A carved date from a church in Stamford
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1888 (MDCCCLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Sunday (dominical letter AG) of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Friday (dominical letter CB) of the Julian calendar, the 1888th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 888th year of the 2nd millennium, the 88th year of the 19th century, and the 9th year of the 1880s decade. Note that the Julian day for 1888 is 12 calendar days difference, which continued to be used from 1582 until the complete conversion of the Gregorian calendar was entirely done in 1929. In Germany, 1888 is known as the Year of the Three Emperors. Currently, it is the year that, when written in Roman numerals, has the most digits (13). This will be surpassed as late as 2888.
- January 3 – The 91-centimeter telescope is first used at Lick Observatory in California.
- January 12 – The 'Schoolhouse Blizzard' hits Dakota Territory, the states of Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas, leaving 235 dead, many of them children on their way home from school.
- January 13 – The National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C.
- January 26 –– The Lawn Tennis Association is founded
- February 6 –– Gillis Bildt becomes Prime Minister of Sweden ( 1888 - 1889 ) .
- February 27 – In West Orange, New Jersey, Thomas Edison meets with Eadweard Muybridge, who proposes a scheme for sound film.
- March 8 – The Agriculture College of Utah, (later Utah State University) is founded in Logan, Utah.
- March 9 – Frederick III becomes German Emperor and King of Prussia.
- March 11 – The Great Blizzard of 1888 begins along the eastern seaboard of the United States, shutting down commerce and killing more than 400.
- March 13 – De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. is founded in Kimberley.
- March 15 – Start of the Sikkim Expedition, a British military expedition to expel the Tibetans from northern Sikkim.
- March 16 – Foundation stone for a new National Library of Greece is laid in Athens.
- March 20 – The very first Romani language operetta premieres in Moscow, Russia.
- March 23 – A meeting called by William McGregor to discuss establishment of The Football League is held in London.
- March 27 – The Rescue of the Renown: Dorus Rijkers saves the 30-man crew of the Renown off the Netherlands coast, risking his own life.
- July 25 – Frank Edward McGurrin, a court stenographer from Salt Lake City, Utah, purportedly the only person using touch typing at this time, wins a decisive victory over Louis Traub in a typing contest held in Cincinnati, Ohio. This date can be called the birthday of the touch typing method that is widely used now.
- August 5 – Bertha Benz arrives in Pforzheim, having driven 40 miles (64 km) from Mannheim in a car manufactured by her husband Karl Benz, thus completing the first "long-distance" drive in the history of the automobile.
- August 7 – Whitechapel murders: The body of London prostitute Martha Tabram is found, a possible victim of Jack the Ripper.
- August 9
- August 13 – The Local Government Act, effective from 1889, establishes county councils and county borough councils in England and Wales, redraws some county boundaries, and gives women the vote in local elections. It also declares that "bicycles, tricycles, velocipedes, and other similar machines" be carriages within the meaning of the Highway Acts (still the case today), and requires that they give audible warning when overtaking "any cart or carriage, or any horse, mule, or other beast of burden, or any foot passenger", a rule abolished in 1930.
- August 20 – There is a mutiny at Dufile, India, and the Emin Pasha is imprisoned.
- August 28 – The longest date in Roman numerals (VIII-XXVIII-MDCCCLXXXVIII)
- August 31 – Whitechapel murders: The mutilated body of London prostitute Mary Ann Nichols is found. She is considered the first victim of Jack the Ripper.
- 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 in cricket 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
- September 27 – Whitechapel murders: The 'Dear Boss letter' signed "Jack the Ripper", the first time the name is used, is received by London's Central News Agency.
- September 30 – Whitechapel murders: The bodies of London prostitutes Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes, the latter mutilated, are found. They are generally considered Jack the Ripper's third and fourth victims, respectively.
- October 1 – Sofia University officially opens, becoming the first university in liberated Bulgaria.
- October 2 – The Whitehall Mystery: Dismembered remains of a woman's body are discovered at three central London locations, one being the construction site of New Scotland Yard.
