At the beginning of a new decade, where the average house price was £1,940 and a gallon of petrol cost four shillings and sixpence (22p in today’s money), the events that happened in 1950 should be remembered: from a classic Disney animation release, several new world leaders and a lot of international tension with the outbreak of the Korean War, these 1950 events are ones to never forget. Check out an original 1950 newspaper so you can see how the media reported these important events that shaped our modern life.
Our 1950 timeline gives details on the most famous events in 1950, month by month. It always helps to understand events when you know the context that they were surrounded in during the time. It gives extra depth to these key events that shaped the rest of the 1950s.
Turn the page to:
- The Group Areas Act
- The Battle of Osan
- The Attempted Assassination of US President Harry Truman
January 2: The official US population is 293,200,000. The African American population makes up for 11.1% of this at 22,600,000.
January 6: Britain officially recognises China’s Communist government.
January 7: A mental health wing in Davenport, Iowa burns, killing 41 people.
January 15: The National Emergency Civil Rights Conference is held in Washington, D.C., 4,000 attend.
January 17: Israel is recognised by Belgium, Luxembourg and The Netherlands.
January 24: Jackie Robinson signs the highest contract in Dodger history, a total of $35,000.
January 31: Harry Truman, 33rd US President, announces that he supports the development of a hydrogen bomb.
Jackie Robinson playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers
Image: Wikimedia Commons
February 1: Curly Lambeau, Green Bay Packers founder, player and coach, resigns after 31 seasons and 6 NFL titles.
February 7: The US recognises the State of Vietnam as the official government of Vietnam.
February 12: Physicist Albert Einstein warns against the hydrogen bomb.
February 14: China and USSR sign a peace treaty entitled the Sino-Soviety Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and mutual Assistance.
February 15: Disney’s Cinderella premieres in Boston.
February 17: A train crash in Rockville Centre, NY causes 31 deaths.
February 24: The Labour party wins the UK parliamentary election by 5 seats.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
March 6: In the US, Silly Putty goes on sale.
March 8: BR Walters becomes the first medical officer assigned to a naval vessel.
March 12: 58% of Belgians vote for King Leopold III to return from exile in Germany.
March 27: The People’s Republic of China is recognised by Netherlands.
April 5: Agnetha Fältskog, of ABBA, is born in Jönköing, Sweden.
April 6: The new Secretary of State is named as John Foster Dulles.
April 8: Miss Liberty closes after 308 performances at the Imperial Theatre in NYC.
April 11: Prince Rainier III becomes the ruler of Monaco. He would be in power for nearly 56 years, making him one of the longest ruling monarchs in history.
April 24: President Truman denies communism in the US government.
April 27: The Group Areas Act is passed in South Africa, segregating races.
May 1: Gwendolyn Brooks becomes the first African American to be awarded with the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
May 1: New marriage laws are enforced in People’s Republic of China. These gave women the same legal equality as men.
May 5: Bhumibol Adulyadej is crowned King Rama IX of Thailand in Bangkok. He ruled for almost 56 years until his death in 2016.
May 6: Elizabeth Taylor marries hotel heir Conrad Hilton. They would be divorced within eight months.
May 11: 39 die due to the Belgium mine disaster in Borinage.
May 11: British broadcaster, Jeremy Paxman, is born.
May 13: The first race of the Formula 1 World Drivers Championship is run at Silverstone. Giuseppe Farina, from Italy, wins in an Alfa Romeo.
May 25: Brooklyn Battery Tunnel opens in New York City. The tunnel connects Red Hook in Brooklyn with Battery Park in Manhattan.
May 29: The third BAFTAs (Britsh Film and Television Awards) take place. Bicycle Thieves wins Best Film.
May 31: The Indianapolis 500 race is shortened to 345 miles due to the rain. Johnny Parson wins.
Conrad Hilton and Elizabeth Taylor
June 3: A French expedition reaches the top of Annapurna, a Himalayan peak in Nepal.
June 6: GDR (German Democratic Republic) and Poland sign a treaty about the Oder-Neisse border. This is the international border between the two countries.
June 12: Two Air France planes, DC-4s, crash near Bahrain. Approximately 100 people are killed.
June 13: The parliament in South Africa accept the Group Areas Act.
June 20: Baseball player Joe DiMaggio celebrates his 2,000th hit.
June 23: Women’s voting rights are refused in Switzerland.
June 25: The Korean War starts. North Korea invades South Korea.
June 27: America sends 35 military advisors to South Korea.
June 27: North Korean troops to Seoul. Truman orders US Air Force and Navy into the conflict after the UN asks for members to aid South Korea.
June 29: The US football team beats England 1-0 in a World Cup game. They would not qualify for another World Cup until 1990.
July 1: The first 401 US soldiers are flown to South Korea.
July 2: A Zen Buddihst temple, Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto, Japan burns down.
July 4: Truman signs public law 600. This enabled Puerto Ricans to write their constitution.
July 5: Battle of Osan takes place in South Korea. This is the first time US forces enter combat in the Korean War.
July 5: The Law of Return is passed – guaranteeing all Jews the right to live in Israel.
July 7: Budge Patty wins his first and only Wimbledon singles title against Frank Sedgman.
July 8: 33.4cm of rainfall is recorded in York, Nebraska.
July 11: Ted Williams, a Boston Red Sox baseball player, breaks his elbow. Doctors later remove 7 bone fragments from his elbow.
July 22: King Leopold, after 6 years in exile, returns to Belgium.
