July 17, 1959: Homo habilis remains unearthed after 1,750,000 years in Olduvai Gorge
July 24, 1959: Nixon and Khrushchev debate in kitchen exhibit
July 5, 1959: Sukarno decrees "Guided Democracy", creates totalitarian state in Indonesia
The following events occurred in July 1959:
July 1, 1959 (Wednesday)
A new standard for the yard and for the inch was adopted by the United States and Britain. The yard was formally defined as 0.9144 meters, and, as 1/36 of a yard, the inch was 0.0254 m or 2.54 centimeters.
"World Refugee Year" began for the United Nations, running until June 30, 1960. At that time, the UN estimated that 15,000,000 people were refugees, and campaigned for private contributions and increased government spending.
At 12:01 a.m., the consumption of opium in Thailand became illegal, and all approved opium dens were closed. When 12:01 arrived, Field MarshalSarit Thanarat sent the military on a nationwide crackdown on the opium trade.
Heinrich Lübke was elected the second President of West Germany, succeeding Theodor Heuss. Lübke had 517 of the 1038 electoral votes, 3 shy of a majority, while Carlo Schmid had 385 and Max Becker 104 on the first ballot in the electoral college. Lübke won on the second round.
German jurisdiction over Saarland, and its one million residents, became effective at 12:01 am after a period of transition that had begun on January 1, 1957. France had administered the region since the end of World War II, and Saarlanders were given five days to exchange 117 francs for each deutschmark.
July 6, 1959 (Monday)
A C-124 Globemaster cargo plane, carrying nuclear weapons, crashed on takeoff from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. The crew of seven survived, and safety devices functioned properly, but one weapon was destroyed in the fire that followed.
Venus passed between Earth and the star Regulus at 1428 GMT, providing astronomers an opportunity to learn more about the second planet. Because the starlight dimmed measurably as it passed through the Venusian atmosphere during the occultation, the density of that atmosphere could be calculated more precisely. The next conjunction of Venus and Regulus will take place on October 1, 2044.
A memorial for Frank Foley (1884–1958) was dedicated in Harel, Israel, in the form of a forest planted in the desert. As a passport control officer at Britain's embassy in Nazi Germany, Foley flouted strict rules in order to help as many as 10,000 German Jews to leave the country.
July 11, 1959 (Saturday)
The Japanese government implemented a policy of publishing documents with a combination of 881 approved kanji symbols and the katakana syllabary.
The crew of a Pan American flight from Honolulu to San Francisco encountered a UFO at 21,000 feet over the Pacific, and the sighting was confirmed by pilots on two other airlines. Captain George Wilson told reporters "There was an extremely bright light surrounded by small lights" and that the object traveled at "inconceivable" speed, and added "I'm a believer now."
The worst nuclear accident in American history happened at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in southern California. The Sodium Reactor Experiment, which used liquid sodium to cool the uranium fuel rods and the nuclear reactor, experienced a sudden rise in temperature and radiation. Technicians managed to shut down the reactor, and after a two-hour inspection, the reactor was restarted. On July 26, a second inspection determined that 13 of the 43 fuel rods had melted. For two weeks, radioactive by-products had been released into the surrounding area.
The planet Neptune reached its aphelion, the point in its 165-year orbit furthest from the Sun. The planet was at its closest on August 28, 1876, and will be again on September 5, 2042.
Marshal Peng Dehuai, China's Minister of Defense, handed Chairman Mao Zedong a letter summarizing problems with the Great Leap Forward. Mao was furious, and two days later printed copies of the letter to distribute to the Luzhang Conference participants. Peng was fired and soon became the focus of the "Anti-Right Deviation Movement".
In Kirkuk, Iraq, a rally to celebrate the first anniversary of the 1958 revolution degenerated into a three-day-long massacre of ethnic Turks by the Kurds. At least 30 people were killed, and over 100 injured. The event was last referred to as the Kirkuk Massacre. On the same day, Iraq became the first Arab nation to appoint a woman to a ministerial post, with Dr. Naziha ad-Dulaimi becoming Minister of Rural Affairs.
Anthropologist Mary Leakey unearthed a skull fragment, commonly referred to as Zinjanthropus, that would lead to a rethinking of the origins of human beings. Discovered at the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, where Louis Leakey had found prehistoric tools 28 years earlier. Zinjanthropus (now Australopithecus boisei) is not considered a direct human ancestor, but another Olduvai discovery from 1960, the mandible with teeth of "OH 5" (Olduvai Hominid 5), the toolmaking Homo habilis, some 1.75 million years old, is believed to be.
Sixty-eight people, 51 of whom were children under the age of 10, were killed in South Korea when a sudden downpour and rapidly rising waters caused a panic and a stampede at the Busan Municipal Stadium, where an art show was being staged before a crowd of 70,000 people.  The sudden storm came in conjunction with Typhoon Billie, the first typhoon officially monitored by meteorologists at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
An early experiment in instant replay was done by New York TV station WPIX, after a hit by Jim McAnany of the White Sox ended a no-hitter by the Yankees' Ralph Terry. Since the game was being videotaped, broadcaster Mel Allen asked director Terry Murphy to play a tape of McAnany's hit over the air for a soon-thereafter, replay of the events. 
