Notable Events of 1939:
- Hitler's Germany invades Poland, which falls in a month. France and Great Britain declare war. Spain, exhausted from civil war, remains neutral.-Nazi Germany, under the control of Adolf Hitler, continues its aggressive expansionist policies. After annexing Czechoslovakia, France and Great Britain had agreed with Hitler that he would stop his territorial expansion. The the invasion of Poland was the straw that broke the camel's back; both countries realized that they could no longer continue their policy of endless appeasement towards the Nazi regime.
- Ho Chi Minh creates the Viet Minh front to oppose colonialism in the French colony "Indochina."- Ho Chi Minh, a Vietnamese revolutionary and agent of Josef Stalin's Soviet empire, continues his ongoing battle to free Southern Asia from its French master. He is not only interested in freeing his nation from its puppet emperor but in establishing a Communistic system of government with himself as the head. The organization he creates will become a guerilla movement that will harrass the French and eventually cause the United States to face its most bitter defeat in history.
- After the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refuse to let Marian Anderson hold a concert at Constitution Hall on account of her race, Ms. Anderson performs at the Lincoln Memorial. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigns from the DAR in protest of its discrimination.- Marian Anderson, one of the most prominant black, female classical singers in the world, attempted to arrange a concert at the famed Constitution Hall, which offered the largest indoor concert area in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, the Daughters of the American Revolution, which owned the hall, refused to allow Ms. Anderson to perform because she was black. What followed was one of the most publicized racial incidents of the time: the Department of the Interior, due to the urgings of Eleanor Roosevelt and an enormous public outcry, relocated Ms. Anderson's concert to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a direct jab at segregationists. The entire incident highly publicized racism for the first time.
- Art collector Louis Caldor discovers the paintings of Anna May Robertson. As "Grandma Moses," she becomes America's most popular folk artist.- Anna May Robertson (known popularly by her pseudonym "Grandma Moses") first breaks into the national art scene. Though she had been painting for her own edification for the past decade, her artwork was relatively unknown until Louis Caldor discovers her paintings on display at a drugstore. He convinces her to go national and within the year three of her landscapes are on display in New York's prestigious Museum of Modern Art. Grandma Moses's artwork will eventually become a symbol of American art to the world.
- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt believes that a longer Christmas shopping season will boost the economy and proclaims that Thanksgiving will fall on the fourth Thursday of November. This shift is soon passed into law.- Bucking a tradition begun by Abraham Lincoln, President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving this year from the last Thursday in November to the first at the urgings of the business community. After realizing that most people only began their Christmas shopping (and thus provided a needed boost to the deeply depressed economy) after Thanksgiving, President Roosevelt moved the date by Presidential Proclamation. This sparked off a huge controversy between the states, retailers, consumers, and the president. After two years of celebrating Thanksgiving on two different days, Congress finally legislated Mr. Roosevelt's day into law.
- With help from University of Chicago physicist Arthur Compton, General Electric invents fluorescent lighting, a new, efficient form of illumination.- The fluorescent lamp, a vastly more efficient source of light than its incandescent cousin, was first theorized in 1857 by Alexandre E. Becquerel, who conducted experiments into coating electric discharge tubes with luminescent materials. The process was further refined in 1901 by Peter Cooper Hewitt, who invented the mercury vapor lamp, an important precursor to fluorescent lighting which uses its principle of exciting mercury. After several more innovations, the race to make fluorescent lighting practical began between the big engineering companies at the time. General Electric succeeded first and also bought the patent to an important precursor to eliminate competition. It thus bringing the world a vastly less expensive and environmentally sound way of producing light.
- The Trans-Iranian Railroad, linking the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf, is completed. It is built entirely on Iranian capital.- The Trans-Iranian Railway opened as one of the essential forms of transportation inside Iran. With 1,392 km of track, it connects two of Iran's port cities to themselves and: Ahvaz, Dezful, Arak, Qom, Tehran, Garmsar, Firuzkuh, Qaem Shahr (formerly Shahi), and Behshahr. the line still functions today as an important trade and transportation route.
- Based on recent research, Albert Einstein writes a letter to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt regarding the possibility of using uranium to initiate a nuclear chain reaction, the fundamental process behind the atomic bomb.- Albert Einstein, whose famous equation E=mc2 led indirectly to the creation of the atomic bomb, addressed President Roosevelt along with other prominant scientists of the time. Terrified that Nazi Germany would develop the bomb before the United States did, Mr. Einstein bucked his pacifistic leanings and threw his full weight behind the movement to develop the bomb. The Briggs Committee was formed to study the result of nuclear chain reactions later in the year. Eventually the Manhattan Project was formed and the bomb was developed by the United States.
- Gone With the Wind, starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, premieres in Atlanta. Other Hollywood productions this year include Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Wizard of Oz.- Gone With the Wind, telling of the fortunes of a group of Southerners during the Civil War and Reconstruction is released. It is considered by many today to be one of Hollywood's greatest masterpieces. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a classic about a naive small-towner who is elected to Congress and attempts to face down the rampant corruption he finds there. The Wizard of Oz, a movie shot in both technicolor and black and white, details the adventures of Dorothy in Munchkin Land and her epic struggle to find her way back to the home she used to hate.