A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

December 2, 2009

The Atomic Age began on this day in 1942 in a tent on a squash court at the University of Chicago. At 3:25 p.m., Enrico Fermi and scientists engineered the first controlled nuclear fission chain reaction.

Source: Library of Congress

December 1, 2009

On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Ala., for disobeying state law by refusing to surrender her seat on the bus to white passengers.
Source: Library of Congress

November 30, 2009

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) was born on Nov. 30, 1835, in Florida, Mo.

Source: Library of Congress

November 29, 2009

President Truman’s "The Buck Stops Here" sign, which sat on his desk, was made in the federal reformatory in El Reno, Okla., and mailed to Truman on Oct. 2, 1945.

Source: Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

November 28, 2009

In its pure form, tryptophan can induce sleep, but turkey’s tryptophan doesn’t cause drowsiness. Other foods, including beef and soybeans, have higher concentrations of the substance.
Source: National Geographic

November 27, 2009

The Truman Library cannot confirm the rumor that President Truman pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey in 1947, starting the White House tradition. According to the library, its staff has found "no documents, speeches, newspaper clippings, photographs, or other contemporary records" to back up the story.
Source: Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

November 26, 2009

In the first half of 2009, 99.3 percent of U.S. imports of live turkeys came from Canada, at a value of $9.2 million.

Source: Census Bureau

November 25, 2009

AAA estimates that 38.4 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more over the Thanksgiving weekend, the bulk of them (33.2 million) traveling by car. The total is a 1.4 percent increase over last year.
Source: AAA.com

November 24, 2009

President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that Thanksgiving 1939 would be held not on the last Thursday of the month, but the fourth Thursday. The declaration, which moved the national holiday up to Nov. 23 that year, was made at the request of business owners who wanted more shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Source: FDR Presidential Library

November 23, 2009

President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be a national holiday, observed on the last Thursday of November, in 1863.
Source: Census Bureau