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March 13 1999 3:30 AM

Heads Up!

Slate's 100 Top Headlines of the Century


With the millennium looming, the list-makers seem to have inherited the earth. First, the American Film Institute drew up a register of the 100 greatest American films ever made. Random House's Modern Library chased the idea a few months later with its own list of the 100 best works of fiction of the century, and next month it promises to name the 100 best works of nonfiction. Last month, the Freedom Forum's Newseum compiled a roster of the 100 top stories of the century, and this week New York University's journalism department pegged the century's 100 best works of American journalism.


Not to be left behind, we've plundered the extensive newspaper archives at the Columbia University School of Journalism, our Nexis account, and even Peter Jennings' new best-selling book to assemble a more compelling--and concise--look at the 100 high points of the century.

Your mileage may vary, so if you've come across an important headline that we've overlooked, please send it to 100TopHeds@slate.com.

Click to read the best of the nominations.

1901: Near-Sighted Teddy Roosevelt Bags President McKinley on Safari


1903: Wright Brothers Announce 3-Second Meal Service on All 12-Second Flights

1908: President Taft Calls for Federal Legislation To Enlarge Doorways, Railway Seats, Bathtubs

1912: Albania Lapses Into Anarchy 85 Years Too Soon

1912: Shipping Magnate Declares Titanic-Iceberg Merger Successful


1913: Congress Creates IRS "To Unite Nation Against Common Enemy"

1914: Panama Canal Opens New Era of Global Trade in Panama Hats

1914: Fighting Breaks Out Between War Correspondents

1915: German Submarine Fires Warning Torpedo Into Lusitania


1916: Army Physicians Laud Mustard Gas as First Inhalable Condiment

1917: President Wilson Vows To Make World Safe for Robber Barons

1918: Lenin Orders Pictures of Czar's Family Put on Milk Cartons

1918: Wife's Honeymoon Antics Give Gandhi Idea of Passive Resistance


1919: Congress Votes for Prohibition, Celebrates With First Toast in Congressional Speakeasy

1919: Senate Rejects Treaty of Versailles for Having Suspicious Foreign-Sounding Name

1920: Women Experience Futility of Voting Firsthand

1921: Humane Loophole in Immigration Quotas Lets Some Foreigners Enter U.S. as Livestock

1925: Heisenberg Says Uncertainty Principle May or May Not Be Greatest Discovery Ever

1927: Parisian Hijacker Forces Charles Lindbergh To Make Nonstop Transatlantic Flight at Gunpoint

1927: Supreme Court Rules Films Do Not Have Right To Remain Silent

1928: Babe Ruth Seldom Gets to First, Admits Wife

1929: Stock Market Crash Linked to Jews, Blacks, Catholics, Radicals, Foreigners, and Anyone Who Looks Funny

1929: Al Capone Denies Murder for Profit Allegations, Insists Gangland Slayings "Purely for Fun"

1933: U.S. Goes off Gold Standard, Adopts Moldy Crust of Bread Standard

1933: FDR's "The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Eleanor" Speech Calms Nation

1933: New Deal, Same Deck

1933: First Woman Cabinet Member, Frances Perkins, Celebrates by Getting Coffee for Other Cabinet Members

1934: Newborn Ralph Nader Files Suit Against Mother for Ejecting Him Into Hostile, Unsafe Environment

1935: Alcoholics Anonymous Sells First Mailing List to Smirnoff

1935: National Labor Relations Act Recognizes Workers' Right To Be Fired Collectively

1935: Remaining Chinese Communists Receive "I Survived the Long March" T-Shirts


1936: Moscow Show Trials Notably Lacking in Good Show Tunes

1936: Spanish Civil War Erupts as Bullfighters, Flamenco Dancers Clash Over Limited Supply of Tights

1937: Jobless Rate Tops 110 Percent With Many Unemployed at More Than One Occupation

1937: Over-Excited Hindenburg Announcer Explodes

1938: Chamberlain Calls Hitler "The Nicest Totalitarian Maniac I've Ever Appeased"

1939: Poland Invades Itself

1939: Lou Gehrig Has Lou Gehrig's Disease; "With My Name, I Figured It Was Only a Matter of Time," Says Yankee First Baseman

1940: Millions of Women Enter Work Force for Lower Pay, Longer Hours; "It's the Greatest Thing Since Slavery!" Say Industry Leaders

1940: Leon Trotsky Dies in First Ice Pick-Assisted Suicide

1941: "Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be" Clause Added to Lend-Lease Act

1941: Japanese Stir-Fry Pearl Harbor

1942: French Resistance Waiters Bravely Refuse to Refill Nazi Officers' Coffee Cups

