May Factoids


May 1-31

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is observed in the United States during the month of May. Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans are recognized for their history, culture, and achievements in the United States.

May is Jewish American Heritage Month

The month of May is dedicated to celebrating the role that Jewish Americans played in shaping American culture and traditions. The holiday is promoted by The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to help encourage people to research and learn more about the impact that the Jewish community had on hundreds of years of American history and culture. View the Holocaust Remembrance Collection. See also Remembering the Holocaust. .



May Observances (Week):

Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week is a national holiday celebrated in United States of America which takes place in the first full week of May. Did you know there is also a National Teacher Day which is observed on the first Tuesday of the first full week of May. Check out some teachers featured on Knowitall.

Public Service Recognition Week

Public Service Recognition Week is celebrated the first week of May since 1985 (beginning on the first Sunday of the month) to honor the people who serve our nation as federal, state, county, local and tribal government employees. If you miss this week, celebrate National Emergency Medical Services Week during the third week of May.

National Hospital Week

View our KIDS WORK! Hospital series! Download our Coloring Pages here!

National Nurses Week

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6 and ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale's birthday. International Nurses Day is observed around the world on May 12 of each year to mark the contributions that nurses make to society.

National Pet Week

Beginning the first full week Sunday through Saturday in May, National Pet Week celebrates the relationship and the circle of life between pet and human. Visit the Animal Lovers Collection.


May Observances (Day):

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General Mark W. Clark

May 1, 1896: General Mark W. Clark was born in Madison Barracks, New York. In WWII, he commanded the Fifth Army which invaded Italy in September 1943, and later served as president of The Citadel. Learn more about Gen. Clark, and Operation Shingle here. (South Carolinians In WW II)

Law Day

Law Day is held on May 1st every year to celebrate the role of law in our society and to cultivate a deeper understanding of the legal profession. 

National Fitness Day

National Fitness Day is a holiday celebrated on the first Saturday of May in the United States, founded by Kim Bielak in 2017. The holiday was created to dedicate an entire day to fitness and the importance of maintaining wellness. Visit the KnowItAll Healthy! Collection

School Principals' Day

Chapin High School Principal Dr. Akil Ross was named the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) 2018 National Principal of the Year. Read more about his inspiring story.




Walk and Bike to School Day

The National Center for Safe Routes to School organized the first Walk and Bike to School Day in 1997 to encourage people to ditch their car or bus and walk or bike to school. The organization is committed to making walking routes safe and preferred choices of transportation to promote healthy students and a cleaner environment. Participate in Walk and Bike to School in your neighborhood.

World Press Freedom Day

Today, governments world-wide emphasize the importance of freedom of the press. Visit the Journalism, Broadcasting & Communications Collection under the Libraries, Literature & Learning Collection for more resources.




May the 4th Be With You! 

May 4 is a day when the science fiction film series "Star Wars" is celebrated all over the world! In this edition of South Carolina Focus, learn about how Star Wars creator George Lucas approached comic book writer Roy Thomas from St. Matthews, SC to propose a Star Wars comic book to Marvel Comics!

National Weather Observers Day

This holiday is a designated day for people who like to observe and watch the weather. The National Weather Service hosts this holiday and encourages people to observe global weather patterns. View our content pertaining to weather.




Alan Bartlett Shepard

May 5, 1961: Astronaut Alan Bartlett Shepard became the first American to fly in space on board Freedom 7, during Project Mercury. Shepard's 15 minute suborbital flight was America's first step in the Space Race. Learn more about Project Mercury with The Space Race, Part 1! (History In A Nutshell)

Battle of the Wilderness

May 5-21, 1864: During the American Civil War, two major battles occurred, back to back. May 5-7 was the Battle of the Wilderness, and right after that began the Battle of Spotsylvania (May 8-21). Union General Ulysses S. Grant squared off against Confederate General Robert E. Lee, during the bloody "Overland Campaign." The results of both battles are inconclusive, but with around 32,000 casualties on both sides, Spotsylvania will be the costliest battle of the Overland Campaign. (Walter Edgar's Journal)

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican Army’s victory over France during the Franco-Mexican war, but it also celebrates the heritage of the Mexican people. 

