Can you match these historical events to their decades?

Abi Luftig

Image: Wiki commons

About This Quiz

The 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century were full of exciting events that changed the course of history. But sometimes decades blur together and it's hard to remember exactly when an event took place. How well do you remember these events from 1900-2009? Can you match each one to its correct decade?

The 1900s saw the Wright brothers create what kind of travel?

On December 17, 1903, Orville Wright piloted the flying machine he created with his brother, Wilbur, on the shores of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The brothers made a total of four flights that day, alternating pilots.

Which famous ocean liner crashed and sank in the 1910s?

As anyone who went to the movie theatre in the 1990s knows, the Titanic was the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner of its time (for those on the upper decks, of course). However, its maiden voyage ended when it struck an iceberg on April 15, 1912, and sank, killing 1,517 people. Scientists have since proposed that the disaster came because the ship tried to avoid the iceberg and was scraped along its side. It is suggested that if the ship had stayed its course and plowed straight through the iceberg, it would have survived.

The 1950s saw the creation of a vaccine for a potentially deadly disease that paralyzed thousands of people, including a U.S. president. What was this disease?

Polio had cut a swath through the public for generations, but science emerged victorious in 1955 when Dr. Jonas Salk created the first effective polio vaccine. The vaccine was distributed to seven million American children in school within a year.

During what decade, did the USSR launch Sputnik into orbit?

Russia gained a big lead in the space race on October 4, 1957, when it launched the Sputnik 1 satellite into obit. It was the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth.

The teetotalers effectively voted Prohibition into law in what decade?

This one was a bit sneaky. Many people associate Prohibition with the 1920s, as that was the decade in which it became the subject of the 18th Amendment (January 17, 1920). However, prohibition was actually voted into being a year earlier, on January 16, 1919, when the aforementioned amendment was ratified. As with the recent smoking ban in UK pubs, the enaction of the prohibition amendment was delayed in order to allow brewery and tavern employees time to find new jobs and for merchants to make the necessary changes. Prohibition was a well-known flop and was officially repealed on December 5th, 1933.

Nowadays, it's hard to remember a time before The Boy Who Lived. In which decade was the first Harry Potter book published?

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the first book in the wildly successful series by J.K. Rowling was published in 1997. The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was published a decade later in 2007. However, fans of series know that the story takes place before the books, so despite the second book being released to Muggles in 1998, wizards remember that year for The Battle of Hogwarts as told in Deathly Hallows.

Which war was fought during the 1950s that led to the permanent separation of a nation and fueled the fires of a much bigger war to come?

June 25, 1950, was the beginning of the Korean War (sometimes called the Korean Conflict), which centered around North Korea and the Southern Republic of Korea vying for control of the Korean peninsula. Though it began as an Eastern civil war, Western powers quickly got involved and the conflict evolved to be between the US-lead United Nations Command and the Communist powers of the USSR and China. This fueled the fire of the Cold War, which prompted the U.S. to enter the Vietnam War. The Korean War ended on July 27, 1953, with the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement.

The world's first official Socialist state formed when the Royal Family was overthrown and killed in which country?

The Socialist Party staged a series of revolts in Imperial Russia throughout 1917. Tsar Nicholas II and (almost) his entire family were killed when the monarchy was overthrown. While she most likely was killed, rumors abounded that Nicholas's daughter, Anastasia, escaped and survived, thus ensuring the continuation of the Romanov line. These rumors have never been substantiated.

What monarch celebrated a Golden Jubilee in July of 2002?

The 2000s were witness to a rare spectacle, a monarch's Golden Jubilee. 2002 marked the 50th year that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had sat on the throne of The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand (as well as Head of the Commonwealth and Queen of Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis). The Golden Jubilee celebration took place in July, even though the coronation had taken place in February of 1952. Elizabeth II is the first monarch to have a Golden Jubilee since Queen Victoria.

In what decade did World War II begin?

Many Americans mistakenly think World War II began in the 1940s because that is when the U.S. entered the fight, but the war officially began on September 1, 1939, with the German invasion of Poland. Britain and France declared war on Germany immediately, and the rest is history.

In which decade was Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassinated, leading to the start of World War I?

