Three years after the end of World War One, nations were still adapting to life in peace time. 1921 was the year that many countries, in Europe in particular, were redefining their borders, signing treaties and creating republics as post-war relations were being decided. Communist parties were being established across the globe and racial tensions in the United States were gathering momentum. 

In 1921, baseball legend Babe Ruth hit numerous Major League Baseball records at the height of his career, women’s suffrage was adopted in Brazil and Sweden, and Sacco and Vanzetti made headline news across their world amidst their controversial murder trial. You can read even more fascinating events in an original 1921 newspaper, showing how the public discovered news of current affairs at the time.  

1921 Timeline

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January 1: The University of California, Berkeley, defeats the Ohio State football team 28-0 in the Rose Bowl. 

January 2:  In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the first religious radio broadcast is heard over radio station [[KDKA (AM)|KDKA].

January 2: The De Young Museum in San Francisco opens in Golden Gate Park. 

January 2: Santa Isabel, a Spanish liner, sinks off Villa Garcia, resulting in the deaths of 244 people. Only 29 passengers and 27 crew members were saved. 

January 3: Turkey makes peace with Armenia. 

January 4: The play Diff’rent by Eugene O’Neill, a two-act drama, premieres in New York City. 

January 6: The Iraqi Army is formed. 

January 15: In Japan, the future multinational electronics business, Mitsubishi Electric, separates from the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard.

January 16: For the fourth time, Eleftherios Venizelos becomes the Prime Minister of Greece. 

January 19: A pact of union is signed between Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. 

January 20: In the Bay of Biscay, the British submarine HMS K5 sinks with 57 crew members on board during exercises. Usually, the submarine is equipped with steam turbines. 

January 20: In the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, the Mountain Autonomous Republic is formed. It was only a short-lived autonomous republic in the Northern Caucasus, which ceased to exist after July 7, 1924. 

January 20: Out of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire, the Republic of Turkey is declared. 

January 21: At Livorno, the Italian Communist Party is founded by Armadeo Bordiga and Antonio Gramsci. 

January 21: Agatha Christie, famous British crime writer, publishes her first ever novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring the character Hercule Poirot. 

January 21: The founding congress for the Marxist Left in Slovakia and the Transcarpathian Ukraine is held in Ľubochňa.

January 21: In Sweden, women gain suffrage. 

January 24: The Paris Conference regarding reparations is held. 

January 25: In Prague, the play R. U. R. by Karel Čapek premieres. In this play, Karel Čapek introduces the word “robot.”

January 25: Leonardo da Vinci, the Italian battleship, is righted in Taranto Harbor. 

January 26: In hockey, center player for Toronto Corb Denneny scores six goals, bringing St. Patricks to a win over the Hamilton Tigers, 10-3, in Toronto. 

January 29: Washington state and Oregon are hit by a hurricane. 

January 30: Henri Désiré Landru, French rapist and murderer, is sentenced to death. The exact number of his victims is unknown, but he murdered at least 6 women in Gambais between December 1915 and January 1919, as well as at least 3 other women and a young man in a house he rented in Vernouillet from December 1914 to December 1915.


February 4: American feminist and writer Betty Friedan is born in Peoria, Illinois. She wrote the book The Feminist Mystique, the book widely regarded to have sparked second-wave feminism in the United States. 

February 5: The New York Yankees purchase 20 areas in The Bronx for the Yankee Stadium. 

February 6: The film The Kid, written, directed, produced and starring Charlie Chaplin in his Tramp character, is released in the United States. The film is a full-length silent comedy-drama also featuring Jackie Coogan. 

February 8: American actress Lana Turner is born in Wallace, Idaho.

February 12: Georgia is invaded by Soviet troops. 

February 12: Winston Churchill becomes the British Minister of Colonies. 

February 14: The 5 cent nickel coin in Canada is authorized. 

February 14: After publishing Jame Joyce’s Ulysses in The Little Review, the American literary magazine faced charges due to obscenity. Afterwards, the publication of Joyce’s novel was banned in the United States. The story featured perceived sexual lewdness and anti-war sentiments, which violated the Comstock laws prohibiting “obscene, lewd, or lascivious” material. 

February 16: American dancer and actress Vera-Ellen is born in Norwood, Ohio.

February 16: Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and later the Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Hua Guofeng, is born in Jiaocheng County, Shanxi, China. 

February 17: The short symphonic poem for chamber orchestra by Arthur Honegger, Pastorale D’ete, premieres. 

February 18: Dublin, Ireland, is occupied by British troops. 

February 20: Control of Iran is seized by Reza Shah Pahlavi during the 1921 Persian coup d’état.

February 20: Georgia’s first constitution is adopted by the Constituent Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. 

February 20: The Young Communist League of Czechoslovakia is founded.

February 21: The issue of the Allies’ Treaty of Sevres in 1920, which gave part of Turkish Asia Minor to Greece, is discussed at the London Conference on the Near East. 

February 22: President and later Emperor of the Central African Republic, Jean-Bédel Bokassa, is born in Bobangui, then known as the French Equatorial Guinea.

February 23: For the first time, a transcontinental United States air mail flight travels to New York City from San Francisco. 