1943: Oklahoma! Admitted to Union; Sprightly Musical To Replace Boring Actual State

1944: Allied Soldiers Hear of Nude French Sunbathing, Storm Normandy Beaches

1945: Stalin "Genuinely Touched" by Gift of Eastern Europe at Potsdam Surprise Party

1947: FAA Charges Drunken UFO Pilot in Roswell Crash

1948: Truman Defeats Dewey; Huey and Louie Have Yet To Concede

1950: U.S. Blamed for Starting Hopeless Asian Land War 15 Years Too Soon

1954: Some TV Couples May Be Sleeping Together, Say Insiders

1956: U.S.S.R. Asks Hungary if It Has Parking Spaces for 10,000 Tanks

1956: Thousands of Innocent Soviet Corpses Thrilled by Posthumous Rehabilitation

1958: First Hospice Allows Patients To Die in Homelike Setting--Surrounded by Greedy, Hateful Relatives

1959: Congressional Quiz Show Investigators Stunned by Revelation That Not Everything on TV Is Real

1960: U-2 Shot Down Over U.S.S.R.; Infant Bono Unhurt

1961: CIA Markets Bay of Pigs Blooper Reel

1962: Thousands of Innocent Trees Die To Make Silent Spring a Best Seller

1963: JFK Accidentally Struck Down by Flying Zapruder Lens Cap

1964: Rockefellers, Kennedys Conscientiously Object to War on Poverty

1966: Marshall McLuhan Caught Reading

1966: Robert McNamara Commended by PTA for Applying New Math to U.S. Casualty Figures

1968: Martin Luther King Jr., RFK Assassinated Separately but Equally

1968: Hippies, Beatniks Sign Historic Personal Hygiene Ban

1968: Nonproliferation Treaty Strictly Limits Nuclear Weapons to Nations That Can Afford Them

1969: Teddy Kennedy Charged With "Leaving the Scene of a Successful Cover-Up"

1970: Near-Perfect Neil Young Guitar Solo Ruined by Addition of Second Note

1972: J. Edgar Hoover Buried in Simple but Elegant Black Dress

1973: Liz Taylor Will Use New Bar Code Technology To Track Husbands

1973: Entire Consumer Product Safety Commission Dies in Pinto Explosion

1974: Ford Pardons Nixon for Plaid Trousers

1974: Good News: Smelly Ozone Layer Disappearing


1977: IBM Monopoly Threatens Free Market, Warns Head of Tiny Start-Up Microsoft

1979: U.S. Embassy in Iran Under New Management

1981: MTV Brings Western Civilization to Official Halt

1981: Reagan Shot En Route to NRA Fund-Raiser

1981: Sandra Day O'Connor Receives Congratulatory Pat on the Behind From Fellow Justices

1984: "Mondale Fever" Sweeps Minnesota, District of Columbia

1985: "We Are the World" Gives Hope to Rock Has-Beens Starving for a Hit

1987: Ollie North Wins Daytime Emmy

1988: Democratic Platform Not High Enough To Make Dukakis Visible

1989: Chinese Authorities Kick Off "Keep Tiananmen Square Clean" Week With Special Tank Sweepers

1989: Scientist Achieves Cold Fusion on Honeymoon

1991: Iraqi Army Stages Spirited 3/8-of-a-Second Counteroffensive

1993: "For God's Sake, Use a Decent Camera!" Pleads Extraterrestrial

1994: Abstinence TV Spots Boost Teen Celibacy to a Record 0.0002 percent

1996: Desperate Postmaster General Tries To Hand Deliver E-Mail

1997: AOL Offers 50 Hours of Free Downtime

1998: Wave of 1970s Nostalgia Drives up Oil Prices

1998: Primitive Amazon Tribe Still Using Apple IIs

1998: Visa To Assume National Debt for 5.9 percent, No Annual Fee

1998: Hair Club for Men Must Admit Women, High Court Rules

1998: "Bad Luck Gene" Identified

1998: China's Abacuses Still Reeling From Year 2000 B.C. Problem

1999: Internet Fills up Last 3 percent of Terrifying Void of Existence

1999: ACLU Targets Lactose Intolerance

1999: Harvard To Accept Mortal Kombat Scores in Place of SATs

1999: Western Union Introduces Singing Mammogram

1999: FDA Approves Nicotine Eye Patch

1999: Drugs Win Drug War

1999: Turnout for Apocalypse Lighter Than Expected; Most Prefer To Be Elsewhere When World Ends

Is there an important headline that we've overlooked? Please send your nominations to 100TopHeds@slate.com.

Click to read the best of the nominations.