1920 will be remembered as year when the League of Nations was created, the 19th Amendment was passed in America giving women the right to vote, and a flight from London to South Africa took 45 days. In this 1920 timeline, you’ll find all the important events that happened in 1920, 100 years ago.
Why not take a look at a 1920 newspaper where you can see how the events were reported at the time?
- Flight to South Africa from London
- Women’s Suffrage
January 2: US General Attorney General Palmer authorises raids across the country on known unionists and socialists as a result of global fear of communism by the Russian Revolution.
January 3: The 84 year “Curse of the Bambino” begins after Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee agrees to sell Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000 in cash and a $350,000 loan.
January 4: Actors in Amsterdam start to strike for retirement benefits.
January 10: Silver reaches a record amount of $1.37 an ounce.
January 10: In Paris, the inauguration of the League of Nations takes place, one of the major events in 1920.
January 11: Afrique, a French passenger ship, sinks near La Rochelle, killing 553.
January 13: The NY Times falsely reports that rockets will never be able to fly.
January 16: The first League of Nations assembly is held in Paris.
January 16: Georgia declares independence.
January 17: Paul Deschanel is elected as the President of France.
January 17: The first day of prohibition of alcohol in the US comes into effect. This comes as a result of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.
January 23: The Dutch refuse to turn over the ex-Emperor of Germany, Wilhelm II to allies.
January 29: Walter Disney begins work as an artist at KC Slide Co for around $40 a week.
January 31: In New York, the first Ukranian daily newspaper in the US begins publication.
A League of Nations meeting in Switzerland in 1930.
Image: The Atlantic
February 1: The first commercial armoured car is introduced.
February 2: Estonia declares its independence from Russia in the Dorpat Peace treaty.
February 2: France occupies German Memel territory.
February 4: As part of the Tarto/Dorpat Peace Treaty, Russia recognises Estonia’s independence.
February 4: The first flight from London to South Africa departs. The journey would take a total of 45 days.
February 6: The Saarland is controlled by the League of Nations.
February 8: Men in Switzerland vote against women’s suffrage.
February 12: 14,000 Rotterdam and Amsterdam harbour workers start a strike. It would last until 26th April.
February 13: The League of Nations recognizes Switzerland’s neutrality, allowing it to rejoin the League.
February 19: The Netherlands joins the League of Nations.
February 22: The first artificial rabbit is used at a dog race track at Emeryville, California.
February 29: By trying to maintain independence from both Germany and the USSR, Czechoslovakia adopts a constitution.
Ryneveld and Brand before their flight from London to South Africa.
Image: The South African
March 1: Under Admiral Horthy, Austria once again becomes a Kingdom.
March 4: 4th March 1920 marks the last day of the Julian civil calendar in Greece.
March 8: Cuba and Denmark join the League of Nations.
March 11: Syria announces Emir Feisal as King after the country had fought off French domination.
March 18: Greece adopts the Gregorian calendar.
March 19: The US Senate rejects the Treaty of Versailles for the second time.
March 20: The first flight from London to South Africa lands.
March 31: The Irish Home Rule Law is accepted by the British parliament.
April 4: In Jerusalem, Arabs attack Jews.
April 6: The French occupy Frankfurt, Darmstadt and Hanau to force the German evacuation of the Ruhr.
April 15: A New Canadian small cent coin is released.
April 20: The Balfour Declaration is recognized, making Palestine a British Mandate.
April 20: In Alabama and Mississippi, tornadoes kill 219.
April 23: The end of the Ottoman Empire. Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Turkish Grand National Assembly denounces the government of Sultan Mehmed VI and announces a new, temporary constitution; a key 1920 event.
April 24: The British Mandate over Palestine goes into effect, lasting 28 years until 1948.
April 26: Married couple Ludowika and Walter Jakobsson, representing Finland, win the skating gold medal at the Antwerp Olympics. Ludowika is the only German-born athlete at the Olympic Games.
April 27: Ukraine declares independence.
April 30: The British Government ends military conscription.
May 1: A toll tunnel between Belgium and Luxembourg opens.
May 2:The first game of National Negro Baseball is played in Indianapolis.
May 5: A peace treaty between Germany and Latvia is signed.
May 5: Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States, makes the Communist Labour Party illegal.
May 7: The USSR recognises Georgia’s independence.
May 14: Walter Johnson, a pitcher for the Washington Senators, wins his 300th game against Detroit.
May 16: Joan of Arc is canonised as a saint.
May 16: Joselito, a Spanish bullfighter, is fatally gored fighting his last bull.
May 20: Police raid the Cubs’ bleachers and as a result arrest 24 fans for gambling.
June 1: Adolfo de la Huerta becomes the President of Mexico.
June 4: The Peace of Trianon between Allies and Hungary takes place.
June 11: The US Republican party nominate Warren G. Harding for US President. He would later become the 29th US President.
June 13: The US Post Office says children cannot be sent by parcel.
June 20: The Yanks win a protest of a 1-0 win to the White Sox and the game is replayed.
June 25: The International Court of Justice is placed in Hague by the League of Nations.
July 1: Sir Herbert Samuel takes over as the High Commissioner over Palestine, where the Arab resistance to the British mandate continues.
July 3: The Royal Air Force holds a display in Hendon, England.
July 27: Radio compass is used for the first time for aircraft navigation.
July 29: The first transcontinental airmail flight from New York to San Francisco takes place.
August 9: Bulgarian and allied Peace Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine goes into effect.