February 23: The Swedish premiership is taken over from Baron Louis De Geer the Younger by Oscar von Sydow, a moderately conservative public official. 

February 24: Arriving in Florida, the first transcontinental flight with a flight time of 24 hours is completed. 

February 25: Bolshevist Russia occupies Tbilisi, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. It installs a Moscow-directed communist government. 

February 25: After Mongolia declares independence from China, Hutuktu, the Living Buddha, becomes king of the country. 

February 26: In order to respect the integrity of Persia and Afghanistan, the USSR signs treaties. 

February 27: Theresa Weld Blanchard wins the US Female Figure Skating Championship, and the male championship is won by Sherwin Badger. 

February 27: In Vienna, the International Working Union of Socialist Parties is founded. 

February 27: In Florence, Italy, a riot is incited by fascists. 

February 28: Sailors of the Soviet Navy’s Baltic Fleet initiate the Kronstadt rebellion. 


March 1: In Japan, the city of Kiryū in Gunma Prefecture, is established.

March 1: Rwanda cedes to Britain. 

March 1: A sailor’s revolt breaks out in Kronstadt, Russia. 

March 1: In cricket, Australia completes a whitewash in The Ashes over England, an achievement that wouldn’t be repeated for another 86 years. 

March 3: The discovery of insulin is announced by Dr. Banting and Dr. Best in Toronto. 

March 3: The South African Government-established Asiatic Inquiry Commission proposes a voluntary repatriation system as well as the segregation of Indians. Indians are also prohibited from buying agricultural land in a specific area across the coast. 

March 4: In Arkansas, the Hot Springs National Park is established. 

March 4: As the 29th President of the United States, Warren G. Harding is inaugurated. 

March 5: In South Africa, the Durban Land Alienation Ordinance is passed. This enables the Durban City Council to exclude Indians from occupation or ownership of property in specified ‘white’ areas. 

March 5: Costa Rica and Panama are warned by the United States to settle disputes in a peaceful way. 

March 5: In the Irish War of Independence, British Brigadier General Cumming is killed by the Irish Republican Army. 

March 6: In Sunbury, Pennsylvania, police issue an edict which requires women to wear skirts 4 inches below the knee minimum.

March 6: At a meeting in Durban, the Natal Indian Congress is reignited and reorganized. Ismail Gora is the President of the congress. 

March 6: The Portuguese Communist Party is established. 

March 7: The Red Army of Russia, led by Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, launches an attack on sailors in the Kronstadt naval base. 

March 8: While exiting the parliament building in Madrid, Eduardo Dato Iradier, Spanish premier, is assassinated. 

March 8: Düsseldorf, Ruhrort and Duisburg are occupied by Allied forces. 

March 12: The British meeting to determine politics in the Middle East, the Cairo Conference, begins. Among the attendees are Getrude Bell and T. E. Lawrence.

March 12: Turkey officially adopts its national anthem, the Istiklâl Marşı, meaning Independence March.

March 13: Mongolia officially declares independence from China, with the Russian White Army capturing the country from China. As a result, Roman von Ungern-Sternberg declares he is the ruler.

March 16: A trade agreement is signed between Britain and the USSR, and Britain sends a trade mission to Moscow. This action goes against the United States, who refused to sign a trade agreement in the same month. 

March 16: In Mountjoy Prison, Dublin, six IRA men of the Forgotten Ten are hanged. The Forgotten Ten was the nickname given to ten men who were arrested for planning an attack on a “Black and Tans” lorry, the name that was given to soldiers from Britain by the Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserve. 

March 17: The first birth control clinic opens in London by Dr. Marie Stopes. 

March 17: New Economic Politics is declared by Marxist Revolutionary and Soviet Leader Vladimir Lenin. 

March 17: In Kronstadt, thousands of people lose their lives when soldiers revolt. The Red Army of Russia crushes the rebellion and a number of soldiers manage to flee to Finland. 

March 17: The March Constitution is adopted by the Second Republic of Poland. 

March 18: The Treaty of Riga, also known as the Peace of Riga, is signed, ending the Polish-Soviet war. The borders established between the USSR and Poland by this treaty remained until the Second World War, when the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences would redraw them. 

March 18: The steamer Hong Koh is run aground off Swatow, China, resulting in the deaths of a thousand people. 

March 18: In the 80th Grand National, the horse Shaun Spadah, with jockey Fred Rees wins. The starting price was 100/9 and the horse was the only one to complete the course without falling. 

March 19: In strunjan, Slovenia, a group of children are shot at by Italian fascists from the Parenzana train, killing two children, mangling two and wounding three. 

March 20: In a plebiscite for amalgamation with Germany, Upper Silesia votes 63% in favor. At the time, Upper Silesia had small parts in the Czech Republic, but was located mostly in Poland. 

March 21: In the Irish War of Independence, the Headford Ambush takes place, where the IRA kills at least 9 troops in the British Army. 

March 24: The first international women’s sporting event takes place in Monte Carlo, known as the Women’s Olympiad. 

March 25: French actress Simone Signoret is born in Wiesbaden, Germany.

