A photo journal of the events of 1931
January 1 – The British Broadcasting Company becomes the British Broadcasting Corporation. John Reith becomes the first Director-General
January 1 – The Cristero War erupts in Mexico when Catholic rebels attack the government, which had placed heavy restrictions on the church.
January 9 – A fire at the Laurier Palace movie theatre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, kills 78 children
January 11 – Louis B. Mayer, head of film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), announces the creation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, at a banquet in Los Angeles, California
January 24 – U.S. Marines invade Nicaragua by orders of President Calvin Coolidge, intervening in the Nicaraguan Civil War, and remaining in the country until 1933.
February – Werner Heisenberg formulates his famous uncertainty principle, while employed as a lecturer at Niels Bohr’s Institute for Theoretical Physics, at the University of Copenhagen.
February 23 – The U.S. Federal Radio Commission begins to regulate the use of radio frequencies.
March 7 – A 7.0 Mw earthquake kills at least 2,925 in the Toyooka and Mineyama areas of western Honshu, Japan.
March 11 – In New York City, the Roxy Theatre is opened by Samuel Roxy Rothafel.
March 24 – After six foreigners have been killed in Nanking, warships of the U.S. Navy and the British Royal Navy fire shells and shot to disperse the crowds.
March 29 – Henry Segrave breaks the land speed record, driving the Sunbeam 1000 hp at Daytona Beach, Florida.
April 7 – Bell Telephone Co. transmits an image of Herbert Hoover (then the Secretary of Commerce), which becomes the first successful long distance demonstration of television.
April 22–May 5 – The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 strikes 700,000 people, in the greatest natural disaster in American history through this time.
April 27 – João Ribeiro de Barros becomes the first non-European to make a transatlantic flight, flying from Genoa, Italy, to Fernando de Noronha, Brazil.
May 18 – A series of violent attacks results in 45 deaths, mostly of school children, in Bath Township, Michigan.
May 20 – By the Treaty of Jeddah, the United Kingdom recognizes the sovereignty of Ibn Saud over the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd, the future Saudi Arabia.
May 20–21– Charles Lindbergh makes the first solo, nonstop transatlantic airplane flight, from New York City to Paris, France, in his single-engined aircraft, the Spirit of St. Louis.
May 22 – The 7.6 Mw Gulang earthquake affects Gansu in northwest China with a maximum Mercalli intensity of XI (Extreme), leaving over 40,000 dead.
July 15 – After police in Vienna fire on an angry crowd, 85 protesters (mostly members of the Social Democratic Party of Austria) and 5 policemen are left dead, and more than 600 are injured.
August 1 – The Communist Chinese People’s Liberation Army is formed, during the Nanchang Uprising.
August 2 – U.S. President Calvin Coolidge announces, ”I do not choose to run for president in 1928.”
August 10 – The Mount Rushmore Park is rededicated in the United States. President Calvin Coolidge promises national funding for the proposed carving of the presidential figures.
August 22 – Protests are held around the world against the death sentences on Italian American anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti.They are executed the next day.
September – The Autumn Harvest Uprising occurs in China.
October 8 – The ”Murderers’ Row” team of the New York Yankees complete a four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series.
October 27 – Worthington, Ohio, collapses into a lake due to mine shafts underground – as the town has already been evacuated, there are no injuries
November 12 – Leon Trotsky is expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, leaving Joseph Stalin with undisputed control of the Soviet Union
December 1 – Chiang Kai-shek marries Soong Mei-ling in Shanghai.
December 14 – Iraq gains independence from the United Kingdom.
December 27 – Kern and Hammerstein’s musical play, Show Boat, based on Edna Ferber’s novel, opens on Broadway and then goes on to become the first great classic of the American musical theater.
December 30 – The first Asian commuter metro line, the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, opens in Japan.
January 3 – Theodoros Pangalos declares himself dictator in Greece
January 8 – Crown Prince Nguyễn Phúc Vĩnh Thuy ascends the throne, the last monarch of Vietnam
January 26 – Scottish inventor John Logie Baird demonstrates a mechanical television system for members of the Royal Institution, and a reporter from The Times, at his London laboratory.
March 6 – The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon is destroyed by fire.
March 14 – The El Virilla train accident occurs in Costa Rica killing 248 and injuring 93.
March 16 – Robert Goddard launches the first liquid-fuel rocket, at Auburn, Massachusetts.
April 17 – Zhang Zuolin’s army captures Beijing
April 21 – Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York, later Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, is born in Mayfair, London.
April 25 – Rezā Khan is crowned Shah of Iran, under the name ”Pahlevi”.
May 4 – The United Kingdom general strike begins at midnight, in support of the coal strike.
May 9 – Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett claim to be the first to fly over the North Pole, though their claim is later disputed.
