1961 History

The cold war continued to worsen with the USSR exploding some very large bombs during testing and then masterminding the building of the Berlin Wall separating East from West Berlin, America sent a battle group to Germany and Americans and Russians Glared at each other across the border, due to this uncertainty many Americans built backyard fallout shelters in case of nuclear war. To make matters worse the Americans financed anti-Castro Cubans for an invasion at the bay of pigs which was an unmitigated disaster. The Soviets put the first man in space in April Yuri Gagarin followed by the US in May with Alan Shepard. Popular music included Chubby Checker’s “Pony Time” and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles, and top movies included “West Side Story” and “The Parent Trap.”


  • UN General Assembly condemns Apartheid


  • The Antarctic Treaty System comes into force to regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica to ensure that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes
  • The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) started
  • Estimate of the Worlds Population reaches 4 billion


  • John F. Kennedy inaugurated as President of the United States
  • President John F. Kennedy advises American families to build bomb shelters
  • The Peace Corps is established by John F. Kennedy
  • Segregation on railways in the south ends
  • Texas Sales Tax Introduced
  • The first six flags theme parks opens “Six Flags Over Texas” at Arlington, Texas
  • “Freedom Riders” test the United States Supreme Court decision Boynton v. Virginia by riding racially integrated interstate buses into the South. Some are attacked and beaten by white supremacist supporters of racial segregation.U.S.
  • Pampers the first disposable diaper introduced


  • Britain applies for membership of the EEC
  • Amnesty International Started in United Kingdom
  • Members of The UK Portland Spy Ring are found guilty of selling plans of the HMS Dreadnought, Britain’s first nuclear submarine to the Russians


  • First Direct US Military Involvement in Vietnam


  • The Xingu National Park is created in Brazil


  • During the Monza Italian Grand Prix Race Baron Wolfgang von Trips Ferrari crashes off the track onto embankment filled with spectators killing 14 plus the driver.


  • Members of the Portuguese leftist movement hijack the luxury cruise liner Santa Maria.


  • Last Journey of The Orient Express Paris - Bucharest


  • Somalia suffers wide spread flooding after the two main rivers overflowed their banks and merged in a vast flood plain leaving hundreds of thousands homeless.

South Africa

  • South Africa becomes an independent republic.