March 31: The coal mines in Britain are returned to their private owners by the British government after being under wartime control. The private owners then demand wage cuts, and the Miners’ Federation of Britain responds by calling on partnering trade unions in the Triple Alliance to begin joint strike action. As a result, the government declares a state of emergency under the Emergency Powers Act of 1920 for the first time.

March 31: Abkhazia becomes a republic, known as the Socialist Soviet Republic of Abkhazia. The republic is formed in the aftermath of the Red Army invasion of Georgia. 

warren g harding

Warren G. Harding, 29th President of the United States
Image: Pikrepo


April 1: A lockout of striking coal miners starts in Britain. 

April 2: In New York City, Albert Einstein attends lectures to discuss his new Theory of Relativity. 

April 7: Sun Yat-sen, known as the Father of Modern China, is elected at Canton to be the President of China. Despite this, China is still divided into northern and southern regions and is subject to warlord rivalries. 

April 11: In Iowa, the first state cigarette tax is imposed. 

April 11: On KDKA, the first radio sporting event is broadcasted. The event is a no decision, 10 round boxing match taking place between Johnny Ray and Johnny Dundee at Motor Square Garden in Pittsburgh. 

April 11: Within the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic is formed. 

April 11: The British protectorate the Emirate of Transjordan is created, and Abdullah I becomes emir. 

April 13: In Spain, the Spanish Communist Workers’ Party is established. 

April 14: The Rotterdam-Amsterdam-Bremen-Hamburg air route is opened by Prince Henry. 

April 15: In Britain, Black Friday takes place, with transport and rail union leaders in the Triple Alliance announcing a decision to not take part in strike action to support the miners. This is despite a widespread feeling that this decision is a breach of solidarity, as well as as betrayal of the miners. 

April 16: In The Hague, the Liberal Freedom League is formed. 

April 18: In Colorado Spring, the global non-profit youth organization, Junior Achievement, is incorporated. 

April 18: The 25th Boston Marathon takes place, with Frank Zuna winning with a record time of 2:18:57.6

April 19: The funeral for Augusta Victoria, the last German Empress, occurs. 

April 20: The play Liliom by Ferenc Molnár is produced for the first time on Broadway in the English language. 

April 23: The world record for the 100m is achieved by Charles Paddock with a time of 10.4 seconds. 

April 24: In Belgium, the first municipal elections for men and women take place. 

April 24: A plebiscite in the Tyrol reveals that the area favors merging with Germany. This was under Allied supervision, and due to the Allies being unhappy with the outcome, they give the area to Italy. The Tyrol is a western Austrian state. 

April 27: It is announced by the Allied reparations commission that Germany has to pay 132 billion gold marks, worth 33 trillion American dollars, in annual installments of 2.5 billion gold marks.

April 30: In Akron, Ohio, the American Professional Football Association reorganizes.

April 30: The first American Professional Football Association Championship takes place, with the Akron Pros winning the inaugural title after being undefeated. 

albert einstein

Portrait of Albert Einstein
Image: Pixabay


May 2: The third anti-German revolt in Upper Silesia begins by the Poles, lasting until July 5. 

May 3: American middle/welterweight boxer Sugar Ray Robinson is born in Ailey, Georgia. 

May 3: Within the United Kingdom, the province of Northern Ireland is established. 

May 3: In West Virginia, the first state sales tax is imposed. 

May 5: For the Cleveland Metroparks in Cleveland, Ohio, the first ranger is hired. 

May 5: The Brighton Gazette publishes a miniature newspaper, in the size of 3.9 x 5 inches. 

May 5: Fashion designer Coco Chanel releases her iconic perfume Chanel No. 5. 

May 5: Physicist Arthur Leonard Schawlow, who goes on to share the 1981 Nobel Peace Prize in Physics for his leading work with lasers, is born in Mount Vernon, New York. 

May 5: The German Weimar Republic’s obligation to pay World War One payments is set out by the London Schedule of Payments. 

May 5: At a football game between Leicester City and Stockport County F.C., only thirteen paying spectators attend the match, making it the lowest attendance at any game in The Football League’s history. 

May 6: The American Soccer League is formed. 

May 6: Germany and the Soviet government of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic sign the German-Soviet Provisional Agreement, establishing formal German recognition of the Soviet government in the Republic. 

May 8: Capital punishment is abolished in Sweden. 

May 11: The first all Jewish municipality, Tel Aviv, is formed.

May 11: Germany is warned by the Allied Supreme Council that if they don’t pay their reparations, the entire Ruhr Valley will be occupied, and Germany agrees. 

May 12: In the US, the first National Hospital Day is observed. 

May 13: In Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, the predecessor of Komatsu, Komatsu Ironworks is founded. The company is a worldwide construction machinery and forklift brand. 

May 14: In Ohio, Florence Allen becomes the first ever female judge to sentence a man to death. 

May 14: In Italian elections, Mussolini’s fascists manage to gain 29 parliamentary seats. 

May 14-15: The major geomagnetic storm of May 1921 begins, caused by a powerful impact of coronal mass ejection on Earth’s magnetosphere.

May 14-17: In Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt, violent anti-European riots occur. 

May 15: To care for ex-servicemen, the British Legion is formed. 