- October 9 – The Washington Monument officially opens to the general public in Washington, D.C.
- October 14
- October 25 – St Cuthbert's Society in the University of Durham in England is founded after a general meeting chaired by the Reverend Hastings Rashdall.
- October 30 – The Rudd Concession, a written concession for exclusive mining rights in Matabeleland, Mashonaland and adjoining territories, is granted by King Lobengula of Matabeleland to Charles Rudd, James Rochfort Maguire and Francis Thompson who are acting on behalf of South African-based politician and businessman Cecil Rhodes, providing a basis for white settlement of Rhodesia.
- November 6 – United States presidential election, 1888: Democratic Party incumbent Grover Cleveland wins the popular vote, but loses the Electoral College vote to Republican challenger Benjamin Harrison, therefore losing the election.
- November 7 – C. V. Raman, physicist and Nobel laureate, discoverer of Raman scattering, is born in Thiruvanaikaval, India.
- November 8 - Joseph Assheton Fincher files a patent for the parlour game which he calls "Tiddledy-Winks".
- November 9 – Whitechapel murders: The mutilated body of London prostitute Mary Jane Kelly is found. She is considered to be the fifth, and last, of Jack the Ripper's victims. A number of similar murders in England follow, but the police attribute them to copy-cat killers.
- November 20 – The first St V-parade by students in Brussels.
- November 27 – International sorority Delta Delta Delta is founded at Boston University.
- November 29 – Celebration of Thanksgiving (United States) and the first day of Hanukkah coincide.
- December 18 – Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law discover the Indian ruins of Mesa Verde in southwestern Colorado.
- December 7 – John Boyd Dunlop patents the pneumatic bicycle tyre.
- December 17 – The Lyric Theatre (London) opens.
- December 23 – During a bout of mental illness (and having quarreled with his friend Paul Gauguin), Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh infamously cuts off the lower part of his own left ear in a brothel and is removed to the local hospital in Arles.
- January 1 – Victor Goldschmidt, Swiss geochemist (d. 1947)
- January 8 – Matt Moore, Irish-born actor (d. 1960)
- January 16 – Robert Henry English, American admiral (d. 1943)
- January 18 – Thomas Sopwith, English aviation pioneer and yachtsman (d. 1989)
- c. January 20 – Huddie William Ledbetter (Lead Belly), American folk and blues singer (d. 1949)
- January 23 – Aritomo Gotō, Japanese admiral (d. 1942)
- January 24
- February 2 – Frederick Lane, Australian swimmer (d. 1969)
- February 5 – Bruce Fraser, British admiral (d. 1981)
- February 8 – Edith Evans, British actress (d. 1976)
- February 17 – Otto Stern, German physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1969)
- February 19
- February 20 – Georges Bernanos, French writer (d. 1948)
- February 25 – John Foster Dulles, United States Secretary of State (d. 1959)
- February 27
- March 1 – Ewart Astill, English cricketer (Leicestershire) (d. 1948)
- March 4 – Knute Rockne, American football player and coach (d. 1931)
- March 7
- March 10 – Barry Fitzgerald, Irish actor (d. 1966)
- March 26 – Elsa Brändström, Swedish nurse (d. 1948)
- March 29 – James E. Casey, founder of the United Parcel Service (d. 1983)
- March 30 – Anna Q. Nilsson, Swedish-American silent film star (d. 1974)
- April 3
- April 4
- April 6
- 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 8 – Maurice Boyau, French World War I fighter ace (d. 1918)
- May 9 – Francesco Baracca, Italian World War I fighter ace (d. 1918)
- May 10 – Max Steiner, Austrian-American composer (d. 1971)
- May 11
- May 13 – Inge Lehmann, Danish seismologist and geophysicist (d. 1993)
- May 17 – Tich Freeman, English cricketer (d. 1965)
