Ellis Island opened its doors in 1892. Over twenty million people entered the country through Ellis Island. It closed in 1954, becoming a national park in 1956. The island opened again as a museum in 1990. Idea: Children could find out if any of their relatives had ever come through Ellis Island. They could record interesting stories. Students would enjoy reading Letters from Rifka, by Karen Hesse. They could also visit the national park site to see some great photos and hear wonderful oral histories at: http://www.nps.gov/elis/index.htm.
First basketball game was played in 1892. James Naismith was working at the School for Christian Workers, now Springfield College, in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was told to develop a new game to keep athletes fit in the winter months. Using a soccer ball and two peach bushel baskets, he created the game of Basket Ball. Idea: Children could organize a basketball mini-tournament. Children can read more about the original rules of the game at: Basketball Rules. Children could also read John Coy’s Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball.
Escalator was patented in 1892 by Jesse Reno of New York City. He used his escalator as a ride at Coney Island. Later, by about 1910, the escalator was developed as a mode of moving people.
Sierra Club was organized in 1892 in San Francisco, California. John Muir was the first president. Children could visit the group’s website at: http://www.sierraclub.org.
Homer Plessy in 1892 was arrested for refusing to give up his seat in a whites only train car. His arrest became the foundation for Plessy v Ferguson, which went to the Supreme Court. The justices basically condoned separate but equal facilities.
Horseshoe improvement was patented by Oscar E. Brown in 1892. He received patent number 481, 271. His horseshoe incorporated an upper shoe and a lower shoe so that the horse experienced less discomfort when the lower shoe needed replacement. Children could view the patent at: Horseshoe Improvement.
Pledge of Allegiance was read publicly for the first time in 1892. Francis Bellamy wrote it so that people could declare their patriotism. It has undergone four changes, and it was formally adopted by Congress in 1942.
Matchbooks were patented in 1892 by Joshua Pusey of Lima, Pennsylvania. He received patent number 483,166. Children can learn more about matches and matchbooks at: Matchbooks.
Pledge of Allegiance was recited in schools for the first time in 1892. Francis Bellamy wrote the oath in two hours, but previously he had devoted years to developing the concept. The pledge has been modified, and four states, Vermont, Wyoming, Hawaii, and Iowa, do not require the oath in schools.
Iron lung was used for the first time in 1928 in a Boston hospital. During the 1940’s and 1950’s, when polio outbreaks were at their worst, some children with polio could not breathe on their own. They were put into iron lungs, and the apparatus used negative pressure to help them breathe. Over 1,200 people needed to use an iron lung. In 1954 mass polio inoculations began to take place. Fewer and fewer people contracted polio, and the need for iron lungs decreased. Today the United States is just about polio free. Also, newer inventions help people breathe easier and with more mobility. The iron lung is seldom used today.