Eight Events That Occurred On A Leap Day Throughout History

1692: The first warrants were issued for the arrests of three women in the Salem Witch Trials.

On Leap Day in 1692, three women — Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba — were accused of witchcraft, marking the beginning of the Salem Witch Trials. The fate of the women was bleak. Good was hanged for refusing to confess, Osborne died one year later in prison, and Tibuta, a slave, admitted to her alleged crimes and was eventually released from prison.

1736: Ann Lee, the founder of the Shaker Movement in America, is born in Manchester, UK.

Ann Lee joined the Shaker movement, a pacifist sect of Christianity, in 1758. After having a “divine realization” 12 years later, she became the leader of the religious movement in Europe. In 1774 she received another divine message telling her to establish a Shaker church in America. Two years later, she had gathered a following in Albany, New York.

1908: “Dutch scientist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes announces he discovered “solid Helium.”

On Leap Day in 1908, Heike Kamerlingh Onnes made an announcement proclaiming that “solid helium” was observed in his laboratory. But the Dutch scientist was slightly mistaken. Onnes, known for his groundbreaking work in liquifying helium, had been experimenting with temperature and tried to condense the gas into glass tubes. During this process, the helium appeared to solidify. Aghast by this discovery, Onnes was quick to announce his findings the very next day. But his observations were off, and weeks later it was realized that this phenomenon occurred only because of the presence of hydrogen.

1936: The Soviet government renames the First Leningrad Medical Institute “The Pavlov Institute” two days after Ivan Pavlov’s death and preserved his brain.

Ivan Pavlov became known worldwide for his psychological study of “conditioning,” or training someone to behave through a learned reflex. The researcher is held in high regard. In 1904, he received a Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine for his research on digestion.

1940: Actress Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award.

Hattie McDaniel won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind.”

1964: The first royal baby born on Leap Day.

In 1964, Princess Alexandra of Kent gave birth to a son, James Ogilvy, on Leap Day. The baby is believed to be the first royal baby in history born on February 29.

1980: Buddy Holly’s glasses were found, 20 years after he died in a plane crash.

Buddy Holly’s famous black glasses were rediscovered by a police officer on Leap Day over two decades after the singer died in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, in 1959. The thick-rimmed glasses had been buried in the wreckage and turned into the County Sheriff’s office a year after the crash. At that time, they were put into an envelope and completely forgotten about, until February 29, 1980, when County Sheriff Jerry Allen came across the frames and returned them safely to Holly’s wife.

1996: The Siege of Sarajevo is lifted.

After nearly four years of continuous attacks by Serbs, the siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo was finally declared over on Leap Day in 1996. This event marked the longest siege in the history of modern warfare.

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