Wikipedia defines history as the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. It came from the Greek word ‘historia’ – which means ‘inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation’.

Today In HistoryThis website utilizes entries from Wikipedia to extract historical events from 3761 BC up to the present. There are 105,062 records in the database that include events, births and deaths of popular individuals. The present day Gregorian calendar was adopted to show dates of interest.

Let us begin with what happened today in history. You may also enter a specific day using the form on the right sidebar.

What happened on January 31? There are more than 287 events that were made this day in history. Here are the important historical events, facts, and some myths about this day.

Interesting Facts & Myths About January 31

January 31 is the 31st day of the year 2015. There are 334 days remaining until the end of this year. The day of the week is Saturday. This day falls under the 5th week of the year 2015.

On this day in Fort Wayne, Indiana 46804 sunrise will occur at 01:52 PM and sunset will occur at 11:56 PM (local time).

The zodiac sign of a person born on this day is Aquarius. The modern birthstone for this month is Garnet while the mystical birthstone is Emerald.

According to the Chinese calendar, there are 19 days remaining before the start of the next Chinese New Year (February 19, 2015).

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Historical Events For January 31

  • 314
    Silvester I begins his reign as Pope of the Catholic Church, succeeding Pope Miltiades.
  • 1504
    France cedes Naples to Aragon.
  • 1606
    Gunpowder Plot: Guy Fawkes is executed for his plotting against Parliament and James I of England.
  • 1747
    The first venereal diseases clinic opens at London Lock Hospital.
  • 1814
    Gervasio Antonio de Posadas becomes Supreme Director of Argentina.
  • 1846
    After the Milwaukee Bridge War, Juneautown and Kilbourntown unify as the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • 1848
    John C. Fremont is court-martialed for mutiny and disobeying orders.
  • 1849
    Corn Laws are abolished in the United Kingdom (following legislation in 1846).
  • 1862
    Alvan Graham Clark discovers the white dwarf star Sirius B, a companion of Sirius, through an 18.5 in telescope now located at Northwestern University.
  • 1865
    American Civil War: Confederate General Robert E. Lee becomes general-in-chief.
  • 1865
    American Civil War: The United States Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, abolishing slavery, submitting it to the states for ratification.
  • 1867
    Maronite nationalist leader Youssef Karam leaves Lebanon on board a French ship bound for Algeria
  • 1876
    The United States orders all Native Americans to move into reservations.
  • 1891
    The first attempt at a Portuguese republican revolution breaks out in the northern city of Porto.
  • 1900
    Datu Muhammad Salleh is assassinated in Kampung Teboh, Tambunan, ending the Mat Salleh Rebellion
  • 1900
    New Year’s Day in Chinese calendar. Start of the year of the Metal Rat in Chinese astrology.
  • 1915
    World War I: Germany uses poison gas against Russia
  • 1917
    World War I: Germany announces that its U-boats will resume unrestricted submarine warfare after a two-year hiatus.
  • 1918
    A series of accidental collisions on a misty Scottish night leads to the loss of two Royal Navy submarines with over a hundred lives, and damage to another five British warships.
  • 1919
    The Battle of George Square takes place in Glasgow, Scotland.
  • 1929
    The Soviet Union exiles Leon Trotsky.
  • 1930
    3M begins marketing Scotch Tape.
  • 1942
    World War II: Allied forces are defeated by the Japanese at the Battle of Malaya and retreat to the island of Singapore.
