This Month In History: April

April 17, 2020
Hans Christian Andersen By Thora Hallager (1821–1884) – Public Domain

Happy birthday to Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. We’re guessing you might have read a book or two written by him, perhaps The Snow Queen, Thumbelina, The Emperor’s New Clothes, or The Princess and The Pea? A little bit of trivia: Andersen authored The Little Mermaid, but the original version was much darker than what we see in the Disney movie!

By Floatjon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19227813

Also celebrating a birthday this month is Jane Goodall, who turns eighty-six years old! Goodall’s study of chimpanzees and tireless work to better conserve animals has made her a role model for many young animal enthusiasts across the world. Goodall says, “The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

Did you know that the first Olympic Games in the modern era happened in the month of April? Yep, the Olympics took a break of almost 1,500 years but were reborn as the Modern Olympics in April of 1896. How many countries participated? A dozen countries sent more than 200 athletes to participate, and Greece left with the most medals.

So many of us have a Gmail account now, but when it launched on April 1st, 2004, it was an invite-only service. In fact, the launch idea of “by invitation only” made Gmail super popular and eventually turned it into one of the most widely used email service providers in the world. Not bad for a service that was mistaken for an April Fool’s joke!

By Arto Jousi / /Suomen valokuvataiteen museo / Alma Media / Uuden Suomen kokoelma; Restored by Adam Cuerden – Finnish Museum of Photography, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79901445

Did you know that the first man in space was Yuri Gagarin of Russia? In his capsule, Vostok 1, he completed a full orbit around Earth in April 1961. It was Gagarin’s only spaceflight, but we’re sure it was out of this world!