This Day In History : May 21

1881 United States

Clara Barton establishes the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C

Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross on May 21, 1881 in Washington, D.C. Her visionary spirit and humanitarian efforts helped change the world.

Also on This Day in History May 21

Discover what happened on May 21 with HISTORY's summaries of major events, anniversaries,
famous births and notable deaths.

Births on This Day, May 21
  • 1872 Henry E. Warren

    American inventor (Telechon electric clock)

  • 1898 Armand Hammer

    American businessman who founded Occidental Petroleum

  • 1878 Glenn Hammond Curtiss

    American inventor (hydroplane) and founder of the US aviation industry

  • 1903 Pedro Aramburu

    Argentine army leader, President and Dictator of Argentina (1955-58)

  • 1921 Andrei Sakharov

    Russian nuclear physicist and an activist for disarmament, peace and human rights (Nobel 1975)

Deaths on This Day, May 21
  • 2013 Leaonard Marsh

    American businessman who co-founded Snapple

  • 1929 Archibald Primrose (1847-1929)

    5th Earl of Rosebery, British Prime Minister (Liberal: 1894-95)

  • 1965 Geoffrey de Havilland

    British aircraft designer

  • 1991 Rajiv Gandhi

    Prime Minister of India (1984-89)

  • 1935 Hugo de Vries

    Dutch botanist and geneticist who rediscovered Mendel's theory of heredity and for his work on genes (The Mutation Theory)


The National September 11 Museum opens to the public

The 9/11 Memorial Museum was dedicated on May 15, 2014, in a ceremony led by U.S. President Barack Obama and 9/11 Memorial Chairman Michael R. Bloomberg. It opened to the public on May 21, 2014.

Oskaloosa, Iowa, becomes first US city to fingerprint its citizens

On May 21, 1934, the town of Oskaloosa, in Mahaska County in southeast Iowa, put a law on the books requiring all of its citizens to be fingerprinted.

White Night Riots

White Night riots occur in San Francisco after Dan White is given a lenient sentence for assassinating Mayor George Moscone and the openly gay elected official Harvey Milk

National Volksraad installed in Namibia

On May 21, 1979, the National Volksraad was installed in Namibia.
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