In 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand Carl Ludwig Joseph Maria was the heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian Empire (meaning he was not officially next in line, but everyone generally assumed he would take over sooner rather than later). However, Gavrilo Princip, a member of the separatist group, Young Bosnia, put an end to Franz's ascendency when he assassinated the Archduke and his wife in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. The Austro-Hungarian Empire immediately declared war on Serbia for this act of violence. Germany, being allied with the Empire, joined in the fight, as did the allies of Serbia. This was the beginning of World War I.

The 2000s had its fair share of strange animal-named illnesses. Which of these caused worldwide panic in that decade?

Old MacDonald had a rough time in the 2000s. The U.S. had an outbreak of Mad Cow Disease in 2003, which did not affect the U.S. as much as it affected Japan, who purchased and ate the beef of those cows before the outbreak was detected. In 2009, there was an outbreak of H1N1, aka "bird flu." 2009 also saw an outbreak of A/H1N1 subtype, aka "swine flu."

During which decade did the world witness the explosion of the NASA Space Shuttle Challenger?

On January 28, 1986, the world watched tragedy unfold in real time as the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded and disintegrated 73 seconds after launch, killing everyone on board.

During what decade did President Richard Nixon resign due to his involvement in the Watergate scandal?

On June 17, 1972, the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, located in the Watergate office building in Washington, D.C., was broken into. Eventually, it came to light that President Richard Nixon had been involved in orchestrating the break-in, and despite his protestations that he was "not a crook," he resigned from office on August 9, 1974, before he could be impeached.

During which decade was the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor attacked by the Japanese?

On December 7, 1941, "a day that will live in infamy." the Japanese Empire attacked the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This act of aggression stirred Congress to allow President Roosevelt to declare war on the Axis and officially enter World War II.

What decade saw the growing power of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, and eventually the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista,​ in Cuba?

Beginning in 1953, the Cuban Revolution began gaining followers and popular support. This came to a head in 1959, when the Revolutionaries overthrew the government and established the first Communist government in the Western hemisphere.

During what decade did Amelia Earhart capture and break the nation's heart?

Already well-known for her flying exploits in the 1920s, Amelia Earhart flew into history books when she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20, 1932. In 1937, she wanted to (not literally) fly even higher and attempted to be the first woman to fly around the world. However, she and her plane disappeared sometime after her last communication on July 2, 1937. She was declared dead in absentia on January 5, 1939.

The 1960s were a decade filled with riots and multiple groups fighting for their rights to be recognized. The riot that essentially started the gay rights movement took place in what city?

The Stonewall Inn was a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York. In the 1960s, police raids were common in gay bars. However, on June 28, 1969, the gay community finally decided to fight back against being arrested during the raids. The rest of The Village had their backs as riots broke out. This literal instance of fighting back led to a cultural shift and within two years, gay rights groups existed in major cities around the world.

The Camp David Accords, a landmark peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, were signed in which decade?

Following the bloodshed of the Six-Day War, the War of Attrition, and the Yom Kippur War, pacifist President Jimmy Carter wanted to find a way for Israel and Egypt to make peace. He invited Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to Camp David as a neutral place to negotiate. After 12 days of highly secretive talks, the Camp David Accords eventually led to the creation of 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty. The Accords also earned Sadat and Begin the shared honor of receiving the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize.

Charles Lindbergh made the first successful solo trans-Atlantic flight during which decade?

Charles Lindbergh made the first successful solo Trans-Atlantic flight from New York to Paris on May 20–21, 1927. At the time, Lindbergh was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve. In honor of his achievement, the Corps promoted him to colonel and awarded him the Medal of Honor.

The 1960s saw the end of Camelot when which President was assassinated?

The idealism of Camelot came to a shocking end on November 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas. The motorcade was driving through Dealey Plaza at the time, and JFK's last words were "That's obvious," in response to Texas Governor John Connally remarking how the citizens of Dallas loved the President.

During which decade did the famous Scopes Monkey Trial take place?

In the 1920s, teaching evolution in Tennessee schools was illegal. John Scopes, a teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, collaborated with Dayton businessmen and the ACLU to test the law by teaching evolution to his class. The trial ended on July 21, 1925, with Scopes being found guilty and fined $100 ($1366 in 2016), but the verdict was appealed and overturned.

The 1900s saw a political assassination happen early on when which president was shot on September 6, 1901?

