Top 10 anniversaries in U.S. history this year

The top 10 significant anniversaries in U.S. history happening this year includes historical background on each anniversary. We also included travel suggestions of historic sites, museums and memorials to visit and the best times to visit, as well as special anniversary events.

October 2018

Occupied Boston

250th anniversary of the British landing and occupying the city of Boston

In 1767 the British passed the Townshend Acts, which imposed duties on various imported good to the Colonies.  The Sons of Liberty and other Patriots held a variety of protests and boycotts against the goods that were being taxed.  As a result, Governor Francis Bernard requested the aid of military forces to help protect the King’s personnel. In October of 1768, British troops arrived and occupied the City of Boston. (See more information leading up to Occupied Boston.)

This added to an already tense situation in Boston, which would led to the Boston Massacre (1770) and the Boston Tea Party (1773).  The beginning of the Revolution was in motion.

Events and historic sites

  • October 6-7, 2018 in Boston: Two days filled with hundreds of reenacts portraying British “troops” landing and occupying the city of Boston. More than 150 reenactors, representing Redcoats and Boston residents in 1775, will take part. The landing is on Saturday, so to get the full effect, you'll want to see that—and arrive early.  Here's the parade route.  Read more about  Boston Occupied.

Products about this event

"Occupied Boston" History Camp 2018 shirt     Button pin protesting British troops occupying Boston from The History List

November 11, 2018

WWI Ends

100th anniversary of the end of WWI 

At 5 a.m. Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car near Compiégne, France. It took effect at 11 am, which was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. (The full text of the agreement from the Library of Congress.)  

The Great War—“the war to end all wars”—left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.

Although the armistice ended the fighting, it was extended three times until the Treaty of Peace with Germany, commonly referred to at the Treaty of Versailles, was signed on June 28. That treaty took effect on January 10, 1920.  (The full text of the treaty from the Library of Congress.)


Museums and memorials

Gettysburg Address

November 19, 2018

155th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address

Lincoln was invited to speak at the official dedication ceremony on November 19,1863 for the National Cemetery of Gettysburg, where one of the bloodiest and most decisive battles of the Civil War had taken place. The featured speaker was not Lincoln, but famed orator and former Harvard president Edward Everett.  Everett for about two hours. It took Lincoln about two minutes to deliver his 272 words. (The full text of the Gettysburg Address from the Cornell Library.)

Mr. Everett later wrote to Lincoln, expressing his admiration for the President’s speech: "I should be glad, if I could flatter myself, that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

The Gettysburg Address is regarded as one of the greatest presidential speeches in American history.  The Library of Congress has assembled several documents and photographs into this online exhibit.

→ Learn more in this blog post on the 155th anniversary, which includes excerpts from Everett's speech and more background on him.


Museum and historic sites

Related products from The History List Store

"History Nerd" shirt with Abraham Lincoln in light blue heather from The History List   "History Nerd" with Abraham Lincoln Pullover sweatshirt -Deep red color


JFK Assassination

November 22, 2018 

55th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination

President John F. Kennedy planned a campaign tour for a two-day, five-city tour of Texas for the following year's presidential election in 1964.  He brought Jackie with him. It was The First Lady's first extended public appearance since the death of their son in August.

Kennedy stopped in San Antonio and Fort Worth before arriving in Dallas. (Information on the day’s full timeline can be found on the JFK library.)

As the motorcade drove through downtown Dallas at 12:30 pm, shots were fired that struck the president and Texas Governor John Connally, who was seated in front of the president.  The president was taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1 pm.  At 2:38 pm, Lyndon B. Johnson, who had served as Vice President and was previously a Senator from Texas, took the oath of office aboard Air Force One. Jackie, her suite stained with her husband's blood, stood nearby.

President John F. Kennedy was the fourth president assassinated while in office.

→ Learn more in this post, including the historical context for the selection of his grave and the recollections of legendary newsmen Bob Schieffer, who was working for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and Jim Lehrer, who was working for the Dallas Times Herald. In the video, Lehrer describes the "bubble top" that sometimes covered the limousine and Schieffer recalls getting a call from Oswald's mother, who asked for a ride to the police station.

Museums and historic sites

December 16, 2018

Boston Tea Party

245th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party

The Townshend Act of 1767 called for the implementation of a tax on tea, which asked for the payment once tea has been unloaded, or by the latest, 20 days after arrival.  Three ships came would arrive at Griffin’s Wharf in Boston, the Beaver, Dartmouth, and the Eleanor.  The Beaver was delayed and arrived on December 15, 1773. (For more on the ships from the Boston Tea Party Museum.)

The Sons of Liberty passed out pamphlets and town meetings occurred in several locations to include Faneuli Hall, where citizens discussed what to do about the tax on tea.  The Sons of Liberty, led by Samuel Adams, boarded the three ships in the night armed with axes. 340 chests of the British East India Tea Company, equivalent to 46 tons, were smashed and dumped into the Boston Harbor.  The loss of tea would be $1,700,000 dollars in today’s money. No further damage to the ships or items reported, with the exception of a padlock belonging to the ship's’ Captain which was promptly replaced by the Patriots.


  • December 16, 2018 in Boston: Reenactment of the meeting in Old South Meeting House leading up to the Tea Party, followed by the dumping of the tea. Tickets enable you to see and participate in the meeting at Old South.  Anyone can gather on the docks to watch the tea being dumped at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.  Detailed schedule and a link to tickets.

