1886 1887 1888 - 1889 - 1890 1891 1892
| Decades: |
1850s 1860s 1870s - 1880s - 1890s 1900s 1910s
| Centuries: |
18th century - 19th century - 20th century
- January 8 - Herman Hollerith receives a patent for his electric tabulating machine
- January 22 - Columbia Phonograph is formed in Washington, DC.
- February 11 - Meiji Constitution of Japan adopted; 1st Diet convenes in 1890
- January 30 ? Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria and his mistress Marie Vetsera commit a double suicide in Mayerling hunting lodge
- February 22 - President Grover Cleveland signs a bill admitting North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Washington as U.S. states.
- March 4 - Grover Cleveland, 24th President of the United States (1885 - 1889) is succeeded by Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893).
- March 9 - Emperor of Ethiopia Yohannes IV dies and is succeeded by Menelik II.
- March 23 - Land run: President Benjamin Harrison opens Oklahoma to white settlement starting on April 22.
- March 31 - The Eiffel Tower is inaugurated (opens May 6). Contemporary critics regard it aesthetically displeasing
- April 22 - Oklahoma land rush: President Benjamin Harrison opens Oklahoma to white settlement; Land rush begins.
- May 15 ? In Samoa, three US and three German ships sink in a typhoon because the captains refuse to leave before the others ? almost 200 drown. British steamer Calliope saves itself by pushing into the wind with full speed
- May 31 ? South Fork dam collapses in Pennsylvania ? more than 2200 dead
- June 3 - The first long distance electric power transmission line in the United States is completed, running 14 miles between a generator at Willamette Falls and downtown Portland, Oregon.
- June 12 - 88 are killed in the Armagh rail disaster near Armagh in Northern Ireland.
- July 8 - The first issue of the Wall Street Journal is published.
- September 10 - Albert Honor� Charles Grimaldi becomes Reigning Prince Albert I of Monaco
- October 2 - In Washington, DC, the first international Conference of American States begins.
- October 3 - Sister Carries goes to Chicago
- November 2 - North Dakota and South Dakota are admitted as the 39th and 40th U.S. states.
- November 8 - Montana is admitted as the 41st U.S. state.
- November 11 - Washington is admitted as the 42nd U.S. state.
- November 14 - Pioneer woman Journalist Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochrane) begins an attempt to beat travel around the world in less than 80 days (Bly finished the journey in 72 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes).
- November 15 - Brazil is declared a republic by Marechal Deodoro da Fonseca and Emperor Pedro II is deposed in a military coup (he was the second and last emperor of Brazil).
- Frederick Abel invents cordite
- Diet of Japan founded
- French defense minister Georges Boulanger attempts a coup but is forced the flee the country
- First free elections in Costa Rica
- Glele, king of Dahomey, commits suicide
- Yellow fever interrupts the building of Panama Canal
- Huge locust swarm crosses the Red Sea and destroys crops in the Nile Valley
- Ghost Dance movement
- January 21 - Edith Bratt, later wife and source of inspiration to John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.
- February 6 - Elmo Lincoln, actor (d. 1952)
- February 11 - John Mills, American musician.
- February 11 - Vladimir Mikhaylovich Deshevov, composer.
- February 22 - Lady Olave Baden-Powell, World Chief Guide
- February 24 - Suzanne Bianchetti, French actress (d. 1936)
- March 1 - Kanoko Okamoto, novelist, poet and Buddhism scholar (d. 1939)
- March 4 ? Pearl White, American silent film star (d. 1938)
- March 16 - Reggie Walker, South African athlete (d. 1951)
- March 23 - Yukichi Chuganji, (d. 2003 aged 114 years)
- March 24 - Albert Hill, British athlete
- March 29 - Warner Baxter, actor (d. 1951)
- April 11 - Nick LaRocca, jazz musician (d. 1961)
- April 15 - Thomas Hart Benton, U.S. muralist (d. 1975)
- April 16 - Charlie Chaplin, English actor and director
- April 20 - Adolf Hitler, German politician
- April 23 - Karel Doorman, Dutch admiral
- April 26 - Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian-born English philosopher (d. 1951)
- May 12 - Otto Frank, writer, father of Anne Frank (d. 1980)
- May 15 - Bessie Hillman, founder, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
- May 15 - Mitoyo Kawate, later Oldest Person in the World (d. 2003)
- May 18 - Thomas Midgley, chemist and inventor (d. 1944)
- May 25 - Igor Sikorsky developer of a working helicopter (d. 1972)
- June 21 - Ralph Craig, American athlete (d. 1972)
- July 5 - Jean Cocteau, writer
- July 17 - Erle Stanley Gardner, author (d. 1970)
- September 20 - Charles Reidpath, American athlete
- October 8 - C. E. Woolman, founder of Delta Air Lines
- October 13 ? Douglass Dumbrille, actor (d. 1974)
- November 14 - Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India (d. 1948)
- November 16 - Charlotte Benkner, later Oldest Person in the World.
- December 9 - Hannes Kolehmainen, Finnish long-distance runner
- Suzanne Duchamp, Dada painter (d. 1963)
- January 30 - Archduke Rudolph of Austria and Baroness Mary Vetsera, at Mayerling
- February 3 - Belle Starr, outlaw
- March 8 - John Ericsson - Swedish inventor and engineer
- March 9 - Emperor Johannes IV of Ethiopia
- May 9 - William S. Harney, U.S. Army major general
- May 14 - Volney E. Howard, American politician (b. 1809)
- May 12 - Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, Russian satirist
- June 15 - Mihai Eminescu, outstanding Romanian poet
- July 10 - Julia Gardiner Tyler, former First Lady of the United States.
- September 23 - Wilkie Collins, novelist
- December 6 - Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America (b. 1808)
Heads of State
- China - Guāngx� Emperor of China, Qing Dynasty (1875-1908)
- Denmark - Christian IX, King of Denmark (1863-1906)
- France - [[Marie Fran�ois Sadi Carnot]], President of France (1887-1894)
- Germany - Wilhelm II, German Kaiser (1888-1918)
- Holy See - Pope Leo XIII, Bishop of Rome (1878-1903)
- Japan - Mutsuhito, Meiji emperor (1867-1912)
- Norway - Oscar II, King of Sweden and Norway (1872-1905)
- Ottoman Empire - Abdul Hamid II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (1876-1909)
- Russia - Alexander III, Tsar of Russia (1881-1894)
- Spain - Alfonso XIII of Spain, King of Spain (1886-1931)
- United States -