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A carved date from a church in Stamford
1888 was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar, the 1888th year of the Common Era (CE) and (AD) designations, the 888th year of the Anno Domini 2nd millennium, the 88th year of the 19th century, and the 9th year of the 1880s decade. As of the start of 1888, the Gregorian calendar was 12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923. 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). The next year that also has 13 digits is the year 2388. The record will be surpassed as late as 2888, which has 14 digits.
January 3 – The 91-centimeter telescope is first used, at Lick Observatory in California.
January 12 – The hits Schoolhouse Blizzard 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 21 – The Amateur Athletic Union is founded by William Buckingham Curtis, in the United States.
January 26 – The Lawn Tennis Association is founded in England.
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 – The Sikkim Expedition, a British military expedition to expel the Tibetans from northern Sikkim, begins.
March 16 – The 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.
March – The International Council of Women is formed, a key event in the international women's movement.
April 6 – The first New Year's Day is observed, 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.
April 16 – The German Empire annexes the island of Nauru.
April 21 – The Texas State Capitol building, completed at a cost of 3 million dollars, opens to the public in Austin.
May 1 – The United States Congress establishes the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.
May 8 – The International Exhibition of Science, Art and Industry in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow opens (continues to November).
May 12 – The North Borneo Chartered Company's territories become the British protectorate of North Borneo.
May 13 – In Brazil, the abolishes the last remnants of slavery. Lei Áurea
May 28 – In Scotland, Celtic F.C. plays its first official match, winning 5–2 against Rangers F.C.
May 30 – Hong Kong's Peak Tram begins operation.
June – Annie Besant organises the London matchgirls strike of 1888.
June 14 – The White Rajahs territories become the British protectorate of Sarawak.
June 15 – Wilhelm II becomes German Emperor and King of Prussia; 1888 is the Year of the Three Emperors.
June 19 – In Chicago, the Republican Convention opens at the Auditorium Building. Benjamin Harrison and Levi P. Morton win the nominations for President and Vice President of the United States, respectively.
June 29 – Handel's is recorded onto wax cylinder at Israel in Egypt The Crystal Palace in London, the earliest known recording of classical music.
June 30 – The Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom opens its laboratory, on Plymouth Hoe.
July 2- 27 - London matchgirls strike of 1888: About 200 striking workers, mainly teenaged girls, protest outside a newspaper office, when three colleagues are fired from the Bryant and May Match Factory. The story is covered by reporter Annie Besant, and the workers unionise on 27 July 1888. 
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 10 – Dr Friedrich Hermann Wölfert’s motorised airship successfully completes the world’s first engine-driven flight, from Cannstatt to Kornwestheim. 
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 – A mutiny at Dufile, Equatoria, results in the imprisonment of the Emin Pasha.
August 24 –The first trams in Tallinn ( Reval), horsecars, begin operation.
August 28 – The longest date in Roman numerals (VIII-XXVIII-MDCCCLXXXVIII) occurs.
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 , and receives a patent for his Kodak 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 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 25 – St Cuthbert's Society at 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 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 is held in Brussels.
November 27 – International sorority Delta Delta Delta is founded at Boston University.
November 29 – The 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, yachtsman (d. 1989)
January 19 – Millard Harmon, American general (d. 1945) c.
