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Key: Politics and Society, Science and Technology, Arts and Culture, World

Year in Review

Politics & Society

  • President's Emergency Committee for Unemployment Relief claims 4 to 5 million unemployed
  • Wickersham Commission advises against the Repeal of the 18th Amendment, in spite of ineffectiveness of Prohibition
  • London Naval Treaty of 1930 goes into effect, fixing a tonnage ratio of 5:5:3 on the navies of the U.S., Great Britain, and Japan, respectively
  • Supreme Court rules that procedures for adopting 18th Amendment were constitutional, overturning the ruling of a lower court
  • Bonus Loan Bill passed by Congress, overriding Hoover's veto attempt, which allows veterans to obtain cash loans up to 50 percent of bonus certificates issued in 1924
  • Hoover signs act making "Star Spangled Banner" national anthem
  • Hoover, opposed to governmental involvement in business ventures, vetoes Muscle Shoals Bill, which would later become the basis for Roosevelt's Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Nine young black men arrested in Scottsboro, Alabama, charged with raping a white woman; the "Scottsboro Boys" would become a cause celebre for social justice seekers nationwide

    Scottsboro Boys
  • Hoover proposes one-year moratorium on all international war debts and reparations
  • Kansas farmers produce bumper crop of wheat as prices collapse; some counties grant a moratorium on taxes
  • Great Britain goes off gold standard, provoking fear amongst Americans that the United States will do the same; 827 banks close over the next two months as fear inspires widespread withdrawals
  • U.S. Steel announces 10% cut in wages, signalling the end of the wage maintainence plan which had protected worker pay through the first years of the Depression
  • Creation of the National Credit Corporation, a last-ditch attempt at relief of the Depression through voluntary business action
  • Nobel Peace Prize awarded jointly to Chicago's Jane Addams and Nicholas Murray Butler, President of Columbia University
  • Hundreds of "hunger marchers" are turned away from the White House after trying to petition for employment at a minimum wage
  • Hoover seeks the creation of an emergency reconstruction finance corporation to lend money to lending institutions to bolster industry; he recognizes the need for more public works to provide jobs
Science and Technology
  • Physicist Ernest Lawrence invents the cyclotron popularly known as the atom smasher
  • Danish physicians report that Vitamin E may prevent miscarriages
  • Feb. 11, Inventor Thomas Alva Edison dies.
  • Fiberglass is introduced
  • Pathologist Ernest Goodpasture grows viruses in chicken eggs, opening the door for the production of vaccines
  • Chemist Julius Nieuland produces the synthetic rubber Neoprene
  • fiberglass is introduced
  • Wiley Post and Harold Gatty begin first single-plane, round-the-world flight -- takes 8 days, 15 hours, 51 minutes
Alfonso Iannelli -- faucet Faucet, by Alfonso Iannelli
  • Engineer Karl Jansky determines that the stars are the source of mysterious radio interference
  • Physicist Percy Bridgeman experiements with the changed behavior of materials placed under extremely high pressure
  • First nonstop flight across the Pacific Ocean, from Saishiro, Japan to Wenatchee, WA, completed by Hugh Herndon and Clyde Pangborn in 41 hourse, 13 minutes
  • Linus Pauling, future Nobel Laureate, proposes the theory of resonance to explain the chemical structure of benzene
  • The George Washington Bridge connecting N.Y. and N.J. is completed
  • Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon complete first transpacific flight from Japan to Washington state
1931 January 1931 February 1931 March 1931 April 1931 **************May 1931************** June 1931 July 1931 August 1931 September 1931 ******************October 1931******************* ******************November 1931****************** ******************December 1931******************
culture -
    The Aunt Jemima Show

    • Federal Council of Churches of Christ of America, a relatively conservative organization, gives qualified support to some measures of birth control
    • Nevada legalizes gambling
    • James Henigan of Medford, MA wins the 35th Boston Marathon in the time of 2:46:45
    • Empire State Building, the world's tallest structure, dedicated in New York City  
    • Pulitzer Prizes awarded: Years of Grace, by Margaret Ayers Barnes, fiction; Charles W. Eliot, by Henry James, biography; The Coming of the War:1914, by Bernadotte E. Schmitt, history; Collected Poems, by Robert Frost, poetry; Alison's House, by Susan Glaspell, drama
    Books released in 1931
    • Billy Burke wins golf's U.S. Open title by defeating George Von Elm by one stroke after two 36-hole playoffs
    Films released in 1931
    • M, directed by Fritz Lang
    • City Lights, directed by Charles Chaplin
    • Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff
    • Little Ceasar, starring Edward G. Robinson
    • Monkey Business, starring the Marx Brothers
    • Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi
    • The Public Enemy, starring James Cagney
    • Pardon Us, starring Laurel and Hardy
    • New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt opens George Washington Bridge linking New Jersey to Manhattan
    • Al Capone found guilty of tax evasion in Federal Court in Chicago, sentenced to 11 years in prison and fined $50,000
    • St. Louis Cardinals (NL) defeat the Philadelphia Athletics (AL) in seven games to win 28th World Series  
    • Cimarron wins Academy Award for Best Picture, Lionel Barrymore Best Actor in A Free Soul; Marie Dressler as Best Actress in Min and Bill
    Songs released in 1931
    • The British Parliament passes the Statute of Westminister recognizing the autonomy of the dominions of the British Empire and establishing the Commonwealth of Nations
    • King Alphonso XIII is deposed and the Second Republic is established
    • Kamal Ataturk begins a program of internal reforms intended to westernize Turkey
    • New Delhi becomes the capital of India
    • The Japanese army seizes the arsenal at Mukden and takes control of southern Manchuria
    • Hailie Selassie introduces a constitution for Ethiopia
    - -
    Elzie Segar -- Thimble Theatre Thimble Theatre, by Elzie Segar
    • Yellow River floods in China, killing between 850,000 and 4,000,000 people; the exact number is unknown, but it is thought to be the worst natural disaster in history to date
    • Japan invades Manchuria, violating the Kellogg-Briand pact, setting it on the path to World War II
    • Council of League of Nations requests a US delegate concerning the Japanese invasion of Manchuria; United States goes on record in opposition to invasion, yet seems powerless to amend it
    • French Premier Laval joins President Hoover in declaring that both countries will maintain gold standard
    • Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald forms a coalition government with Conservative and Liberal support
    • Joseph Lyons forms the United Australia Party and is elected Prime Minister of Australia
    • Dictator Gabriel Terra becomes President of Uraguay