This Day In History, May 12th

What happened on this day in history: Florence Nightingale is born, the first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting takes place, and more momentous events.

1593: Playwright Thomas Kyd Is Arrested For Libel

Thomas Kyd is arrested for libel and subsequently tortured in London. Born in 1558, Kyd was an English playwright most known for his work The Spanish Tragedy. After an official decree called for the arrest of authors of lewd and libelous work, Kyd was imprisoned and his home was searched by authorities.

During the search, authorities found documents that supposedly denied the eternal deity of Jesus Christ. Branded a heretic, Kyd was tortured for more information regarding these documents before eventually being released. However, he never recovered and died a year later. Today, he is recognized as one of the most important playwrights of the Elizabethan era.

1820: Florence Nightingale Is Born

Florence Nightingale

London Stereoscopic Company/Getty ImagesPhotograph of Florence Nightingale in 1870.

Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, is born in Italy. Nightingale served as a nurse during the Crimean War, during which she attended to wounded soldiers in Constantinople. Her fame skyrocketed after her methods of sanitation and care led to reduced death rates among wounded soldiers, and her reputation as a skilled nurse popularized the job as a role for women.

She became an icon of the Victorian Era and sparked several traditions in her honor, such as the Nightingale Pledge, which is taken by new nurses to this day, and the Florence Nightingale Medal, which is the highest international award a nurse can receive. International Nurses Day takes place every year on Nightingale’s birthday.

1932: The Lindbergh Baby Is Found Dead

Baby Charles Lindbergh Jr Kidnapping

Federal Bureau of Investigation Photograph of Charles Lindbergh, Jr. shortly before his kidnapping.

The body of the kidnapped Lindbergh baby is found in New Jersey. Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., son of Charles Lindbergh — the famed aviator known for completing the first solo, non-stop transatlantic flight — and his wife Anne Lindbergh was kidnapped at just 20 months old on March 1, 1932.

The boy was taken out of his nursery in the evening while his parents were at home. The body of Charles Lindbergh, Jr. was accidentally found by a truck driver after it had been badly decomposed, burned, and buried. An autopsy concluded that blunt force trauma to the head was the cause of death, an injury which occurred approximately two months before the body’s discovery. A man named Bruno Richard Hauptmann would be arrested and executed for the murder in 1936.

1935: The First Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting Takes Place

Alcoholics Anonymous is founded in Akron, Ohio. Bill W., a New York stockbroker, and Dr. Bob S., an Akron surgeon, created Alcoholic Anonymous to help alcoholics achieve sobriety after battling their own addictions to alcohol. In 1939, the group published its basic textbook titled Alcoholics Anonymous and listed their core beliefs, now called the Twelve Steps of recovery. Groups across the United States popped up and membership increased over the ensuing decades. Today, Alcoholics Anonymous operates in 180 countries and is composed of 123,000 groups.

1949: The Soviet Union Lifts The Blockade Of Berlin

After World War II, Allied countries divided up Germany into zones that each Allied nation could manage. Germany’s capital, Berlin, was entirely inside the Soviet zone, and in 1948, Joseph Stalin called for a blockade of the entire city of Berlin after British, French, and American officials expressed a desire to create a unified West Germany with a common currency. With this blockade, nearly three million people in West Berlin were without food and supplies. The United States and Britain carried out the largest air relief operation in history, transporting 2.3 million tons of supplies into West Berlin over a period of 11 months.