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1937 ( MCMXXXVII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1937th year of the Common Era (CE) and (AD) designations, the 937th year of the Anno Domini 2nd millennium, the 37th year of the 20th century, and the 8th year of the 1930s decade.
March 10 (dated March 14 ( Passion Sunday)) – The encyclical ("With burning concern") of Mit brennender Sorge Pope Pius XI is published in Germany in the German language. Largely the work of Cardinals von Faulhaber and Pacelli, it condemns breaches of the 1933 Reichskonkordat agreement signed between the Nazi government and the Catholic Church, and criticises Nazism's views on race and other matters incompatible with Catholicism.
March 17 – The Atherton Report (private investigator Edwin Atherton's report detailing vice and police corruption in San Francisco) is released.
March 18 – New London School explosion: In the worst school disaster in American history in terms of lives lost, the New London School in New London, Texas, suffers a catastrophic natural gas explosion, killing in excess of 295 students and teachers. Mother Frances Hospital opens in Tyler, Texas, a day ahead of schedule in response to the explosion.
March 19 – The encyclical of Divini Redemptoris Pope Pius XI, critical of communism, is published.
Dáil Éireann passes the Executive Authority (Consequential Provisions) Act, 1937, which abolishes the office of Governor-General of the Irish Free State, retrospectively dated to December 1936. 17 million unemployed in the USA.
May 1 – A general strike occurs in Paris, France.
May 6 – : In the United States, the German Hindenburg disaster airship bursts into flame when mooring to a mast in Hindenburg Lakehurst, New Jersey. Of the 36 passengers and 61 crew on board, 13 passengers and 22 crew die, as well as one member of the ground crew.
May 7 – Spanish Civil War: The German Condor Legion Fighter Group, equipped with Heinkel He 51 biplanes, arrives in Spain to assist Francisco Franco's forces.
May 8: Wydad Athletic Club (WAC;(Arabic: نادي الوداد الرياضي; Berber: Wydad Dar al-Beida; commonly: Wydad al ouma is established in Casablanca, Morocco; it will be best known for its Casablanca Association football team.
May 12 – The coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth takes place at Westminster Abbey, London.
Soviet station becomes the first scientific research settlement to operate on the drift ice of the Arctic Ocean. As one of the reprisals for the attempted assassination of Italian viceroy
Rodolfo Graziani, a detachment of Italian troops massacres the entire community of Debre Libanos, killing 297 monks and 23 laymen.
May 27 – In California, the Golden Gate Bridge opens to pedestrian traffic, creating a vital link between San Francisco and Marin County. The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt pushes a button in Washington, D.C., signaling the start of vehicle traffic over the bridge.
July 4 – historical drama is first performed at an outdoor theater in the location where it is set, The Lost Colony Roanoke Island, North Carolina.
The canned precooked meat product
Spam is introduced by the Hormel company in the United States The highest recorded temperature in Canada, at
Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan, is 45 °C (113 °F).
July 9 – The silent film archives of Fox Film Corporation are destroyed by the 1937 Fox vault fire.
July 11 – American popular composer George Gershwin dies in Los Angeles of a brain tumor, age 38.
July 20 – The Geibeltbad Pirna is opened in Dresden, Germany.
July 21 – Éamon de Valera is elected President of the Executive Council (prime minister) of the Irish Free State by the Dáil (parliament).
July 22 – New Deal: The United States Senate votes down President Franklin D. Roosevelt's proposal to add more justices to the Supreme Court of the United States.
July 24 – Alabama drops rape charges against the so-called . Scottsboro Boys
July 25– 31 – Sino-Japanese War: Battle of Beiping–Tianjin, a series of actions fought around Beiping and Tianjin, resulting in Japanese victory.
July 28 – The Irish Republican Army attempts the assassination by bomb of George VI in Belfast.
July 29 – Tungchow Mutiny: units of the East Hopei Army mutiny and kill Japanese troops and civilians in Tōngzhōu.
July 31 – NKVD operative order 00447 "Об операции по репрессированию бывших кулаков, уголовников и других антисоветских элементов" ("The operation for repression of former kulaks, criminals and other anti-Soviet elements") is approved by the Politburo of the Soviet Union, initially as a 4-month plan for 75,950 people to be executed and an additional 193,000 to be sent to the Gulag.
August 2 – The Marihuana Tax Act in the United States is a significant bill on the path that will lead to the criminalization of cannabis. It was introduced to U.S. Congress by Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger. 
