See all Life
20 May, 1915

Moshe Dayan born in Palestine

Moshe Dayan is born in Palestine, Ottoman Empire, near the shores of Lake Kinneret at Kibbutz Degania Alefin. His parents Shmuel and Devorah Dayan are Jewish immigrants couple from the Ukraine. The family later move to Nahalal, a settlement in northern Israel. He has a younger brother and sister. He is educated at the Agricultural School in Nahalal. He is named for Moshe Barsky a family friend murdered by a hostile Arab faction. Friend:

Moshe inherited with his very name at birth a direct association with the struggle between Jews and Arabs that would characterize the rest of his life.

9 Nov, 1914

Hedy Lamarr born in Vienna

hedy LamarrHedwig Eva Maria Kiessler Lamarr is born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary too parents Emil Kiesler and Gertrud or “Trude” Kesler. Her father is a Bank of Vienna director and her mother a concert pianist. Lamarr attends schools in Vienna and is sent to a finishing school in Switzerland as a teenager. Her mother downplays her looks and abilities:

When she was dressed for a party and looked lovely, I would say, ‘You look very well.’ When she did something clever, I would say, “You did alright.” But I under-emphasized praise and flattery, hoping in this way, to balance the scales for her.

25 Mar, 1911

Jack Ruby born in Chicago

Ruby is born the fifth of eight children to Fannie Turek Rutkowski and Joseph Rubenstein. Ruby moves around a lot as a youth, mostly throughout the Jewish neighbourhoods of Chicago. The Rubenstein home is marked by constant strife and the parents are reported to occasionally strike each other.

[We lived] below the middle class, but yet it wasn’t the poorest class.

19 May, 1909

Nicholas Wertheim (Winton) born in London, UK

Nicholas Wertheim Winton is born in West Hampstead, England. His father is a businessman who imports glassware from Bohemia. Although his parents are German Jews, they join the Anglican Church and have Nicholas baptized, and he is raised a Christian. His parents changed the family name to Winton after joining the church in 1938. He attends Stowe School. He has one sister and one brother

My upbringing had taught me not to show emotion or to despair. I grew up knowing that to achieve anything I would need to remain focused.

11 May, 1904

Salvador Dali born in Figueres, Spain

Salvador Dali is born to Salvador Dali Cusi, a prominent notary, and Felipa Domenech Ferres. His mother often encourages his eccentric side. Dali’s artistic talent is obvious from a young age, and both of his parents support it. His mother dies when he is sixteen.

[My mother’s death] was the greatest blow I had experienced in my life. I worshipped her… I could not resign myself to the loss of a being on whom I counted to make invisible the unavoidable blemishes of my soul


Bruno Bettelheim born in Vienna

Bettelheim is born in Vienna of a non-religious middle-class Jewish family. As a child, Bettelheim is entrusted to a wet-nurse, but when he falls ill, his mother takes care of him. His childhood is happy at first, spent in a loving and numerous family (Bettelheim has fourteen aunts and uncles). At age four he contracts life-threatening dysentery. His is influenced by fairy tales:

The literature, which exerted a strong influence on me at the very beginning, were fairy tales, the first my mother told me, and I read itself. But I can not remember exactly whether these stories had a formative force for me. However, this must have been the case, because otherwise I would not have tried, aged over the years, to understand their psychological meaning for children. (…) How and in what way tales for me were at that time so important, I can not fathom today, but I’m pretty sure the reason being that they were telling me mainly from my mother

His father runs a wood factory, but loses a large part of its assets in the First World War, and has a stroke in 1918. He remembers his father as a weak, broken man who was no longer able to take responsibility for his family in times of change. The relationship between his mother and father deteriorates when she discovers that her husband has caught syphilis from a prostitute. His father becomes anxious and depressed, because he is suffering from many other diseases.