Died: Singer Billie Holiday died at 3:20 a.m. at New York's Metropolitan Hospital, where she had been admitted on May 31 for heart failure. Thousands of mourners turned out for her wake and her funeral.
July 18, 1959 (Saturday)
Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado was sworn in as President of Cuba shortly after midnight, hours after Fidel Castro went on television to denounce President Manuel Urrutia. On July 17, Castro had announced his resignation as Prime Minister and his plans to address the nation at 7:00 p.m. Urrutia, who had disagreed with Castro's confiscation of private farmland, resigned three hours into Castro's speech and made plans to flee the country.
Died: Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, 84, highest ranking American naval officer during World War II
July 21, 1959 (Tuesday)
The Boston Red Sox became the last Major League Baseball team to integrate, twelve years after Jackie Robinson had broken the color line. In the eighth inning of a game at Chicago, Pumpsie Green entered the lineup as a pinch runner, then played the ninth inning as a shortstop in a 2–1 win over the White Sox. Green was called up from the Minneapolis Millers club after Bobby Avila was traded to the Braves.
The Japan–Paraguay Immigration Agreement was signed, providing for 85,000 Japanese citizens to immigrate to Paraguay over a 30-year period, settling on farmland purchased by Japan's government in Chavez, Fram, Alton Parana and Iguacu. In consideration for the agreement, Japan made a $3.8 million loan so that the Paraguayan Navy could purchase seven war ships. The plan failed, with less than 7,754 Japanese moving to Paraguay.
July 23, 1959 (Thursday)
Actor Jimmy Stewart and U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater both won promotion to the rank of brigadier general. In addition to their civilian jobs, both were colonels in the U.S. Air Force reserves. The promotions were approved by voice vote in the Senate.
The Kitchen Debate took place between Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and American Vice-President Richard Nixon, at Moscow's Sokolniki Park, where the American National Exhibition was being held. At a display of a model kitchen, Khrushchev and Nixon argued, through interpreters, over the merits of communism and capitalism. Both recounted the incident years later, in Six Crises by Nixon, and in Khrushchev Remembers. Time magazine would later describe the first public discussion between the Soviet and American officials as "what may be remembered as peacetime diplomacy's most amazing 24 hours".
Died: King Mutara III Rudahigwa, ruler of the Tutsi people in the Belgian colony of Rwanda, collapsed and died after being given a penicillin injection by a Belgian physician in Bujumbura. The death was believed by other doctors to be from anaphylactic shock from a penicillin allergy, although other histories refer to the death as an assassination. In the violence that followed, 20,000 Tutsi were killed and 150,000 fled the country over the next seven years.
July 25, 1959 (Saturday)
On the 50th anniversary of the first airplane flight across the English Channel (by Louis Bleriot), the first hovercraft trip across the Channel took place, as the SR.N1 made the journey on a cushion of air.
The videotapes of the Kitchen Debate were broadcast on American television, after a delay occasioned by the Soviet government's request to have 20 minutes of the Nixon-Khrushchev exchange shown in both nations simultaneously. Because the Soviet television equipment would not accommodate American videorecording, the tape was not broadcast there.
July 26, 1959 (Sunday)
Eight days after his "resignation", Fidel Castro rallied half a million peasants and announced that he would return as Prime Minister. President Urrutia fled Cuba, disguised as a milkman, and was replaced by Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado, while Castro built a cult of personality and a dictatorship.
A proposed third major league for baseball—the Continental League—was announced at New York's Biltmore Hotel. Like the National League and the American League, the CL would have eight teams. Backed by William Shea and Branch Rickey, the league announced the first five teams in—New York, Houston, Toronto, Denver, and Minneapolis-St. Paul. New York Mayor Robert F. Wagner had declared it "Continental League Baseball Day". The CL planned to play a 154-game schedule starting in 1961.
Lt. Col. William H. Rankin bailed out of his crippled F-8 fighter after it stalled at 47,000 feet. After a two-minute freefall, his parachute opened automatically at 10,000 feet, but it took him another 38 minutes to reach the ground. Rankin descended into a thunderstorm and was buffeted up and down by the winds until landing near Ahoskie, North Carolina. He told his story to the Associated Press from his hospital bed more than a week later.
^Matt Cartmill and Fred H. Smith, The Human Lineage (John Wiley and Sons, 2009), pp162–64; Ute Gacs, et al., Women Anthropologists: Selected Biographies (University of Illinois Press, 1989), p226; "600,000 Year Old Human Skull Discovered", Oakland Tribune, August 28, 1960, p1
^"68 S. Koreans Die in Stampede", AP report in '"Sioux Falls (SD) Argus-Leader, July 18, 1959, p1
^Stephen Borelli, How about That!: The Life of Mel Allen (Sports Publishing LLC, 2005), p185