1885 1886 1887 - 1888 - 1889 1890 1891
1850s 1860s 1870s - 1880s - 1890s 1900s 1910s
Events of 1888
- January 3 – The 91-centimeter telescope is first used at Lick Observatory.
- January 12 – Blizzards (see: Schoolhouse Blizzard) hit Dakota Territory, the states of Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas, leaving 235 dead, many of whom are children on their way home from school.
- January 13 – In Washington, DC, the National Geographic Society is founded.
- 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 11 – The "Great Blizzard of '88" begins along the eastern seaboard of the United States, shutting down commerce and killing more than 400.
- March 20 – The very first Romani language operetta premieres in Moscow, Russia.
- March 22 – The Football League is formed.
- March 27 – Dorus Rijkers saves the 30-man crew of the Renown, risking his own life.
- April 6 – first New Year's Day of the solar calendar adopted by Siamese King Chulalongkorn with the 106th anniversary of Bangkok's founding in 1782 as its epoch (reference date).
- April 11 – The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam is inaugurated.
- May 1 – The United States Congress establishes the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.
- May 13 – Brazil abolishes the last remnants of slavery.
- May 28 – In Scotland, the Celtic F.C. plays its first official match winning 5–2 against Rangers F.C..
- June – Annie Besant organizes the London matchgirls strike of 1888.
- June 3
- June 15 – Wilhelm II is crowned German Emperor.
- June 19 – In Chicago, the Republican Convention opens at the Auditorium Building. Benjamin Harrison & Levi Morton win the nominations for President and VicePresident, respectively.
- June 29 – Handel's Israel in Egypt is recorded onto wax cylinder at The Crystal Palace, it being the earliest known recording of classical music.
- July 25 – Frank Edward McGurrin, a court stenographer from Salt Lake City, Utah, purportedly the only person using touch typing at the 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.
- July 27 – The British Parliament passes an act that permits bicycles on the road, on condition that they are equipped with a bell that should be rung while on the carriageway. The law is eventually abolished in 1930.
- August 5 – Berta Benz arrives in Pforzheim, having driven 40 miles 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 – The body of Martha Tabram is found, a possible murder victim of Jack the Ripper.
- August 20 – There is a mutiny at Dufile, India, and the Emin Pasha is imprisoned.
- August 31 – Mary Ann Nichols is murdered. She is considered 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 cricket 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
- 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 victims, respectively.
- October 1 – Sofia University officially opens, becoming the first university in liberated Bulgaria.
- October 9 – The Washington Monument officially opens to the general public.
- October 14 – Louis Le Prince films the first motion picture: Roundhay Garden Scene in Roundhay, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK (followed by his movie Leeds Bridge).
- October 25 – St. Cuthbert's Society, University of Durham is founded after a general meeting, chaired by the Reverend Hastings Rashdall.
- November 6 – U.S. presidential election, 1888: United States 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 9 – In London, England, the dead body of 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 27 – Delta Delta Delta was founded at Boston University.
- December 18 – Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law discover the Indian ruins of Mesa Verde in southwestern Colorado.
- December 23 – During a bout of mental illness, Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh infamously cuts off the lower part of his own left ear.
- August 16 - T. E. Lawrence, "Lawrence of Arabia", English writer and soldier (d. 1935)
- September 26 - T. S. Eliot, American-born writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1965)