William Shenk was 17 years old when The Great Blizzard of 1888 struck the northeastern United States, producing snowdrifts in excess of 50 ft (15 m) and confining some people to their houses for up to a week. The Great Blizzard of 1888 or Great Blizzard of '88 was one of the most severe recorded blizzards in the history of the United States of America. The storm, referred to as the Great White Hurricane, paralyzed the East Coast from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine, as well as the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Snowfalls of 10 to 58 inches fell in parts of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and sustained winds of more than 45 miles per hour (72 km/h) produced snowdrifts in excess of 50 feet (15 m). Railroads were shut down, and people were confined to their houses for up to a week. Railway and telegraph lines were disabled, and this provided the impetus to move these pieces of infrastructure underground. Emergency services were also affected.
William Shenk was 22 years old when Electrical engineer Nikola Tesla gives the first public demonstration of radio in St. Louis, Missouri. Nikola Tesla was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.
William Shenk was 34 years old when Albert Einstein publishes his first paper on the special theory of relativity. Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics. His work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He is best known to the general public for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2, which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation". He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect", a pivotal step in the development of quantum theory.
William Shenk was 43 years old when Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were assassinated by a Yugoslav nationalist named Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, sparking the outbreak of World War I. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria-Este was a member of the imperial Habsburg dynasty, and from 1896 until his death the heir presumptive (Thronfolger) to the Austro-Hungarian throne. His assassination in Sarajevo precipitated Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia, which in turn triggered a series of events that resulted in Austria-Hungary's allies and Serbia's declaring war on each other, starting World War I.
William Shenk was 57 years old when Walt Disney character Mickey Mouse premieres in his first cartoon, "Plane Crazy". Walter Elias Disney was an American entrepreneur, animator, voice actor and film producer. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of cartoons. As a film producer, Disney holds the record for most Academy Awards earned by an individual, having won 22 Oscars from 59 nominations. He was presented with two Golden Globe Special Achievement Awards and an Emmy Award, among other honors. Several of his films are included in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
William Shenk was 68 years old when Adolf Hitler signs an order to begin the systematic euthanasia of mentally ill and disabled people. Adolf Hitler was a German politician, demagogue, and Pan-German revolutionary, who was the leader of the Nazi Party, Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945 and Führer ("Leader") of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. As dictator, Hitler initiated World War II in Europe with the invasion of Poland in September 1939, and was central to the Holocaust.
William Shenk was 74 years old when World War II: Nagasaki is devastated when an atomic bomb, Fat Man, is dropped by the United States B-29 Bockscar. Thirty-five thousand people are killed outright, including 23,200-28,200 Japanese war workers, 2,000 Korean forced workers, and 150 Japanese soldiers. Nagasaki is the capital and the largest city of Nagasaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu in Japan. The city's name, 長崎, means "long cape" in Japanese. Nagasaki became a centre of colonial Portuguese and Dutch influence in the 16th through 19th centuries, and the Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region have been recognized and included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Part of Nagasaki was home to a major Imperial Japanese Navy base during the First Sino-Japanese War and Russo-Japanese War.