May 16: The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia is formed. 

May 17: A customs union is signed by Belgium and Luxembourg.

May 17: The first Valencia Orange Show is opened via telephone by President Warren G. Harding. 

May 19: The United States Congress implements the Emergency Quota Act to curb immigration due to the large influx of Southern and Eastern European immigrants travelling to the country. It also aimed to restrict immigration of other “undesirables”  and although it was intended as a temporary measure, it proved to be the most important turning point in the immigration policy of the United States. 

May 21: In Greeley, Colorado, the oldest radio station west of the Mississippi River is licensed. 

May 21: Russian nuclear physicist and activist for disarmament, peace and human rights, Andrei Sakharov, is born in Moscow, Russia. 

May 22: The first international golf tournament between two countries takes place between the United States and the United Kingdom, with the US beating the UK 9 rounds to 3. 

May 23: The first black musical comedy, Shuffle Along, opens in New York City. 

May 23: In Germany, the Leipzig War Crimes Trials begin, lasting until July 16.

May 24: In Northern Ireland, the first parliament is elected. Ulster Unionists win 40 out of 52 seats, and the dominant-party system will remain in place for the following 50 years. 

May 24: In the Union of South Africa, the Bulhoek Massacre takes place. An 800-strong police force gathered at Ingxingwa Ye Nkunzini, in the Bulhoek valley, and Ingxingwa ka Stivini, Steven’s Valley. 500 “Israelites” gathered in an open field to defend their families. The battle lasts only 20 minutes, but results in the deaths of 163 Israelites, with 129 wounded and 95 taken as prisoners. The conflict arose after a dispute dating back to 1920 regarding land in Ntabelanga.

May 25: In the Irish War of Independence, the IRA burns The Custom House in Dublin after occupying it, which is the centre of local government in Ireland. During the burning, 5 men in the IRA are killed and more than 80 are captured by the British Army surrounding the building. 

May 26: In Norway, a general strike begins. 

May 27: Afghanistan achieves sovereignty following 84 years of British control. 

May 30: A memorial to Captain Eddie Grant, who was killed during World War One, is unveiled at Polo Grounds stadium, New York City. Grant was a Major League Baseball player and third baseman, becoming one of the few baseball league players killed in the war. His last baseball appearance before his retirement and conscription was on October 6, 1915 for the New York Giants.

May 30: Salzburg, Austria holds a vote and decides to join Germany. 

May 31: First base player for the Philadelphia Athletics (now the Oakland Athletics) “Stuffy” McInnis begins an errorless string, where between this date and June 2, 1922, he plays 163 games and 1,625 chances without making a single error. 

May 31-June 1: In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a large-scale riot breaks out, later being described as the worst incident of racial violence in the history of the United States, and one of the most devastating 1921 events. As a result of the riot, between 150 and 200 African American citizens are killed, and the riot became known as the Tulsa Race Massacre. As well as deaths, around 6000 African Americans are imprisoned and 1250 homes are destroyed. 


June 3: Near Pikes Peak, Colorado, 120 people are killed by a sudden cloudburst. 

June 6: Bill Gatewood, the Detroit Stars baseball player, pitches the first ever no-hitter in the history of the Negro League, as the team defeats the Cuban Stars 4-0. 

June 6: In London, King George V and Queen Mary open Southwark Bridge to traffic for the first time.

June 8: The second president of Indonesia, Suharto, is born in Yogyakarta, Java. 

June 10: The Duke of Edinburgh, Philip Mountbatten, is born in Mon Repos, Corfu, Greece. 

June 11: In Brazil, women’s suffrage is adopted. 

June 13: For the New York Yankees, pitcher Babe Ruth hits two home runs in a game against the Detroit Tigers, winning the Yankees the game 11-8.

June 15: As the first black pilot, Bessie Coleman reaches France. She was the first black person to earn an international pilot’s license.

June 19: A census is held in Britain, with the population at the time standing at over 37 million. 

June 19: A friendship treaty is signed against Jews between the Turks and Christians of Palestine. 

June 20: Indian politician, activist and educator V. S. Srinivasa Sastri attends the Imperial Conference in London, putting forward a case for granting full citizenship rights to Indian people in South Africa and other colonies of Britain. 

June 21: As an agency of the League of Nations, the International Hydrographic Treaty (HIB) is established. The League of Nations continues in this form until April 19, 1946. 

June 21: The British Commonwealth of Nations is formed, including the UK, the Dominions and India. 

June 21: American comedienne and actress Judy Holliday is born in New York City.

June 22: The world record for a 10,000m run is achieved by Paavo Nurmi, with a time of 30:40.2. Nurmi was also known by his nickname, the “Flying Finn.”

June 27: The very first signings of Treaty 11 take place at Fort Providence. Treaty 11 is an agreement between George V, the King of Canada and multiple Canadian First Nations. 

June 28: Despite a boycott of the vote by communists, as well as Croat and Slovene parties, the Vidovdan Constitution is passed by the Constitutional Assembly of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. 

June 28: In the UK, the coal strike ends and the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain are required to accept cuts to their pay. 

June 30: The South African Reserve Bank is founded. 

