1917 History Events: What Happened in 1917

1917 saw numerous significant advances while the First World War raged. This was also the year that the United States entered World War I. The United States, which had remained officially neutral up to this time, objected to Germany’s restart of its Atlantic U-boat operation. On February 1st, Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare, and the infamous “Zimmerman Telegram” was shown to the US ambassador to the United Kingdom on February 24th. Days later, the contents of the telegraph were made public in the United States, adding gasoline to the cause of Americans who wanted to intervene on the Allies’ side. On April 6, 1917, the United States officially declared war on Germany after a series of events, including the arrival of the telegraph.

The Russian Empire and the Romanov dynasty came to an end with Czar Nicholas II’s abdication of the throne. 1917 was also the year of Russia’s October Revolution and the start of the Russian Civil War, which led to the Soviet Union’s communist dictatorship being established. Another intriguing point to consider is the Royal Family of the United Kingdom. The House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was renamed the House of Windsor in July 1917, after King George V declared that his family and descendants would adopt the surname Windsor instead of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Despite the fact that the conflict dominated headlines this year, there were some important cultural breakthroughs. J.R.R. Tolkien began composing The Book of Lost Tales, the initial version of his famous Silmarillion, in this year, marking a significant literary milestone. Tolkien worked while on medical leave from the British Army after growing unwell as a result of trench warfare’s harsh conditions.

Buster Keaton made his cinema debut in “The Butcher Boy,” a short film starring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, which was the first of a series of films starring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. In unrelated news, Argentina produced the world’s first feature-length animated film, El Apostol.

Continue reading to discover more about the events of 1917.


(January 17, 1917)
For $25 million, the United States bought three of the Virgin Islands from Denmark: St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix.


(April 02, 1917)
President Woodrow Wilson of the United States requested a declaration of war against Germany from Congress.

(June 04, 1917)

The first Pulitzer Prizes are given out: Laura E. Richards, Maude H. Elliott, and Florence Hall are awarded the first Pulitzer Prizes for biography (for Julia Ward Howe). For his work With Americans of Past and Present Days, Jean Jules Jusserand won the first Pulitzer Prize in history. Herbert B. Swope is awarded the first Pulitzer Prize in journalism for his work for the New York World.

(November 20, 1917)
At the Battle of Cambrai, the British deployed tanks effectively for the first time in warfare. British forces score early gains over German lines, but are eventually repulsed. photo source:

Written by James

James has always been intrigued by dinosaurs, the universe, technology, and animals. With a Bachelor of Computer Science and years of writing expertise, he joined World Amazing Facts in 2021 as a staff writer.

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1916 History Events: What Happened in 1916

1918 History Events: What Happened in 1918