Hand Hygiene Day

Celebrated every year on May 5, Hand Hygiene Day mobilizes people around the world to increase adherence to hand hygiene in health care facilities, thus protecting healthcare workers and patients from infections.

National Astronaut Day

Astronaut Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. became the first American in space which marked a historic day for space travel and exploration on May 5. Therefore, this day celebrates the achievements of astronauts and their diverse impact on space exploration. Visit our Space Exploration Collection.

National Space Day

Celebrated annually on the first Friday of May, Space Day is an unofficial educational holiday created by Lockheed Martin in 1997 to promote STEM education in youth. The holiday is a way to encourage more young people to learn and pursue space exploration. Visit our Space Exploration Collection.

Yom HaShoah (observed from sundown Sunday, May 5, 2024 - Monday, May 6, 2023)

Yom HaShoah in English is known as Holocaust Remembrance Day to commemorate and honor the loss of approximately six million Jewish people during the second World War. It is a national holiday in Israel and celebrated by Jewish people all over the world. Visit the Holocaust Remembrance Collection. See also Remembering the Holocaust











V.E. Day

During World War II, May 8, 1945 is the day where Nazi Germany officially surrendered to the Allies. Learn more about the Allied victory in Europe with our SCETV special: South Carolinians In WW II! (SCETV Series And Specials)

Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation Day for Those Who Lost Their Lives in WWII

Visit our Memorial Day Collection and hear the stories of those who served.


Battle of Coral Sea

May 8, 1942. In the Pacific theater of World War II, the Battle of Coral Sea began, which would become the first major defeat for the Japanese during the war. It would also be the first time in history where the entire battle was fought using only aircraft, and the opposing ships never sighting each other. Hear some South Carolinian veterans recall their experiences of the battle. (South Carolinians In WW II)








World Migratory Bird Day (U.S.A.)

This day is celebrated the second Saturday in May in Canada and the U.S., and the second Saturday in October in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean (October 9, 2021) You can celebrate and assist with conservation efforts every day! 

Protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is located on the property of Kennedy Space Center. The Refuge has the highest concentration of threatened and endangered species of any facility of its kind in the United States, including manatees. Migratory birds populate the area during the winter. 

May 14 is the day on which birds of all species all across the United States are meant to be celebrated. Bird watchers and lovers of nature are encouraged to appreciate the beauty and grace of birds on this day and to try to identify the migration patterns of the bird in this season of Spring. Find various birds on KnowItAll by entering the search term bird into the KnowItAll search engine.


Mother's Day

As we honor the women who have played such an important part in both their family’s lives and in their work, we also honor the outstanding women featured in our Women’s History and Women in Leadership Collections.



Memphis Belle

The Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress" named the Memphis Belle became one of the first B-17s to complete its tour of duty in World War II on May 15, 1943. The B-17, along with the Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" played a crucial role in the Allied victory in Europe. Learn more about these legendary warbirds, and the brave men who crewed them! (South Carolinians In World War II)




National Love a Tree Day

May 16 is the designated day to show your love and appreciation for trees and their role in a thriving ecosystem. The National Wildlife Federation encourages people to go outside and hug a tree, water one, or give a friend a tree-planter in order to properly celebrate this holiday. View content related to trees on!




