1939 in the United States
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|1939 in the United States|
48 stars (1912–59)
|Timeline of United States history|
|History of the United States (1918–45)|
Events from the year 1939 in the United States.
- President: Franklin D. Roosevelt (D-New York)
- Vice President: John Nance Garner (D-Texas)
- Chief Justice: Charles Evans Hughes (New York)
- Speaker of the House of Representatives: William B. Bankhead (D-Alabama)
- Senate Majority Leader: Alben W. Barkley (D-Kentucky)
- Congress: 75th (until January 3), 76th (starting January 3)
- January 1
- January 5 – Amelia Earhart is officially declared dead after her 1937 disappearance.
- February 6 – Raymond Chandler's hardboiled California private detective Philip Marlowe is introduced in his first full-length work of crime fiction, The Big Sleep, published by Alfred A. Knopf.
- February 21 – The Golden Gate International Exposition opens in San Francisco.
- February 27 – Sitdown strikes are outlawed by the Supreme Court of the United States.
- March 3 – Students at Harvard University demonstrate the new tradition of swallowing goldfish to reporters.
- March 28 – American adventurer Richard Halliburton delivers a last message from a Chinese junk, before he disappears on a voyage across the Pacific Ocean.
- April 9 – African-American singer Marian Anderson performs before 75,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., after having been denied the use both of Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution, and of a public high school by the federally controlled District of Columbia. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigns from the DAR because of their decision.
- April 14 – John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath is first published.
- April 30 – The 1939 New York World's Fair opens.
- May 2 – Major League Baseball's Lou Gehrig, the legendary Yankee first baseman known as "The Iron Horse", ends his 2,130 consecutive games played streak after contracting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The record stands for 56 years before Cal Ripken, Jr. plays 2,131 consecutive games.
- May 20 – Pan American Airways begins trans-Atlantic mail service with the inaugural flight of its Boeing 314 flying boat Yankee Clipper from Port Washington, New York to Marseille.
- May – Batman makes his first appearance in Detective Comics #27.
- Superman (comic book) begins publication.
- June 4 – The SS St. Louis, a ship carrying a cargo of 907 Jewish refugees, is denied permission to land in Florida after already having been turned away from Cuba. Forced to return to Europe, many of its passengers later die in Nazi death camps during the Holocaust.
- June 12 – The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is officially dedicated in Cooperstown, New York.
- July 2 – The 1st World Science Fiction Convention opens in New York City.
- July 8 – The Pan American Airways Boeing 314 flying boat Yankee Clipper inaugurates the world's first heavier-than-air North Atlantic air passenger service between the United States (Port Washington, New York) and Britain.
- August 2 – Albert Einstein writes to President Franklin Roosevelt about developing the atomic bomb using uranium. This leads to the creation of the Manhattan Project.
- August 15 – MGM's classic musical film The Wizard of Oz, based on L. Frank Baum's famous novel, and starring Judy Garland as Dorothy, premieres at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
- September 5 – World War II: The United States declares its neutrality in the war.
- September 21 – Radio station WJSV in Washington, D.C. records an entire broadcast day for preservation in the National Archives.
- September 29 – Gerald J. Cox, speaking at an American Water Works Association meeting, becomes the first person to publicly propose the fluoridation of public water supplies in the United States.
- October 11 – Manhattan Project: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is presented a letter signed by Albert Einstein, urging the United States to rapidly develop the atomic bomb.
- October 15 – The New York Municipal Airport (later renamed La Guardia Airport) is dedicated.
- October 24 – Nylon stockings go on sale for the first time anywhere in Wilmington, Delaware.
- October 25 – The Time of Your Life, a drama by William Saroyan, debuts in New York City.
- November 4 – World War II: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders the United States Customs Service to implement the Neutrality Act of 1939, allowing cash-and-carry purchases of weapons to non-belligerent nations.
- November 6 – Hedda Hopper's Hollywood debuts on radio with Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper as host (the show runs until 1951, making Hopper a powerful figure in the Hollywood elite).
- November 8 – CBS television station W2XAB resumes test transmission with an all-electronic system broadcast from the top of the Chrysler Building in New York City.
- November 15 – In Washington, D.C., U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt lays the cornerstone of the Jefferson Memorial.
- December 2 – La Guardia Airport opens for business in New York City.
