Skip To Content

    21 Historical Facts That Will Legitimately Leave You Reeling And Have You Wondering If Time Is Actually Meaningless

    Betty White was born before Anne Frank and Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Recently, this tweet about historical perspective went pretty viral.

    What bit of historical perspective gives you an existential crisis? Mine is that Harriet Tubman was born in Thomas Jefferson's lifetime and died in Reagan's.

    Twitter: @BudrykZack

    As someone who loves nerding out over history, the entire thread was a joy to read.


    Here are some of the wildest, most mind-blowing, "OMG, why did no one teach me this in school?" responses:


    @BudrykZack oldie but a goodie: cleopatra lived closer to the apollo 11 moon landings than to the construction of the pyramids of giza

    Twitter: @mutual_cascades

    The pyramids of Giza were constructed between 2550 and 2490 B.C., and the Apollo 11 moon landing happened in 1969. It's assumed that Cleopatra was born in either 69 or 70 B.C., which means the pyramids had been a thing for nearly 2,500 years when she was born. Conversely, she would have been a mere 2,038 years young at the time of the moon landings.

    The pyramids on the left and the moon landing on the right
    Getty Images


    @BudrykZack Jimmy Carter was the first president born in a hospital.

    Twitter: @TiffRichElliott

    Carter was born in 1924 at the Lillian G. Carter Nursing Center in Plains, Georgia, where his mother was a nurse. He went on to become the 39th President of the United States.

    Jimmy Carter smiling
    Consolidated News Pictures / Getty Images


    @BudrykZack Lauren Bacall was married to/costarred with Humphrey Bogart (born 1899) and also was in the same episode of Family Guy as Ariana Grande

    Twitter: @andrewlevine

    Bacall, who starred in classic movies like The Big Sleep and How To Marry a Millionaire, married Humphrey Bogart in 1945 when she was 20 years old and Bogart was 46. In 2014, she appeared on "Mom's the Word," an episode of Family Guy that both Ariana Grande and Carrie Fisher also guested on, in what ended up being her final role.

    Lauren and Humphrey looking into each others eyes on top and Lauren's animated character on bottom
    Getty Images/Fox


    @TiffRichElliott @BudrykZack Obama was the first President born under the same American flag he served as President under.

    Twitter: @teddipasketty

    President Obama was born in 1961, two years after his home state of Hawaii became the 50th state in the union. The new flag including all 50 states was adopted as the official flag on July 4, 1960. For context, when president Biden was born in 1942, the flag still had 48 stars.

    President Obama at a podium with an American flag behind him
    Alex Edelman / AFP via Getty Images


    @BudrykZack Anne Frank and MLK were born the same year

    Twitter: @seefloor

    Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on Jan. 15, 1929, and Anne Frank was born on June 12, 1929.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. on the left and Anne on the right
    Getty Images

    Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy were both also born in 1929.

    6. If that didn't make you feel all 🤯 to begin with, Betty White was born before both of them.

    @seefloor @BudrykZack And Betty White was born seven years earlier.

    Twitter: @MatthewIgnatius

    She was born on Jan. 17, 1922.

    Betty White smiling
    Gabriel Bouys / AFP via Getty Images

    7. And if you weren't shook enough already about Betty White's lifetime, this one should really put it into perspective for ya!

    @BudrykZack In 1922, the year @BettyMWhite was born, Amelia Earhardt set the women's altitude record of 14,000 feet. White has lived to see 65 female astronauts go as high as 248 miles above the earth, many living and working in the International Space Station.

    Twitter: @newjunefletcher

    248 miles is 1,309,440 feet, btw.

    US National Archives/


    Bonus: France conducted its last state guillotining the year "Star Wars" was released

    Twitter: @BudrykZack

    On Sept. 10, 1977, France conducted its final state execution by guillotine. Hamida Djandoubi, a Tunisian immigrant, was executed for torturing and murdering his girlfriend. The first Star Wars film, Episode IV: A New Hope, was released on May 25 of the same year.

    Chewbacca and Han Solo in a fight scene
    United Archives / FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images


    @BudrykZack The Wright brothers' first flight was only 66 years before the moon landing.

    Twitter: @JReeths

    The first flight was launched on Dec. 7, 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina by the Wright Brothers. It was the first of four short flights that would take off that day — 66 years later in 1969, NASA landed on the moon. Absolutely nuts to think about how quickly flying evolved.

    Getty Images


    @BudrykZack The last person to receive the American Civil War pension died in 2020. Born in 1930, she was the daughter of someone born in 1846 who served in the war as a very young man.

    Twitter: @CateIsMilesAway

    Until her death in 2020 at age 90, Irene Triplett received $73.13 each month from the Department of Veterans Affairs as her father's Civil War-era pension. Her father, Mose Triplett, abandoned the Confederacy right before the battle at Gettysburg to join the Union army. Irene was born when Mose was 78 years old.

    Christine_kohler / Getty Images/iStockphoto


    @BudrykZack Rebecca Rolfe, aka Matoaka, aka Pocahontas, died within a year and within 100 miles of William Shakespeare.