August 5 – The Soviet Union commences one of the largest campaigns of the Great Purge, to "eliminate anti-Soviet elements." Within the following year, at least 724,000 people are killed on order of the troikas, directed by Joseph Stalin. This is an offensive that targets social classes (such as the kulaks), ethnic or racial backgrounds which are seen as non-Russian and Stalin's personal opponents from the Communist Party and their sympathizers.
August 6 – Spanish Civil War: Falangist artillery bombards Madrid.
Jim Lentz born in
September 2 – The Great Hong Kong Typhoon kills an estimated 11,000 persons.
September 5 – Spanish Civil War: The city of Llanes falls to the Falangists.
September 7 – CBS broadcasts a two-and-a-half hour memorial concert nationwide on radio in memory of George Gershwin, live from the Hollywood Bowl. Many celebrities appear, including Oscar Levant, Fred Astaire, Otto Klemperer, Lily Pons and members of the original cast of . The concert is recorded and released complete years later in what is excellent sound for its time, on Porgy and Bess CD. The Los Angeles Philharmonic is the featured orchestra.
September 10 – Nine nations meet in the Nyon Conference, led by the United Kingdom and France, to address international piracy in the Mediterranean.
September 17 – Abraham Lincoln's head is dedicated at Mount Rushmore.
September 19 – Swiss professional ice hockey club HC Ambrì-Piotta founded.
September 21 – George Allen & Unwin, Ltd. of London publishes the first edition of J. R. R. Tolkien's . The Hobbit
September 25 – Second Sino-Japanese War: Battle of Pingxingguan: The Communist Chinese National Revolutionary Army defeats the Japanese.
September 27 – The last Bali tiger dies. 
October 2– 8 – Parsley Massacre: Under the orders of President Rafael Trujillo, Dominican troops kill thousands of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic.
October 3 – Second Sino-Japanese War: Japanese troops advance toward Nanking, capital of the Republic of China.
October 5 – Roosevelt gives his famous in Chicago. Quarantine Speech
October 9 – Jimmie Angel lands his plane on top of Devil's Mountain; however, the plane gets damaged and he has to trek through the rainforest for help.
October 13 – Germany, in a note to Brussels, guarantees the inviolability and integrity of Belgium so long as the latter abstains from military action against Germany.
October 15 – Ernest Hemingway's novel is first published, in the United States. To Have and Have Not
October 18– October 21 – Spanish Civil War: The whole Spanish northern seaboard falls into the Falangists' hands; Republican forces in Gijón, Spain, set fire to petrol reserves prior to retreating before the advancing Falangists.
October 23 – Australian federal election, 1937: Joseph Lyons' UAP/ Country Coalition Government is re-elected with a slightly increased majority, defeating the Labor Party led by John Curtin.
October 25 – Celâl Bayar forms the new (ninth) government of Turkey.
December 1 – Second Sino-Japanese War: The Battle of Nanking begins.
December 4 – The Dandy comic is first published in Scotland; it will still be running as of 2011 .
December 11 – Italy withdraws from the League of Nations.
December 13 – Second Sino-Japanese War: The Battle of Nanking ends with the Japanese occupying the city. In the Nanking Massacre which follows, Japanese soldiers kill over 300,000 Chinese in 3 months. A few days previously, the Nationalist government of China has moved its capital to the southwestern city Chungking (Chongqing).
December 16 – The original production of the musical opens at the Me and My Girl Victoria Palace Theatre in London's West End. A later revival will win an award.
December 21 – Walt Disney's , the world's first feature-length Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs animated film, premieres at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles.
December 22 - The Lincoln Tunnel opens to traffic in New York City.
December 25 – At the age of 70, legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini conducts the NBC Symphony Orchestra on radio for the first time, beginning his successful 17-year tenure with that orchestra. This first concert consists of music by Vivaldi (at a time when he is seldom played), Mozart, and Brahms. Millions tune in to listen, including U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
December 29 – The new Constitution of Ireland ( Bunreacht na hÉireann) comes into force. The Irish Free State becomes " Ireland", and Éamon de Valera becomes the first Taoiseach (prime minister) of the new state. A Presidential Commission (made up the Chief Justice, the Speaker of Dáil Éireann, and the President of the High Court) assumes the powers of the new presidency, pending the popular election of the first President of Ireland in June 1938. The new constitution prohibits divorce.
Switzerland begins construction of its
Border Line defences. The
Vibora Luviminda trades union's sugar plantation strike on Maui island, Hawaii. Italian psychiatrist
Amarro Fiamberti is the first to document a transorbital approach to the brain, which becomes the basis for the controversial medical procedure of transorbital lobotomy.
Soviet industry produces about four times as much as it had in 1928. The Allen Organ Company, the builder of Church Organs, home Organs and Theatre Organs is founded in Macungie, Pennsylvania.
