This Month in History: August

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Harry Houdini doing escape stunts

August 5, 1926 - Harry Houdini Performs His Greatest Stunt

In July 1926, Egyptian magician Rahman Bey spent 90 minutes in a coffin underwater and then dared Houdini to try and outlast him. Houdini loved a challenge, so he spent 91 minutes in a 700-pound coffin at the bottom of the pool in the Hotel Shelton in New York City. Houdini would die two months later from complications of appendicitis. (Images from the American Memory Collections of the Library of Congress)

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Frederick Douglass portraits

August 11, 1841 - Frederick Douglass First Major Speech

During an anti-slavery convention on Nantucket Island, Frederick Douglass gave a powerful speech on his life as a slave. After the speech, Douglass was asked to become a full-time lecturer for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. Douglass gained an international reputation as a powerful orator and author. He would spend the rest of his life fighting against injustice.

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Mount Vesuvius

August 24, 79 A.D. - Vesuvius Erupts and Destroys Pompeii

On Aug. 23, the Feast Day of the Roman God of Fire, Mount Vesuvius began rumbling. The next day Vesuvius, an active volcano in southern Italy, erupted and buried several cities, including Pompeii. In 1748, explorers found the site under layers of dust and debris but realized Pompeii was mostly intact. The ongoing excavation of the city has taught us much about life in the ancient world.

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Four images of Princess Diana

August 31, 1997 - Princess Diana Dies in Car Crash

The mother of Princes William and Harry was often bombarded by photographers. While in Paris, Diana and her boyfriend were trying to flee the paparazzi, when they crashed inside a tunnel by the Seine River. Her funeral was five days later at Westminster Abbey and 1 million mourners lined the route of her procession. She is fondly remembered for her many charitable causes. (Image of Diana photos from Flickr)

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By BethN on August 5, 2022