1885 1886 1887 - 1888 - 1889 1890 1891
| Decades: |
1850s 1860s 1870s - 1880s - 1890s 1900s 1910s
| Centuries: |
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 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.
- June 19 - In Chicago Republican Convention opens at Auditorium Building. General Benjamin Harrison & Levi Morton will win the nominations.
- 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 8 - In London, the body of Annie Chapman is found. She is 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 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 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
- Slavery abolished in Brazil
- Sarawak and Borneo become British protectorates
- Axe murderer William Kembler is the first to be executed in an electric chair
- 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
- January 8 - Matt Moore, actor (d. 1960)
- January 24 - Vicki Baum, writer (d. 1960)
- January 24 - Ernst Heinkel, aircraft designer (d. 1958)
- February 2 - Frederick Lane, Australian swimmer
- February 17 - Otto Stern, physicist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics 1943 (d. 1969)
- February 19 - [[Jos� Eustasio Rivera]], Colombian writer (d. 1928)
- February 25 - John Foster Dulles, United States Secretary of State (d. 1959)
- February 27 - Lotte Lehmann, singer (d. 1976)
- March 4 - Knute Rockne, American football player and coach
- March 10 - Barry Fitzgerald, actor (d. 1966)
- March 12 - Vaslav Nijinsky, Ukrainian ballet dancer
- March 17 - Frank Buck, "big game" hunter (d. 1950)
- March 26 - Elsa Br�ndstr�m, "The Angel of Siberia"
- April 4 - Tris Speaker, Baseball Hall of Famer (d. 1958)
- April 6 - Hans Richter, German filmmaker
- April 18 - Duffy Lewis, Major League Baseball player (d. 1979)
- April 26 - Anita Loos, writer (d. 1981)
- April 27 - Florence La Badie, pioneer actress (d. 1917)
- May 10 - Max Steiner, composer (d. 1971)
- May 11 - Irving Berlin, composer (d. 1989)
- May 23 - Zack Wheat, Baseball Hall of Famer (d. 1972)
- May 25 - Miles Malleson, actor (d. 1969)
- May 27 - Louis Durey, composer, member of Les Six (d. 1979)
- June 3 - Tom Brown, jazz musician (d. 1958)
- June 6 - Pete Wendling, American composer, pianist, and piano roll recording artist
- June 9 - Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, Australian illustrator
- June 13 - Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese writer
- June 17 - John Bergman, Swedish founder of workshop in Motala (d. 1969)
- June 24 - Gerrit Rietveld, Dutch architect
- July 10 - Giorgio Chirico, painter (d. 1978)
- July 23 - Raymond Chandler, American novelist
- August 13 - John Logie Baird, first demonstrated the television
- August 16 - Armand J. Piron, jazz musician (d. 1943)
- September 5 - Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Indian philosopher
- September 12 - Maurice Chevalier, French actor
- September 16 - Frans Eemil Sillanp��, Finnish writer
- September 26 - T. S. Eliot, American/British poet
- September 26 - J. Frank Dobie, Texas folklorist and newspaper columnist.
- October 7 - Henry A. Wallace, vice president of the United States
- October 9 - Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin, Russian politician
- October 16 - Eugene O'Neill, American dramatist
- November 15 - Harald Sverdrup, Norwegian scientist
- November 23 - Harpo Marx, comedian, The Marx Brothers (d. 1964)
- November 26 - Francisco Canaro, tango composer (d. 1964)
- November 30 - Ralph Hartley, electronics researcher and inventor
- December 4 - King Alexander of Yugoslavia
- December 28 - F.W. Murnau, German director
- January 19 - Anton de Bary, German biologist
- January 29 - Edward Lear, British artist and writer
- February 3 - Henry Maine, British jurist
- March 6 - Louisa May Alcott, American novelist
- March 9 - German Emperor Wilhelm I
- March 12 - Henry Bergh, founder of American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
- April 15 - Father Damien, Belgian priest
- June 15 - German Emperor Friedrich III
- August 9 - Charles Cros, French poet
- August 23 - Philip Henry Gosse, British scientist
- October 16 - John Wentworth, mayor of Chicago, United States
- December 31 - Samson Raphael Hirsch, rabbi (b. 1808)af:1888