- May 18 – William Hood Simpson, American general (d. 1980)
- 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)
- May 31 – Jack Holt, American actor (d. 1951)
- 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 16 – Peter Stoner, American mathematician, astronomer and Christian apologist (d. 1980)
- June 17 – Heinz Guderian, German general (d. 1954)
- June 24
- June 27 – Antoinette Perry, New York stage director, Tony Award named for her (d. 1946)
- June 29 – Joseph 'Squizzy' Taylor, Australian underworld figure (d. 1927)
- July 5 – Herbert Spencer Gasser, American physiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1963)
- July 8 – John R. Sinnock, eighth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint (d. 1947)
- July 10 – Giorgio de Chirico, Italian painter (d. 1978)
- July 16
- July 17 – Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Israeli writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1970)
- July 22
- July 23 – Raymond Chandler, American-born novelist (d. 1959)
- July 25 – Wilhelm Fritz von Roettig, German Waffen SS general (d. 1939)
- August 4 – Syedna Taher Saifuddin, Bohra spiritual leader (d. 1965)
- August 6
- August 9 – Eduard Ritter von Schleich, German fighter ace and air force general (d. 1947)
- August 13
- August 16
- August 25 – Allama Mashriqi, Pakistani scholar and politician (d. 1963)
- August 28 – Evadne Price, Australian-British writer, actress and astrologer (d. 1985)
- August 29 – Gunichi Mikawa, Japanese admiral (d. 1981)
- September 4 – Margaret Emma Henley, J. M. Barrie's inspiration for the name "Wendy" in Peter Pan (d. 1894)
- September 5 – Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Indian philosopher and politician, 2nd 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 14 - Thakur Anukulchandra, Indian social reformer and philanthropist (d. 1969)
- September 16 – Frans Eemil Sillanpää, Finnish writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1964)
- September 20 – John Painter, World's Oldest Man between 1999 and 2001 (d. 2001)
- September 26
- October 3 – Claud Allister, English actor (d. 1970)
- October 4
- October 6 – Roland Garros, French pilot (d. 1918)
- 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 14 – Katherine Mansfield, New Zealand writer (d. 1923)
- October 16
- October 17 – Paul Bernays, Swiss mathematician (d. 1977)
- October 19 – Venkatarama Ramalingam Pillai, Indian Freedom Fighter, Tamil Poet (d. 1972)
- October 20 – Sadayoshi Tanabe, Japanese academic and bibliographer (d. 2000)
- October 24 – Carlo Bergamini, Italian admiral (d. 1943)
- October 25 – Lester Cuneo, American actor (d. 1925)
- October 30 – Alan Goodrich Kirk, American admiral (d. 1963)
- October 31 - Hubert Wilkins, Australian explorer of the arctic (d. 1958)
- November 1
- George Kenner, German artist, made 110 paintings and drawings during World War I while interned as a Prisoner of War (d. 1971)
- Michał Sopoćko, Polish-Lithuanian saint, the Apostle of Divine Mercy (d. 1975)
- November 7 – Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, Indian physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1970)
- November 9 – Jean Monnet, French political economist and diplomat, a founding father of the European Union (d. 1979)
- November 15
- November 16 – Luis Cluzeau Mortet, Uruguayan composer and musician (d. 1957)
- November 23 – Harpo Marx, American comedian (d. 1964)
- November 26 – Francisco Canaro, Uruguayan-born violinist and composer (d. 1964)
- November 24
- November 28 – Edgar Church, American comic book collector (d. 1978)
- November 30 – Ralph Hartley, American electronics researcher and inventor (d. 1970)
- December 3 – Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, Polish-born Chief Rabbi of Ireland and of Israel (d. 1959)
- December 4
- December 6 – Will Hay, British actor and comedian (d. 1949)
