The Year Was 1969

Moon LandingThe year was 1969 and America was embroiled in the Vietnam War. The new president, Richard M. Nixon, calls for a “peace with honor” as a divided U.S. sees a year of anti-war demonstrations, including the “Mobilization” demonstration in Washington, D.C., where it is estimated that over 250,000 people gathered, making it the largest anti-war protest in U.S. history.

In another large gathering (one that turned out to be larger than expected), over 500,000 fans turned up in an alfalfa field in upstate New York to hear music from Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Who and other famous acts from the ‘60s in a three-day concert known as the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Images of the concert live on in a host of websites including this one containing QuickTime video clips.

A much smaller group made history as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon through NASA’s Apollo space program. The world was captivated as these space pioneers took that “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Later that year, thousands of people would line up at the Smithsonian Institute to see the exhibit of moon rocks that the astronauts brought back with them.

There was more technological pioneering going on as computers in UCLA and Stanford universities connected online in a networking experiment known as ARPANET, the predecessor of the Internet.

Technology couldn’t stop Mother Nature though, and disaster struck on August 17 as the category 5 Hurricane Camille made landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The storm brought devastation as it made its way from the Gulf Coast, northeast through Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.

By 1968, there were over 200 million television sets around the world, 78 million in the U.S. alone, and in 1969, viewers were able to see images from all of these events from their homes. The space landing on the moon was viewed by over 94% of homes in the U.S. and had 600 million viewers around the world.

Television programming in 1969 included the premieres of Sesame Street, The Brady Bunch, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Scooby-Doo, Where are You!, Room 222, and Marcus Welby. Movies that year included Hello Dolly, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Paint Your Wagon, Easy Rider, and Midnight Cowboy.

In the world of music, 1969 marked a beginning for the rock band Led Zeppelin as they released their first album, self-titled Led Zeppelin. They would go on to sell over 200 million albums worldwide. It also marked an ending as the Beatles, recorded their last album together, Abbey Road.

Share your memories of 1969 in the comments section of this blog below.

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43 thoughts on “The Year Was 1969

  1. I missed mostly all of the first half of 1969. I was in Marine Corps bootcamp at Parris Island, SC, completely cut off from the rest of the world……HELL on earth!!

  2. I was only eight years old in 1969 but I remember being glued to the TV watching the Moon landing. It was such an awesome thing to witness.

  3. I personally miss the daily version of Ancestory.com. I find the weekly journal a bit long during my busy days of late and am not able to keep up with it. I found it easier to go through the daily version even after several days.

  4. In 1969 I was in the NASA Mission Control Center as Neil Armstrong stepped out on the moon. He threw a rock for me to see how far it would go.
    As he said while on the moon, [it was truly] “a giant leap for mankind”. And we are going back.

  5. We still have the photograph my husband took of the (black-and-white)TV screen that shows Richard Nixon inset talking to the crew on the moon. One of our special family keepsakes.

  6. I remember 1969 fairly well. I graduated that year and my fiance was off fighting the Viet Nam War. I also remember the walk on the moon. I agree with number 3 as I also miss the daily versions as I also have a really hard time keeping up with the weekly versions. Have a great day, everyone!

  7. How well I remember 1969, boyfriend in Viet Nam and graduating from Seventy-First High School. Wasn’t into Woodstock, think I’ve been a country girl from birth, coming from West Virginia, it was bred into you. Those were the good ole days even if we didn’t think so at the time.

  8. I remember the horror of the Manson Family murders and was surprised that this wasn’t mentioned, unless I have the year wrong. It seemed that television gave us the glory of the moon landing and the shock of these murders in California.

  9. We were married on September 21, 1969 in Rincon, GA. My Husband and I will celebrate our 37th Wedding Anniversary this September 21, 2006. Still married and two wonderful daughters, ages 33 and 26.
    My Grandfather, William O. (Bud) Beasley, also died August 30, 1969.

  10. #8 is right. The Manson family murders happened on August 9 of that year. My sister got married and this news, for a while, put a damper on the celebration. Too many things, too little space! I believe the moon landing happened on a Hollywood set, which makes my kids thoroughly disgusted with me!

  11. I disagree with the comments above…I think the new format is great and really enjoy “The Year Was…”.
    I can remember a birthday party at our house and all 17 of us went still when Armstrong was setting foot on the moon – then the cheers erupted with that first successful step! Now that was a birthday present!!!!

  12. 1969 was a GREAT year for my wife & I…our oldest child arrived in Oct. We had waited about 9 months to hear from the adoption agency.

    Love this format and the “The Year Was…” segment.