- December 15 – The film Gone with the Wind, starring Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard, premieres at Loew's Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. It is based on Margaret Mitchell's best-selling novel. It is the longest American film made up to that time (nearly four hours).
- Sandia View Academy, a private Adventist school, is founded in Corrales, New Mexico,
- General Motors introduces the Hydra-Matic drive, the first mass-produced, fully automatic transmission, as an option in 1940 model year Oldsmobile automobiles.
- Construction of Fallingwater, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is completed.
- January 20 – Paul Coverdell, U.S. Senator from Georgia from 1993 to 2000 (died 2000)
- January 31 – Jerry Brudos, serial killer (died 2006)
- March 6 – Kit Bond, U.S. Senator from Missouri from 1987 to 2011
- March 15 – Ted Kaufman, U.S. Senator from Delaware from 2009 to 2010
- April 16 – John Delafose, Zydeco accordionist (died 1994)
- May 12 – Chuck Hull, inventor, pioneer of 3D printing
- May 19 – Dick Scobee, astronaut (killed 1986)
- June 2 – John Schlee, golfer (died 2000)
- June 6 – Marian Wright Edelman, activist, founder of Children's Defense Fund
- June 26 – Chuck Robb, U.S. Senator from Virginia from 1989 to 2001
- July 18 – Dion DiMucci, singer-songwriter
- September 1 – Lily Tomlin, comic actress
- September 22 – Tim Wirth, U.S. Senator from Colorado from 1987 to 1993
- October 1 – Mariah A. Taylor, founder of the North Portland Nurse Practitioner Community Health Clinic
- October 18 – Lee Harvey Oswald, sniper who carries out the assassination of John F. Kennedy (35th President of the United States) (killed 1963)
- November 18 – John O'Keefe, American-born neuroscientist, recipient of Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2014
- November 19 – Tom Harkin, U.S. Senator from Iowa from 1985 to 2015
- December 2 – Harry Reid, U.S. Senator from Nevada from 1987 to 2017
- December 11
- December 25 – Don Alias, jazz percussionist (died 2006)
- January 8 – Charles Eastman, Native American author, physician, reformer, helped found the Boy Scouts of America (born 1858)
- January 13 – Arthur Barker, son of Ma Barker and a member of the Barker-Karpis gang (born 1899)
- January 25 – Helen Ware, stage and screen actress (born 1877)
- March 19 – Lloyd L. Gaines, civil rights activist
- April 6 – Bennie Dickson, bank robber (date of birth unknown)
- May 2 – Phillips Smalley, actor and director (born 1875)
- May 10 – James Parrott, actor (born 1898)
- May 20 – Joseph Carr, 2nd president of the National Football League (born 1880)
- May 23 – Witmer Stone, ornithologist and botanist (born 1866)
- May 27 – Alfred A. Cunningham, first United States Marine Corps aviator (born 1882)
- May 30 – Floyd Roberts, race car driver (born 1900)
- June 4 – Tommy Ladnier, jazz trumpeter (born 1900)
- June 6 – George Fawcett, actor (born 1860)
- June 9 – Owen Moore, actor (born 1886)
- June 16 – Chick Webb, musician (born 1905)
- June 19 – Grace Abbott, social worker and activist (born 1878)
- June 28 – Bobby Vernon, actor (born 1898)
- July 7 – Deacon White, baseball player and MLB Hall of Famer (born 1847)
- August 2 – Harvey Spencer Lewis, mystic (born 1883)
- August 23 – Sidney Howard, writer (born 1891)
- October 1 – Conway Tearle, actor (born 1878)
- October 3 – Fay Templeton, musical comedy star born 1865)
- October 7 – Harvey Cushing, neurosurgeon (born 1869)
- October 13 – Ford Sterling, actor (born 1882)
- October 23 – Zane Grey, writer (born 1872)
- October 28 – Alice Brady, actress (born 1892)
- October 29 – Dwight B. Waldo, educator and historian (born 1864)
- November 13 – Lois Weber, actress (born 1881)
- November 24 – John Harron, actor (born 1903)
- December 12 – Douglas Fairbanks, actor (born 1883)
- December 19 – Reginald F. Nicholson, United States Navy admiral (born 1852)
- December 22 – Ma Rainey, blues singer (born 1886)
- "Early Television Stations - W2XAB/W2XAX/WCBW - CBS, New York". Early Television Museum. Hilliard, OH. Retrieved 2014-11-26.
- Media related to 1939 in the United States at Wikimedia Commons