May 12 – Roald Amundsen and his crew fly over the North Pole, in the airship Norge.
May 12–14 – Józef Piłsudski takes over in Poland in the May Coup
May 18 – Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson disappears, while visiting a Venice, California beach.
June 4 – Ignacy Mościcki becomes president of Poland.
July 10 – A bolt of lightning strikes Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey; the resulting fire causes several million pounds of explosives to blow up in the next 2–3 days.
August 5 – In New York, the Warner Brothers’ Vitaphone system premieres, with the movie Don Juan, starring John Barrymore.
August 23 – The sudden death of popular film actor and sex symbol Rudolph Valentino, at age 31, causes mass grief and hysteria around the world.
September 1 – Lebanon under the French Mandate gets its first constitution, thereby becoming a republic. Charles Debbas is elected president.
September 11 – In Rome, Italy, Gino Lucetti throws a bomb at Benito Mussolini’s car, but Mussolini is unhurt.
September 18 – A strong hurricane devastates Miami, leaving over 100 dead and causing several hundred million dollars in damage.
September 25 – The League of Nations Slavery Convention abolishes all types of slavery.
October 14 – A. A. Milne’s children’s book Winnie-the-Pooh is published in London, featuring the eponymous bear.
October 23 – Leon Trotsky and Lev Kamenev are removed from the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
October 31 – Magician Harry Houdini dies of gangrene and peritonitis that has developed after his appendix ruptured.
November 15 – The Balfour Declaration is approved by the 1926 Imperial Conference, making the Commonwealth dominions equal and independent.
December 2 – British prime minister Stanley Baldwin ends the martial law that had been declared, due to the general strike.
December 3 – Agatha Christie disappears from her home in Surrey; on December 14 she is found at a Harrogate hotel.
December 17 – A democratically elected government is overthrown in Lithuania. Antanas Smetona assumes power.
December 26 – The Japanese Shōwa period begins from this day, due to the death of Emperor Taishō on the day before. His son Hirohito will reign as Emperor until 1989.
January 3 – Benito Mussolini makes a pivotal speech in the Italian Chamber of Deputies. Historians now trace this speech to the beginning of Mussolini’s dictatorship.
January 27–February 1 – The 1925 serum run to Nome (the “Great Race of Mercy”) relays diphtheria antitoxin by dog sled across the U.S. territory of Alaska, to combat an epidemic.
February 21 – The cover date of the very first issue of The New Yorker.
March 4 – Calvin Coolidge is sworn in for a full term as President of the United States, in the first inauguration to be broadcast on radio.
March 18 – The Tri-State Tornado, the deadliest in U.S. history, rampages through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, killing 695 people and injuring 2,027
April – The Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes opens in Paris, giving a name to the Art Deco style.
April 10 – F. Scott Fitzgerald publishes The Great Gatsby
April 20 – Iranian forces of Rezā Shāh occupies Ahvaz and arrests Sheikh Khaz’al.
April 28 – Presenting the budget, Chancellor of the Exchequer Winston Churchill announces Britain’s return to the gold standard.
May 5 – Dayton, Tennessee, biology teacher John T. Scopes is arrested for teaching Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.
June 13 – Charles Francis Jenkins achieves the first synchronized transmission of pictures and sound, using 48 lines and a mechanical system in ”the first public demonstration of radiovision”
July 18 – Adolf Hitler publishes Volume 1 of his personal manifesto Mein Kampf.
July 21 – In Dayton, Tennessee, high school biology teacher John T. Scopes is found guilty of teaching evolution in class and fined $100.
August 8 – The Ku Klux Klan demonstrates its popularity by holding a parade with an estimated 30,000-35,000 marchers in Washington DC.
October 1 – Mount Rushmore National Memorial is dedicated in South Dakota.
October 2 – In London, John Logie Baird successfully transmits the first television pictures with a greyscale image.
October 5–16 – The Locarno Treaties are negotiated.
November 14 – The first Surrealist art exhibition opens in Paris.
November 26 – Prajadhipok (Rama VII) is crowned as King of Siam.
November 28 – The weekly country music-variety radio program Grand Ole Opry is first broadcast on WSM radio in Nashville, Tennessee, as the ”WSM Barn Dance”.
January 21 – Following the death of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin immediately begins to purge his rivals to clear the way for his leadership.
January 22 – Ramsay MacDonald becomes the first Labour Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
January 25 – The first Winter Olympics, the 1924 Winter Olympics open in Chamonix, in the French Alps.
January 27 – Lenin is buried in Lenin’s Mausoleum, in Moscow’s Red Square.
March 3 – The 407-year-old Islamic caliphate is abolished, when Caliph Abdülmecid II of the Ottoman Caliphate is deposed. The last remnant of the old regime gives way to the reformed Turkey of President Kemal Atatürk.
