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Key: Politics and Society, Science and Technology, Arts and Culture, World
Year in Review


Politics & Society

  • Jan. 4:   President Roosevelt presents the Annual State of the Union address to Congress
  • Jan. 12: Roosevelt recommends a 2 year defense budget of $535 million in a special message to Congress
  • Jan. 31: Roosevelt meets with members of the Senate Military Affairs Committee to discuss the policy of selling airplanes to France
  • Feb. 27: Sit-down strike declared illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Feb. 14: Justice Louis Brandeis submits his letter of resignation from the Supreme Court to the President
  • German American Bund Rally
  • March 20: William O. Douglas succeeds Brandeis in Supreme Court
  • May 5: The United Mine Workers force a stoppage of soft-coal production when union and operators fail to reach an agreement. Work resumes May 13 when a contract is signed
  • June 10: President Roosevelt entertains King George VI and Queen Elizabeth as his house guests at Hyde Park
  • August 2: Roosevelt signs into law the Hatch Act, which prohibits political activity by employees of the federal government
  • Sept. 3: FDR Fireside Chat #14: On the German Invasion of Poland
  • Sept. 7: William Schirer on the Invasion: the view from Berlin
  • Sept. 10: The Miss America crown is won by Patricia Donnelly, a 19 year old from Michigan
    Science and Technology
    • Jan. 17: Physicists Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch send papers to a London journal that confirm the process of splitting atoms: a term they coin "nuclear fission"
    • June 28: The first regular transatlantic passenger air service begins when PanAm flies 22 passengers from New York to Portugal
    • Oct. 25: Nylon stockings are first sold in the U.S.
    1939 January 1939 February 1939 March 1939 April 1939 May 1939 June 1939 July 1939 August 1939 September 1939 October 1939 November 1939 December 1939
    Arts and Culture
    Songs released in 1939
    • Jan. 1: The AP poll chooses Texas A and M as the national collegiate champions
    • The Grapes of Wrathby John Steinbeck is published
    • cover photo from Grapes of Wrath
    • May 1: Pulitzer Prizes awarded:Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, fiction;Benjamin Franklin, by Carl Van Doren, biography;Selected Poems, by John Gould Fletcher, poetry
    • May 10: The Methodist Church reunites after 109 years of division
    • June 14: John Lomax and his wife Ruby finish their three-month tour recording hours of folk music from 300 performers
    • John Lomax
    Films released in 1939
      Films Released in 1939
    •   The Wizard of Oz (Real Audio)
    • Gone With The Wind
    • You Can't Take It With You
    • Boys Town
    • Jezebel
    • Kentucky
    • Good Bye Mr. Chips
    • Of Mice and Men
    • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    • Ninotchka
    • of Mice and Men
    • Stagecoach
    • Wuthering Heights
    • Drums Along the Mohawk
    • Young Mr. Lincoln
    • Snow White
    • Sept. 17: U.S. singles tennis championships are won by Robert Riggs in the men's diWizOz.movvision and Alice Marble in the women's
    • Oct.8: The World Series is won by the New York Yankees who sweep the Cincinnati Reds in four games. Fans pay homage to Lou Gehrig who has been diagnosed with a debilitating disease
      Books Released in 1939
    • Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck
    • Adventures of a Young Man, John Dos Passos
    • The Wild Palms, William Faulkner
    • Captain Horatio Hornblower, C.S. Forester
    • Collected Poems, Robert Frost
    • Pale Horse, Pale Rider, Katherine Anne Porter
    • Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, Carl Sandburg
      Gone With The Wind movie poster
    • Dec. 10: The NFL championship is won by the Green Bay Packers, defeating the New York Giants
    • Dec. 15: Gone With the Wind premieres in Atlanta. Based on Margaret Mitchell's novel the movie is a blockbuster and goes on to receive 10 Academy Awards
    • March 3: The March of Time
    • March 15: German troops seize the Moravia and Bohemia regions of Czechoslovakia
    • March 17: The March of Time
    • March 17: The Roosevelt administration issues a statement deploring the German takeover of Czechoslovakia as a threat to world peace.
    • March 23: Lithuania surrenders Memel, a seaport on the Baltic Sea to German demands
    • April 1: Roosevelt signs a proclamation ending the arms embargo against Spain
    • April 1: The Spanish War ends. The Loyalists capitulate; the Nationalists have complete control of Spain
    • April 28: Hitler nullifies a nonagression treaty with Poland and naval treaties with Great Britain
    • May 22: The foreign ministers of Germany and Italy sign a military alliance, known as the Pact of Steel
    • Oct. 18: All U.S. ports and waters are closed to submarines by presidential order
  • Nov. 4: 1939 U.S. Neutrality Act U.S. Congress passes the Neutrality Act of 1939. It repealed the prohibition of arms exportation
  • Nov. 8: Hitler narrowly evades an assassination attempt
  • Nov. 30: The Russo-Finnish War begins as Soviet forces invade Finland. The outnumbered Finns sue for peace in March 1940
    • Dec. 14: The League of Nations expels the Soviet Union and asks League members to provide assistance to Finland