June 30: In Sweden, the death penalty is abolished. 

babe ruth

Baseball legend Babe Ruth
Image: Pixabay


July 1: In Wimbledon Women’s Tennis, French player Suzanne Lenglen defeats Elizabeth Ryan, doubles specialist, 6-2, 6-0. This gave Lenglen her third straight Wimbledon singles title. 

July 1: Chen Duxiu is elected the leader of the Communist Party of China after it was founded on this day. 

July 2: In Wimbledon Men’s Tennis, South African tennis player Brian Norton is defeated by Bill Tilden to gain him the third of his 10 Grand Slam singles titles. 

July 2: In the first million dollar gate in boxing, at $1.7 million, French boxer Georges Carpentier is knocked out by the world heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey in the fourth round of his third title defense. The match takes place at Boyle’s Thirty Acres in Jersey City, New Jersey, and is attended by a crowd of 91,000. 

July 2: A joint congressional resolution announcing the official end of the war with Germany, Austria and Hungary is signed by US President Warren G. Harding.

July 4: In Italy, a new conservative government is formed by Ivanoe Bonomi. 

July 6: Future First Lady, Nancy Reagan, is born as Anne Frances Robbins in New York City, New York. 

July 6: Soviet Major General and spy for the CIA, Dmitri Polyakov, is born in Ukraine. 

July 7: American world heavyweight boxing champion, Ezzard Charles, is born in Lawrenceville, Georgia. 

July 11: Mongolia officially receives independence from China, making today their National Day. The Red Army captured the country from the White Army, establishing the Mongolian People’s Republic.

July 11: The Irish War of Independence comes to pause when a truce is signed between the belligerents. 

July 12: Baseball player Babe Ruth sets a record of 137 home runs in his career. 

July 14: Italian immigrant anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are convicted of murdering their shoe company’s paymaster and are sentenced to death in Dedham, Massachusetts. The controversy surrounding their trial and the protests and demonstrations held in various cities by the public made this one of the major events in 1921. 

July 16: To take Asia Minor from nationalists under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, King Constantine of Greece launches a drive as encouraged by the British. 

July 17: American second base player and the first woman to play in the men’s Negro League, Toni Stone, is born is St. Paul, Minnesota. 

July 17: Near the Albanian-Serbian border, the Republic of Mirdita is proclaimed with support from Yugoslavia. 

July 18: American astronaut, politician, and first American to orbit Earth, John Glenn, is born in Cambridge, Ohio. 

July 18: Baseball player Babe Ruth achieves 139 home runs, making him the all-time home run leader in Major League Baseball. He gains this title from Roger Connor. 

July 18: The Black Sox trial begins in Chicago. The Black Sox Scandal was a game-fixing scandal in Major League Baseball, with 8 players of the Chicago White Sox team being accused of throwing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds in order to get money from a gambling syndicate. 

July 18: The first ever vaccination of BCG is given against tuberculosis. 

July 18: Baseball player Babe Ruth achieves another Major League Baseball record when he hits a home run of 575 feet. In this game, the New York Yankees win against the Detroit Tigers at Navin Field, Detroit. 

July 20: Alice Mary Robertson, US Congresswoman, is the first lady to preside over the floor of the US House of Representatives. Considering women in the US had only just gained the right to vote the previous year, this was a huge step forwards for female equality. 

July 21: US Colonel William Mitchell demonstrates how a captured German battleship can be sunk by bombs from planes. This was to prove his argument that air power is superior to sea power. 

July 21: In the Rif War, the Battle of Annual takes place, with Spanish troops experiencing a great defeat against political and military leader Abd el-Krim.

July 22: In US Open Men’s Golf, English golfer Jim Barnes wins his third out of his four major titles from being 9 strokes ahead of Walter Hagen and Fred McLeod, the runners up. 

July 22: As agreed ten days prior, the Anglo-Irish truce is declared officially in London.

July 23: Under the supervision and guidance of Henk Sneevliet, the Chinese communist party launches the first founding National Congress.

July 23: Leon Scieur of Belgium wins the 15th Tour de France. 

July 26: Princess Faitma of Afghanistan and Stanley Clifford Weyman are received by US President Warren G. Harding.

July 27: Insulin is isolated by researchers at the University of Toronto, led by biochemist Frederick Banting and Charles Best. 

July 29: Adolf Hitler assumes the position of leader in the National Socialist German Workers Party. 

July 30: The Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) is established. After being run underground in 1953, it changed its name to the South African Communist Party (SACP).

sacco and vanzetti

Italian immigrants Vanzetti (left) and Sacco (right), who became known worldwide for their controversial murder trial
Image: SnappyGoat


August 2: In the Black Sox trial and after three hours of deliberation, a Chicago jury acquits eight Chicago White Sox members accused in the Black Sox scandal. The following day, these members are banned from organized baseball for life despite their acquittal.

August 4: Canadian National Hockey League star Maurice Richard is born in Montreal, Quebec.

August 5: The first radio broadcast of Major League Baseball takes place on KDKA Pittsburgh. In the game broadcasted, the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Philadelphia Phillies 8-0. Harold Arlin is the announcer. 