  • 1943
    German Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus surrenders to the Soviets at Stalingrad, followed 2 days later by the remainder of his Sixth Army, ending one of World War II’s fiercest battles.
  • 1944
    World War II: American forces land on Kwajalein Atoll and other islands in the Japanese-held Marshall Islands.
  • 1944
    World War II: During Anzio campaign 1st Ranger Battalion (Darby’s Rangers) is destroyed behind enemy lines in a heavily outnumbered encounter at Battle of Cisterna, Italy.
  • 1945
    US Army private Eddie Slovik is executed for desertion, the first such execution of an American soldier since the Civil War.
  • 1945
    World War II: About 3,000 inmates from the Stutthof concentration camp are forcibly marched into the Baltic Sea at Palmnicken (now Yantarny, Russia) and executed.
  • 1946
    Yugoslavia’s new constitution, modeling the Soviet Union, establishes six constituent republics (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia).
  • 1950
    President Harry S. Truman announces a program to develop the hydrogen bomb.
  • 1953
    A North Sea flood causes over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands.
  • 1957
    Eight people on the ground in Pacoima, California are killed following the mid-air collision between a Douglas DC-7 airliner and a Northrop F-89 Scorpion fighter jet.
  • 1958
    Explorer program: Explorer 1 – The first successful launch of an American satellite into orbit.
  • 1958
    James Van Allen discovers the Van Allen radiation belt.
  • 1961
    Project Mercury: Mercury-Redstone 2 – Ham the Chimp travels into outer space.
  • 1966
    The Soviet Union launches the unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft as part of the Luna program.
  • 1968
    Nauru gains independence from Australia.
  • 1968
    Viet Cong attack the United States embassy in Saigon, and other attacks, in the early morning hours, later grouped together as the Tet Offensive.
  • 1971
    Apollo program: Apollo 14 – Astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell, aboard a Saturn V, lift off for a mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands on the Moon.
  • 1971
    The Winter Soldier Investigation, organized by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to publicize war crimes and atrocities by Americans and allies in Vietnam, begin in Detroit, Michigan.
  • 1990
    The first McDonald’s in the Soviet Union opens in Moscow.
  • 1995
    President Bill Clinton authorizes a $20 billion loan to Mexico to stabilize its economy.
  • 1996
    An explosives-filled truck rams into the gates of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in Colombo, Sri Lanka killing at least 86 and injuring 1,400.
  • 1996
    Comet Hyakutake is discovered by Japanese amateur astronomer Yuji Hyakutake.
  • 2000
    Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crash: An MD-83, experiencing horizontal stabilizer problems, crashes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Point Mugu, California, killing all 88 aboard.
  • 2001
    In the Netherlands, a Scottish court convicts Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and acquits another Libyan citizen for their part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.
  • 2003
    The Waterfall rail accident occurs near Waterfall, New South Wales, Australia.
  • 2007
    Suspects are arrested in Birmingham in the UK, accused of plotting the kidnap, holding and eventual beheading of a serving Muslim British soldier in Iraq.
  • 2009
    In Kenya, at least 113 people are killed and over 200 injured following an oil spillage ignition in Molo, days after a massive fire at a Nakumatt supermarket in Nairobi killed at least 25 people.