- December 7 – Joyce Cary, Northern Irish author (d. 1957)
- December 16 – Alphonse Juin, Marshal of France (d. 1967)
- December 18
- Robert Moses, American civil engineer, public works director, and highway and bridge builder (d. 1981)
- Dame Gladys Cooper, English actress, (d. 1971)
- December 19 – Fritz Reiner, Hungarian conductor (d. 1963)
- December 20 – Yitzhak Baer, German-born Israeli historian (d. 1980)
- December 26 – Marius Canard, French Orientalist (d. 1982)
- December 28 – F. W. Murnau, German film director (d. 1931)
- January 19 – Anton de Bary, German biologist (b. 1831)
- January 20 – William Pitt Ballinger, Texas lawyer, southern statesman (b. 1825)
- January 29 – Edward Lear, British artist and writer (b. 1812)
- January 31 – John Bosco, Italian priest, youth worker, educator and founder of the Salesian Society (b. 1815)
- February 3 – Henry Maine, British jurist (b. 1822)
- February 5 – Anton Mauve, Dutch painter (b. 1838)
- February 22 – Anna Kingsford, British women's rights activist (b. 1846)
- February 24 – Seth Kinman, American hunter and settler (b. 1815)
- March 6
- March 9 – German Emperor and King of Prussia, Wilhelm I (b. 1797)
- March 12 – Henry Bergh, founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (b. 1813)
- March 16 – Hippolyte Carnot, French statesman (b. 1801)
- March 23 – Morrison Waite, Chief Justice of the United States (b. 1816)
- March 27 – Francesco Faà di Bruno, Italian mathematician (b. 1825)
- March 29 – Charles-Valentin Alkan, French composer and pianist (b. 1813)
- April 4 - Emma Elizabeth Smith, Whitechapel Murders victim (b. 1843)
- April 15 – Matthew Arnold, English poet (b. 1822)
- April 17 – Ephraim George Squier, American archaeologist and newspaper editor (b. 1821)
- April 19 – Thomas Russell Crampton, English engineer (b. 1816)
- May 15 - Edwin Hamilton Davis, American archaeologist and physician (b. 1811)
- May 19 – Julius Rockwell, United States politician (Massachusetts, b. 1805)
- May 26 – Ascanio Sobrero, Italian chemist (b. 1812)
- June 7 – Edmond Le Bœuf, marshal of France (b. 1809)
- June 15 – German Emperor and King of Prussia, Friedrich III (b. 1831)
- June 23 - Edmund Gurney, British psychologist (b. 1847)
- July 4 – Theodor Storm, German writer (b. 1817)
- July 20 – Paul Langerhans, German pathologist and biologist (b. 1847)
- August 5 – Philip Sheridan, American general (b. 1831)
- August 7 – Martha Tabram, possible first victim of Jack the Ripper (b. 1849)
- August 9 – Charles Cros, French poet (b. 1831)
- August 16 – John Pemberton, American founder of Coca-Cola (b. 1831)
- August 20 – Henry Richard, Welsh peace campaigner (b. 1812)
- August 23 – Philip Henry Gosse, British scientist (b. 1810)
- August 24 – Rudolf Clausius, German physicist, contributor to thermodynamics (b. 1822)
- August 31 – Mary Ann Nichols, first confirmed victim of Jack the Ripper (b. 1845)
- September 6 – Lester Wallack, theater impresario (b. 1820)
- September 8 – Annie Chapman, victim of Jack the Ripper (b. 1841)
- September 11 – Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, politician, writer, and father of education (b. 1811)
- September 23 – François Achille Bazaine, French general (b. 1811)
- September 24 – Karl von Prantl, German philosopher (b. 1820)
- September 30
- October 16
- November 9 – Mary Jane Kelly, fifth and final confirmed victim of Jack the Ripper (b. 1863)
- November 24 – Cicero Price, American commodore (b. 1805)
- December 2 – Namık Kemal, Turkish patriotic poet, social reformer (b. 1840)
- December 3 – Carl Zeiss, optician and founder of company now known as Carl Zeiss AG (b. 1816)
- December 10 – William E. Le Roy, American admiral (b. 1818)
- December 20 – Rose Mylett, Whitechapel murders victim (b. 1859)
- December 22 – Mikhail Loris-Melikov, Russian statesman and general (b. 1826)
- December 31 – Samson Raphael Hirsch, German rabbi (b. 1808)