I had a couple of bright ideas recently, one of which I forget and the other of which — well, like my idea for creating a website for good ideas — turns out to have been already done. The thought was to have a web page for each year, where you could find the signal events of that year along with links to news stories and so forth. And Wikipedia had that thought, too.
If you Google 1944 — or 1987, for that matter, though why you would I can’t imagine — the first thing in your results will be that year’s Wikipedia page. Right off, I’m charmed by the geekiness of the first line on a “year page”:
1987 (MCMLXXXVII) was a common year that started on a Thursday, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar.
There are, I learn, “common years” and, of course, “leap years.” And then a link on “started on a Thursday” takes me to a calendar suitable for any such year, of which, it seems, there are eleven in any century (thanks to some math that’s better left taken on faith, I’m sure), and the statement that years starting on a Thursday are the only years that have three Friday the 13ths in them. Betcha didn’t know that.
Not only do you get a roster of important events for the year, but you also get a list of who was born and who died during that year. Only some people, I mean. (There seem to be a fair number of hockey players and Japanese singers born in 1987. Curious.) And because a lot can happen in a year, there’s plenty for Wikipedia to slice and dice this way and that; so over to the right you’ll find the year’s events facetted by topic (music: “Kylie Minogue’s recording career begins”) and by country.
Thus, in Canada in 1987
- Frobisher Bay changes its name to Iqaluit
- Mordecai Richler publishes Jacob Two-Two and the Dinosaur
- Cowboy Junkies record The Trinity Session
- Lorne Greene dies, and
- Sidney Crosby is born (described as an “ice hockey player”; quaint)
Should you get tired of the year of your choosing, you can click on any date — they’re all hyperlinked — to go to the web page for that date and events from hundreds of years, and a nifty hyperlinked calendar at the bottom for all the months and days of the year.
I don’t know how far back in time these “year pages” go. I threw in a few dates and always got lucky, the furthest back being 1321, when not much happened. There was, however, an invitation on the right to explore other calendars, e.g. Burmese (in which the year was 683), Coptic (1037), etc. But I ran out of time and will leave them for another day. Or year.