Who Were Born On January 31?

  • 36 BC
    Antonia Minor, daughter of Mark Antony and Octavia Minor (d. 38 AD)
  • 877
    Taejo of Goryeo of Korea (d. 943)
  • 1512
    King Henry of Portugal (d. 1580)
  • 1543
    Tokugawa Ieyasu, Shogun of Japan (d. 1616)
  • 1550
    Henry I, Duke of Guise (d. 1588)
  • 1597
    John Francis Regis, French saint (d. 1640)
  • 1624
    Arnold Geulincx, Flemish philosopher (d. 1669)
  • 1673
    Louis de Montfort, French catholic priest and saint (d. 1716)
  • 1686
    Hans Egede, Norwegian Lutheran missionary (d. 1758)
  • 1752
    Gouverneur Morris, American lawmaker and diplomat (d. 1816)
  • 1759
    François Devienne, French composer (d. 1803)
  • 1797
    Franz Schubert, Austrian composer (d. 1828)
  • 1820
    William B. Washburn, American politician and 28th Governor of Massachusetts (d. 1887)
  • 1825
    Miska Magyarics, Slovene poet in Hungary (d. 1883)
  • 1835
    King William Charles Lunalilo of Hawaiʻi (d. 1874)
  • 1857
    George Jackson Churchward, British railroad engineer. (d. 1933)
  • 1865
    Henri Desgrange, French sports figure and journalist (d. 1940)
  • 1865
    Shastriji Maharaj, Indian spiritual leader (d. 1951)
  • 1868
    Theodore William Richards, American chemist, Nobel laureate (d. 1928)
  • 1872
    Zane Grey, American novelist (d. 1939)
  • 1881
    Irving Langmuir, American chemist, Nobel laureate (d. 1957)
  • 1884
    Theodor Heuss, German statesman (d. 1963)
  • 1889
    Frank Foster, English cricketer (d. 1958)
  • 1892
    Eddie Cantor, American actor and singer (d. 1964)
  • 1894
    Isham Jones, American musician (d. 1956)
  • 1896
    Sofya Yanovskaya, Russian mathematician (d. 1966)
  • 1902
    Alva Myrdal, Swedish politician, Nobel laureate (d. 1986)
  • 1902
    Nat Bailey, Canadian restaurateur (d. 1978)
  • 1902
    Tallulah Bankhead, American actress (d. 1968)
  • 1905
    John O'Hara, American writer (d. 1970)
  • 1911
    Eddie Byrne, British actor (d. 1981)
  • 1913
    Don Hutson, American football player (d. 1997)
  • 1914
    Carey Loftin, American actor and stuntman (d. 1997)
  • 1914
    Faye Wright, American spiritual figure (d. 2010)
  • 1914
    Jersey Joe Walcott, American boxer (d. 1994)
  • 1915
    Alan Lomax, American musicologist (d. 2002)
  • 1915
    Garry Moore, American comedian (d. 1993)
  • 1915
    Thomas Merton, American author and monk (d. 1968)
  • 1919
    Jackie Robinson, American baseball player (d. 1972)
  • 1920
    Bert Williams, English footballer
  • 1920
    Stewart Udall, American politician and 37th United States Secretary of the Interior (d. 2010)
  • 1921
    Carol Channing, American actress and singer
  • 1921
    E. Fay Jones, American architect (d. 2004)
  • 1921
    John Agar, American actor (d. 2002)
  • 1921
    Mario Lanza, American singer (d. 1959)
  • 1922
    Joanne Dru, American actress (d. 1996)
  • 1923
    Norman Mailer, American writer and journalist (d. 2007)
  • 1925
    Benjamin Hooks, American civil rights activist (d. 2010)
  • 1926
    Tom Alston, American baseball player (d. 1993)
  • 1927
    Norm Prescott, American animation producer (d. 2005)
  • 1928
    Chuck Willis, American singer and songwriter (d. 1958)
  • 1929
    Jean Simmons, English American actress (d. 2010)
