The year 1919 occurred exactly 100 years ago. As we look back, we can acknowledge the events that took place in 1919 which had lasting effects, even on our lives today. For example, in 1919 the predecessor of the Nazi party was formed. Moreover, the Treaty of Versailles also brought an end to World War I. Additionally, the oldest existing airline, Royal Dutch Airlines, was established in 1919 as was the future of Prohibition in the United States. Plus, in 1919 the first woman got elected to the British House of Commons. Also worth noting is that the White Sox threw the World Series in 1919.
View 1919 Historical Events in a full screen map
Above all, 1919 was a year of many important firsts and many tragic events. Use the categories to easily navigate the map above, or read on for highlights from nearly 200 major events from 100 years ago.
The political events of 1919 brought widespread change around the world. For the U.S., President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke in October that debilitated him for the rest of his life. Before his stroke, President Wilson actively supported the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles. Yet, the Senate rejected the treaty anyway. Also occurring in 1919: the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified, authorizing Prohibition, even against President Wilson’s veto. In Oregon, the first state tax on gasoline went into effect, starting at one cent per gallon.
Around the world, the League of Nations was established in order to resolve international disputes. Towards the end of the year, Britain observed the first Remembrance Day in honor of those who lost their lives during World War I. There were also 26 politically motivated strikes and uprisings that took place in 1919. This includes the Winnipeg general strike and the Spartacist uprising.
1919 was quite the year for women. Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands gave women the right to vote. The U.S. was not too far behind — in 1919, Congress approved the 19th Amendment to legalize women’s suffrage. Though the states had to ratify the amendment first which didn’t occur until 1920. Belgium also gave certain classes of women the right to vote in 1919. Plus, American-born Nancy Astor became the first woman elected to the British House of Commons.
The Polish-Soviet War began in 1919, which unfortunately saw the massacre of 35 Jewish residents of Pinsk. 1919 was also the start of the Egyptian Revolution and the continuation of the Mexican Revolution. On a better note, 1919 brought the conclusion of World War I with the Treaty of Versailles in June.
Russia’s Civil War began at the end of 1917 and continued well into 1919 when the last of the British army’s troops left Archangel. This left the fighting to the Russians. As for the Estonian War of Independence, ongoing since November of 1918, 1919 saw the Battle of Cēsis. Today, the anniversary of the Battle of Cēsis is celebrated as Victory Day in Estonia.
There were seven major disasters that occurred in 1919. The 1918 influenza pandemic carried on into 1919, killing between 50 and 100 million people worldwide. Though, in November of 1919, health officials declared this particular flu over. Also in 1919, the volcanic eruption of Kelud in Java killed 5,000 folks. The Florida Keys hurricane hit and killed 600 people throughout the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, and Texas. To see the most tragic hurricanes and other disasters, check out our map of the most disastrous natural disasters.
One of the United Kingdom’s worst maritime disasters of the 20th century occurred in 1919. The HMY Iolaire yacht sunk off the coast of Scotland, resulting in the deaths of 201 of the 283 people aboard. In the U.S., a wave of literal molasses swept through Boston, killing 21 and injuring an additional 150 people. In Chicago, an aircraft caught on fire over downtown. This disaster killed two passengers, one aircrew person, and ten bystanders. Lastly, a fire caused New Orleans’ landmark, the French Opera House, to burn down.
Four outstanding minds won Nobel Prizes in 1919. This is one less laurate than most years as the Nobel Committee did not award the Chemistry Prize. The Nobel Prize winners of 1919 included German physicist Johannes Stark who won the Physics Nobel Prize. Jules Bordet of Belgium won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Swiss poet Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler won for Literature in 1919, and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson earned the Nobel Peace Prize of 1919. To find out more about the world’s Nobel Prize laureates, check out “The Noblest By Country: Nobel Prize Winners Mapped.”
Perhaps the most memorable cultural event that took place in 1919 was the World Series. The Cincinnati Reds beat the Chicago White Sox, though fans later discovered that the White Sox intentionally lost. Had the White Sox not thrown the game, they would now have four World Series wins under their belt with five appearances. The White Sox would also have a winning percentage of 80% had they not thrown the 1919 World Series. Instead, the White Sox have a very different MLB World Series profile, which you can find within our map of the World Series winners and losers.
Some very important non-sport-related firsts took place in 1919, including the creation of the Montreal radio station, XWA, now CINW. It was the first public radio station in North America to go on air. Plus, the world’s oldest airline to keep its name — KLM in the Netherlands — was formed in 1919.
Speaking of airlines, a great many firsts for transatlantic flight occurred in 1919. The U.S. sent a seaplane piloted by Albert Cushing Read on the first flight across the Atlantic Ocean, flying from Long Island to England. This important first took 23 days to complete, included six stops, and paved the way for two additional firsts: the first westbound transatlantic flight from Scotland to New York and the first non-stop transatlantic flight.
As you can see, 1919 was a very memorable year, and here we are, one hundred years later. Plot some history of your own with a map today.