Brown vs. Board of Education

May 17, 1954: In the famous court case, Brown vs. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that "separate" educational facilities are inherently unequal. Segregation of public schools was no longer legal, and signified the overturning of the "separate but equal" policy, marking a crucial victory in the fight for civil rights in the U.S.  (Road Trip)

Learn more about Brown vs. Board of Education with The Education of Harvey Ganttand Desegregation in SC. (Carolina Stories) and (Conversations on SC History)




Siege of Vicksburg

During the American Civil War, the Siege of Vicksburg began May 18, 1863. Vicksburg was the last major Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, and Major General Ulysses S. Grant besieged Confederate forces under Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton. The siege lasted until July 4, 1863, and was a success for Union forces. The capture of Vicksburg dealt a crucial blow to the Confederacy's ability to wage war in any long term capacity. (Walter Edgar's Journal)

Mount St. Helens Volcano Eruption

May 18, 1980: Mount St. Helens volcano erupted in Washington State, spewing steam and ash over 11 miles up into the sky. This was its first major eruption since 1857. Learn more about Mt. St. Helens, and volcanoes here. (Eye Wonder)




Bike to Work Day

Annually on the third Friday of the month of May, Bike to Work day promotes the idea that it should be safe for cyclists and drivers to share the road equally. Did you miss Walk and Bike to School, visit or revisit these resources for Bike to Work Day.

National Endangered Species Day

Each year on the third Friday in May, National Endangered Species Day offers an opportunity for everyone to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species.

Malcolm X

Civil rights leader Malcolm X was born May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. While serving time in prison he converted to Islam, and became an outspoken advocate for civil rights in the U.S. He was assassinated while giving a speech in the Audubon Ballroom, in Harlem, on February 21, 1965. Learn more about Malcolm X here. (Road Trip)




U.S./National Armed Forces Day

On Armed Forces Day, we honor and thank those who serve in all five branches of the United States Armed Forces including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.

National Rescue Dog Day

National Rescue Dog Day was created to bring awareness to the dogs living in shelters that are waiting to be adopted.  This holiday hopefully inspires people to adopt a rescue dog or at least learn more about the organizations that provide homes for these animals. Enjoy our collection curated especially for dog lovers.

World Bee Day

The United Nations General Assembly declared May 20 as World Bee Day to raise awareness of the essential role bees and other pollinators play in keeping people and the planet healthy.








International Day for Biological Diversity

Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on Earth at all its levels. It includes endangered species, but also all living things from organisms to human beings. The International Day for Biological Diversity was sanctioned by the United Nations to celebrate annually on May 22. Here are a few collections to explore below:




World Turtle Day

World Turtle Day® is May 23rd each year and is celebrated throughout the world. It was started in 2000 by American Tortoise Rescue.




First Official Telegraph

May 24, 1844: Telegraph inventor Samuel Morse sent the first official telegraph message, from the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, saying "What hath God wrought?" Click here to learn more about the telegraph, and its eventual successor, the telephone. (Kids Work!)   








Battle of Waxhaws

On May 29, 1780, during the American Revolution, the Battle of the Waxhaws took place, in present day Lancaster County, S.C. The Continental Army, under command of Abraham Buford, faced off against British loyalist forces, commanded by Banastre Tarleton. The battle was a British victory, with little to no quarter given to surrendering patriot rebels, hence the saying "Tarleton's Quarter." The battle was known as the "Waxhaws Massacre", and Banastre Tarleton earned the nickname "Bloody Ban", due to his brutal tactics. (Southern Campaign)

Memorial Day

On Memorial Day we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, for our country, and for all of us.





Battle of Cold Harbor

In May 31, 1864, the American Civil War, the Battle of Cold Harbor began. The fight lasted until June 12, and ended with a Confederate victory. General Ulysses S. Grant's Union army suffered numerous casualties with the futile frontal assaults against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's heavily fortified defenses. (Walter Edgar's Journal)

Walt Whitman

American poet Walt Whitman was born May 31, 1819 in Long Island, New York. His poetry celebrated modern life, and took on subjects considered "taboo" at the time. (Poetry All-Stars)

World No Tobacco Day

The World Health Organization declared May 31 World No Tobacco Day to inform the public about the dangers of using tobacco. The WHO also warns against the practices of tobacco companies and what they are doing to fight the tobacco epidemic. Watch the Stop Smoking from Earth Today Kid Minutes

World Otter Day 

The International Otter Survival Fund created World Otter Day to celebrate the creatures, raise awareness for them, and protect them. Check out the SC Aquarium, Part 2.