18 Apr, 1902

Menachem Mendel Schneerson born in Nikolaev, Russia

The RebbeMenachem Mendel Schneerson is born in Nikolaev, Russia, to the famed kabbalist, talmudic scholar and Chasidic leader Rabbi Levi Yitchak and Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson, who aids her husband in his scholarly pursuits. Schneerson is educated in Chabad institutions throughout his life. He has two brothers. Mother:

In 1905 when there were pogroms in Russia, my children and I, together with other mothers and children, hid in a pharmacy. As is normal during chaotic times, the children cried a lot. The pharmacist was fearful that the noise would expose him for sheltering Jews, placing his own life in danger…My then three-year-old son would walk around the room and quiet all the children. This was a remarkable scene. We could not talk because voices could be heard outside, so he silently motioned to them and gestured with his hands to keep quiet, calming each child in a different manner.

16 Mar, 1901

Chaya Mushka Schneerson born in Babinovitch, Russia

Chaya mushka schneerson as a childChaya Mushka (Moussia) Schneerson is born in Babinovitch near the city of Lubavitch, the second of three daughters born to the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yoseph Yichak and the Rebbetzen Nechama Dina. She is schooled at home due to the mounting antisemitism and lack of Jewish education where she lived. While still a child she and her family had to flee for fear of being harmed to Rostov and then Leningrad. From a young age she aided her father and grandfather in disseminating Torah Judaism. Her Grandfather the fifth Rebbe of the dynasty sent a telegraph on the occasion of her birth stating:

Mazal tov on the birth of your daughter …if she has not yet been named, she should be called Chaya Mushka (the name of the wife of the Tzemach Tzede, the third Lubavitcher Rebbe).


3 May, 1898

Golda Meir born in Kiev, Ukraine

golda meirGolda Meir is born in Kiev,Ukraine to Moshe and Bluma Mabovitch. When she is eight years old the family moves to Milwaukee Wisconsin, in an effort to escape pograms. Her father is a carpenter. Although she has several brothers and a sister who die in childhood, she has two surviving sisters she was very close to. She attends the Fourth Street Elementary School graduating as class valedictorian.

I identified most with my tenacious, intransigent relatives, especially my paternal grandfather, who was kidnapped at age thirteen into the Czar’s army but resisted conversion to Christianity and refused to eat traif (nonkosher food). Our family kept kosher, observed Jewish holidays, and shared traditional Sabbath meals with the extended family—all later lost in the Holocaust. I remember everyone sitting around the table singing Hebrew songs, yet I grew up in a not particularly religious household. I vividly recall my early childhood as a time of abject poverty and terrifying pogroms, and attribute my lifelong commitment to Jewish security to my memories of antisemitic violence and the experience of hiding from the Cossacks. I also remember my sister Sheyna, nine years my senior, risking her life to attend Labor Zionist meetings, and my sister Zipke, the baby, getting the lion’s share of our meager gruel. In 1903, my father left for America; three years later, he sent for us and settled us in a two-room flat in the poor Jewish section of Milwaukee. I was eight years old.

25 Oct, 1895

Levi Eshkol born in Oratov, Ukraine

Levi Eshkoll is born in Czarist Russia in the shtetl of Oratov, which is in modern day Ukraine. His mother, Dvora comes from a family of Hasidic Jews, while his father, Joseph Shkolnik, is from a “Lithuanian” background, which often opposes Hasidism. Joseph is a farmer and merchant. He trades all he produces and also owns a flour mill. Eshkoll is the second of nine children. He is educated at a traditional Jewish primary school but is refused acceptance to the public high school because of his religion. Instead he attends the Hebrew Gymnasium in Vilna. When his parents offer to support him in highschool he replies:

Only if I come empty-handed will these hands be ready to work.


22 Aug, 1893

Dorothy Parker born in Long Branch, New Jersey

Parker is born to Jacob and Eliza Rothchild. She grows up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She has an unhappy childhood. Both her mother and step-mother die when she is young. She attends a Catholic grammar school, then a finishing school in Morristown, NJ. Her formal education abruptly ends when she is 14.

All those writers who talk about their childhood! Gentle God, if I ever wrote about mine, you wouldn’t sit in the same room with me.

20 Apr, 1889

Adolf Hitler born in Braunau am Inn, Austria

Hitler is born to Alois and Klara Hitler in Austria. He is their fourth child, however the only one who survives. Throughout his early days, young Hitler’s mother fears losing him as well and lavishes much care and affection on him. His father is busy working most of the time as a customs official and also spends a lot of time on his main hobby, keeping bees and dies when Hitler is thirteen. Hitler is lazy and is only able to focus on what interests him in school. He succeeds greatly in those interests but is otherwise a dreadful achiever.

