This week in history: Iconic baseball player Joe DiMaggio was born this week in 1914

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Joe DiMaggio, who was born on Nov. 25, 1914, was one of the greatest and most popular players in baseball history. DiMaggio played his entire career, from 1936 to 1951, with the New York Yankees. He was nicknamed “the Yankee Clipper” because of his graceful fielding as an outfielder. He was also called “Joltin’ Joe” because of his powerful hitting.

DiMaggio had a lifetime batting average of .325 and hit 361 home runs. His record of hitting safely in 56 consecutive games in 1941 is one of the most enduring in baseball history. DiMaggio played in 10 World Series and was voted the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1939, 1941, and 1947.

DiMaggio was a superhero in American sports before television was available to spread the popularity of celebrities. Americans eagerly followed his playing career and personal life through newspapers and on radio. DiMaggio’s brief marriage to actress Marilyn Monroe in 1954 caused a national sensation. More than 15 years after DiMaggio retired as a player, Paul Simon’s hit song “Mrs. Robinson” could still nostalgically capture the hold that the baseball great had on the American imagination:

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you,
What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson,
“Joltin Joe” has left and gone away.

Joseph Paul DiMaggio was born in Martinez, California. He died in Hollywood, Florida, on March 8, 1999. Two of his brothers, Dominic and Vincent, also played major league baseball. DiMaggio was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955, the first year he was eligible.

10 Little-known facts about Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving Day is right around the corner, and this day of giving thanks and remembering the blessings of life is steeped in history and traditions.

American Indians and English pilgrims held the very first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony in 1621; today people celebrate this day with family, feasting, and prayer.

Here are some facts you may not know:

  1. The journey – The people we now call Pilgrims were Separatists—that is, Puritans who had separated from the Church of England.  The group left England in the Speedwell and a larger ship, the The Speedwell proved unseaworthy, and the fleet returned to England twice. The Mayflower set sail, and finally, in December 1620, the Plymouth Colony was founded by English Pilgrims at the site of a deserted Wampanoag Indian village called Patuxet.
  2. The first meal– The very first English settlers who came to America had a hard time during their first year and many of them died during the winter. But in the spring of 1621, a Patuxet Indian named Tisquantum—called Squanto by the English—showed them how to plant traditional Native American crops of corn and pumpkin in addition to their European peas, wheat, and barley.
  3. Three-day festival – In early autumn of 1621, the governor of Plymouth, William Bradford, organized a festival to give thanks to God for the survival of the colony and for their first harvest. Tradition holds that the colonists invited Massasoit, the Wampanoag chief, although some versions of the story claim he came to negotiate a new land treaty. He arrived with about 90 of his people and contributed five deer to the feast. Foods served probably included duck and turkey; a corn porridge called nasaump;and a pumpkin dish called
  4. Thanksgiving dates – During the American Revolution, the Americans observed eight special days of thanks for victories and for being saved from dangers. In 1789, President George Washington issued a general proclamation naming November 26 a national day of Thanksgiving.
  5. State by state – For many years the United States had no regular national Thanksgiving Day. But some states had a yearly Thanksgiving holiday. By 1830, New York had an official state Thanksgiving Day, and other Northern states soon followed its example. In 1855, Virginia became the nation’s first Southern state to adopt the custom.
  6. Thanksgiving Thursdays – Sarah Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, worked many years to promote the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day. Then President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November 1863, as a “day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.” Each year afterward, the president formally proclaimed that Thanksgiving Day should be celebrated on the last Thursday of November.
  7. A federal holiday – In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt set Thanksgiving one week earlier to help businesses by lengthening the shopping period before Christmas. After this incident, in 1941, Congress ruled that the fourth Thursday of November would be observed as Thanksgiving Day and would be a legal federal holiday.
  8. Gobble! – Most traditional Thanksgiving dinners include turkey. Male turkeys are called toms, female turkeys are known as hens, and baby turkeys are called poults. American Indians raised turkeys for food as early as A.D. 1000!
  9. Around the world – Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday in October. Europeans have also held autumn harvest festivals and feasts for centuries.
  10. Festivals like Thanksgiving – For thousands of years, people in many parts of the world have held harvest festivals. The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is a celebration of the end of the rice harvest; this usually occurs in August or September.

