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A closer look at the historical context of Mad Men: the politics, culture, and history of the early 1960s...

Mad Men


Mad Men episode

real-world events/
Mad Men events


Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
(Season 1, Episode 1)

Peggy Olson gets a job at Sterling Cooper as a secretary.

March 1960

Ladies Room
(Season 1, Episode 2)

Late March or early April, 1960

Marriage of Figaro
(Season 1, Episode 3)

VW's famous "Lemon" ad appears in Life magazine.

April 11, 1960

New Amsterdam
(Season 1, Episode 4)

(Season 1, Episode 5)

Late April or early May, 1960

(Season 1, Episode 6)

Rachel Menken mentions that Adolf Eichmann was arrested in Argentina last week.
Week following May 11, 1960

Red in the Face
(Season 1, Episode 7)

The Hobo Code
(Season 1, Episode 8)

(Season 1, Episode 9)

The Billy Wilder film The Apartment is released.

The Republican and Democratic conventions establish Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy as 1960's contenders for the presidency.

June, 1960

July, 1960

Long Weekend
(Season 1, Episode 10)

September 2-5, 1960
(Labor Day Weekend)

Indian Summer
(Season 1, Episode 11)

early October, 1960

Nixon vs. Kennedy
(Season 1, Episode 12)

John F. Kennedy defeats Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election.

November 8, 1960
(Election Day)

The Wheel
(Season 1, Episode 13)

Peggy is promoted to copywriter, and soon after goes into labor.

November 21-24, 1960

(Thanksgiving Week)

Mad Men


Mad Men skips ahead 14 months between Season 1 and Season 2,
bypassing 1961 altogether...
It's during this period that Peggy gives
her baby up for adoption and takes an extended leave of absence.

Also in 1961:
  • The US severs diplomatic relations with Cuba.
  • John F. Kennedy takes office.
  • The Bay of Pigs invasion ends in failure.
  • Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space.
  • Construction of the Berlin Wall begins.
  • President Kennedy sends the first American military advisors to Vietnam.

Mad Men


Mad Men episode

Mad Men events

For Those Who Think Young

(Season 2, Episode 1)

February 14,1962
(Valentine's Day)

Flight 1
(Season 2, Episode 2)

John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth.

American Airlines flight 1 crashes into Jamaica Bay on takeoff in New York. Pete's father dies on American Airlines flight 1.

February 20, 1962

March 1, 1962

The Benefactor
(Season 2, Episode 3)

The CBS television series The Defenders airs the controversial episode "The Benefactor," which deals with the subject of abortion. Harry urges a client to sponsor this controversial TV program.

April 8, 1962

Three Sundays
(Season 2, Episode 4)

Peggy meets the young priest, Father John Gill. Sterling Cooper loses the American Airlines account.

April 8-22, 1962
(ending on Holy Week)

The New Girl
(Season 2, Episode 5)

Bobby Barrett mentions that Marilyn Monroe will be atKennedy's birthdaythat week.
Around May 19, 1962

(Season 2, Episode 6)

May 29-June 2, 1962
(Memorial Day weekend)

The Gold Violin
(Season 2, Episode 7)

Between June 21 and July 19, 1962

A Night to Remember
(Season 2, Episode 8)

Between July 21 and August 4, 1962

Six Month Leave
(Season 2, Episode 9)

Death of Marilyn Monroe.

August 5, 1962

The Inheritance
(Season 2, Episode 10)

Between September 17-23, 1962

The Jet Set
(Season 2, Episode 11)

Between September 24-October 1, 1962

The Mountain King
(Season 2, Episode 12)

On or after October 11, 1962

Meditations in an Emergency
(Season 2, Episode 13)

America finds itself on the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

October 22-28, 1962

Mad Men


Mad Men episode

Mad Men events

Out of Town
(Season 3, Episode 1)

Pete and Ken are both promoted to Head of Accounts at Sterling Cooper.

March, 1963

Love Among the Ruins

(Season 3, Episode 2)

The film Bye Bye Birdie starring Ann-Margret is released.

April 4, 1963

My Old Kentucky Home
(Season 3, Episode 3)

The Sterlings host a "Derby Day" garden party at their club.

May 4, 1963
(The Kentucky Derby)

The Arrangements
(Season 3, Episode 4)

Betty's father dies.
A Buddhist monk burns himself to death in protest of the persecution of Buddhists in Vietnam.

June 11, 1963

The Fog

(Season 3, Episode 5)

Civil rights activist Medgar Evers is murdered.

Betty gives birth to her second son.

June 12, 1963

Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency
(Season 3, Episode 6)

British execs visit Sterling Cooper (with bloody results). Joan's last day.

July 3, 1963
(Independence Day weekend)

Seven Twenty Three
(Season 3, Episode 7)

A total eclipse of the sun occurs.

Under pressure from his bosses, his wife, and Conrad Hilton, Don signs a 3-year contract with Sterling Cooper.

July 20, 1963

July 23, 1963

(Season 3, Episode 8)

Don and Betty take a short trip to Rome together.

August, 1963

Wee Small Hours

(Season 3, Episode 9)

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

August 28, 1963

The Color Blue
(Season 3, Episode 10)

Betty discovers Don's secret.

mid-October, 1963

The Gypsy and the Hobo
(Season 3, Episode 11)

Betty confronts Don about his mysterious past.

October 31, 1963

The Grown-Ups
(Season 3, Episode 12)

President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas. Roger's daughter Margaret gets married the day after the JFK assassination.

November 22, 1963

Shut the Door. Have a Seat.

(Season 3, Episode 13)

Don, Roger, Bert, Lane, and four others create a new ad firm, taking as much business as they can from the doomed Sterling Cooper.

December 13-16, 1963

Mad Men


Mad Men episode

Mad Men events

PPL is sold to McCann, along with the remains of the old Sterling Cooper.

January 1, 1964

Public Relations
(Season 4, Episode 1)

Betty and the kids spend Thanksgiving with her new husband's family.
November 26, 1964

Christmas Comes But Once a Year
(Season 4, Episode 2)

SCDP Christmas party.
late December, 1964

The Good News
(Season 4, Episode 3)

December 31, 1964
(New Year's Eve)

The Rejected
(Season 4, Episode 4)

late February 1965

The Chrysanthemum and the Sword
(Season 4, Episode 5)

mid-March 1965

Waldorf Stories
(Season 4, Episode 6)

Stan Rizzo is reading the April 1965 issue of Playboy in the hotel room.
April 1965

The Suitcase
(Season 4, Episode 7)

Roger attends Ali-Liston II
May 25–26, 1965

The Summer Man
(Season 4, Episode 8)

June 14–20, 1965

The Beautiful Girls
(Season 4, Episode 9)

July 1965

Hands and Knees
(Season 4, Episode 10)

Don gets tickets to see The Beatles' August 15th Shea Stadium concert).
August 913, 1965

Chinese Wall
(Season 4, Episode 11)

A consecutive Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Late August 1965

Blowing Smoke
(Season 4, Episode 12)

Three weekdays, the last two of which are consecutive
Early September 1965

(Season 4, Episode 13)

Don flies to California over the Columbus day weekend. Monday the 11th is mentioned as a holiday, and the "weekend after next" is said to be the 23rd.
October 7-12, 1965