January 1 – Anne Aubrey, British actress
January 8 – Dame Shirley Bassey, Welsh singer
January 15 – Margaret O'Brien, American child actress
January 16 – Francis George, American cardinal (d. 2015)
January 19 – Giovanna Marini, Italian singer-songwriter
January 21 – Prince Max, Duke in Bavaria, heir to the Bavarian Royal House
January 22 – Joseph Wambaugh, American author
January 25 – Ange-Félix Patassé, 5th President of Central African Republic (d. 2011)
January 27 – John Ogdon, English pianist (d. 1989)
January 29 – Bobby Scott, American musician, producer and songwriter (d. 1990)
March 2 – Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of Algeria
March 3 – Bobby Driscoll, American actor, primarily known as a child actor and voice actor (d. 1968)
March 5 – Olusegun Obasanjo, President of Nigeria
March 6 – Valentina Tereshkova, Russian cosmonaut, first woman in space
March 9 – Harry Neale, Canadian ice hockey coach and broadcaster
March 14 – Benny Paret, Cuban welterweight boxer (d. 1962)
March 15 – Valentin Rasputin, Russian writer (d. 2015)
March 16 – Brian Browne, Canadian jazz pianist and composer (d. 2018)
March 17 – Frank Calabrese, Sr., American gangster in the Chicago Outfit (d. 2012)
March 20 – Jerry Reed, American country musician (d. 2008)
March 22 – Armin Hary, German athlete
March 24 – Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, 4th Prime Minister of Barbados
March 27 – Thomas Aquinas Daly, American painter
March 30 – Warren Beatty, American actor and director
April 4 – Obed Dlamini, 6th Prime Minister of Swaziland (d. 2017)
April 9 – Valerie Singleton, English television presenter
April 10 – Bella Akhmadulina, Russian poet (d. 2010)
April 12 – Gene Lenz, American competition swimmer (d. 2005)
April 15 – Robert W. Gore, American inventor
April 16 – George "The Animal" Steele, American professional wrestler (d. 2017)
April 20 – George Takei, Japanese American actor, director and author
April 22 – Jack Nicholson, American film actor and director
April 24 – Joe Henderson, American rhythm and blues and gospel music singer (d. 1964)
April 26 – Jean-Pierre Beltoise, French race car driver (d. 2015)
April 28 – Saddam Hussein, 5th President of Iraq (d. 2006)
April 29 – Jill Paton Walsh, English novelist
May 1 – Una Stubbs, British actress
May 3 – Hans Cieslarczyk, German football player
May 5 – Trần Đức Lương, President of Vietnam
May 6 – Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, American boxer (d. 2014)
May 9 - Rafael Moneo, Spanish architect
May 11 - Ildikó Újlaky-Rejtő, Hungarian Olympic and world champion foil fencer
May 12 – George Carlin, American comedian (d. 2008)
May 16 – Yvonne Craig, American actress (d. 2015)
May 17 – Hazel R. O'Leary, U.S. Secretary of Energy
May 22 – Facundo Cabral, Argentine singer (d. 2011)
May 24 – Roger Peterson, pilot who flew the plane on The Day the Music Died (d. 1959)
May 30 – Deanna Lund, actress
June 2 – Sally Kellerman, American actress and singer
June 9 – Harald Rosenthal, German biologist
June 10 – Luciana Paluzzi, Italian actress
June 17 – Clodovil Hernandes, Brazilian fashion designer, television presenter and politician (d. 2009)
June 19 – André Glucksmann, French philosopher and author (d. 2015)
June 23 – Martti Ahtisaari, 10th President of Finland
June 26 – Robert Coleman Richardson, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 2013)
June 28 – Ron Luciano, American baseball umpire and writer (d. 1995)
June 29 – Yair Nossovsky, Israeli footballer
August 2 – Coenraad Bron, Dutch computer scientist (d. 2006)
August 5 – Herb Brooks, American hockey coach (d. 2003)
August 8 – Dustin Hoffman, American actor and director
August 11 – Hasri Ainun Habibie, Indonesian physician (d. 2010)
August 14 – Alberta Nelson, American actress (d. 2006)
August 15 – Bounnhang Vorachith, 14th Prime Minister and 6th President of Laos
August 27 – Alice Coltrane, American jazz harpist, organist, pianist and composer (d. 2007)
August 29 – James Florio, Governor of New Jersey
August 30 – Bruce McLaren, Founder of McLaren Racing (d. 1970)
August 31 – Bobby Parker, American rock musician (d. 2013)
October 2 – Johnnie Cochran, American attorney (d. 2005)
October 5 – Barry Switzer, American football coach
October 11 – Bobby Charlton, English footballer
October 15 – Linda Lavin, American actress ( Alice)
October 17 – Paxton Whitehead, English actor
October 19 -- Teresa Ciepły, Polish Olympic athlete (d. 2006)
October 20 – Juan Marichal, Dominican baseball player
October 21 – Irán Eory, Iranian-Mexican actress and model (d. 2002)
October 23 – Carlos Lamarca, Brazilian military turned guerrilla leader (d. 1971)
October 28 – Lenny Wilkens, American basketball player and coach
October 31 – Tom Paxton, American folk singer-songwriter
December 3 – Bobby Allison, American race car driver
December 6 – Ramon Torrents, Spanish artist
December 7 – Kenneth Colley, British actor
December 9 – Darwin Joston, American actor (d. 1998)
December 11 – Jim Harrison, American writer (d. 2016)
December 12 – Flukey Stokes, American mobster (d. 1986)
December 21 – Jane Fonda, American actress and social activist
December 22 – Pierluigi Chicca, Italian fencer (d. 2017)
December 26 – John Horton Conway, English-born mathematician
December 28 – Ratan Tata, Indian industrialist
Cathie Jung, owner of the smallest waist on a living person (measuring just 15 in.).