March 8 – The Castle Gate Mine disaster kills 172 coal miners in Utah, United States.
April 1 – Adolf Hitler is sentenced to 5 years in jail, for his participation in the Beer Hall Putsch (he serves only 8 months).
April 6 – Fascists win the elections in Italy with a ⅔ majority.
April 16 – American media company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) is founded in Los Angeles.
April 23 – The British Empire Exhibition opens; it is the largest colonial exhibition, with 58 countries of the empire dramatically represented.
April 26 – Harry Grindell Matthews demonstrates his ”death ray” in London, but fails to convince the British War Office.
May 4 – The 1924 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies are held in Paris, France.
May 10 – In the United States, J. Edgar Hoover is appointed head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
May 24 – The Immigration Act of 1924 is signed into law in the United States, including the Asian Exclusion Act.
June 8 – George Mallory and Andrew Irvine are last seen ”going strong for the top” of Mount Everest by teammate Noel Odell at 12-50 P.M. The two mountaineers are never seen alive again.
June 10 – Fascists kidnap and kill Italian socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti in Rome.
June 30 – J. B. M. Hertzog becomes the third Prime Minister of South Africa.
July 12 – United States occupation of the Dominican Republic (1916–24) comes to an end. The constitutional government headed by General Horacio Vázquez, elected in the elections held in March, is established.
August 16 – The Dawes Plan is accepted.
August 28 – The August Uprising – Georgia rises against rule by the Soviet Union in an abortive rebellion, in which several thousands die.
September 9–September 11 – The Kohat riots break out in India.
September 28 – U.S. Army pilots John Harding and Erik Nelson complete the first aerial circumnavigation. It has taken them 175 days and 74 stops before their return to Seattle.
October 12–15 – Zeppelin LZ-126 makes a transatlantic delivery flight from Friedrichshafen, Germany, to Lakehurst, New Jersey.
October 15 – The first Surrealist Manifesto is published, in which André Breton defines the movement as ”pure psychic automatism”
October 24 – The British Foreign Office publishes the fraudulent Zinoviev letter, which is then printed on the cover of the Daily Mail, the day before the general election.
November 4 – In the U.S. presidential election, Republican Calvin Coolidge defeats Democrat John W. Davis and Progressive Robert M. La Follette, Sr.
December 30 – Astronomer Edwin Hubble announces that Andromeda, previously believed to be a nebula, is actually another galaxy, and that the Milky Way is only one of many such galaxies in the universe.
January 1–7 – In a violent, racially motivated attack, at least 8 people are killed, and the town of Rosewood, Florida is abandoned and destroyed.
January 9 – Lithuania begins the Klaipėda Revolt, to annex the Klaipėda Region (Memel Territory).
January 11 – Despite strong British protests, troops from France and Belgium occupy the Ruhr area, to force Germany to make reparations payments.
January 17 – Juan de la Cierva invents the autogyro, a rotary-winged aircraft with an unpowered rotor.
March 3 – The first issue of Time Magazine is published. Retired U.S. Speaker of the House Joseph G. Cannon appears on the cover.
March 9 – Vladimir Lenin suffers his third stroke, which renders him bedridden and unable to speak. Consequently he retires from his position as Chairman of the Soviet government.
April 18 – Yankee Stadium opens its doors, as the home park of the New York Yankees baseball team.
April 26 – Prince Albert, Duke of York (later George VI) marries Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) in Westminster Abbey.
April 28 – The original Wembley Stadium opens its doors for the first time to the British public, staging the FA Cup Final between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United.
May 20 – British Prime Minister Bonar Law resigns, due to ill health. He dies in October.
May 23 – Stanley Baldwin is appointed British Prime Minister.
May 26 – The first 24 Hours of Le Mans motor race is held, and is won by André Lagache and René Léonard.
June 9 – A military coup in Bulgaria ousts prime minister Aleksandar Stamboliyski (he is killed June 14th)
June 13 – President Li Yuanhong of China abandons his residence, because a warlord has commanded forces to surround the mansion and cut off its water and electric supplies.
June 18 – Mount Etna erupts in Italy, making 60,000 homeless.
July 13 – The Hollywood Sign is inaugurated in California (originally reading Hollywoodland)
July 20 – Pancho Villa is assassinated at Hidalgo del Parral, Chihuahua.
July 24 – The Treaty of Lausanne (1923), settling the boundaries of the modern Republic of Turkey, is signed in Switzerland, bringing an end to the Ottoman Empire after 624 years.
August 2 – President Warren G. Harding dies of a heart attack, and is succeeded by Vice President Calvin Coolidge, who becomes the 30th President of the United States.
September 1 – The Great Kantō earthquake devastates Tokyo and Yokohama, killing an estimated 142,807 people
September 13 – Miguel Primo de Rivera siezes power in a military coup in Spain, setting up a dictatorship.
