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American Passages: A Literary Survey

Search for Identity – Timeline

This timeline places literary publications (in black) in their historical contexts (in red).


National Guard called to enforce desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas, public schools (1957)
USSR launches Sputnik, first unmanned space craft (1957)
NASA is founded; the United States enters “space race” with the Soviets (1958)


– Thomas Pynchon, Entropy (1960), The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)
– Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962)
– Faith Ringgold, “Civil Rights Triangle” (1963) Romare Bearden, “Three Folk Musicians” (1967)
John F. Kennedy elected president (1960)
18.6 percent of married women with children work outside the home (1960)
FDA approves first birth control pill (1960)
Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin is first man in space (1961)
Alan B. Shepard Jr. is first American in space (1961)
Project Apollo to put a man on the moon is launched (1961)
John Glenn is first American astronaut to orbit the earth (1962)
First telecommunications satellite launched into orbit (1962)
Beatlemania begins (1963)
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. leads civil rights march on Washington, D.C.; over 250,000 people participate (1963)
President Kennedy assassinated (1963)
Digital Equipment Corporation introduces PDP-8, the first successful mini mainframe computer (1963)
Civil Rights Act passed (1964)
Vietnam “conflict” escalates (1965)
Malcolm X assassinated (1965)
Martin Luther King Jr. leads civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama (1965)
Watts riots in Los Angeles (1965)
Edward H. White Jr. is first American to conduct a space walk on the Gemini 4 mission (1965)
Black nationalist organization the Black Panthers founded by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton (1966)
National Organization for Women (NOW) founded (1966)
First floppy disk developed by IBM (1967)
Democratic National Convention in Chicago; nationally televised riots (1968)
Riots in 125 cities around the world (1968)
Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy assassinated (1968)
John Lennon and Yoko Ono hold “bed-in” to protest the Vietnam war (1969)
Apollo 11 mission realizes President Kennedy’s vision for the U.S. space program; astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on moon and complete moonwalk (1969)
Woodstock Festival held in New York state; 500,000 people attend (1969)
Nixon initiates “Vietnamization” policy for the war (1969)


– Alice Walker, “Everyday Use” (1973)
– Laurie Anderson, “Object, Objection, Objectivity” (1973)
– Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman WarriorMemoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts (1976)
– Romare Bearden, “Family,” “The Return of Ulysses” (1976)
Four student antiwar protesters killed by National Guard troops at Kent State University, Ohio, setting off protests at campuses around the United States (1970)
American Indian Movement (AIM) founded (1970)
Voting age lowered from 21 to 18 (1970)
30.3 percent of married women with children work outside the home (1970)
Compact disc (CD) developed (1970)
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created (1970)
Disney World opens in Orlando, Florida (1971)
Watergate scandal (1972)
Equal Rights Amendment approved by Congress (1972)
Military draft ends (1973)
United States withdraws from Vietnam (1973)
Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizes abortion (1973)
President Nixon resigns in the wake of the Watergate scandal to avoid impeachment (1974)
Sex Discrimination Act passed (1975)
U.S. Bicentennial (1976)
First Apple personal computer (1976)

[4203] Anonymous, Protest Against the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) (1970) courtesy of Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.

[6229] Anonymous, Together: A Gay Game for Everybody (1973) courtesy of Library of Congress.

[6525] Wayne Alaniz Healy and David Rivas Botello, “La Familia” mural (1977) courtesy of SPARC Social and Public Art Resource Center.



– David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross (1982)
– Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1982)
– Toni Morrison, “Recitatif” (1983), Beloved (1987)
– Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street (1984)
– Maxine Hong Kingston, Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book (1989)
– Toni Cade Bambara, “Medley” (1977)
45.1 percent of married women with children work outside the home (1980)
Former Beatle John Lennon murdered (1980)
First space shuttle flight (1981)
Sandra Day O’Connor becomes first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court (1981)
AIDS officially recognized in the United States (1982)
Equal Rights Amendment fails to be ratified as the 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1982)
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, designed by artist Maya Lin, dedicated in Washington, D.C. (1982)
IBM personal computer marketed (1982)
Sally Ride becomes first American woman astronaut in space (1986)
U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger explodes (1986)
Nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, USSR (1986)
Berlin Wall falls; Soviet Union collapses; Cold War ends (1989)
People’s Republic Army massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Tianamen Square, Beijing, China (1989)


– Sandra Cisneros, Woman Hollering Creek, including “My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn,” “Barbie-Q,” “Mericans” (1991)
– Diane Glancy, Firesticks, including “Jack Wilson or Wovoka and Christ My Lord” and “Polar Breath” (1993)
– Judith Ortiz Cofer, The Latin Deli, including “The Witch’s Husband” (1993)
– Leslie Feinberg, Stone Butch Blues (1994)
– Laurie Anderson, “Stories from the Nerve Bible” (1994)
East and West Germany reunified (1990)
Nelson Mandela freed from prison after twenty-seven years in captivity (1990)
Apartheid officially ends in South Africa (1991)
Soviet Union dissolved (1992)
Los Angeles riots following Rodney King beating verdict (1992)
World Wide Web established (1992)
Bill Clinton elected president (1992)
Guillermo Gomez-Peña and Coco Fusco begin performing “Two Undiscovered Amerindians” (1992)
Nelson Mandela elected president in South Africa’s first multi-racial democratic election (1994)
61 percent of married women with children work outside the home (1994)
In “Come With Me,” Puff Daddy samples Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” (1998)
Installation of Judith Baca’s La Memoria de Nuestra Tierra in Denver International Airport (1999)