1600 ~ The Peruvian stratovolcano Huaynaputina exploded in the most violent eruption recorded in South America.

1819 ~ William Smith the British explorer discovered the South Shetland Islands, and claimed them in the name of King George III.

1847 ~ The Donner Party surviving members were reached by the 1st group of rescuers. The Donner Party were a group of American pioneers bound for California in a wagon train, but were stranded by snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In the summer of 1846, 89 people (including 31 members of the Donner and Reed families) set out in a wagon train from Springfield, Illinois. After arriving at Fort Bridger, Wyoming, the emigrants decided to avoid the usual route and go via Hastings Cutoff, a new trail recently blazed by California promoter Lansford Hastings. After electing George Donner as their captain, the party departed Fort Bridger in mid-July.  The so called shortcut set the Donner Party back about 3 weeks, costing them much-needed supplies. They suffered great hardships in the Wasatch Mountains, the Great Salt Lake Desert and along the Humboldt River, before finally reaching the Sierra Nevada Mountains in early October. While camped at Truckee Lake in the high mountains 21 kilometers northwest of Lake Tahoe, an early winter storm blanketed the ground with snow, blocking the mountain pass and trapping the Donner Party.

1878 ~ Thomas Edison patented the phonograph.

1884 ~ The 1984 Enigma outbreak hit the Southern United States with over 60 tornadoes, one of the largest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history.

1913 ~ Pedro Lascuráin became President of Mexico for 45 minutes, which was the shortest term of any person as president of any country.

1942 ~ Darwin, Australia was attacked by approximately 250 Japanese warplanes during World War 2, killing 243 people.

1942 ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt the United States President signed executive order 9066, allowing the United States military to relocate Japanese Americans to internment camps, during World War 2.

1949 ~ Ezra Pound was awarded the 1st Bollingen Prize in poetry by the Bollingen Foundation and Yale University.

1953 ~ Georgia approved the 1st literature censorship board in the United States.

1959 ~ The United Kingdom granted Cyprus independence, which was formally proclaimed on the 16th August 1960.

1960 ~ China launched the T-7, their 1st sounding rocket.

1985 ~ William J. Schroeder became the 1st recipient of an artificial heart to leave hospital.

1985 ~ Iberia Airlines Boeing 727 crashed into Mount Oiz in Spain, killing 148 people.

2002 ~ NASA’s Mars Odyssey space probe began to map the surface of Mars using thermal emission imaging system.

2006 ~ Pasta de Conchos mine disaster near Nueva Rosita, Mexico, killed 65 miners when methane explosed.

2011 ~ The Belitung shipwreck debut exhibition containing the largest collection of Tang dynasty artifacts found in one location, began in Singapore.

Today in History for February 19th (Associated Press video)