February 1 – Asano Nagakoto, Japanese diplomat and politician (b. 1842)
February 2 – Reinhold Hanisch, Austrian politician and worker (b. 1884)
February 7 – Elihu Root, American statesman and diplomat, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (b. 1845)
February 13 – Francisco Bergamín y García, Spanish lawyer, economist and politician (b. 1855)
February 14 – Vicente Vilar David, Spanish Roman Catholic priest, saint and martyr (killed in battle) (b. 1889)
February 17 – George Hassell, English actor (b. 1881)
February 22 – James P. Buchanan, American politician (b. 1867)
March 6 – John Ellis Martineau, American politician (b. 1873)
March 7 – Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, Mexican Roman Catholic mystic and blessed (b. 1862)
March 9 – Paul Elmer More, American critic and essayist (b. 1864)
March 11 – Joseph S. Cullinan, American oil industrialist, founder of (b. Texaco 1860)
March 15 – H. P. Lovecraft, American writer (b. 1890)
March 16 – Edith Clark, French aviator and parachutist (b. 1904)
March 17 – Austen Chamberlain, British statesman, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (b. 1863)
March 25 – John Drinkwater, British poet and dramatist (b. 1882)
March 27 – Victor Gustav Bloede, Swedish chemist (b. 1849)
March 28 – Josef Klička, Czechoslovak organist, violinist and composer (b. 1855)
March 31 – Ahmed Izzet Pasha, Turkish general (b. 1864)
April 2 – Nathan Birnbaum, Austrian writer and journalist (b. 1864)
April 5 – Jose Benlliure y Gil, Spanish painter (b. 1858)
April 6 – Gyula Juh%C3%A1sz, Hungarian poet (b. 1883)
April 7 – Helen Burgess, American actress (b. 1916)
April 8 – Billy Bassett, English association footballer (b. 1869)
April 14 – Ned Hanlon, American baseball manager and MLB Hall of Famer (b. 1857)
April 16 – Jay Johnson Morrow, American military engineer and politician, 3rd Governor of the Panama Canal Zone (b. 1870)
April 21 – Saima Harmaja, Finnish poet (b. 1913)
April 22 – Arthur Edmund Carewe, Armenian-American actor (b. 1884)
April 23 – Caroline Harris, American actress (b. 1867)
April 24 – Lucy Beaumont, British actress (b. 1873)
April 25 – Michał Drzymała, Polish rebel (b. 1857)
April 27 – Antonio Gramsci, Italian Communist writer and politician (b. 1891)
May 2 – Takuji Iwasaki, Japanese meteologist (b. 1869)
May 4 – Noel Rosa, Brazilian songwriter (b. 1910)
May 7 – Ernst A. Lehmann, German captain of the (b. Hindenburg 1886)
May 10 – James Blindell, British politician (b. 1884)
May 11 – Afonso Costa, Portuguese lawyer, professor and politician, 3-time Prime Minister of Portugal (b. 1871)
May 15 – Percy Lee Gassaway, American politician (b. 1885)
May 23 – John D. Rockefeller, American industrialist and philanthropist (b. 1839)
May 25 – Henry Ossawa Tanner, American artist (b. 1859)
May 26 – Bertha May Crawford, Canadian opera singer (b. 1886)
May 28 – Alfred Adler, Austrian psychologist (b. 1870)
May 29 – Lizardo García, 17th President of Ecuador (b. 1844)
August 5 – Jean Louis Conneau, French aviator (b. 1880)
August 8 – Martin Rázus, Czechoslovakian poet, writer and politician (b. 1888)
August 9 – Na Woon-gyu, Korean actor, director and screenwriter (b. 1902)
August 11 – Edith Wharton, American writer (b. 1862)
August 13 – Sigizmund Levanevsky, Soviet aircraft pilot (b. 1902)
August 24 – Gervase Beckett, British politician (b. 1866)
August 26 – Christos Christovasilis, Greek journalist and author (b. 1861)
