News and Events of 1939

World Events

  • Germany invades Poland; occupies Bohemia and Moravia; renounces pact with England and concludes 10-year non-aggression pact with U.S.S.R.

  • Russo-Finnish War begins; Finns to lose one-tenth of territory in 1940 peace treaty.

  • World War II begins.

U.S. Events

U.S. Statistics

President: Franklin D Roosevelt
Vice President: John N. Garner
Population: 130,879,718

More U.S. Statistics...


Federal spending:   $9.14 billion
Consumer Price Index:   13.9
Unemployment:   17.2%
Cost of a first-class stamp:   $0.03


World Series
NY Yankees d. Cincinnati (4-0)
Stanley Cup
Boston d. Toronto (4-1)
Women: Alice Marble d. K. Stammers (6-2 6-0)
Men: Bobby Riggs d. E. Cooke (2-6 8-6 3-6 6-3 6-2)
Kentucky Derby Champion
NCAA Basketball Championship
Oregon d. Ohio St. (46-33)
NCAA Football Champions
Texas A&M (11-0-0)


Entertainment Awards

Pulitzer Prizes
Fiction: The Yearling, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Drama: Abe Lincoln in Illinois, Robert E. Sherwood

Oscars awarded in 1939
Academy Award, Best Picture: You Can't Take It With You (Columbia)

Nobel Prize for Literature: Frans Eemil Sillanpää (Finland)

Miss America: Patricia Donnelly (MI)

More Entertainment Awards...


  • The big-screen adaptation of Gone with the Wind premieres, and will go on to gross $192 million, making it one of the most profitable films of all time. It's also one of the longest films, clocking in at 231 minutes.
  • Robert Kane introduces the Batman cartoon.


Nobel Prizes in Science

Chemistry: Adolf Butenandt (Germany), for work on sexual hormones (declined the prize); and Leopold Ruzicka (Switzerland), for work with polymethylenes

Physics: Ernest Orlando Lawrence (US), for development of the cyclotron

Physiology or Medicine: Gerhard Domagk (Germany), for antibacterial effect of prontocilate

  • Albert Einstein writes a letter to President Roosevelt regarding the possibility of using uranium to initiate a nuclear chain reaction, the fundamental process behind the atomic bomb.
  • Paul Muller develops DDT.
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