    Twitter: @confederatiode2

    Was I the only person who thought that these two were living on vastly different timelines? Pocahontas, whose real name was Amonute (but she also went by the private name Matoaka), died of tuberculosis in 1617 in Gravesend, United Kingdom. She was believed to be only 21 years old. Meanwhile, William Shakespeare died in 1616 in Stratford-upon-Avon. Some scholars think that Pocahontas arrived in the United Kingdom just six weeks after Shakespeare's death.

    An illustration of Pocahontas on the left and an illustration of Shakespeare on the right
    Getty Images


    @BudrykZack “Little House” author Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in the horse and buggy era (1867) and died in the nuclear age (1957).

    Twitter: @SusanOrr

    Wilder grew up in a pioneer family who settled in Kansas. She later wrote about her experience in the Little House on the Prairie book series. Upon her death in 1957, television was a household phenomenon, many people had cars, and America was testing nuclear weapons — a far cry from Wilder's horse and buggy days.

    A portrait of Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Getty Images


    @BudrykZack Charlie Chaplin and Adolf Hitler were born in the same year (1889), which is the same year the Eiffel Tower was inaugurated and Van Gogh painted 'Starry Night'.

    Twitter: @opaleyedragon

    Other things that happened in 1889: Nintendo was founded as a playing card manufacturer, the first jukebox went into operation at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco, and the United States officially added North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington as states.


    14. I have not been able to stop thinking about this fact since I read this.

    @BudrykZack John Tyler's grandson still being alive genuinely fucks with my head and general concept of time.

    Twitter: @Ben_Jamon

    Born in 1790 (this is important!), John Tyler was the 10th President of the United States. His second wife, Julia Gardiner, was much younger, so Tyler was fathering children through his 60s. His child Lyon Gardiner Tyler Sr. was born in 1853. Following in his father's footsteps, Lyon married a much younger woman, and his son Harrison was born in 1928, when Lyon was 75. Harrison is currently 93 and lives in a nursing home in Virginia.

    A painting of John Tyler
    Graphicaartis / Getty Images

    In case that wasn't wild enough, Harrison was also a descendant of the ninth president, William Henry Harrison (hence the name) and is also believed to be "the closest living genetic relation to Pocahontas in the world.”


    Buzzfeed: @grayandrainbows

    Yes, you read that right. Samurais were officially abolished in 1867, 24 years after the first fax machine was invented in 1843. President Lincoln was assassinated at the Ford Theater in 1865, so you know, a samurai could have sent Lincoln a fax, had he been so inclined.

    Getty Images


    Coming back to this to add that Tupac's debut was longer ago than the entirety of his lifespan

    Twitter: @BudrykZack

    Tupac was 25 when he was killed in 1996. His debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, was released 30 years ago in 1991.

    Ron Galella, Ltd. / Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images


    @BudrykZack The USA has had universal same-sex marriage for longer than it had the Confederacy. :-)

    Twitter: @GlobalTom

    Universal same-sex marriage was officially legalized in all 50 states by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015. The Confederacy only lasted for five years, from 1861 to the end of the Civil War in 1865.

    A crowd of people waving Pride flags and the U.S. flag
    Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images


    @BudrykZack A witness to Lincoln's assassination lived long enough to talk about it on live TV:

    Twitter: @Quizmonster

    Samuel J. Seymour was the last living eyewitness to Lincoln's assassination. He appeared on the show I've Got a Secret in February 1956, when he was 95 years old. Seymour had fallen down a set of stairs in his hotel just before his appearance, but was so determined to share his story that he appeared on the show with a black eye.

    Samuel J. Seymour on the show


    @ChadWaIters @BudrykZack Speaking of Universities, for the first few years after Harvard was founded, it didn't teach calculus because calculus hadn't been invented yet.

    Twitter: @sayer_of_stuff

    Imagine not being able to take calculus because IT HADN'T BEEN INVENTED YET. High school me could have only dreamed of this. Calculus was invented in the 1670s by Gottfried Leibniz and Isaac Newton, while Harvard University was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1636.

    Warners Bros./


    @BudrykZack The woman Emmitt Till was accused of "whistling at" is still alive at 87ish and counting... Till would've been 80(!) in 2021, and there are several famous Black people living that are older than that Also he was only 14!

    Twitter: @PhillyBeach93

    Emmett Till was only 14 years old when he was brutally murdered in Money, Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly flirting with Carolyn Bryant, a white woman working at a candy store. Bryant's husband and brother killed Till four days later. In 2017, it was revealed that Bryant had recanted her testimony, admitting that Till had never touched or harassed her.

    Emmett Till smiling
    Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Getty Images


    @BudrykZack Charlie Chaplin and John Cena were alive at the same time.

    Twitter: @LostInThePondUS

    Charlie Chaplin was born in 1889 and died on Christmas Day in 1977, the same year John Cena was born, so I guess they technically could have met in some parallel universe.

    Getty Images

    Have any other historical perspective facts you'd add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

    Thank you to @BudrykZach for kicking off this thought-provoking and mind-blowing thread!