Did you know that Marilyn Monroe and Queen Elizabeth II
were born within two months of each other? Or that Albert Einstein was still alive when Steve Jobs was born? Sitting Bull, Van Gogh and Charlie Chaplin were briefly all alive at the same time. Overlapping history has always fascinated me!
The first book that excited me about history was “The Glory Of Their Times” by Lawrence Ritter. a family friend gave it to me when I was a boy and I reread it every few years. In 1961, Ty Cobb, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, died. Ritter, an economist, read the obituary and was surprised. He had no idea Ty Cobb was still alive in the 1960s! Ritter then spent years crisscrossing the country interviewing men who had played baseball shortly after the turn of the last century. His book and the audio tapes of his interviews offer an irreplaceable look at a period of history that has otherwise faded from memory.
With the baseball season upon us, I pulled my copy of the book off the shelf and had a realization. It occurred to me that Ty Cobb was alive at the same time Barack Obama was alive. This overlapping history intrigued me. I had recently spoken to a sold-out audience on the history Abraham Lincoln’s murder. Samuel James Seymour was the last living witness of Abraham Lincoln’s murder. He died in 1956, shortly after appearing on “I’ve Got A Secret!” Doris Kearns Goodwin, who wrote one of the best books about Lincoln, could easily have met him; she was 13 years old when he passed away.
This got me thinking about other overlaps in history and I thought it would be fun to share a few with you.
A Few of My Favorite Moments from Overlapping History
(1) You and the children of Civil War veterans! As of 2013, there were two children of Civil War veterans still alive!
(2) Egyptian pharaohs and woolly mammoths. Although humans and dinosaurs never even came close to being on the earth at the same time, woolly mammoths did coexist with humans. We might think of them as being ancient animals, partly due to the “Ice Age” movies, but the last known mammoths were alive after the pyramids were built!
(3) Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens. They actually met!
(4) Woodrow Wilson and Ho Chi Minh. Ho tried to speak with Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference, to plead the case for Vietnam to be free of French Colonial rule. Interesting alternative history: what if Wilson had met him and persuaded the French to abandon their claim? The War in Vietnam might never have happened!
(5) Martin Luther King and Anne Frank were born six months apart in 1929. If Anne Frank had survived the Nazis and become a famous author on human rights, she very well might have met Dr. King!
(6) Pablo Picasso and Michael Jordan were alive at the same time for ten years. This surprised me – Picasso died in 1974!
(7) Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day in the year!
(8) Julia Roberts (born 1967) and Helen Keller (died 1968) overlapped. I hadn’t remembered that the amazing Ms. Keller had lived almost into the 1970s!
(9) Thomas Edison (died 1931) and Jacqueline Kennedy (born 1929) were alive at the same time. I would never have guessed that!
(10) Jackie Robinson was a young boy when Alexander Graham Bell died.
Bonus: Rosa Parks was born one month before the death of Harriet Tubman!