1885 1886 1887 - 1888 - 1889 1890 1891
1850s 1860s 1870s - 1880s - 1890s 1900s 1910s
18th century - 19th century - 20th century
- January 3 - 91cm telescope first used at Lick Observatory
- January 12 - Blizzards in Dakota and Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska and Texas - 235 dead, many of which were children on their way home from school
- January 24 - Jacob L. Wortman patents the typewriter ribbon.
- January 26 - Australia celebrates the first centennary of European settlement.
- January 27 - In Washington, DC the National Geographic Society is founded.
- March 11 - The "Great Blizzard of '88" begins along the eastern seaboard of the United States, shutting down commerce and killing more than 400.
- March 22 - The Football League is formed
- April 11 - The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam is inaugurated.
- May 13 - Brazil abolishes slavery.
- May 28 - Celtic played their first official match against Rangers and won 5-2
- June 3 - "Kingdom of Sedang" formed in modern-day Vietnam
- June 19 - In Chicago, Illinois, Republican Convention opens at Auditorium Building. General Benjamin Harrison & Levi Morton will win the nominations.
- July 27 - British parliament passes an act that permits bicycles on road on condition that they are equipped with a bell that should be rung while on the carriageway. The law is abolished 1930
- August 7 - The body of Martha Tabram was found, a possible murder victim of Jack the Ripper
- August 31 - Mary Ann Nichols is murdered. She is perhaps the first of Jack the Ripper's victims.
- September 4 - George Eastman registers the trademark Kodak, and receives a patent for his camera which uses roll film.
- September 6 - Charles Turner becomes the first bowler to take 250 wickets in an English season - a feat since accomplished only by Tom Richardson (twice), J.T. Hearne, Wilfred Rhodes (twice) and Tich Freeman (six times).
- September 8 - In London, the body of Annie Chapman is found. She is generally considered the second victim of Jack the Ripper.
- September 8 - In England the first 6 Football League matches ever were played.
- September 30 - In London, the bodies of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes are found. They are generally considered Jack the Ripper's third and fourth victim respectively.
- October 9 - The Washington Monument officially opens to the general public.
- November 6 - U.S. presidential election, 1888: Democrat incumbent Grover Cleveland wins the overall popular vote, but is voted out of office because he loses in the Electoral College to Republican challenger Benjamin Harrison.
- November 9 - In London the body of Mary Jane Kelly is found. She is typically considered the fifth and last of Jack the Ripper's victims. A number of similar murders actually follow, but police attribute them to copycat killers.
- Gramophone patented by Emile Berliner
- Annie Besant organizes a match girl strike
- John Robert Gregg first published Gregg Shorthand
- Slavery abolished in Brazil
- Sarawak and Borneo become British protectorates
- Susan B. Anthony organizes a congress for women's rights in Washington DC
- National library in Athens, Greece
- First railways in China
- Kodak camera increases the popularity of photography as a hobby.
- The first recorded film, Roundhay Garden Scene, is made in Roundhay in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. The film is two seconds (4 frames) in length.