August 5: The Treaty of Berlin is signed between the United States and Germany, the main reason being that the United States did not agree to the ratification of the multilateral peace treaty which was signed in Versailles. As a result, a separate peace treaty was signed. 

August 11: American writer Alex Haley, author of Roots and the Autobiography of Malcolm X, is born in Ithaca, New York.

August 11: The temperature in Breslau reaches 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit, with a heatwave continuing in other European countries.

August 14: Later known as Tunivian People’s Republic, Tannu Tuva is created as an entirely independent country, supported by Russia. 

August 22: J. Edgar Hoover assumes the position of Assistant Director of the FBI. 

August 23: A truce is declared between Britain and Irish Nationalists Sinn Féin.

August 23: In Baghdad, King Faisal I of Iraq is crowned King.

August 24: Between Turkey and Greece, the Battle of Sakaray Valley starts. 

August 24: In River Humber, near Kingston upon Hull, the British airship R-38 explodes on her fourth test flight, killing 44 people out of the 49-person crew on board.

August 25: The first fights of a civil uprising in Logan County, West Virginia take place, in the Battle of Blair Mountain. The battle was the largest labor uprising in the history of the United States, as well as the country’s biggest armed uprising during peacetime. The battle continued until September 2. 

August 25: Franklin D. Roosevelt, future President of the United States, is diagnosed with polio at the age of 39. The diagnosis came after Roosevelt had suffered from an illness characterized by fevers and paralysis. Roosevelt became permanently disabled after this.

August 26: American editor, journalist and executive for the Washington Post, Ben Bradlee, is born in Boston, Massachusetts. 

August 26: In Munich, rising prices result in major riots in the city. 

August 26: German politician Matthias Erzberger is assassinated, leading the German government to declare martial law. 

August 28: For the second time, the Pan-African Congress meets. 

August 28: Baseball legend Babe Ruth begins a streak of an extra-base hit in 9 consecutive games. 


September 1: The Poplar Rates Rebellion takes place, with 9 members of the borough council of Poplar, London being arrested. 

September 3: The Communist Party of Belgium is established. 

September 5: The Major League Baseball strikeout mark is set by Walter Johnson at 2,287.

September 7: The first Miss America Pageant takes place as a two-day event in Atlantic City, New Jersey. 

September 8: 16 year old Margaret Gorman wins the Atlantic City Pageant’s Golden Mermaid trophy. Later, pageant officials claim she is the first Miss America. 

September 9: The Central American Union is agreed on by Guatemala, Honduras and San Salvador. 

September 11: In Israel, Nahalal, the first moshav, is settled. 

September 12: In Finland, the Lotta Svärd, women’s paramilitary auxiliary, is established.

September 13: In Wichita, Kansas, the White Castle hamburger restaurant is opened, laying the grounds of the world’s very first fast food chain.

September 15: The encyclical Alcohol Paraclitus is published by Pope Benedict XV.

September 15: In Boston, Massachusetts, the radio station WBZ-AM begins transmissions. 

September 21: One million lire is donated to feed Russian by Pope Benedict XV.

September 21: In Oppau, Germany, between 500 and 600 people lose their lives when a storage silo at a BASF fertiliser producing plant explodes. 

September 22: The membership of independent Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania is accepted by the League of Nations. 

September 25: New Zealand politician and Prime Minister between 1975 and 1984, Robert Muldoon, is born in Auckland. 


October 2: Baseball legend Babe Ruth hit a record at the time of a 59th home run in a 7-6 win over his former team, the Boston Red Sox, at Polo Grounds.

October 4: The League of Nations declines to assist starving Russian people. 

October 4: As the first elected President of the Free State of Fiume, Riccardo Zanella is elected.

October 5: For the first time, the baseball World series is broadcasted on radio. The game was an all-New York contest, with the New York Yankees beating the New York Giants 3-0 at Polo grounds. The caller is sports writer Grantland Rice, and a number of other amateur and commercial stations throughout the eastern United States also broadcast the game. 

October 5: In Liechtenstein, the present constitution comes into effect. 

October 6: In London, the international PEN is founded. PEN is established as a global association of writers, aiming to promote intellectual co-operation and friendship among writers.

October 8: In Cleveland, Ohio, the first Sweetest Day is staged. 

October 10: In the Kingdom of Hungary, teaching begins at the University of Szeged. 

October 13: The Grand National Assembly of Turkey and the Soviet Socialist Republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia sign the Treaty of Kars. The treaty sets the boundaries between the states of the south Caucasus and Turkey. 

October 13: In Sweden, Hjalmar Branting is elected Prime Minister after strong general election gains for his Social Democratic Party. 

October 17: In Belgium, the country’s public library law goes into force. 

October 18: Soviet Russia agrees to independence for the Crimea, in an attempt to bide its time. 

October 19: In a Lisbon coup, the Prime Minister of Portugal, António Granjo, and other politicians, are killed. The coup became known as ‘Bloody Night’ or Noite Sangrenta.

October 20: At a meeting in Wiesbaden, the Allies and Germany agree reparation payments. 

October 20: The Turko-Syrian border is fixed when the French and Mustafa Kemal nationalists sign a treaty in Ankara.

