Notable Centennials: Events From 1916

The Ossuary at the Verdun Battlefield in France contains the remains of more than 100,000 people who died, both French and German, in the 1916 battle. Photo by John Blower/Flickr


Welcome to 2016! We like to observe anniversaries, especially major ones–like centennials, or centenaries. Here are a few events, both sad and happy, that occurred in 1916:

  • Much of the world was embroiled in the Great War (WWI), but the U.S. was trying to avoid being dragged into it. Verdun was the big battle in France; it lasted ten months. There were other battles, including the Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Jutland/Skagerrak. President Wilson was re-elected on the platform of staying out of the war. However, early 1917, Pres. Wilson requests a declaration of war.
  • Pancho Villa and about 1,500 men leave Mexico and make a raid in New Mexico. U.S. General “Black Jack” Pershing chases Villa back into Mexico. What was up with this? It’s something I’d like to know more about.
  • James Herriot, author of All Creatures Great and Small, was born on March 10 (or Oct. 3 or Oct. 13–I’ve seen all three dates). He was one of my favorite authors when I was about twelve. I wanted to be a veterinarian, partly because of his stories.
  • One of the best movie actors ever–Gregory Peck–was born on April 5.
  • Beverly Cleary, author of the Ramona books (among others) was born on April 12. Her character, Ramona Quimby, is one of my all-time favorite characters.
  • Explorer Ernest Shackleton and all his crew from the Endurance escape–and survive–from their entrapment in Antarctic ice.
  • The National Park Service was created on Aug. 25.
  • Jeannette Rankin (R-Montana) is the first elected congresswoman on Nov. 11.
  • And, finally, James L. Kraft patents tinned processed cheese. The following year, these tins of cheese, produced by Kraft and his brothers, become food for WWI soldiers.

I’ve barely scratched the surface. What other 1916 events would you add?


  1. Amy Houts

    Extremely interesting, Deb! I found this on the National Women’s History Museum website: 1916, “Woodrow Wilson states that the Democratic Party platform will support suffrage.”

    • Deb Watley

      I’m glad you brought this up! I knew Pres. Wilson did not support women’s suffrage at first, and I didn’t know that his 1916 platform supported it.

      • Amy Houts

        I was surprised, too! I knew that eventually Pres. Wilson supported it, but didn’t know the year or that the Democratic party supposed it as well. BTW, I love Beverly Cleary, too! Recently, a friend who was moving gave me her 1984 Newberry Medal acceptance speech for “Dear Mr. Henshaw” on audio tape. (I still have a boombox to play tapes.) I’d be happy to share it with you, Deb, when I visit SD for an SCBWI conference.

        • Deb Watley

          Believe it or not, I’ve never read Dear Mr. Henshaw. I’m going to have to remedy that. I have read Cleary’s autobiographies, though, and I would love to listen to her acceptance speech with you. That would be wonderful!

        • Amy Houts

          “Dear Mr. Henshaw” is really good. It’s not funny like her other books, so be prepared! I’d be happy to pass the tape along to you.

  2. Pingback: Notable Bicentennials: Events from 1816 | Deb Watley

Leave a Reply