These fun facts­—and much more—can be found in World Book Online, your answer for fast, reliable information.

This Week in History: Lorena Ochoa, leading LPGA golfer, was born in 1981

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Lorena Ochoa is a Mexican golfer who became one of the leading players on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour. Ochoa was named the Player of the Year in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. She was the first person other than Annika Sorenstam of Sweden and Karrie Webb of Australia to win the Player of the Year award since 1996. Ochoa’s success made her a sports hero in Mexico.

Ochoa was born on Nov. 15, 1981, in Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. She began playing golf at the age of 5. The Guadalajara Country Club was located near her home, and playing there helped her to develop her golf skills very quickly. As a youngster, she was the first player to win the Junior World International Championship and the World Junior Golf Championship for five straight years.

Ochoa studied sports psychology at the University of Arizona in 2001 and 2002. There, she joined the golf team and was a star player. She won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Player of the Year award in both years. Ochoa won the 2003 Nancy Lopez Award, given to the best female amateur golfer from the previous year. Ochoa turned professional in 2002 and was named the Rookie of the Year on the LPGA tour in 2003. In 2004, she became the first Mexican-born player to win a tournament on the LPGA tour.

During 2006, Ochoa led the LPGA tour with six tournament victories. She also finished second six times. In 2006, 2007, and 2008, Ochoa earned more prize money than any other woman on the tour and also won the Vare Trophy, awarded to the golfer with the lowest scoring average. In 2007, Ochoa won the Women’s British Open, becoming the first Mexican-born player to win a major championship on the LPGA tour. She won her second major championship, the Kraft Nabisco title, in 2008.

Lorena Ochoa has been involved in many activities besides playing golf on the LPGA tour. She established the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation, which participates in charitable causes and promotes family and golf activities. The foundation operates the Lorena Ochoa Golf Academy at a course in California. The academy provides instruction for players of all ages.

Ochoa married Andres Conesa on Dec. 4, 2009, and the couple had their first child, Pedro Conesa Ochoa, on Dec. 8, 2011. In 2010, Ochoa announced she was retiring from competitive golf. She ended her career with 27 LPGA tournament victories and over $14 million in winnings. She continued to host the annual Lorena Ochoa Invitational, a professional women’s tournament held in Mexico, as well as the Lorena Ochoa Charity Classic in California. The charity tournament funds a school for underprivileged children in Guadalajara.

This Week in History: Gunpowder Plot to blow up the English Houses of Parliament failed, 1605

Guy Fawkes Day in the United Kingdom; Gunpowder Plot to blow up the English Houses of Parliament failed, 1605. (November 5)

Guy Fawkes Day in the United Kingdom; Gunpowder Plot to blow up the English Houses of Parliament failed, 1605. (November 5)

Around midnight of Nov. 4, 1605, English government officials captured Guy Fawkes in a cellar beneath the House of Lords with 36 barrels of gunpowder, matches, and a fuse. Fawkes was part of a daring conspiracy to murder King James I, his family, and parliamentarians during the opening session of Parliament on Nov. 5, 1605. If Fawkes had succeeded in lighting the fuse to the gunpowder, the resulting explosion could have killed hundreds of people.

There were 13 men involved in the conspiracy that became known as the Gunpowder Plot. The leader of the plan was Robert Catesby of Warwickshire. Catesby and the other conspirators were members of the Roman Catholic Church who resented the English government’s hostility toward their religion. If they were successful in blowing up the king and Parliament, they aimed to take over the country and install a leader sympathetic to Catholics.