  • 1929
    Rudolf Mössbauer, German physicist, Nobel laureate
  • 1930
    Joakim Bonnier, Swedish race car driver (d. 1972)
  • 1930
    Lynn Carlin, American actress
  • 1931
    Christopher Chataway, English athlete, newscaster and politician
  • 1931
    Ernie Banks, American baseball player
  • 1933
    Bernardo Provenzano, Sicilian organized crime figure
  • 1933
    Camille Henry, Canadian ice hockey player (d. 1997)
  • 1934
    Bob Turner, Canadian ice hockey player (d. 2005)
  • 1934
    James Franciscus, American actor (d. 1991)
  • 1935
    Kenzaburo Oe, Japanese writer, Nobel laureate
  • 1937
    Andrée Boucher, Canadian politician (d. 2007)
  • 1937
    Philip Glass, American composer
  • 1937
    Regimantas Adomaitis, Lithuanian actor
  • 1937
    Suzanne Pleshette, American actress (d. 2008)
  • 1938
    James G. Watt, American politician and 43rd United States Secretary of the Interior
  • 1938
    Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands
  • 1939
    Claude Gauthier, Canadian singer and songwriter
  • 1940
    Kitch Christie, South African rugby union coach (d. 1998)
  • 1941
    Gerald McDermott, American filmmaker, children’s book author & illustrator
  • 1941
    Jessica Walter, American actress
  • 1941
    Richard A. Gephardt, American politician
  • 1942
    Daniela Bianchi, Italian actress
  • 1942
    Derek Jarman, British director and writer (d. 1994)
  • 1944
    Charlie Musselwhite, American musician
  • 1944
    Connie Booth, American writer and actress
  • 1945
    Joseph Kosuth, American conceptual artist
  • 1946
    Glynn Turman, American actor
  • 1946
    Terry Kath, American musician (Chicago) (d. 1978)
  • 1947
    Elena Nathanael, Greek actress (d. 2008)
  • 1947
    Jonathan Banks, American actor
  • 1947
    Nolan Ryan, American baseball player
  • 1948
    Muneo Suzuki, Japanese politician
  • 1949
    Johan Derksen, Dutch footballer and sports journalist
  • 1949
    Ken Wilber, American author
  • 1949
    Norris Church Mailer, American model and widow of Norman Mailer (d. 2010)
  • 1950
    Alexander Korzhakov, Soviet bodyguard for Boris Yeltsin
  • 1951
    Dave Benton, Aruban singer
  • 1951
    Harry Wayne Casey, American singer and musician (KC and the Sunshine Band)
  • 1951
    Phil Manzanera, English guitarist (Roxy Music, Quiet Sun, 801)
  • 1952
    Nadya Rusheva, Russian painter (d. 1969)
  • 1954
    Adrian Vandenberg, Dutch musician (Whitesnake)
  • 1956
    John Lydon, English singer (Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd.)
  • 1957
    Shirley Babashoff, American swimmer
  • 1959
    Anthony LaPaglia, Australian actor
  • 1959
    Kelly Lynch, American actress
  • 1959
    Kelly Moore, American stock car driver
  • 1960
    Grant Morrison, British comic author
  • 1961
    Lloyd Cole, British singer
  • 1962
    Sophie Muller, British music video director
  • 1964
    Billey Shamrock, Swedish singer
  • 1964
    Jeff Hanneman, American musician (Slayer)
  • 1964
    Martha MacCallum, American news anchor
  • 1964
    Sylvie Bernier, French-Canadian diver
  • 1966
    Dexter Fletcher, English actor
  • 1966
    Dr Umar Alisha, Indian Sufi master
  • 1967
    Chad Channing, American musician
  • 1967