He was never an ardent worker, was unable to get up in the morning, had difficulty in getting started and seemed to be suffering from a paralysis of the will.

6 Apr, 1889

Charlie Chaplin born in Walworth, United Kingdom

Charles Spencer Chaplin is born into a poor London family of music hall entertainers, Hannah Chaplin and Charles Chaplin Sr. Even as a child he finds success as a performer. His father dies at age ten, and in the same time frame his mother falls ill.

My childhood was sad, but now I remember it with nostalgia, like a dream.

16 Oct, 1886

David Ben-Gurion born in Plonsk, Poland

Ben GurionDavid Ben-Gurion (originally named David Gruen) is born in Plonsk, Russian (now part of Poland), to Avigdor Gruen, a lawyer, and Scheindel Gruen (nee Broitman). His mother dies when he is 11. He goes to school at a small Hebrew institution run by his father. Ben-Gurion is one of 11 children but only two brothers and two sisters survive. Shimon Peres:

Ben-Gurion’s father Avigdor, a lawyer, was among the first in Plonsk to set aside the more traditional Jewish garb in favor of the frock coat and winged collar that suited his profession. As a result, Ben-Gurion grew up in a fiercely socialist and Zionist home during a time when European nationalist movements were arbitrarily determining who did and did not fit their particular definition of citizenship.

9 Jun, 1880

Yoseph Yitchak Schneerson born in Lubavitch, Russia

Yoseph Yitchak Schneerson is born in the town of Lubavitch, Russia. His father is Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe also known as the Rebbe Rashab and his mother is the Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah. He is named for his grandfather. He is an only child. He goes to the local Jewish Day School and is further educated by his father. Grandfather at the bris:

Why are you crying? When you grow up you will become a Rebbe and give over clear Chassidic discourses.

On childhood:

There is no need for so-called early “personality development.” You don’t even have to work [to educate a child] by bribing the child with nuts and gifts. We might use persuasive means to get a child to learn [difficult concepts] or to pray, but to get a child to want to see God, you don’t have to do a thing. Every child, by his very nature, wants to see God.

14 Mar, 1879

Albert Einstein born in Württemberg, Germany

Albert-Einstein-10Einstein is born the son of Jewish electrical engineer, Hermann Einstein and Pauline Einstein. Contrary to popular belief, Einstein excels in maths and science in his early schooling, and his mother encourages a love of music. He is uncomfortable with the principle of absolute obedience and the military drills that dominate the school’s atmosphere, leading to him not enjoying his schooling. Despite stopping his musical endeavors at 17, it remained an important part of his life.

If I hadn’t of studied physics, I probably would have become a musician.

10 Jul, 1856

Nikola Tesla born in Smiljan, Croatia

Tesla is born and christened by a Serbian Orthodox priest. His parents are Đuka and Milutin Tesla and he has five siblings. Upon the night of his birth there is heavy lightning and the midwife remarks that

He’ll be a child of the storm

To which his mother replies:

No, of light

6 May, 1856

Sigmund Freud born in Příbor, Czech Republic

Freud is born to a textiles dealer, Jacob Freud and his second wife, Amalia Nathansohn. Freud enjoys unconditional love from his mother, and scornful hate from his father.

When you were incontestably the favorite child of your mother, you keep during your lifetime this victor feeling, you keep feeling sure of success, which in reality seldom doesn’t fulfill.

16 Oct, 1854

Oscar Wilde born in Dublin

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde is born to surgeon William Wilde and writer Jane Wilde in Dublin, The Republic of Ireland. He is raised and taught from home until the age of nine. His scholarly prowess is already evident.

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

11 Feb, 1847

Thomas Edison born in Milan, Ohio

Edison is born to Samuel and Nancy Edison in Milan, Ohio. Edison performs poorly at school, and is only formally schooled for three months, after which his mother homeschools him.

My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.

