 and the end of World War I contributed to anti-immigration hysteria. On May 19, 1921, Congress signed the Emergency Quota Law, also known as the Immigration Act of 1921. The law sought to limit the number of immigrants who could enter the United States. Quotas were also imposed on arrivals born outside the Western Hemisphere.

  • 1922: Lincoln Memorial dedicated

    Chief Justice William Howard Taft dedicated the Lincoln Memorial on May 30, 1922. The occasion marked the conclusion of a project begun 11 years earlier: During Taft’s service as President of the United States, he signed a bill to create a memorial for Abraham Lincoln.

  • 1923: President Warren G. Harding dies

    President Warren G. Harding died on Aug. 2, 1923, following a period of various illnesses. Harding was reported at the time to have died from “a stroke of cerebral apoplexy,” but many historians now believe the cause was congestive heart failure. Vice President Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as president the next day.

  • 1924: J. Edgar Hoover leads FBI

    In 1924, J. Edgar Hoover began his almost 50-year reign as director of the Bureau of Investigation ("Federal" was added to the title in 1935). Hoover was 29 at the time.

  • 1925: Female governors elected

    Nellie Tayloe Ross became the governor of Wyoming on Jan. 5, 1925. She was the first woman elected to the position in the United States. Twelve days later, Miriam A. Ferguson became the first female governor of Texas.

  • 1926: NBC founded

    On Nov. 15, 1926, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) launched on radio. NBC was a result of the combined efforts of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T), and the Westinghouse Electric Corporation. NBC is the oldest broadcasting network in the United States.

  • 1927: Charles Lindbergh flies across Atlantic

    In May of 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first solo pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Lindbergh, born and raised modestly in the Midwest, immediately became an American celebrity and one of the most well-known figures of the early 20th century.

  • 1928: Mickey Mouse in the movies

    “Steamboat Willie” was not only the first Mickey Mouse film, but it was also the first time animation synchronized with sound. The film, which opened on Nov. 18, 1928, launched the Disney empire.

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