August 1: Truman signs the Guam Organic Act. This established Guam as an incorporated US territory and granted all Guam residents American citizenship.
August 7: Ferdi Kübler becomes the first rider from Switzerland to win the Tour de France.
August 8: Swimmer, Florence Chadwick, swims the English Channel in 13 hours 23 minutes.
August 11: Before a grand jury, Ethel Rosenberg testifies on allegations of spying for the Soviet Union.
August 15: Sukarno announces the unitary Republic of Indonesia and becomes its first president. He would serve until 1967.
August 17: Indonesia becomes independent from the Netherlands.
September 1: West Berlin is granted a constitution.
September 5: A state record of 98.3cm rainfall is reported in Yankeetown, Florida.
September 9: The Hank McCune Show is the first to use a TV laugh track in America.
September 14: West Germany is rearmed by Western allies.
September 23: Ralph Bunche is awarded a Nobel peace prize for mediation in Israel. He was the first African American winner.
September 23: The US Air Force accidentally bomb British soldiers on Hill 282 in Korea. 17 are killed.
September 26: A blue moon appears in England, due to a forest fire in British Columbia.
September 28: The 60th member of the UN is announced as Indonesia.
September 29: Bell Laboratories creates the Telephone Answering Machine.
October 7: US forces cross the 38th parallel, therefore invading North Korea.
October 7: William H Jackson becomes the deputy director of the CIA. He served for approximately 10 months.
October 19: UN forces enter the capital of North Korea, Pyongyang.
October 21: Belgium abolishes the death penalty.
October 26: Missionaries of Charity is founded by Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India.
October 31: Earl Lloyd, “The Big Cat”, is the first African American to play in the NBA.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
November 1: 82°F (27°C) is the highest temperature recorded in Cleveland in November.
November 1: An assassination of Harry Truman is attempted by Puerto Rican nationalists at Blair House.
November 2: The first concentrated milk is test-marketed by The Clover Dairy Company in Wilmington, Delaware.
November 4: US troops withdraw from Pyongyang.
November 8: A North Korean jet is shot down by a US aircraft, the first jet-to-jet dogfight in history.
November 10: The Nobel Prize for Literature is awarded to William Faulkner.
November 16: Truman proclaims an emergency crisis caused by the communism threat.
November 18: South Korean President Syngman Rhee is forced to end mass executions.
November 22: A train crash in Richmond Hills, NY causes 79 deaths.
December 4: Australian Prime Minister votes to use the Union Jack on a blue background for the Australian National Flag, rather than a red background that had been used.
December 7: Harry Willcock is stopped by police in London. He was the last person in the UK to be prosecuted for refusing to produce an identity card.
December 9: Federal Republic of Germany’s Chancellor Adenauer approves the Schuman Plan. This puts coal and steel industries under a unified authority.
December 13: A Pepsi advert appearance starts off James Dean’s notorious acting career.
December 16: Shirley Temple announces her retirement from films at age 22.
December 19: Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, flees Chinese invasion.
December 28: The UK’s first National Park is named as The Peak District.
In 1948, the National Party was elected due to their policy of Apartheid (or ‘separateness’). This put South Africans of different racial groups in their own partitioned system of development. The act allowed the National Party to maintain white supremacy as well as control the African labour needed for their plans for rapid industrial development.
When the Group Areas Act of 1950 was passed, it gained control over interracial property transactions and property occupation – resulting in certain neighbourhoods where only one race was allowed to live. The act displaced hundreds of thousands of families, and broke up families and communities. Due to the terms of the act, once it was decided that an area was dedicated to one group, it enabled them to displace people and demolish homes of people that didn’t belong to that group.
In 1949, Kim Il-sung, the leader of North Korea, thought that a “war of liberation” would be welcomed by the people of South Korea. After lengthy discussions with China and the Soviet Union, in 1950 they finally invaded. The United States were maintaining a non-committal start, fearing the start of World War 3.
The Battle of Osan was commanded by US Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bradford Smith. The force, named “Task Force Smith” was under-manned and didn’t have the appropriate resources, with most of their weapons obsolete. This contrasted greatly with the North Korean side of the battle. There was around 5,000 men joined with 36 tanks – the US only had around 540 men unequipped with weapons able to penetrate tank armour.
The Battle of Osan was the first interaction between the United States and the North Korean Army. It showed how unprepared the US were in terms of training and equipment. The US forces were successful in delaying Pusan being overrun which ultimately lead to the successful United Nations landing and the subsequent removal of the North Korean forces from the South.
On 1st November at 2pm, two pro-independence militants simply walked up to Blair House, where the Truman family was staying whilst the White House underwent renovations, and started shooting. The assassins fatally injured a Secret Service officer but he managed to kill one of the shooters.
Another Secret Service officer was held at gunpoint by the second shooter, but because the shooter hadn’t cocked it in time, nothing happened. There was a fight and the SS agent was shot in his right knee. Nearby, two more SS officers opened fire at the remaining shooter, to which he returned shots – he quickly realised he was outgunned as the injured SS agent started to fire as well. The shooter was then shot by two .38 caliber rounds in the head and right arm.
33rd US President Harry Truman was having an afternoon nap in the second floor of Blair House when the shooting began. He looked out his window to see the second shooter on the front steps. An accompanying agent told Truman to get down, to which he obeyed.
The shooting didn’t faze the President as he kept all his scheduled appointments for the afternoon and later said “A President has to expect these things.”