30 Nov, 1835

Samuel Langhorne Clemens born in Florida, MO

mark twainSamuel Langhorne Clemens, later known as Mark Twain is born in the small town of Florida, Mo. He is the sixth child of John Marshall, a judge and Jane Lampton Clemens. When Clemens is four his family moves to Hannibal, MO, a bigger city with more opportunity for his father’s law practice. As a child he lives in a two-story frame house. In early childhood Clemens is largely kept indoors because it is thought he has weak lungs, but this passes by the time he is nine, when he is able to be educated outside the home and attends a private school.

The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop. The greatest inspiration I had for my writing was my mother, my friend Will Bowen and the slaves and others that I encountered as a child.


9 Sep, 1828

Leo Tolstoy born in Yasnaya Polyana, Russia

Tolstoy is born to the wealthy Nikolai Ilyich Tolstoyand and Mariya Tolstaya. Tolstoy’s mother dies when he is two, and it leads to a struggling childhood. Tolstoy’s father dies when he is nine and he moves in with his aunt. He is good at games and has talent for sophisticated socialisation.

We were brought up as regular gentlefolk back then, proud of our social position and holding aloof from all the outer world.

31 May, 1819

Walt Whitman born in West Hills, New York

Whitman is born to Lousia and Walter Whitman, a home builder. He is one of nine children, and has a fairly happy childhood. His family is however somewhat poor so he starts working at a young age.

I had to support my family when I was young.

5 May, 1818

Karl Marx born in Trier, Germany

Marx is born to Jewish lawyer Heinrich Marx and Henriette Marx in Germany. He is the third of nine children, however due to the death of his brother he is the oldest son by the time he begins schooling. He excels in his schooling, particularly enjoying literature and poetry. Marx’s close friend Friedrich Engels says that in schooling, he has a gleeful love of discovery.

However great the joy with which he welcomes a new discovery in some theoretical science whose practical application perhaps it was as yet quite impossible to envisage, he experiences quite another kind of joy when the discovery involved immediate change.

Feb 1818

Elizabeth Keckley born in Dinwiddle, Virginia

Elizabeth Keckley is born a slave in Dinwiddie County Court House, Dinwiddie, Virginia, south of Petersburg. Her mother is named Agnes and is a house slave owned by Armistead and Mary Burwell. Elizabeth’s mother is a ‘privileged slave’, having the opportunity to learn to read and write though this is not legal for slaves. She teaches her daughter Elizabeth these skills secretly. Elizabeth’s biological father is her master Armistead Burwell, a planter and colonel in the War of 1812. Burwell never acts as a father to Elizabeth but allows Agnes to marry George Pleasant Hobbs, another literate slave and he acts as a father figure to agnes in her early years. However his owner moves far away taking him away from his new family. Keckley begins working for the Burwells as a nursemaid for their four children when she is only four years old. She is an only child.

I was my mother’s only child, which made her love for me all the stronger. I did not know much of my father. . . he was separated from us, and only allowed to visit my mother twice a year–during the Easter holidays and Christmas. At last Mr. Burwell determined to reward my mother, by making an arrangement with the owner of my father, by which the separation of my parents could be brought to an end. It was a bright day, indeed, for my mother when it was announced that my father was coming to live with us. The old weary look faded from her face, and she worked as if her heart was in every task. But the golden days did not last long. . .. In the morning my father called me to him and kissed me, then held me out at arms’ length as if he were regarding his child with pride. “She is growing into a large fine girl,” he remarked to my mother. “I dun no which I like best, you or Lizzie, as both are so dear to me.” . . . While yet my father and mother were speaking hopefully, joyfully of the future, Mr. Burwell came to the cabin, with a letter in his hand. He was a kind master in some things, and as gently as possible informed my parents that they must part; for in two hours my father must join his master at Dinwiddie, and go with him to the West…I can remember the scene as if it were but yesterday;–how my father cried out against the cruel separation; his last kiss; his wild straining of my mother to his bosom; the solemn prayer to Heaven; the tears and sobs–the fearful anguish of broken hearts. The last kiss, the last good-by; and he, my father, was gone, gone forever.