August 27 – Andrew W. Mellon, American banker and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury (b. 1855)
September 3 – François Guiguet, French painter (b. 1860)
September 5 – David Hendricks Bergey, American bacteriologist (b. 1860)
September 6 – Harry Charles Purvis Bell, British civil servant and commissioner (b. 1851)
September 8 – Frank Alexander, American actor (b. 1879)
September 11 – Nazmi Ziya Güran, Turkish painter (b. 1881)
September 13 – Ellis Parker Butler, American humorist (b. 1869)
September 14 – Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Czechoslovakian politician, sociologist and philosopher, 1st President of Czechoslovakia (b. 1850)
September 21 – Osgood Perkins, American actor (b. 1892)
September 22 – Ruth Roland, American actress (b. 1892)
September 29 – Ray Ewry, American Olympic athlete (b. 1873)
October 1 – Prince Kuni Taka (b. 1875)
October 6 – Angelo Musco, Italian actor (b. 1872)
October 9 – August de Boeck, Flemish composer (b. 1865)
October 10 – Peter of Krutitsy, Soviet Orthodox priest, martyr and metropolitan (b. 1862)
October 13 – Kazimierz Novak, Polish traveller (b. 1897)
October 14 – Salvatore Micalizzi, Italian Roman Catholic priest and venerable (b. 1856)
October 15 – James Marcus, American actor (b. 1867)
October 16 – Jean de Brunhoff, French writer (b. 1899)
October 23 – Nikolai Klyuev, Russian poet (b. 1884)
October 26 – Józef Dowbor-Muśnicki, Polish general (b. 1867)
October 29 – Kazimierz Cichowski, Polish-born Soviet politician (b. 1887)
November 1 – Ivar Bauck, Norwegian general (b. 1863)
November 2 – Félix Gaffiot, French philologist (b. 1870)
November 5 – Naoe Kinoshita, Japanese Christian socialist (b. 1869)
November 6 – Johnston Forbes-Robertson, British stage actor (b. 1853)
November 8 – Francis de Croisset, Belgian-born French playwright (b. 1877)
November 9 – Ramsay MacDonald, British statesman, 2-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1866)
November 10 – Nikolai Batalov, Soviet actor (b. 1899)
November 11 – Uryū Sotokichi, Japanese admiral (b. 1857)
November 13 – Mrs. Leslie Carter (Caroline Louise Dudley), American actress (b. 1862)
November 17 – Jack Worrall, Australian cricketer and coach (b. 1860)
November 20 – Metropolitan Joseph (Petrovykh) (b. 1872)
November 26 – Peljidiin Genden, Mongolian political figure, 9th Prime Minister of Mongolia and 2nd President of Mongolia (b. 1892)
November 28 – Magnús Guðmundsson, Icelandic politician, 3rd Prime Minister of Iceland (b. 1879)
December 2 – Josep Comas i Solà, Andorran astronomer (b. 1868)
December 4 – Ralph Lewis, American actor (b. 1872)
December 8 – Hans Molisch, Czech-Austrian botanist (b. 1856)
December 10 – Robert Bolder, British actor (b. 1859)
December 12 – Alfred Abel, German actor (b. 1879)
December 14 – Fabián de la Rosa, Filipino painter (b. 1869)
December 16 – Giorgi Mazniashvili, Soviet general (b. 1870)
December 17 – Dimitrie Călugăreanu, Romanian physician, naturalist and physiology (b. 1868)
December 18 – Robert Worth Bingham, American politician (b. 1871)
December 20 – Erich Ludendorff, German general (b. 1865)
December 23 – Osman Nuri Hadžić, Yugoslav writer (b. 1869)
December 25 – Newton D. Baker, United States Secretary of War (b. 1871)
December 30 – Hans Niels Andersen, Danish businessman, founder of the East Asiatic Company (b. 1852)
December 31 – Dezső Czigány, Hungarian painter (b. 1883)