- First sightings of the dolphin Pelorus Jack in Cook Strait, New Zealand
- January 1 - Victor Goldschmidt, Swiss geochemist (d. 1947)
- January 8 - Matt Moore, Irish-born actor (d. 1960)
- January 24 - Vicki Baum, Austrian writer (d. 1960)
- February 2 - Frederick Lane, Australian swimmer (d. 1969)
- February 17 - Otto Stern, German physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1969)
- February 19 - José Eustasio Rivera, Colombian writer (d. 1928)
- February 20 - Georges Bernanos, French writer (d. 1948)
- February 25 - John Foster Dulles, United States Secretary of State (d. 1959)
- February 27 - Lotte Lehmann, German singer (d. 1976)
- March 1 - Ewart Astill, English cricketer (Leicestershire) (d. 1948)
- March 4 - Knute Rockne, American football player and coach (d. 1931)
- March 10 - Barry Fitzgerald, Irish actor (d. 1966)
- March 12 - Vaslav Nijinsky, Ukrainian ballet dancer (d. 1950)
- March 17 - Frank Buck, big game hunter (d. 1950)
- March 26 - Elsa Brändström, Russian nurse (d. 1948)
- April 4 - Tris Speaker, Baseball Hall of Famer (d. 1958)
- April 6 - Hans Richter, German filmmaker (d. 1976)
- April 18 - Duffy Lewis, Major League Baseball player (d. 1979)
- April 26 - Anita Loos, American writer (d. 1981)
- April 27 - Florence La Badie, Canadian actress (d. 1917)
- May 10 - Karl Barth, Protestant theologian (d. 1968)
- May 11 - Irving Berlin, American composer (d. 1989)
- May 17 - Tich Freeman, English cricketer (d. 1965)
- May 23 - Zack Wheat, Baseball Hall of Famer (d. 1972)
- May 25 - Miles Malleson, English actor (d. 1969)
- May 27 - Louis Durey, French composer (d. 1979)
- June 3 - Tom Brown, American jazz musician (d. 1958)
- June 6 - Pete Wendling, American composer, pianist, and piano roll recording artist (d. 1974)
- June 9 - Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, Australian illustrator (d. 1960)
- June 13 - Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese writer (d. 1935)
- June 24 - Gerrit Rietveld, Dutch architect (d. 1964)
- July 10 - Giorgio Chirico, Italian painter (d. 1978)
- July 16 - Frits Zernike, Dutch physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1966)
- July 17 - Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Israeli writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1970)
- July 23 - Raymond Chandler, American novelist (d. 1959)
- August 14 - John Logie Baird, Scottish inventor (d. 1946)
- August 16 - Armand J. Piron, American jazz musician (d. 1943)
- September 5 - Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, President of India (d. 1975)
- September 6 - Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., American politician (d. 1969)
- September 12 - Maurice Chevalier, French singer and actor (d. 1972)
- September 16 - Frans Eemil Sillanpää, Finnish writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1964)
- September 26 - J. Frank Dobie, American folklorist and journalist (d. 1964)
- September 26 - T. S. Eliot, American-born writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1965)
- October 7 - Henry A. Wallace, Vice President of the United States (d. 1965)
- October 8 - Ernst Kretschmer, German psychiatrist (d. 1964)
- October 9 - Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin, Russian politician (d. 1938)
- October 16 - Eugene O'Neill, American writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1953)
- October 16 - Paul Popenoe, American eugenicist (d. 1979)
- November 7 - Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, Indian physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1980)
- November 15 - Harald Sverdrup, Norwegian scientist (d. 1957)
- November 23 - Harpo Marx, American comedian (d. 1964)
- November 26 - Francisco Canaro, Uruguayan-born violinist and composer (d. 1964)
- November 30 - Ralph Hartley, American electronics researcher and inventor (d. 1970)
- December 4 - King Alexander of Yugoslavia (d. 1934)
- December 19 - Fritz Reiner, Hungarian conductor (d. 1963)
- December 28 - F.W. Murnau, German film director (d. 1931)
- January 19 - Anton de Bary, German biologist (b. 1831)
- January 29 - Edward Lear, British artist and writer (b. 1812)
- February 3 - Henry Maine, British jurist (b. 1822)
- March 6 - Louisa May Alcott, American novelist (b. 1832)
- March 9 - German Emperor Wilhelm I (b. 1797)
- March 12 - Henry Bergh, founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (b. 1811)
- April 15 - Matthew Arnold, English poet (b. 1822)
- April 15 - Father Damien, Belgian priest (b. 1811)
- June 15 - German Emperor Friedrich III (b. 1840)
- July 20 - Paul Langerhans, German pathologist and biologist (b. 1847)
- August 9 - Charles Cros, French poet (b. 1831)
- August 23 - Philip Henry Gosse, British scientist (b. 1810)
- August 24 - Rudolf Clausius, German physicist, contributions to thermodynamics (b. 1822)
- October 16 - John Wentworth, Mayor of Chicago (b. 1815)
- December 31 - Samson Raphael Hirsch, German rabbi (b. 1808)
- January 1 - Elias Disney & Flora Disney
- April 11] - Henry Ford & Clara Jane Bryant
- May 2 - Josephus Daniels & Addie Worth Bagley
- September 5 - Billy Sunday & Helen Amelia Thompson
- September 11 - Robert Homans & Agnes Mary Josephine Mellon
- November 29 - Axel Blixen-Finecke & Bertha Henriette Marie Castenschiold
- December 20 - Charles Urban & Julia Avery
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