    Fat Mike, American musician
  • 1967
    Irene Wan, Hong Kong actress
  • 1967
    Jason Cooper, English musician (The Cure)
  • 1967
    Joey Wong, Taiwanese actress
  • 1968
    Matt King, British actor and comedian
  • 1968
    Patrick Stevens, Belgian athlete
  • 1970
    Danny Michel, Canadian Musician
  • 1970
    Minnie Driver, British actress
  • 1971
    Dimitris Markos, Greek footballer
  • 1971
    Lee Young Ae, South Korean actress
  • 1971
    Patricia Velásquez, Venezuelan actress and model
  • 1971
    Patrick Kielty, Northern Irish comedian
  • 1973
    Portia de Rossi, Australian actress
  • 1974
    Ariel Pestano, Cuban baseball player
  • 1974
    Othella Harrington, American basketball player
  • 1974
    Wil Anderson, Australian comedian
  • 1975
    Fred Coleman, American football player
  • 1975
    Jackie O, Australian radio host
  • 1975
    Preity Zinta, Indian actress
  • 1976
    Buddy Rice, American race car driver
  • 1976
    Paul Scheer, American comedian and actor
  • 1976
    Traianos Dellas, Greek footballer
  • 1976
    Tyrone Nesby, American basketball player
  • 1977
    Bobby Moynihan, American comedian (Saturday Night Live)
  • 1977
    Jim Kleinsasser, American football player
  • 1977
    Kate Shindle, American actress
  • 1977
    Kerry Washington, American actress
  • 1977
    Mark Dutiaume, Canadian hockey player
  • 1977
    Shingo Katori, Japanese actor and singer (SMAP)
  • 1978
    Arthur Wellesley, Earl of Mornington, English noble
  • 1978
    Brad Rutter, American game show contestant
  • 1978
    Fabián Caballero, Argentine footballer
  • 1978
    Ray Shah, Irish radio presenter
  • 1979
    Daniel Tammet, British savant and author
  • 1980
    James Adomian, American actor
  • 1980
    Tiffany Limos, American actress
  • 1981
    Amrita Arora, Indian actress
  • 1981
    Julio Arca, Argentinian football player
  • 1981
    Justin Timberlake, American singer
  • 1982
    Allan McGregor, Scottish football player
  • 1982
    Andreas Görlitz, German football player
  • 1982
    Brad Thompson, American baseball player
  • 1982
    Bruno Nogueira, Portuguese actor, comedian and TV host
  • 1982
    Elena Paparizou, Greek singer
  • 1982
    Jānis Sprukts, Latvian hockey player
  • 1982
    Salvatore Masiello, Italian footballer
  • 1982
    Yuniesky Betancourt, Cuban baseball player
  • 1983
    James Sutton, British actor
  • 1983
    Tom Vangeneugden, Belgian swimmer
  • 1984
    Alessandro Zanni, Italian rugby player
  • 1984
    Jeremy Wariner, American track and field athlete
  • 1984
    Vernon Davis, American football player
  • 1985
    Adam Federici, Australian footballer
  • 1985
    Kalomira, Greek singer
  • 1985
    Mario Williams, American football player
  • 1986
    Yves Makabu-Makalambay, Belgian footballer
  • 1987
    Kenny McKinley, American football player (d. 2010)
  • 1987
    Raúl Richter, German actor
  • 1987
    Sargon Duran, Austrian footballer
  • 1988
    Justine Ozga, German tennis player
  • 1990
    Jacopo Fortunato, Italian footballer
  • 1990
    Kota Yabu, Japanese actor and singer
  • 1990
    Nicolò De Cesare, Italian footballer
  • 1992
    Tyler Seguin, Canadian hockey player
  • 1996
    Joel Courtney, American film actor

