Emperor Claudius, known as Claudius the Cruel, outlawed marriage in Rome, believing Roman men were unwilling to join the army due to attachment to their wives. Holy priest Valentine saw this as an injustice and continued to perform marriages secretly. Valentine was discovered and sentenced to death. He was beheaded on Feb. 14, 278.
The 18-member United States figure skating team was killed in a plane crash on Feb. 15, 1961, on the way to the World Figure Skating Championships. Friends, family and coaches aboard the plane also died. On the 50th anniversary of the crash, all the victims were inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
Archaeologist Howard Carter entered the burial chamber of Egyptian King Tutankhamen on Feb. 16, 1923. Carter found the young king’s sarcophagus, gold, jewelry, weapons and a chariot in the tomb. The mummy was the first to be discovered still perfectly preserved.
Thomas Jefferson became the third elected president of the United States on Feb. 17, 1801. After lowering the national debt by one-third and doubling the size of the United States during his first term, Jefferson won his second election by a landslide.
Clyde Tombaugh, at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, discovered Pluto on Feb. 18, 1930. Pluto takes approximately 248 years to complete one full orbit around the sun. One day on Pluto is equivalent to about 6 ½ days on Earth.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. died from head injuries suffered in a crash in the final lap of the 43rd Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, 2001. He was known as “The Intimidator” due to his aggressive driving style. Earnhardt was the fourth NASCAR driver to die in less than a year, prompting officials to implement new safety regulations.
Thomas Edison was awarded a U.S. patent for the phonograph on Feb. 19, 1878. The phonograph was the first invention that could record sound and then play it back. The first words ever recorded were “Mary had a little lamb.”
One hundred people died at a concert in West Warwick, Rhode Island, on Feb. 20, 2003. Pyrotechnics ignited soundproofing foam in the ceiling, causing the fourth deadliest fire in American history. Tour manager Daniel Biechele pleaded guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter for setting off the pyrotechnics without a permit.