September 17 – A major fire in Berkeley, California, erupts, consuming some 640 structures, including 584 homes in the densely built neighborhoods north of the campus of the University of California.
October 29 – Turkey becomes a republic, following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire; Kemal Atatürk is elected as first president.
November 8 – In Munich, Adolf Hitler leads the Nazis in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Bavarian government. Police and troops crush the attempt the next day.
November 15 – Hyperinflation in Germany reaches its height. One US dollar is now worth 4,200,000,000,000 Papiermark. Chancellor Gustav Stresemann abolishes the old currency and replaces it with the Rentenmark.
December 1 – In Italy, the Gleno Dam on the Gleno River, in the Valle di Scalve in the northern province of Bergamo bursts, killing at least 356 people.
December 21 – The Nepal–Britain Treaty is the first to define the international status of Nepal, as an independent sovereign country.
January 7 – Dáil Éireann, the parliament of the Irish Republic, ratifies the Anglo-Irish Treaty by 64 votes to 57
January 11 – The first successful insulin treatment of diabetes is made, by Frederick Banting in Toronto.
January 15 – Michael Collins becomes Chairman of the Irish Provisional Government
January 28 – Snowfall from the biggest-ever recorded snowstorm in Washington, D.C., causes the roof of the Knickerbocker Theatre to collapse, killing 98.
February 1 – Irish American film director William Desmond Taylor is found murdered at his home in Los Angeles; the case is never solved.
February 2 – Ulysses, by James Joyce, is published in Paris on his 40th birthday by Sylvia Beach.
February 5 – DeWitt and Lila Wallace publish the first issue of Reader’s Digest.
February 6 – Pope Pius XI (Achille Ratti) succeeds Pope Benedict XV, to become the 259th pope.
February 6 – The Five Power Naval Disarmament Treaty is signed between the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, France and Italy.
March 4 – The film Nosferatu is released.
March 10–14 – The Rand Rebellion, a strike by white South African mine workers, becomes open rebellion against the state.
March 15 – Egypt having gained self-government from the United Kingdom, Fuad I becomes King of Egypt.
March 18 – In British India, Mahatma Gandhi is sentenced to six years in prison for sedition (he serves only two).
March 31 – The Hinterkaifeck Murders occur in Germany, on a late evening.
April 3 – Joseph Stalin is appointed General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party.
May 3 – Viktor Kingissepp, leader of the underground Estonian Communist Party, is executed in Estonia.
June 11 – Nanook of the North, the first commercially successful feature-length documentary film, premières in the U.S.
June 24 – Weimar Republic foreign minister Walther Rathenau is assassinated.
July 11 – The Hollywood Bowl opens.
August 2 – A typhoon hits Shantou, China, killing more than 5,000 people.
August 22 – Irish Civil War – General Michael Collins is assassinated in West Cork.
September 3 – The Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the world’s third purpose-built motorsport race track, is officially opened at Monza in the Lombardy Region of Italy.
September 9 – Turkish forces pursuing withdrawing Greek troops enter İzmir, effectively ending the Greco-Turkish War (1919–22).
September 13–15 – The Great Fire of Smyrna destroys most of İzmir. Responsibility is disputed.
September 24 (O. S. September 11) — 11 September 1922 Revolution in Greece.
September 29 – Drums in the Night (Trommeln in der Nacht) becomes the first play by Bertolt Brecht to be staged, at the Munich Kammerspiele.
October 15 – T. S. Eliot establishes The Criterion magazine, containing the first publication of his poem The Waste Land.
October 18 – The British Broadcasting Company is formed.
October 25 – The Third Dáil enacts the Constitution of the Irish Free State.
October 28 – In Italy, the March on Rome brings the National Fascist Party and Benito Mussolini to power.
October 28 – The Rose Bowl Stadium officially opened in Pasadena, California
November 1 – The Ottoman Empire is abolished after 600 years, and its last sultan, Mehmed VI, abdicates, leaves for exile in Italy on November 17.
November 21 – Rebecca Felton of Georgia takes the oath of office, becoming the first woman United States Senator.
November 22 – During a 3-day strike action in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador, police and military fire into a crowd, killing at least 300.
November 24 – Popular author and anti-Treaty Republican Erskine Childers is executed by firing squad in Dublin, for the unlawful possession of a gun presented to him by Michael Collins in 1920
December 6 – The Irish Free State officially comes into existence. George V becomes the Free State’s monarch, and Tim Healy is appointed Governor-General.
December 9 – Gabriel Narutowicz is elected the first president of Poland.
December 16 – Gabriel Narutowicz is assassinated by a right-wing sympathizer in Warsaw.
December 30 – Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Transcaucasian Republic come together to form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, dissolved in 1991.