  13. I spent 1969 at a research station at 10,000ft in the New Guinea Highlands. Didn’t hear about the first moon landing for several days, camping on the mountain (14,000 ft), but for the second (December?) I was on Manus Island, off the north coast of New Guinea. With a full moon in the sky, we listened to the moon walk broadcast on radio, translating it into pidgin for the assembled villagers, then heard stories about WW2. Manus was held by the Japanese, then later was one of the biggest US bases, finally bulldozed into the sea, along with the bulldozers themselves(all filmed). The village was built entirely of ‘pipia belong America’ – ‘American rubbish’ – salvaged by the islanders. The next day we went by outrigger canoe to a coral atoll, fishing and drinking coconut milk, with a young man in a loin cloth who turned out to be on leave from the then Pacific Islands Regiment, just back from anti-missile training with the Australian Navy in Melbourne. We compared notes on good Melbourne restaurants. A week later in Rabaul, an anthropologist told me that after spending many days travelling to an extremely remote area, he arrived exhausted at a village, only to be met with the question ‘when in Lyndon Johnston arriving?’ The global community was already alive and well. 1969 was certainly the most surreal year of my life.

  14. I remember in 1969 my cousin from Norway arrived in the US. She didn’t know a word of English. Many years later (>30 years) I visited her in Norway and we remembered.

  15. I remember 1969 as the year I was married at the tender age of 21 feeling sooo experienced! Strange how the Vietnam war was such an awful period in our history that you’d think we would never let such a thing happen and here we are now up to our eyeballs in the horrors of the Iraq war not to mention the killing in Afghanistan and Lebanon/Israel……could the answer be “blowing in the wind”?

  16. I was looking through the family photo album awhile back and ran across the photo of the moon walk on tv. We were all so disappointed when the picture came back with a blank screen on the television!

  17. I agree with everybody! I miss the daily version but really like this section. I print the year of each of our birthdays and place them in the family history I am compiling. I hope you will eventually print the year for each of our birthdays and special events. The young people in our family are amazed at the differences in the older member’s worlds and their own.

  18. 1969 was a memorable year. I, too, got married at the tender age of 21 on June 14. Thirty-seven years later our sons are 32 and 30, and grandchildren number 3, with one on the way. During the moonwalk I was on the telephone to my sister, remembering the day we met for the first time, exactly one year before. The Manson murders was big news here in California, and a little too close for comfort.

  19. I well remember 1969; my son was born August 17, and I included the front cover of the TV Digest magazine with the moon landing on the front in his baby book. We were living in California, and I also remember the Manson murders as big news in California, but not as big as my first child being born August 17.

  20. I remember 1969 as the year my 4th child was born (Oct.13)and my other children were ages 5,4 and 3. We woke the 2 oldest children up to see the moon landing and they both still remember that event. We didn’t see any movies that year, but we did watch the first episode of Sesame Street where Wanda the Witch introduced the letter W.

  21. Camille hit Virginia, too. Scottsville was destroyed. Many mountain roads, even main ones, were completely washed out & the bridges on the western side of Richmond went under water.
    We, on the lower Peninsula barely noticed the rise in the James. Go figure!
    The “Moon Shot” blasted off on my daughter’s birthday, so it is not a difficult date to remember.
    Wasn’t there an eclipse that year, too?

  22. I remember 1969 as a year of many changes for me personally. It was a year of turmoil as riots were going on in many parts of the country. In Baltimore, we had even seen National Guard on street corners as a precaution. I worked at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the School of Nursing Library – I had graduated in 1968 and was supposed to go to college but it did not work out at the time. I got married in October and we moved to Florida (Jacksonville Beach) and almost got caught up in a riot outside of the Gator Bowl. Hey, it was a strange place for us and we didn’t know what were the safest places to go to the movies and which were not! I have been divorced for many years but still tell the story of almost being in a riot.
    I agree with one of the other posters that they were the good old days – we just didn’t know it at the time. But you know, I think most people, of any age or era, would probably say that about the years when they were in their late teens and early 20′s – when life was just beginning. Now at almost 57, I do enjoy life but it is not the same as those days long ago when you thought that you had your whole life ahead of you…….

  23. Help! When I click to get the printer-friendly version of “The Year Was 1969″ it links to “Genealogical Books in Disguise.” Can you please fix this. Thanks

  24. I remember hurricane Camille very vividly! I was 11. We were at my grandmother’s house in Pensacola. Her huge 60-90ft tall pecan trees were leaning over and touching the ground, and we were at least 50-60 miles from Biloxi! The pictures were amazing! A ocean going tug boat was left sitting on the median of interstate 10, quite a ways from the shore! A large group of people were killed that were having a hurricane party on the beach. They were found all tied together. I learned a lot about hurricanes that day! If I still lived on or near the coast, and a category 4 or 5 storm was coming towards me, you wouldn’t have to ask me to evacuate twice! Me and mine would be gone! I still have family in Pensacola, and I worry about them everytime a hurricane comes through!

  25. On September 13,1969 the cartoon series scooby doo where are you?primered on CBS.And to day is Seotember 13,2006.And it has been 37 years since its primer to.