In March 1605, Catesby’s group rented a cellar beneath the House of Lords and began filling it with barrels of gunpowder that were concealed with wood and coal. The plot was exposed several months later, however, when Lord Monteagle, a member of the House of Lords, received an anonymous letter warning him to avoid Parliament on opening day. The conspirator who wrote the letter was probably Sir Francis Tresham, Monteagle’s brother-in-law and friend.

The letter said:

“My lord, out of the love I bear to some of your friends, I have a care of your preservation, therefore I would advise you as you tender your life to devise some excuse to shift your attendance at this parliament, for God and man have concurred to punish the wickedness of this time, and think not slightly of this advertisement, but retire yourself into your country, where you may expect the event in safety, for though there be no appearance of any stir, yet I say they shall receive a terrible blow this parliament and yet they shall not see who hurts them, this counsel is not to be condemned because it may do you good and can do you no harm, for the danger is past as soon as you have burnt the letter and I hope God will give you the grace to make good use of it, to whose holy protection I commend you.”

Monteagle, alarmed, shared the letter with government authorities. On November 4, officials searched the cellar beneath the House of Lords and found the gunpowder and Guy Fawkes. Fawkes was sent to the Tower of London, where he was interrogated and tortured for two days. Four conspirators were killed trying to escape arrest, and one died in prison. The rest, including Fawkes, were tried and executed on Jan. 31, 1606.

The Gunpowder Plot led Parliament to pass more anti-Catholic laws, and hostility in England toward Catholics remained strong for more than a century. The British hold a festival every November 5 in which they burn Guy Fawkes in effigy. By custom, guards search the vaults beneath the Houses of Parliament before each new session.

9 Facts about the Lives of America’s Original Inhabitants After Europeans Arrived

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  1. Native Americans or American Indians?

The native peoples of America were given the name Indians by the explorer Christopher Columbus, who thought he had reached a place called the Indies. At that time, each group of native peoples in the Americas had a name for itself. But the Indians did not have a name for themselves as a whole. Over time, the terms American Indian and Indian became widely used. Some Indians say that Native Americans is misleading because any person born in America is a native American.

  1. A Plentiful Population

Estimates of the Indian population of the New World when Columbus arrived vary. Many scholars estimate that there may have been 30 million, with some estimates running as high as 118 million.

  1. New Foods

The Indians grew many foods that Europeans who came to America had never heard of, such as avocados, corn, peanuts, peppers, pineapples, potatoes, squash, and tomatoes. They also introduced the Europeans to tobacco.

  1. Modern Inventions

In turn, the Europeans brought many goods that were new to the Indians. These goods included metal tools, guns, and liquor. The Europeans also brought cattle and horses, which were unknown to the Indians.

  1. “The Five Civilized Tribes”

After the Revolutionary War, the Cherokee and some other Southeastern Indians tried to adopt the ways of white Americans. They began to dress, speak, and act like whites. White people sometimes called the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole the Five Civilized Tribes because whites considered their own ways more civilized than Indian customs.

  1. Indian Citizenship Act

In 1924, Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act, which gave citizenship to every Indian born within the territorial limits of the United States. Indians who live on reservations pay most federal and state taxes, but they pay no taxes on reservation lands and property or on income earned from them.

  1. Return of the Black Hills

In 1980, the Supreme Court of the United States ordered the federal government to pay about $105 million to eight tribes of Sioux Indians. The money was payment for Indian land in South Dakota that the government seized illegally in 1877. The tribes refused the settlement and sought the return of part of the Black Hills in South Dakota as well as a cash payment.

  1. Lost Languages

When Europeans arrived in North America, at least 300 languages were spoken by Indians. Today, fewer than 200 languages are still spoken, and many of them are used little or only by a few older members of a tribe. Only about 40 of the languages are spoken by people of all ages.

  1. Indians Today

Today, a number of tribes operate successful industries. For example, the Navajo make electronic parts for missiles; the Choctaw manufacture parts for automobiles; and the Cherokee produce a variety of horticultural products.