January 20 – Huddie William Ledbetter ( Lead Belly), American folk, blues singer (d. 1949)
January 22 – Carlos Quintanilla, 44th President of Bolivia (d. 1964)
January 23 – Aritomo Gotō, Japanese admiral (d. 1942)
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 13 – Georgios Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece (d. 1968)
February 17 – Otto Stern, German physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1969)
February 20 – Georges Bernanos, French writer (d. 1948)
February 25 – John Foster Dulles, United States Secretary of State (d. 1959)
March 1 – Ewart Astill, English cricketer (Leicestershire) (d. 1948)
March 4 – Knute Rockne, American football player, coach (d. 1931)
March 16 – Anton Köllisch, German chemist noted for synthesising MDMA (d. 1916)
March 17 – Paul Ramadier, Prime Minister of France (d. 1961)
March 26 – Elsa Brändström, Swedish nurse (d. 1948)
March 28 – Léon Noël, French diplomat, politician and historian (d. 1987)
March 30 – Anna Q. Nilsson, Swedish-American silent film star (d. 1974)
April 1 – Terry de la Mesa Allen, Sr., American general (d. 1969)
April 12 – Carlos Julio Arosemena Tola, 28th President of Ecuador (d. 1952)
April 18 – Duffy Lewis, American 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 13 – Inge Lehmann, Danish seismologist, geophysicist (d. 1993)
May 17 – Tich Freeman, English cricketer (d. 1965)
May 18 – William Hood Simpson, American general (d. 1980)
May 23 – Zack Wheat, American Baseball Hall of Famer (d. 1972)
May 24 – Stanley Sylvester Alexander Watkins, English talking pictures pioneer
May 27 – Louis Durey, French composer (d. 1979)
May 28 – Kaarel Eenpalu, Prime Minister of Estonia (d. 1942)
May 31 – Jack Holt, American actor (d. 1951)
June 3 – Tom Brown, American jazz musician (d. 1958)
June 5 – Armand Annet, French colonial official (d. 1973)
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 21 – Cecil King, New Zealand rugby league footballer (d. 1975)
June 23 – F. Ryan Duffy, American judge and politician (d. 1979)
June 27 – Antoinette Perry, New York stage director for whom the Tony Award was named (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, 8th Chief Engraver of the United States Mint (d. 1947)
July 10 – Giorgio de Chirico, Italian painter (d. 1978)
July 17 – Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Israeli writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1970)
July 20 – Geneve L. A. Shaffer, American realtor, lecturer and author (d. 1976)
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, Indian Bohra spiritual leader (d. 1965)
August 9 – Eduard Ritter von Schleich, German fighter ace, air force general (d. 1947)
August 17 – Monty Woolley, American actor (d. 1963)
August 20 – Tôn Đức Thắng, 2nd President of Vietnam (d. 1980)
August 25 – Allama Mashriqi, Pakistani scholar, 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, politician and 2nd President of India (d. 1975)
September 12 – Maurice Chevalier, French singer, actor (d. 1972)
September 14 – Thakur Anukulchandra, Indian social reformer, philanthropist (d. 1969)
September 18 – Grey Owl, British impostor, writer (d. 1938)
September 20 – John Painter, World's Oldest Man between 1999 and 2001 (d. 2001)
October 3 – Claud Allister, English actor (d. 1970)
October 6 – Roland Garros, French pilot (d. 1918)
October 7 – Henry A. Wallace, 33rd 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 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, 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 7 – Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, Indian physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1970)
November 9 – Jean Monnet, French political economist, diplomat and a founding father of the European Union (d. 1979)
November 13 – Philip Francis Nowlan, American science fiction writer, creator of the Buck Rogers character (d. 1940)
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, composer (d. 1964)
November 28 – Edgar Church, American comic book collector (d. 1978)
November 30 – Ralph Hartley, American electronics researcher, inventor (d. 1970)
December 3 – Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, Polish-born Chief Rabbi of Ireland and Israel (d. 1959)
December 6 – Will Hay, British actor, comedian (d. 1949)
December 16 – Alphonse Juin, French general, Marshal of France (d. 1967)
December 19 – Fritz Reiner, Hungarian conductor (d. 1963)
December 20 – Yitzhak Baer, German-born Israeli historian (d. 1980)
December 22 – Theodore Stark Wilkinson, American admiral (d. 1946)
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, 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, settler (b. 1815)
March 9 – William I, German Emperor, King of Prussia (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, 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, newspaper editor (b. 1821)
April 19 – Thomas Russell Crampton, English engineer (b. 1816)
May 15 – Edwin Hamilton Davis, American archaeologist, physician (b. 1811)
May 19 – Julius Rockwell, United States politician (b. 1805)
May 26 – Ascanio Sobrero, Italian chemist (b. 1812)
June 7 – Edmond Le Bœuf, marshal of France (b. 1809)
June 15 – Frederick III, German Emperor, King of Prussia (b. 1831)
June 23 – Edmund Gurney, British psychologist (b. 1847)
July 1 – Maiden of Ludmir, Jewish religious leader (b. 1805)
July 4 – Theodor Storm, German writer (b. 1817)
July 9 – Jan Brand, 4th president of the Orange Free State (b. 1823)
July 20 – Paul Langerhans, German pathologist, 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 – John Lester Wallack, American theater impresario (b. 1820)
September 8 – Annie Chapman, victim of Jack the Ripper (b. 1841)
September 11 – Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Argentine 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)
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, German optician, founder of 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, general (b. 1826)
December 31 – Samson Raphael Hirsch, German rabbi (b. 1808)
Further reading and year books
highly detailed coverage of "Political, Military, and Ecclesiastical Affairs; Public Documents; Biography, Statistics, Commerce, Finance, Literature, Science, Agriculture, and Mechanical Industry" for year 1888; massive compilation of facts and primary documents; worldwide coverage; 831 pp 1888 Annual Cyclopedia (1889)