This Day in History

First "Witch" Executed in the British American Colonies (1647)
Nearly 50 years before the infamous trials that resulted in the execution of 20 people as witches in Salem, Massachusetts, Alse Young of Windsor, Connecticut, became the victim of the first recorded execution for witchcraft in the American colonies. Although she may have had a daughter who was also accused of witchcraft 30 years later, very little is known about Young's life, except that she was hanged at Meeting House Square in Hartford. A mention of her execution is recorded in whose diary? Discuss

"Spider Dan" Scales 110-Story Sears Tower (1981)
After witnessing a deadly high-rise hotel fire, Dan Goodwin resolved to call attention to the need for better skyscraper firefighting and rescue techniques. Six months after the blaze, he donned a homemade Spider-Man suit and, using suction cups and climbing gear, began an ascent of Chicago's Sears Tower—then the world's tallest building. He reached the top seven hours later and was promptly arrested. What structure—formerly the world's tallest—did he climb with no equipment, twice in one day?

"What Hath God Wrought" (1844)
Samuel F.B. Morse was originally a painter, and a good one. His portraits still rank among the finest produced in the US. However, he is best remembered for having developed the telegraph and the code of dots and dashes that bears his name. In 1844, Morse demonstrated the practicability of his instrument to Congress by transmitting the famous message "What hath God wrought" over a wire from Washington, DC, to Baltimore. Morse was also instrumental in introducing what other innovation to the US?

Today

Mamie Smith (1883)
Smith was an African-American vaudeville singer, dancer, and actress, but her most enduring legacy is a single she recorded in 1920 for Okeh Records. The first recording of vocal blues by an African-American artist, "Crazy Blues" quickly—and somewhat unexpectedly—became a bestseller. Its success opened record executives' eyes to a previously neglected market—African-American buyers—and ushered in the era of the "race record." Smith's "Crazy Blues" was accorded what honor in 2005? Discuss

Igor Sikorsky (1889)
After studying engineering in Kiev, Sikorsky devoted himself to developing the helicopter. In 1910, after failing to build a workable model, he turned to fixed-wing airplane design, and, several years later, he built and flew the first multi-motored plane, a four-engine aircraft with an innovative enclosed cabin. Sikorsky immigrated to the US in 1919 and had continued success designing airplanes. How long would it be before he finally realized his dream of building his first working helicopter?

Helen Brooke Taussig (1898)
Now regarded as the founder of pediatric cardiology, Taussig was an American physician who, among other things, revolutionized the diagnosis and treatment of "blue babies," babies whose heart malformations cause low blood oxygen content. She pioneered the use of fluoroscopy to identify defects in the heart and great vessels and devised a surgical treatment with Alfred Blalock and Vivien Thomas that saved thousands of infants. She also helped block the approval of what dangerous drug in the US?

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