Be sure to read about the Lives of America’s Original Inhabitants Before Europeans Arrived

These fun facts­—and much more—can be found in World Book Online, your answer for fast, reliable information.

Feel free to share your comments below!

This article is part of our Native American Heritage Month Blog Series

12 Facts about the Lives of America’s Original Inhabitants Before Europeans Arrived

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  1. What’s in a Name?

Native American tribe names often reflected the pride of each group in itself and its way of life. For example, the Delaware Indians of eastern North America called themselves Lenape, which means genuine people.

2. Saying “I Do”

Many Indians married at a relatively early age—the girls between 13 and 15 and the boys between 15 and 20. A boy had to convince the girl and her parents that he would make a suitable husband. In many cases, he offered them valuable gifts to win their consent. Many newly married couples lived with the girl’s family—and the husband worked for her family—until the birth of a child.

  1. Seeing is Believing

Boys in their early teens went through a test of strength or bravery called an initiation ceremony where they went without food, sleep, or companionship for a long period or lived alone in the wilderness until they saw a vision of their guardian spirit. This is known as a vision quest. In some tribes, a boy was expected to have a vision of the spirit that would become his lifelong guardian. Some wounded themselves to help bring a vision.

  1. Catching Dinner

Both North and South American Indians used drugs to catch fish. In one method, Indians chopped up certain plants and threw them in the water. These plants stunned the fish. Then the Indians could easily scoop them out of the water.

  1. Alternative Medicine

Some Indians believed that certain diseases were caused by an object in the body. Shamans, sometimes called medicine men or medicine women, sucked on the body of the sick person until they “found” the object causing the illness. Then they spit out the object—usually a small stick or a stone that they had hidden in the mouth. They also blew tobacco smoke over the sick person because tobacco was believed to have magical powers.

  1. Crop Insurance

The Pueblo of the Southwest had religious societies that performed dances the year around to ensure good crops. One such group was the Kachina Society of masked dancers who visited the homes of children to ask if the youngsters had been good. If they had not, the Kachina dancers might punish them. The sun dance, which lasted several days, was the chief ceremony of the Plains Indians. The Indians performed it to gain supernatural power or to fulfill a vow made to a divine spirit in return for special aid. Some men even tortured themselves as part of this ceremony.

  1. A New Language

The Indian tribes of the Plains spoke many languages and needed some means of communicating with one another. From this need came a series of commonly understood gestures called sign language. Sign language was not a complete language, and it could not express any complicated idea. 

  1. Asian Ancestors

Scientists believe that American Indians are descended from the peoples of eastern Asia. For example, Indians, like those who descend from eastern Asians, have straight black hair and high cheekbones, and little hair on their bodies.

  1. Female Power

The five tribes that formed the Iroquois League chose 50 sachems to lead their federation. Only men could be sachems, but only women had the right to select who became a sachem. If a sachem did not do what the women wanted in council, they could remove him and select a new leader.

10. Wartime Heroes

Success in warfare earned fame for a warrior. Counting coup—that is, the act of touching a live enemy and getting away from him—won the highest honor. After battle, the warriors told of their heroic deeds and celebrated their victory. Eagle feathers were awarded for bravery.

11. A Purified Village

The Pueblo usually fought only when attacked. If a Pueblo killed someone—even in warfare—that individual had to go through a long period of self-purification before returning to live in the village.

12. Perfect Precision

The Inca, a group of South American Indians who ruled a large empire in Peru and other parts of western South America, did not use mortar to bind stones together to construct their huge public buildings. However, they carved the stones so carefully that a knife blade could not be inserted between the stones of a building.

Be sure to read about the Lives of America’s Original Inhabitants After Europeans Arrived

These fun facts­—and much more—can be found in World Book Online, your answer for fast, reliable information.

Feel free to share your comments below!

This article is part of our Native American Heritage Month Blog Series