Who Died On January 31?

  • 1398
    Emperor Sukō (b. 1334)
  • 1435
    Emperor Xuande of China (b. 1398)
  • 1561
    Bairam Khan, Great Mughal General, regent for Akbar
  • 1561
    Menno Simons, Dutch Mennonite leader (b. 1496)
  • 1580
    King Henry of Portugal (b. 1512)
  • 1606
    Ambrose Rokewood – Gunpowder Plot conspirators (b. c.1578)
  • 1606
    Guy Fawkes – Gunpowder Plot conspirators (b. 1570)
  • 1606
    Thomas Wintour – Gunpowder Plot conspirators (b. 1571)
  • 1615
    Claudio Aquaviva, Italian Jesuit (b. 1543)
  • 1632
    Joost Bürgi, Swiss clockmaker and mathematician (b. 1552)
  • 1665
    Johannes Clauberg, German theologian and philosopher (b. 1622)
  • 1686
    Jean Mairet, French dramatist (b. 1604)
  • 1720
    Thomas Grey, 2nd Earl of Stamford, English privy councillor (b. c. 1654)
  • 1729
    Jakob Roggeveen, Dutch explorer (b. 1659)
  • 1736
    Filippo Juvarra, Italian architect (b. 1678)
  • 1788
    Charles Edward Stuart, the exiled Jacobite claimant to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland (b. 1720)
  • 1790
    Thomas Lewis, Irish-born Virginia settler (b. 1718)
  • 1794
    Marriott Arbuthnot, British admiral (b. 1711)
  • 1811
    Manuel Alberti, Argentine priest and head of state (b. 1763)
  • 1815
    José Félix Ribas, Venezuelan independentist leader (b. 1775)
  • 1828
    Alexander Ypsilantis, Phanariot Greek military commander and national hero of the Greek War of Independence (b. 1792)
  • 1836
    John Cheyne (physician), British physician, surgeon and author (b. 1777)
  • 1844
    Henri Gratien, Comte Bertrand, French general (b. 1773)
  • 1856
    Khedrup Gyatso, 11th Dalai Lama (b. 1838)
  • 1888
    John Bosco, Italian priest, youth worker, educator, founder of the Salesian Society (b. 1815)
  • 1892
    Charles Spurgeon, English preacher and evangelist (b. 1834)
  • 1907
    Timothy Eaton, Canadian department store founder (b. 1834)
  • 1923
    Eligiusz Niewiadomski, Polish assassin of Gabriel Narutowicz (b. 1869)
  • 1933
    John Galsworthy, English writer, Nobel laureate (b. 1867)
  • 1942
    Henry Larkin, American baseball player (b. 1860)
  • 1942
    Rolf Wenkhaus, German actor (b. 1917)
  • 1944
    Jean Giraudoux, French writer (b. 1882)
  • 1945
    Eddie Slovik, American soldier (b. 1920)
  • 1954
    Edwin Howard Armstrong, American electrical engineer and inventor of the FM radio (b. 1890)
  • 1955
    John Mott, American YMCA leader, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (b. 1865)
  • 1956
    A. A. Milne, English author (b. 1882)
  • 1966
    General Arthur Ernest Percival, British Army Officer (b. 1887)
  • 1967
    Eddie Tolan, American athlete (b. 1908)
  • 1969
    Meher Baba, Indian guru (b. 1894)
  • 1970
    Slim Harpo, American singer (b. 1924)
  • 1971
    Viktor Maksimovich Zhirmunsky, Russian literary historian, linguist (b. 1891)
  • 1973
    Ragnar Anton Kittil Frisch, Norwegian economist, Nobel laureate (b. 1895)
  • 1974
    Samuel Goldwyn, Polish-born film studio executive (b. 1882)
  • 1976
    Ernesto Miranda, American litigant (b. 1941)
  • 1976
    Evert Taube, Swedish author and composer (b. 1890)
  • 1981
    Cozy Cole, American jazz drummer (b. 1909)
  • 1987
    Yves Allégret, French film director (b. 1907)
  • 1989
    Sir William Samuel Stephenson, Canadian soldier, W.W.II codename, Intrepid. Inspiration for James Bond. (b. 1896)
  • 1990
    Rashad Khalifa, Egyptian-born imam (b. 1935)
  • 1995
    George Abbott, American stage director and producer (b. 1887)
  • 1997
    John Joseph Scanlan, Irish Catholic prelate (b. 1930)
  • 1999
    Barış Manço, Turkish singer, composer, television producer and celebrity. (b. 1943)
  • 1999
    Norm Zauchin, American baseball player (b. 1929)
  • 1999
    Shohei Baba, Japanese professional wrestler (b. 1938)
  • 2000
    Gil Kane, Latvian-born comic book writer (b. 1926)
  • 2001
    Gordon R. Dickson, Canadian writer (b. 1923)
  • 2002
    Francis Gabreski, American, fighter pilot ace (b. 1919)
  • 2004
    Eleanor Holm, American swimmer (b. 1913)
  • 2006
    Moira Shearer, Scottish actress (The Red Shoes) and ballerina (b. 1926)
  • 2007
    Adelaide Tambo, South African activist, widow of Oliver Tambo (b. 1929)
  • 2007
    Kirill “Kirka” Babitzin, Finnish singer (b. 1950)
  • 2007
    Lee Bergere, American actor (b. 1924)
  • 2007
    Molly Ivins, American political columnist and author (b. 1944)
  • 2008
    Zeltim Odie Peterson, famous pug dog (b. 1997)
  • 2009
    Nagesh, Indian comedian actor in Kollywood (b. 1933)
  • 2011
    Eunice Sanborn, 114, American supercentenarian, world’s oldest living person at time of her death (b. 1896)
  • 2011
    Mark Ryan, 51, British musician (Adam and the Ants) (b. 1959)

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