  26. I am writing my family history so really enjoy the “Year was….” section. Need more years in the 1800s and early 1900s.

  27. I was a young mother with 2 under 4. a husband away fighting a war, broke, and because all those loved ones are gone now I would give anything to do it again.

  28. 1969 was an important year for me. I graduated from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada and received my bachelor of education. I am now retired(am 58 years old). I retired from teaching in 2003 and had taught for 34 great years. What a wonderful profession teaching is and it is so great to work with children! They are so honest! I always enjoyed hearing the song, “Summer of 69″. Happy New Year!

  29. In 1969 I was in the middle of my first job after college teaching music at the New Albany Junior and Senior High School, in Central Ohio. At night, I was a musician at the Kahiki Supper Club in Columbus which kept me up until late each night. The year went fast as I worked day and night and didn’t have much time left over for current events or keeping up with what was going on in the rest of the world.

  30. Those were days of turmoil. Riots in the streets, Vietnam, Drug Cultures, Peace Movements. We thought that we would live forever only to find out that now we are in the autumn of most of our lives.
    I would say the sixties changed my life in many ways some for the betterment but some what leaves some scares that I will never forget. I think allot of us lost our innocense and never quit regained it.
    I see Iraq as a replay of Vietnam and I pray we get out soon. God Bless our Men and Women in uniform.

  31. christmas eve of 1969. i remember going down the basement steps with my uncle who was in full uniform (home from vietnam with a broken leg). He was going to help me find the noise i had heard coming from down there.it was hard for him with crutches but he helped me just the same. when we got to the bottom of the steps, we found what was making so much noise. my christmas present. a beautiful minature schnauzer puppy. i was only 4 years old and i hope to always be able to recall this memory. i was so proud of my uncle wearing his uniform (he is still special to me). it was the first time i had ever seen a soldier up close.

  32. Thank you for sharing a part of your lives from the year that I was born into 1969. Most everything had already happened that year as I was born 9/24 2 days before my dad’s 33rd birthday. The good thing about the date of my birthday is that it came 6 days before I could have been held back in school. I would not have the same friends from grade school and high school that I still keep in contact with to this day nor would I have learned the Hungarian embroidery (that I do expertly to this day) when my parish priest brought a lady to teach the school children in 1979 my 4th grade year.

  33. 1969 was a tough year at our house. I was 12, & “too old for a babysitter”, and an astronaut wannabe. Early that year, my dad was gone to alaska for about 3 months helping to fly exploritory drilling pipe and supplies to the north slope, so I had to take care of things and my younger sibblings. Mom had a car accident during that time. The summer was good tho, as I spent it w/ my GParents. We watched everything to do w/ Apollo 11 no matter the time of day or night.

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  35. it was great to read all of your memories! I am turning 21 years old in december and I got married on my birthday in 2006. My wife and I are only 12 days apart and I thank God for her memory because she reminds me about events in very good detail. She even remembers when she was 3 and I don’t even remember yesterday!

  36. OMG I LOVED THE YEAR 1969!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 696969696969. BEST YEAR EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!

  37. That was a year to remember…I was 14 years old and I saw the incrieble mets win the worlds series, I also saw the landing on the moon on tv. My brother returned home from vietnam the year. I loved watching the muscle cars of the 60′s up to 1969.

  38. I do indeed remember the landing on the moon. My sister and I had gone antiquing in St Charles, Missouri. We had a wonderful copper wash kettle we were cleaning. My mother was so thrilled with the moon landing we were intent on the cleaned up copper wash kettle. One never seems to appreciate wonderful historical events at the time they occur

  39. What a trip back in time. I graduated from H. S. in 1969 and started working at my first “real” job that summer. Then on July 20th I watched the landing on the moon with my boyfriend of 5 weeks who was later to become my husband!!! We stayed up half the night watching history being made. I remember Woodstock as something that just happened and just got huge overnight. Would not have thought of going…it was too far away! (unlike kids today going to concerts) I also remember the Charles Manson murders and how terrifying that was. The Vietnam War was in the news every day and our local cemetery had some graves pre-dug and to me that was so very sad. It was a very changing time for our country as well as my generation. I am glad I was 18 in 1969!

  40. I was a 10 year old girl eating pancakes as I watched the Moon landing. I shall never forget it, and it changed my life, for the better, forever.

    I remember all the other mentioned events, and it happens that Led Zepplin became my favorite rock band.

  41. I remember the summer of 1969. I started boot camp at Parris Island in June and graduated in August. The heat was unbearable. We were totally cut off from the outside world. It was in October home on my first leave that I found out about the moon landings, and woodstock. There were so many recruits on the Island, you thought it was going to sink. Half my platoon was drafted into the Marines. Needless to say, it was an experiance I will carry with me for the rset of my life. And I would’nt trayed it for the world.

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