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This week in history

 February 17 in History


 Today's birthday

For the week of Feb. 11, 2018

12
Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Kosciuszko (1746-1817): Polish. Soldier and statesman. As a colonel in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, Kosciuszko planned the fortifications that helped defeat the British at the battle of Saratoga. For his service to the cause of American independence, Congress awarded him American citizenship. After returning to Poland in 1784 and becoming a major general in the Polish army in 1789, Kosciuszko emerged as a military and political leader, pressing for democratic reforms in Polish government and society and leading Polish forces against Russian armies sent to suppress the Polish movement for independence in1791 and again in 1794. After his final defeat in 1794, he spent the rest of his life in exile.

14
Richard Allen (1760-1831): African American. Minister. In 1787 Allen founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church to give African Americans the opportunity to worship in a setting free of racial discrimination. His Bethal Church in Philadelphia became a focal point of organized protest by African Americans against slavery and racial discrimination in the North.

14
Frederick Douglass (1817-1895): African American. Writer, lecturer, editor, and civil rights activist. Born a slave, Frederick Augustus Bailey escaped at the age of 21, changed his name, and became a renowned campaigner for the abolition of slavery. After publishing his autobiography in 1845, Douglas made a lecture tour of England, where friends raised money to buy his freedom. Upon his return he founded a newspaper, the North Star. During the Civil War Douglass held a variety of federal offices, including *that of Minister to Haiti.

14
Masao Satow (1908-1977): Japanese American. Civic leader. Born in California to Japanese American parents Satow joined the Japanese American Citizens League, an emerging national organization for persons of Japanese ancestry born in the United States, in 1932. He became its national secretary in 1947, when the organization had only two chapters, both on the West Coast, and 3,100 members. At the end of his twenty-five years of leadership, the organization had 94 chapters across the nation and 27,000 members.

14
Valentines Day: United States. The origins of this day are confused. There appear to have been two or three early Christian martyrs named Valentine. One was probably executed on February 14. One man named Valentine secretly married young sweethearts in opposition to the Roman Emperor Claudiusi ban on marriage (a policy designed to prevent young men of military age from forming family ties). Another legend mentions flowers grown by Valentine and given to children. When Valentine was imprisoned the children remembered him by throwing nosegays and notes into his prison window. These were the original Valentine greetings.

15
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906): Suffragette. Born in Adams, Massachusetts, Anthony was a leader of the movement to gain women the right to vote. As a leader of the Womenis Temperance Movement along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she secured the first laws in New York State giving women control over their children, property, and wages.

15
Felix Frankfurter (1882-1965): Jewish American. Lawyer, teacher, jurist. Frankfurter taught law at Harvard Law School, was an advisor to President Wilson, and helped to found the American Civil Liberties union. He was appointed to the United States Supreme Court by President Franklin Roosevelt.

15
Nirvana (Buddhais Death): Buddhist. In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, this day marks the death of Buddha in 483 B.C.E. and commemorates his attainment of final Nirvana. The date is based on the Japanese Buddhist calendar.

15
Randy Shilts (1952-1994): Gay. Author and journalist. The national correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle, Shilts was one of the first openly gay journalists hired at a major newspaper. Shiltsi best selling books include The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (1982), And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic (1987), and Conduct Unbecoming: Lesbians and Gays in the U.S. Military (1993). And the Band Played On was made into a docudrama that was broadcast on HBO on September 11, 1993. Band has been translated into seven languages and released in 16 nations. Conduct Unbecoming won numerous awards, earning Shilts the designation of Author of the Year in 1988 from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. This is the date of his death from AIDS.

17
Marion Anderson. (1902-1993): African American. Singer. Gifted with a rich contralto that the conductor Arturo Toscanini called ithe kind of voice heard once in a hundred years,i Marian Anderson rose from modest beginnings in Philadelphia to become an internationally acclaimed concert artist, renowned for her interpretations of the classical repertoire and of African American spirituals. During her 1933 Scandinavian concert tour, Anderson was encouraged by her accompanist Kosti Vehanen, a finnish pianist, to learn some songs by the finnish composer Jean Sibelius and perform for him at his home. Sibelius was so impressed by Anderson that he wrote an original composition for her. *In 1939, Anderson was barred from performing at Constitution Hall in Washington D. C., by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) because of her race, whereupon first Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest. The federal government * invited Anderson to sing instead at a public recital on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, Marion Anderson gave her now-historic recital before a crowed of more than 75,000 people, the largest to date ever assembled at the Memorial. In 1955, thirty years after beginning her concert career, she became the first African American to sing a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Widely admired for her humane spirit, she served on the United States delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in 1958 and won the United Nations peace prize in 1977.

17
Goyaale (1829-1909): American Indian (Chiricahua Apache). Military leader. As chief of the Chiricahua Apache Indians, Geronimo escaped repeatedly from reservations and led attacks on settlers and soldiers in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States during the late 1870is and early 1880s. He surrendered to U.S. government forces in 1885. This is the anniversary of his death.

17
Presidents Day: United States. The birthdays of U.S. George Washington (February 22, 1732) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809) are observed on this day.

18
Sholom Aleichem (born Solomon Rabinowitz) (1854-1916): Jewish Russian American. Writer. Born in Ukraine, Rabinowitz began writing in Yiddish in 1883, using as his pseudonym the Yiddish greeting i Peace be with you.i His best known works are his stories of Jewish life in the villages of Eastern Europe. Along with I. Peretz and Mendele Sforim, he is considered one of the founders of modern Yiddish literature.

18
Audre Geraldin Lorde (1934-1992): Lesbian. Poet and essayist. Audre Lorde was a Black lesbian who fought for justice through both her writings and her political activities. She held a number of teaching positions and toured internationally as a lecturer, forming coalitions between Afro-German and Afro-Dutch women, founding a sisterhood in South Africa, starting the Women of Color Press, and establishing the St. Croix Womenis Coalition. Her poetry collections include, From a Land Where Other People Live (1973), The Black Unicorn (1978), Our Dead Behind Us (1986), and The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance (1993). She won the American Book Award in 1989 for A Burst of Light and was appointed New York Stateis Poet Laureate by then Governor Mario Cuomo in 1991. Lorde chronicled her 14 year battle against breast cancer in works such as The Cancer Journals, before finally succumbing to the disease in 1992.

18
Luis Munoz Marin (1898-1980): Puerto Rico. Political leader. Elected Puerto Ricois first governor in 1948, Munzo Marin served in that office until 1964, instituting programs of economic development and social reform. He also proposed a plan for maintaining Puerto Ricois union with the United States while establishing the island as a self-governing unit exempt from U.S. taxes. This proposal became the basis for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, created by and act of Congress and proclaimed in 1952.