Frederick Douglass born in Easton, MD

Douglass is born in a slave cabin near the town of Easton, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Separated from his mother when only a few weeks old, he is raised by his grandparents.

I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it. By far the larger part of the slaves know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs, and it is the wish of most masters within my knowledge to keep their slaves thus ignorant. I do not remember to have ever met a slave who could tell of his birthday…A want of information concerning my own was a source of unhappiness to me even during childhood. The white children could tell their ages. I could not tell why I ought to be deprived of the same privilege. I was not allowed to make any inquiries of my master concerning it. He deemed all such inquiries on the part of a slave improper and impertinent, and evidence of a restless spirit.

My mother was named Harriet Bailey. She was the daughter of Isaac and Betsey Bailey, both colored, and quite dark. My mother was of a darker complexion than either my grandmother or grandfather…My father was a white man. He was admitted to be such by all I ever heard speak of my parentage. The opinion was also whispered that my master was my father; but of the correctness of this opinion, I know nothing; the means of knowing was withheld from me. My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant—before I knew her as my mother. It is a common custom, in the part of Maryland from which I ran away, to part children from their mothers at a very early age. Frequently, before the child has reached its twelfth month, its mother is taken from it, and hired out on some farm a considerable distance off, and the child is placed under the care of an old woman, too old for field labor. For what this separation is done, I do not know, unless it be to hinder the development of the child’s affection toward its mother, and to blunt and destroy the natural affection of the mother for the child. This is the inevitable result. I never saw my mother, to know her as such, more than four or five times in my life

19 Jan, 1809

Edgar Allan Poe born in Boston, Massachusetts

Edgar Poe is born to Eliza and David Poe, both professional actors. His parents die within days of each other of tuberculosis when he is three years old and he is split up from his sister Rosalie, and brother Henry, to be fostered by John and Frances Allan, successful tobacco merchants, who could not have their own children. He adds their name to his own. Poe is educated well, and develops a love of writing and gambling at a young age. He grows up close to his mother, but feels restricted by his father.

30 Aug, 1797

Mary Shelley born in Somers Town, London

Shelley is born to William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Her mother is a leading feminist writer, and a source of inspiration. Mary’s learned father, who has frequent guests in their home all through her formative years, guarantees her education. A voracious reader, she borrows books from her father’s extensive library. She enjoys writing at a young age.

It is not singular that, as the daughter of two persons of distinguished literary celebrity, I should very early in life have thought of writing


Sojourner Truth born in Swartekill, NY

Sojourner Truth is born Isabella Baumfree, one of as many as 12 children of James and Elizabeth Baumfree in the town of Swartekill, Ulster County, New York. Her father is a slave captured in modern-day Ghana; her mother is the daughter of slaves from Guinea. The Baumfree family is owned by Colonel Hardenbergh and lives at the colonel’s estate in Esopus, NY, 95 miles north of New York City.

I was given the name Isabella, and was called ‘Bell.’ My mother was named Elizabeth, and called Betsy and my father was named James…In my father’s youth he was very tall and straight. For that reason he was called “Bomefree,” which was Dutch for tree. We called my mother “Mau-mau” Bett. Mau-mau was Dutch for Mama. My parents were loyal, faithful, hard working and gave Colonel Ardinburgh no trouble. He rewarded their fidelity by allotting them a small plot of land by the mountainside. On it they could crops on weekends and evenings that they could barter on the extra food and clothing for their kids.

4 Jan, 1643

Isaac Newton born in Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, England

Newton is born in Wollsthorpe-by-Colsterworth to a farmer by the name of Isaac Newton Sr. and Hannah Ayscough. His father dies three months before his birth. When Newton is three, his mother remarries and goes to live with her new husband, the Reverend Smith, she leaves her son in the care of his maternal grandmother. Newton is unhappy with the arrangement.

[I engage in] threatening my father and mother Smith to burn them and the house over them

23 Apr, 1564

William Shakespeare born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England

William Shakespeare is born of John and Mary Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. He is their third child, however his two younger sisters die prior to his birth, the presumed cause being plague. John is an Alderman and Bailiff, and Mary is a housewife. As such he is educated at a local grammar school, where he first develops his love of writing.