Odd History Facts

Humans are weird. This has always been a fact but, for the last few thousand years, it has been well documented. So let’s dive into some of the odd history of humanity.


The Hollywood sign was constructed in 1923 for a staggering $21,000. The last four letters were removed during a restoration of the sign in 1949. Hollywoodland was the name of the neighborhood but residents lobbied to have the “LAND” removed, to reflect the name of the district it was in.

hollywoodland sign

Odd Fact: Call in to work gay?

Until 1979, Homosexuality was classified as a disease in Sweden. Leading a lot of people to call in to work for feeling gay. I bet nothing got done on Tuesdays in Sweden. In their defense, Sweden was also the first country to remove the label.

Alexander the Great was buried alive

It is now thought that Alexander succumbed to Guillain-Barre syndrome per his symptoms. Which is an auto-immune disorder that affects the stomach. If left untreated even today it will cause paralysis of the muscles but doesn’t effect the brain. After 6 days of not moving Alexander was buried. Probably alive.

Humboldt’s Parrot

Alexander Von Humboldt was a German geographer in the late 1700’s. His travels led him to modern day Venezuela. While visiting with a local tribe there were parrots everywhere speaking the local language. One parrot in particular sounded different. When Humboldt asked the local tribesman what language the bird was speaking they said it was that of their enemy. That tribe had been wiped out. So Alexander transcribed at least 40 words from the bird, saving the language from dying.

Baboon 5-0

The ancient Egyptians used trained baboons to catch criminals. They were probably used in the same fashion that police dogs are used today. That’s definitely an odd history fact.

Egyptian baboons
Egyptian Baboons

Naked Olympics

During the ancient Olympics, athletes performed naked. This was to bring them closer to the gods. The word gymnastics is derived from the two words “gumnasia”(excercise) and “gumnos”(naked). I imagine ratings would be quite a bit higher if this were practiced today.

Tug of war

Staying on the topic of the Olympics. From 1900 to 1920 “Tug of War” was an event. Britain won 5 medals and the USA won 3.

odd history facts

Wipe your face

When tablecloths were first invented, they were meant to be used by everyone as a napkin. They were a communal napkin for everyone at the table to wipe their face and hands after a messy meal.

The U.S. Government poisoned the alcohol

During prohibition, the U.S. government had a hard time stopping people from drinking. So they began poisoning industrial alcohols at U.S. manufacturers. The plants were favorite targets of bootleggers. It is estimated that approximately 10,000 Americans died as a result of the poisoning before prohibition ended.

Cleopatra wasn’t Egyptian

The last Queen of Egypt was not born in Egypt. Historians believe she was actually from Greece. She was a descendant of Ptolemy, one of Alexander the Greats generals in Macedonia.

Courtesy: W AILIS

Our Presidents were talented

  • Abraham Lincoln is in the wrestling hall of fame.
  • Richard Nixon was a talented musician playing 5 instruments.
  • Thomas Jefferson was a talented architect.
  • James Garfield was bi-lingual and ambidextrous. He could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other at the same time.
  • Jimmy Carter can read 2,000 words per minute.
  • Ronald Reagan was not just a famous actor but also a great sportscaster.
  • Franklin Pierce once gave a 3,300 word speech from memory.
  • Barack Obama is an award winning author.
  • Famous Quotes from Famous People

The first one dollar bill

George Washington wasn’t the first face of the one dollar bill. George first appeared on the $1 in 1869. The one dollar bill was first introduced in 1862 during the civil war and the Secretary of Treasurer at the time was Salmon P. Chase. He designed the first bank notes and put his own face on the $1.

Salmon Dollar
Salmon dollar

Columbus Day?

This one has become more well known the last few years. But Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America. That honor goes to Leif Erikson. He was the first European to discover America in the 10th century. 500 years before Columbus was born. Read about the first Thanksgiving here.

Metric or Imperial

Ever wandered why America is only one of a few countries to not use metric? It could have been because of pirates. But that’s a whole story on its own. Read about it here.

Cowboy Hats

Cowboys didn’t actually wear the big bucket hats we associate with them today. In fact, bowler hats were all the rage in the 19th century west. Cowboys probably looked closer to the image below.

bowler hats

Clinton lost the launch codes

Bill Clinton once lost the nuclear launch codes needed to confirm nuclear launches. Not for just a few minutes but for months. You could say he really blew it.

Do you have an odd fact?

Do you have an odd fact that should be on this list? I plan to add to it as I find more. If you do let me know. I may just add it along with your name for credit. Want some Space facts?

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