Highly recommended.  This annual event is on our list of the great living history events taking place this year. — Lee Wright  |  Founder  |  The History List  |  History Camp

Museums and historic sites

Products celebrating this event

Boston Tea Party shirt for hard core history lovers   "1773" Boston Tea Party Bracelet

First Flight

December 17, 2018

115th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight

The Wright Brothers, originally printers and later owners of a bicycle shop, had traveled from their home in Dayton to Kitty Hawk in September of 1903 to attempt to fly. However, between bad weather and various technical setbacks, they were not successful until December 17 at 10:35 am when Orville piloted the Wright Flyer I a distance of 120 feet. The flight took 12 seconds. The next two flights covered 175 feet and 200 feet.

They tried to interest their hometown newspaper in reporting the flight, but were turned down because the flight wasn't deemed long enough.

The Wright Brothers made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft on December 17, 1903, four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In 1904–05 the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. Although not the first to build experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible. The brothers' fundamental breakthrough was their invention of three-axis control, which enabled the pilot to steer the aircraft effectively and to maintain its equilibrium  (Wikipedia)


Museums and historic sites

Johnstown Flood

May 31, 2019

130th anniversary of the Johnstown flood

Johnstown was built in a river valley between the Little Conemaugh and Stony Creek River. Residents expected the rivers to overflow twice a year, and on the afternoon of May 31, residents were waiting out what they thought was the usual flooding from heavy rains.

A little after 3pm the South Fork Dam would break from the heavy rainfall and sent a 40 foot wall of water and debris into Johnstown, with some flood levels 89 feet above the level of the river. By the time the flood was over, 2,209 people were dead.  (Survival stories from the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.) 

The South Fork Dam had been created for the 14 miles above Johnstown as a man-made lake for the prestigious South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club. The dam was poorly maintained and the added rainfall pushed it over its limits.  

The nation responded with donations from around the Country. And for the American Red Cross and Clara Barton, the flood was their first major peacetime disaster.

More facts and statics from the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.


Museums and historic sites

June 6, 2019

Landing on D'Day

June 6, 2019: 75th anniversary of D-Day

The Battle of Normandy, code name Operation Overlord, was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history and was the beginning of the liberation of Western Europe.  More than 156,000 Allied Troops (Americans, British, and Canadians) landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of France’s Normandy coast.  U.S. troops took Utah and Omaha beaches. (In-depth information on the D'Day landings from the D'Day Center.)

The invasion would start at 6:30am and would become  Originally, General Eisenhower has selected June 5 for the invasion to begin but bad weather delayed the landings and pushing them back by one day. More than 5,000 ships and landing crafts, and 11,000 aircrafts would take part in the invasion.  Some 2,500 American men would die, 2,000 alone on Omaha. Over 4,000 Allied troops would perish. (Infographic on D'Day numbers.)

During the months leading up to the invasion, General Patton set-up his “ghost army” across from Pas-de-Calais, which was the location the Allied troops tricked Hitler into believe the invasion would occur. (Video discussing the extensive deception.) Patton’s ghost army included inflatable tanks, fake aircraft and fake radio transmissions for the Germans to intercept. 


Museums and historic sites

Battle of Petersburg

June 15, 2019 

155th anniversary of the Battle of Petersburg

The City of Petersburg, 24 miles south of Richmond, the Capital of the Confederate States of America, was a junction of five railroads that supplied the James River region.  

More than 62,000 Union troops under the command of General Grant faced 42,000 Confederate troops under the command of General Lee in battle from June 15 to June 18. Casualties totaled 11, 382 (8,150 Union and 3,236 Confederate). More information on the Battle of Petersburg information.

While the battle was a failure for the Union Army, it began the siege of Petersburg, the longest siege in American history. It ended on April 2, 1865. Richmond fell the following day, and six days later Lee surrendered his 28,000 troops to General Grant at Appomattox, Virginia. (More facts on the Siege of Petersburg.)


Museums and historic sites

Products about this event:

Civil War "History Nerd" shirt in charcoal grey   Civil War "History Nerd" shirt in dark blue

Battle of Fort McHenry

September 13-14, 2019

205th anniversary of Francis Scott Key penning the Star-Spangled Banner

During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key, a 35-year-old lawyer, boarded a British ship in the Chesapeake Bay with the intention of freeing his friend.  While aboard the ship, Key learned of the impending attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor and was detained along with his friend.

Key watched from eight miles away as the British bombarded the fort for 25 hours. Despite the heavy attack, at daybreak on September 14 the the American flag was still flying over the fort.    (More on the American Flag flown after the Battle of Baltimore from the Smithsonian.

Inspired, Key penned a four verse poem that was set to the tune of an English drinking song.

It wasn't until the late 1800s that U.S. Navy used The Star Spangled Banner officially, and in 1916 President Wilson declared that the Star Spangled Banner was to be used for all military events and appropriate occasions. In 1931, the Star Spangled Banner became the official Anthem of the United States. (For the full poem and lyrics.)


Museums and historic sites

Products about this event:

Star Spangled Banner Flag Kit

 These were selected from our list of more than 100 notable historical anniversaries taking place across the country this year.

If you have edits or recommendations for this list, please let us know. And if you're looking for a special gift for a history lover, check out our store, which is what funds the operation and expansion of The History List.  You'll find shirts and stickers with our original design, special commemorative shirts, and signed books by noted historians.

Larisa Moran — On Instagram: History_Dame1776