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This Day in Pop Culture for May 24

Mary Had a Little Lamb

1830: Mary Had a Little Lamb…for Real

It was on this day in 1830 that the nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb” was published for the first time. It is a poem written by Sarah Joseph Hale that was, as Hollywood likes to say, “ripped from the headlines.” The true tale is about Mary Sawyer from Sterling, MA, who indeed had a pet lamb and did bring it to school. “Visiting school that morning was a young man by the name of John Roulstone, a nephew of the Reverend Lemuel Capen, who was then settled in Sterling,” said Mary. “It was the custom then for students to prepare for college with ministers, and for this purpose Mr. Roulstone was studying with his uncle. The young man was very much pleased with the incident of the lamb; and the next day he rode across the fields on horseback to the little old schoolhouse and handed me a slip of paper which had written upon it the three original stanzas of the poem…”


1978: The Glass Ceiling

It was during a speech that she gave on this day in 1978 that Marilyn Loden first uttered a phrase that would not be forgotten. Known as a writer, management consultant, and diversity advocate, Loden was speaking about the role of gender discrimination in the workplace and she invented the term “glass ceiling” referring to invisible career barriers for women.

1844: The First Telegraph Message

Samuel Morse was a part-time painter, part-time inventor. In late 1842 during a visit to Washington, D.C., he strung wires between two different rooms in the Capitol building and began to send messages back and forth demonstrating his telegraph system. Impressed, congress appropriated $30,000 for the construction of a 38-mile long telegraph line between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. On May 1, 1844 news of Henry Clay’s nomination for U.S. president was telegraphed from the Whig Party’s convention to the Capitol Building. Then, on this day in 1844, the line was officially opened when Morse sent the phrase “What hath God wrought” from the Capitol building to the B&O’s Mount Clare Station in Baltimore. The quote is from the Bible in Numbers 23:23.



  • 1938: Tommy Chong (actor)
  • 1941: Bob Dyland (singer)
  • 1944: Patti LaBelle (singer)
  • 1945: Priscilla Presley (actress)
  • 1949: Roger Deakins (cinematographer)
  • 1955: Rosanne Cash (singer)
  • 1965: John C. Reilly (actor)
  • 1967: Eric Close (actor)
  • 1986: Mark Ballas (dancer)

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Jeffrey Totey View All

I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.

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