October 21: In Los Angeles, a widely successful silent film by George Melford and featuring Rudolph Valentino, The Sheik, premieres. The film would bring Valentino, the leading actor, to international fame. 

October 21: A second attempted coup is staged by former Hungarian King Karl and he is arrested. 

October 21: In London, a peace conference between the UK and Ireland begins.

October 23: In the first American Professional Football Association game, the forerunner to the National Football League, the Green Bay Packers defeat the Minneapolis Marines 7-6. The game takes place at Hagemeister Park, Green Bay. 

October 24: In Morocco, rifkabyl rebels are defeated by the Spanish Army. 

October 28: The Tuschinski movie theatre in Amsterdam is opened. 

October 28: In North Dakota, the first American gubernatorial recall election takes place. Ragnvald A. Nestos wins over Governor Lynn Frazier by a mere 4,000 votes i.e. 1.8%.

October 29: As part of the Klamath Reclamation Project in Oregon, United States, the Link River Dam is completed. 

October 29: In American football, Harvard University are defeated 6-0 by the football team for Centre College, led by quarterback Bi McMillin. This defeat breaks Harvard’s winning streak of five years, and the event became known for decades as “football’s upset of the century.”

October 31: The first female track and field association, the Federation Sportive Feminine International, is created. 

rudolph valentino

Actor Rudolph Valentino in “The Sheik”
Image: Flickr


November 1: The American Birth Control League is created when the National Birth Control League and Voluntary Parenthood League decide to merge. 

November 2: Anna Christie, the play by Eugene O’Neill, has its premiere in New York City. 

November 3: American actor, Charles Branson, is born in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania. 

November 4: Adolf Hitler formally establishes the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Nazi Pary’s original paramilitary wing. This troops was significant in prompting Hitler’s rise to power throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

November 4: In Tokyo, the Japanese Prime Minister, Hara Takashi, is assassinated. He is stabbed to death by a right-wing railroad switchman, Nakaoka Kon’ichi, at Tokyo Station. He was on his way to Kyoto for a party conference, and Kon’ichi’s motives for the killing was his belief that Takashi was corrupt. 

November 5: A treaty is signed between Mongolia and Soviet Russia, which temporarily offers Soviet support for the new government against Japanese incursions and China.

November 7: A law is passed in Hungary in which the Habsburg line of succession to the throne is invalidated. 

November 9: Benito Mussolini, future Italian dictator, creates the Partito Nazionalista Fascista.

November 9: Riots take place in Reykjavík, which end up injuring most of the small police force. 

November 11: At Arlington Cemetery during an Armistice Day ceremony, US President Warren G. Harding dedicates the Tomb of Unknown Soldier. 

November 12: The Washington Conference for Limitation of Armaments takes place. The conference is an international one called by the United States, in order to set limits on the naval arms race, as well as work agreements about security in the Pacific region. 

November 14: In Spain, the Communist Party of Spain is formed. 

November 19: American baseball Hall of Fame catcher, Roy Campanella, is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

November 21: Following the Bulhoek Massacre, the trial of the accused begins in South Africa. 

November 22: Comedian Rodney Dangerfield is born in Babylon, New York. 

November 23: The Willis-Campbell Act is signed by US President Warren G. Harding, which prohibits doctors prescribing liquor or beer for medicinal purposes. This bill is signed as the United States are in the middle of Prohibition

November 23: US President Warren G. Harding signs the Sheppard-Towner Act, which provides federal aid for maternity and child care. 

November 27: Czechoslovak politician Alexander Dubček, who was the head of the Czech Communist Party and was deposed following a USSR invasion, is born in Uhrovec, Czechoslovakia, now Slovakia. 


December 1: Riots take place in Vienna as a result of rising prices.

December 4: In one of the most shocking events in our 1921 timeline, the Virginia Rappe trial of manslaughter against famous actor Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle concludes with a hung jury. Arbuckle had been accused of sexually attacking Rappe, who later passed away from injuries. 

December 6: The signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty takes place in London, with Ireland gaining dominion status and the partition creating Northern Ireland. Ireland then incorporates 26 of the countries’ 23 counties.

December 6: Mackenzie King, the Canadian Liberal Party leader defeats Progressive Party leader Thomas Crerar and Conservative Party leader Arthur Meighen in a general election. King goes on to create a minority government.

December 6: Canadian politician Agnes Macphail is the first woman to be elected to the Canadian Parliament. 

December 6: American NFL quarterback Otto Graham is born in Waukegan, Illinois. 

December 8: Revolutionary and President of Ireland Éamon de Valera publicly rejects the Anglo-Irish treaty.

December 13: The United States, Japan, the United Kingdom and France agree to recognize the status quo in the Pacific when the Four-Power Treaty on Insular Possessions is established. 

December 16: A united front in a pass burning campaign on Dingaan’s Day is called for by the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA).

December 16: After being agreed to by Sinn Féin and the British Parliament, the Anglo-Irish Treaty is ratified.

December 21: The United States Supreme Court rules that labor injunctions and picketing is unconstitutional. 