August 10: The Turkish government renounces its claim to Israel, recognises the British mandate.
August 15: Commanded by Jozef Pilsudski, Polish troops defeat the Soviets at the Battle of Warsaw.
August 16: Ray Chapman, of the Cleveland Indians, is hit on the head by Yankees pitcher Carl Mays. He would die the next day in the only Major League fatality.
August 18: Harry T. Burn, a 22 year old representative, is the deciding vote in Tennessee’s and therefore America’s ratification of the 19th Amendment, allowing women’s suffrage. He decides to vote ‘for’ after receiving a letter from his mother.
August 20: 8MK is the first US commercial radio station to begin daily broadcasting.
August 20: Allen Woodring wins the Olympic 200m dash, wearing borrowed shoes.
August 25: Ethelda Breibtrey becomes the first US woman to win in the Olympics.
August 31: Belgium starts paying old age pensions.
Harry T Burn pictured in 1918.
September 1: France creates Greater Lebanon.
September 1: A new town hall in Rotterdam opens.
September 4: In parts of Bulgaria, 4th September 1920 marked the last day of the Julian civil calendar.
September 16: The Wall Street Bombing takes place at 12:01pm when a horse-drawn wagon explodes on Wall Street in New York. 38 are killed and 143 are injured.
September 20: Foundation of the Spanish Legion opens.
September 23: Alexander Millerand is elected the new President of France.
September 29: Babe Ruth sets the home run season record at 54.
September 29: The Joseph Horne Company in Pittsburgh starts to sell radios for $10.
October 1: The Netherlands pass a law for an 8 hour working day.
October 17: The Chicago Bears play their first NFL game and win 7-0.
October 23: African demonstrators are shot in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
October 27: The headquarters of the League of Nations moves to Geneva.
October 30: In Sydney, the Communist Party of Australia is founded.
October 31: Romanie annexes Bessarabia.
November 2: Warren G. Harding defeats the democrat candidate, James M. Cox, becoming the 29th President of the United States.
November 11: Great Britain’s monument to remember the war dead, the Cenotaph in Whitehall, is unveiled. The monument is designed by Edwin Lutyens.
November 11: At Westminster Abbey, London and Arc de Triomphe, Paris, the burials of the unknown soldiers take place simultaneously.
November 12: The Dalmation coast between Italy and Yugoslavia is given to Yugoslavia.
November 13: The Hudson River at Albany is frozen.
November 15: The first League of Nations meeting is held in Geneva.
November 21: Mussolini’s squad begin terror attacks, killing 11 people in Bologna, Italy.
November 25: In Philadelphia, the first Thanksgiving parade takes place.
The Cenotaph in Whitehall before it was unveiled in 1920.
Image: Imperial War Museum
December 3: Turkey and Armenia agree to sign a peace treaty.
December 5: A government is formed in Greece by Dimitrios Rallis.
December 10: August Krogh wins the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. He discovered the regulation mechanisms of capillaries in skeletal muscle.
December 13: The Netherlands breaks contact with the Kingdom of Serbia, Croatia and Slavia.
December 16: In the Gansu province in China, an 8.5 earthquake kills 200,000.
December 17: The first US postage stamps are printed without the words United States or US.
December 18:The first US indoor curling rink opens in Brookline, Massachusetts.
December 19: King Constatine I becomes King of the Hellenes again after the death of his son Alexander I of Greece. There also was a vote held to decide who would become King.
December 20: Entertainer Bob Hope becomes an American citizen.
December 23: The Government of Ireland Act and the Home Rule Act is passed, separating Ireland.
December 29: Government in Yugoslavia bans the Communist party.
The flight took 45 days and a total of 109 hours and 30 minutes, complete with two crash landings in Sudan and Bulawayo. Two South African pilots, Pierre van Ryneveld and Christopher Joseph Quintin Brand set out for Cape Town. It took them 11 hours to cross the Mediterranean, and had to force a landing in Sudan due to a leaking radiator.
11 days later, they continued their journey in another aircraft, which was loaned to them by the Royal Air Force in Egypt, however this crashed due to overloading. They finally got on the final leg of their journey on 17th March 1920 and landed 3 days later in Wynberg, Cape Town. The pilots were knighted for this achievement.
On 18th August 1920, the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution allowed American women the right to vote, after nearly 100 years of protest. To find out more about women’s suffrage in other countries, take a look at our women’s suffrage timeline.
Until 1848, the movement for women’s suffrage wasn’t organised at national level. In July of 1848, Elizabeth Stanton and Lucretia Mott organised the first women’s rights convention in New York, and more than 300 men and women attended.
Due to the outbreak of the Civil War, the movement lost momentum as women had to assist the efforts related to the conflict that was happening. After many years of protesting, the outcome looked bleak after many states voted to not amend the 19th Amendment. Southern states were the states that were mainly opposed to the amendment, and seven had already voted to reject it before Tennessee’s vote on 18th August 1920. Tennessee held the vote to tip the scale for women’s suffrage.
The state’s decision came down to Harry T. Burn, a 23 year old Republican from McMinn County. Burn opposed the amendment, however his mother convinced him to vote for the cause by writing a letter to him, including “Don’t forget to be a good boy.” On 26th August 1920, the 19th Amendment was approved by US Secretary of State, Bainbridge Colby. On 2nd November, more than 8 million women across the United States voted in elections for the very first time. The last state to ratify the 19th Amendment was Mississippi, approving it on 22nd March 1984.