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Class of 1957

    Events Context

Historical Events and Other Significant Things

The 20th Century by Decade

The box below contains decade links that will take you to pages showing historical moments in the decade, as well as the demographics of the period, what was going on in music and literature, and a whole lot of other vital information.

This material is the result of a remarkable project done by the library at a community college in Texas, Kingwood College, one of five community colleges in a district north of Houston. The school’s library has developed a truly astonishing resource package for research projects in history and culture. The table below takes you to any decade in the 20th century you want to explore. However, to get a sense of the breadth of information this remarkable group of people has amassed, take a look at the Research Assignment Guide page on the site.

1900-1909

1950-1959

1910-1919

1960-1969

1920-1929

1970-1979

1930-1939

1980-1989

1940-1949

1990-1999

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1957 in Particular

In its August 13 - 20, 2007 issue, U. S. News & World Report published a series of articles about our graduation year, calling it “A Year that Changed America.” You can see all of the associated articles here. Thanks to Liz “Scrappy” Flint, who sent the issue along to Fred Haggerty, who brought it to our attention.

The series notes the significant events and occurrences of that year, and the list is quite remarkable. Here are some of them:

  • President Eisenhower sends troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce a court order for school desegregation.
  • The Soviet Union launches Sputnik
  • The West Coast suddenly has Major League Baseball: the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants move to California. Lou Perini had moved the Boston Braves to Milwaukee in 1953, setting the modern precedent and devastating Alec Watson
  • Ford Motor Company launches the famed/infamous Edsel 
  • Charles Starkweather and his 14-year-old girl friend Caril Ann Fugate go on a rampage, killing 11 people before they are caught.
  • Jim Brown, after an amazing college career at Syracuse, signs on as a pro football player with the Cleveland Browns, where he eventually becomes a singular Hall of Famer.
  • Betty Friedan, angered by an article that says that women are overeducated and not properly adjusting to “their roles as women,” starts on the path of writing “The Feminine Mystique,” a true ground-breaking book.
  • One of the most popular children’s books of all time is published: The Cat in the Hat, making Dr. Seuss forever an icon for parents and children all over the world, to say nothing of inspiring chapeaus worn at parties, baseball games, and other events ever since. And here’s the amazing thing: the book contains only 236 words.
  • Ghana becomes an independent nation
  • The Asian Flu first rears its ugly viral head
  • The Surgeon General of the US announces the link between smoking and cancer
  • The FDA approves the first birth control pill
  • Paul McCartney meets John Lennon
  • Charles Townes develops the first laser (then called an “optical maser”)
  • Wham-O produces the first plastic Frisbees
  • Scientists at IBM develop FORTRAN, the first “formula translator,” or computer programming language that employs more or less normal English
  • Scientists present the first evidence for human-caused global warming, or the “greenhouse effect.”
  • Tang
  • West Side Story
  • Jack Kerouac publishes On the Road, typed on a 120-foot-long continuous roll of paper

It was a really big year. But then, we knew that.

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