December 23: As an illegal immigrant travelling on the SS Vincenzo Florio ship, gangster Carlo Gambino enters the United States. 

December 23: Philosopher Rabindranath Tagore establishes the Visva-Bharati College in Santiniketan, Bengal Presidency, British India.

December 26: American composer, comedia, TV host and actor Steve Allen is born in New York City. 

December 28: In Southern Africa, the Rand Rebellion begins. It is started by white mineworkers going on strike, and becomes an open armed rebellion against the state. 

December 29: As the 10th Prime Minister of Canada, Mackenzie King is officially sworn in.

December 31: In San Francisco, the last fire horses retire. 

fatty arbuckle

Actor Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle, also known as Fatty Arbuckle, pictured right
Image: Flickr

The Tulsa Race Massacre

The Tulsa Race Massacre took place between May 31 and June 1 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In just a short 18 hours, the massacre managed to become one of the worst episodes of racial violence in the history of the United States. The massacre broke out when residents, business and homes of the primarily black neighborhood of Greenwood, Tulsa, were attacked by a white mob.

In the aftermath of the First World War, racial tensions were particularly high in the United States, with racially motivated violence taking place all across the country. Tulsa itself was very segregated and Greenwood housed the majority of the city’s black residents. 

The massacre began when Dick Rowland, a black teenager, went into an elevator in an office building along with the elevator operator Sarah Page. When a scream was heard from Page, Rowland ran away but was arrested the following day by police. Rapidly, stories had spread across the white communities, especially when the Tulsa Tribune newspaper printed a story claiming that Page had been sexually assaulted by Rowland. 

With an angry white group outside the courthouse, 25 black men, armed, went to the courthouse in an attempt to help protect Rowland. Later in the evening, there were 75 black men who were then faced by 1,500 white men, and tensions began to grow. 

Chaos broke out between the groups and gunshots were heard, with multiple violent racially-motivated acts against black people carried, including the shooting of an unarmed man in a cinema. Eventually, as the hysteria continued, thousands of white people headed to Greenwood to burn homes and businesses belonging to the black community. Rioters even threatened firefighters who were called to put out the fires in the burning buildings. While the National Guard arrived and martial law had been declared, the riot was pretty much over. 

As a result of the massacre, Rowland had all his charges dropped and the police claimed the most likely situation was that Rowland stepped on Page’s foot. Following the situation, it had been reported that Rowland had escaped Tulsa and would never return. While the official death toll of the massacre was reported at 36, many historians believe the death toll was actually closer to 300. 

As well as being one of the most deadly massacres in American history, the riot is also not very well known, since news reports were largely suppressed.

The Trial of Sacco and Vanzetti 

Ordinary Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti became known worldwide when news of their controversial trial was published around the world. The two men were charged with the murder of a shoe factory paymaster and his guard on on May 5, 1920.

Opinion was particularly divided on the men’s involvement in the murder. Some believed they were innocent and were mistreated by a prejudiced legal system, resenting their immigrant status and their anarchist beliefs, and resulting in an unfair trial. Others have claimed that Sacco was guilty, but Vanzetti was innocent in the murder. Since there were great defects in their trial, some historians have declared it would have been morally correct to hold a second trial. Despite attempts for a retrial due to potential false identification, a second trial date proved unsuccessful. 

At their trial on May 31, 1921, the men were found guilty by verdict of the jury on July 14, 1921. Four years later, a man already under a sentence for murder, Celestino Madeiros, admitted that he had taken part in the crime with Joe Morelli and his gang.

However, the state Supreme Court did not want to upset the verdict and at this time it was the trial judge who was able to revisit a case when new evidence had surfaced. As a result, the two men were sentenced to death on April 9, 1927. 

Demonstrations took place in many cities across the world and there were bombs set off in New York City and Philadelphia. People took part in protests and mass meetings, and the trial made the news all over the globe. The controversial trial angered much of the public who believed the two men were treated unfairly, making the case a very memorable one to date and representing growing resentment against immigrants and those with communist or anarchist beliefs in the 1920s. 

Babe Ruth at the Height of His Career

1921 was a key year for baseball legend Babe Ruth, with his record-setting and outstanding field play paving the way for his legacy as the greatest player of all time. Ruth had played his first season with the New York Yankees in 1920, following the breaking of his own single-season home run record of 29. 

July 18, 1921 saw Babe Ruth hit another milestone record when he ran his 139th career home run, breaking 19th century player Roger Connor’s all-time record of 138. Ruth’s home run was also estimated to be the longest ever hit, travelling around 575 feet. The year 1921 saw Ruth achieve so many records, including breaking his own. Each home run the player hit from this day on until the end of his career set a new record for Major League Baseball. 

In 1921, Babe Ruth’s totals included 177 runs, 457 total bases and 119 extra-base hits – records which are yet to be broken by another player to this day. Other baseball players at the time of Ruth thought it would be impossible for anyone else on Earth to achieve the same level of performance as Ruth. Whether they were Yankees fans or not, baseball followers were consistently astounded by Ruth’s performances on the pitch. Despite some of Ruth’s records set in 1920 and 1921 falling to other baseball legends later on, no other batter has been able to dominate in their career like Ruth.