What Are Some Historical Things That Happened in 1939?


Quick Answer

1939 marks the beginning of World War II, the first television broadcast and the splitting of the first uranium atom in the United States. In sports, the New York Giants won the first NFL pro bowl, Ted Williams hit his first home run for the Boston Red Sox, and the University of Oregon won the premier NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

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Full Answer

On Sept. 1, 1939, Germany started air raids on Poland. Two days later, a German U-boat sank a British passenger ship on its way from Glasgow to Montreal. On the same day, Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declared war on Germany. The start of World War II also marked the end of the Great Depression in the United States, as the wartime industry brought the economy back to prosperity.

In April of 1939, NBC produced the first regularly scheduled broadcast of President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivering the inaugural address, which he did at the New York World Fair. The broadcast only reached about 1,000 households that owned televisions at the time.

Jan. 25, 1939 marks the day that John R. Dunning, Herbert Anderson, Eugene Booth and Francis Slack split the first uranium atom using a cyclotron in the basement of Columbia University’s Putin Hall in New York. The achievement came after the scientists heard that scientists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann had done the same thing in Germany.

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