This Week in Geographic History, April 10 – 16

Here’s an advance look at some of the “This Day in Geographic History” (TDIGH) events coming up this week. For each date, we’ve matched it with a map or visual, background information, and a classroom activity so you can plan ahead.

Wednesday, April 12

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Space travel has evolved drastically since 1961, as shown by this Russian astronaut who spent a year living on the International Space Station. Photograph by Philip Toledano, National Geographic.

TDIGH: First Human Spaceflight

In 1961 Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in outer space as he orbited the Earth in the Vostok-1 spaceship.

Visual: The Vostok-1 control panel

Background: What is an orbit?

Activity: Discuss the “Space Race” between the US and the USSR using this article “USSR Launches Sputnik” and “First American in Space.”


Friday, April 14

TDIGH: Lincoln Assassinated

President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 came just one week after Confederate troops surrendered, ending the Civil War.  

Visual: Portraits of Abraham Lincoln

Background: Video about Lincoln’s life

Activity: Examine this map of Lincoln’s funeral train route and discuss its impact considering the timeframe (the end of the Civil War).


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Farms like this one in the Oklahoma panhandle were some of the hardest-hit during the Dust Bowl from 1930-1939. Photograph by Chris Johns, National Geographic.

TDIGH: Dust Storm Darkens the Great Plains

The largest dust storm in American history hit the Great Plains region in 1935, during the time period known as “The Dust Bowl.”

Map: The Dust Bowl

Background: What is a plain?

Activity: Explore how John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath explains the Dust Bowl and connects to the current drought in California.


Saturday, April 15

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Four days into its first voyage, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic Ocean. Artwork by Raymond Wong, National Geographic.

TDIGH: Titanic Sinks

In 1912 the “unsinkable” R.M.S. Titanic sank off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

Visual: Photo gallery

Background: More info on how and where the ship sank

Activity: Read this article about the value of items that went down with the Titanic. Then use this inflation calculator to see how much items now would have been worth in the past.


Sunday, April 16

TDIGH: Woman Flies Across English Channel

In 1912 American aviator Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.

Map: Harriet Quimby’s flight

Background: What is a channel? and “The First Successful Airplane Flight”

Activity: Read more about Harriet Quimby and explore NOVA’s resources on aviation.

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