William McKinley was shot twice in the abdomen by American anarchist Leon Czolgosz while entertaining a crowd at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. McKinley was slowly recovering from his non-fatal wounds when gangrene set in and eventually killed him eight days after the shooting. He was six months into his second term as President when he died.

In which decade was the first mammal successfully cloned?

On February 26, 1997, scientists rejoiced and ethics experts worried when it was announced that the first mammal was successfully cloned at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland. This mammal was the now-famous Dolly the Sheep. Dolly was cloned by copying mammary gland cells, and as such, was named in honor of Dolly Parton.

During which decade did students protest the Communist government in China, leading to the infamous Tiananmen Square Massacre?

Pro-Democracy students protested against the Communist government in China in 1989. The protests began on April 15 and ended on June 4, when the rebellion was quashed by the People's Liberation Army. The Chinese government continues to assert that no one actually died within Tiananmen Square, but the official death toll of the protests is estimated to be between 200-300.

During what decade did the Hindenburg explode?

On May 6, 1937, crowds gathered at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Manchester Township, New Jersey to watch the landing of the great Zeppelin airship Hindenburg. However, the crowd witnessed a horror when the Hindenburg caught fire during landing, killing 36 people (13 passengers, 22 ship crew, and 1 ground crew).

The 2000s were a time of great social change. In 2001, which nation became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage?

Denmark was the first to recognize legal same-sex relationships as "registered partnerships" in 1989, but the first country to legalize actual marriage between same-sex couples was the Netherlands on April 1, 2001. Belgium was the next country to follow suit in 2003. Denmark didn't make the leap from partnerships to marriages until 2012.

During what decade did The United Kingdom return soveriegnty of Hong Kong to China?

On July 1, 1997, The British Empire effectively ended when it handed back control of Hong Kong after 156 years of British "colonial governance." Hong Kong was considered to be the largest remaining colony of the British Empire and is now China's first special administrative region.

The 1940s witnessed the first detonation of a nuclear weapon when the Manhattan Project conducted what test?

Trinity was the code name assigned to the world's first detonation of a nuclear weapon. It was a test done as part of the Manhattan Project and was conducted on July 16, 1945, at 5:29 am. The U.S. Army carried out the test in the Jornada del Muerto desert in New Mexico.

During what decade did nearly 1,000 people commit mass suicide at The People's Temple, aka Jonestown?

In 1955, Jim Jones founded the Peoples Temple in Indianapolis, Indiana. After a negative reception in Indianapolis, Jones moved the Peoples Temple to California in 1965 and eventually to Guyana in 1974, where the group set up a compound nicknamed Jonestown. On November 18, 1978, a total of 918 people died in​ Jonestown. 907 died from grape Kool-Aid poisoned with cyanide. Two died by other means of suicide (including Jones, who shot himself in the head). Five non-Temple members were murdered by Temple members. Four more died in a murder-suicide off-site.

The 1960s had several skirmishes in the Cold War. What was the porcine-named attempt to invade Cuba in 1961?

In 1961, the CIA trained a group of Cuban exiles with the hope of invading southern Cuba and overthrowing Castro. It was a failure for the U.S. but was viewed as a victory for Castro, as it served to strengthen his position. The Bay of Pigs Invasion also caused Cuba to ally further with the USSR, which eventually led to the Cuban Missile Crisis one year later.

In which decades did the Boston Red Sox win the World Series?

The Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 1918 for the last time in the 20th century. 86 years later, the Curse of the Bambino was broken when the Sox won the Series in 2004 (and again in 2007). Many countries make fun of the name "The World Series" because only America participates in it. However, the "World" does not refer to the Series' participants, but instead to its sponsor. It was originally sponsored by The World newspaper.

A Ukranian nuclear meltdown prompted a disaster on a catastrophic scale during which decade?

On April 26, 1986, disaster struck when a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant malfunctioned and exploded. More than 300,000 people were displaced, 47 people were killed in the explosion, and countless others have died as a result of radiation-related illnesses.

During which decade did the Berlin Wall begin to fall?

The fall of the Berlin Wall began on November 9, 1989. The tear-down was completed in 1990, when East and West Germany reunited.

Which famed Nobel Peace Prize recipient was freed from prison in the 1990s?

On February 11, 1990, Nelson Mandela was unconditionally released from prison, where he had spent 27 years being punished for his anti-apartheid activism. Apartheid officially ended in South Africa in 1994.

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