Centuries: 18th century - 19th century - 20th century
Decades: 1830s 1840s 1850s 1860s 1870s - 1880s - 1890s 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s
Years: 1879 1880 1881 1882 1883 - 1884 - 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889
- January 4 - The Fabian Society is founded in London
- February 1 - Edition one of the Oxford English Dictionary is published.
- March 13 - The siege of Khartoum, Sudan begins (ends on January 26, 1885).
- May 1 - the start of the general strike which eventually won the eight-hour workday in the United States. May 1st, called May Day or Labour Day, is now a holiday recognized in almost every industrialized country; a few exceptions are Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, and (oddly enough), the United States. It is also a major holiday in the Communist countries.
- July 5 - Germany takes possession of Cameroon.
- October 18 - University of Wales, Bangor (UK) founded.
- November - Grover Cleveland defeats James G. Blaine[?] in the U.S. presidential election
- December 6 - Washington Monument was completed.
- December 16 - World Cotton Centennial World's Fair opens in New Orleans, Louisiana
- Stefan-Boltzmann law reformulated by Ludwig Boltzmann
Arts, Sciences, Literature and Philosophy
- January 2 - Oscar Micheaux, African-American, filmmaker & author (+ 1951)
- January 12 - Texas Guinan, vaudeville performer (+ 1933)
- January 13 - Sophie Tucker[?], singer, comedienne, vaudeville performer (+ 1966)
- January 21 - Roger Baldwin[?], ACLU president, social activist (+ 1981)
- January 28 - Auguste Piccard, physicist (+ 1962)
- January 31 - Theodor Heuss[?], politician and publicist (+ 1963)
- February 12 - Max Beckmann, painter and graphic artist (+ 1950)
- February 12 - Marie Vassilieff, artist (+ 1957)
- March 13 - Oskar Loerke[?], lyricist, narrator and essayist (+ 1941)
- March 13 - Sir Hugh Walpole[?], novelist (+ 1941)
- March 26 - Wilhelm Backhaus[?], pianist (+ 1969)
- April 4 - Isoroku Yamamoto, naval commander (+ 1943)
- April 6 - Walter Huston, Academy Award winning actor (+ 1950)
- May 8 - Harry S. Truman, former President of the United States (+ 1972)
- May 14 - Claude Dornier[?], aircraft designer (+ 1969)
- May 27 - Max Brod, author (+ 1968)
- May 28 - Eduard Benes, politician (+ 1948)
- July 12 - Amedeo Modigliani, painter, sculptor
- July 23 - Emil Jannings, actor
- October 11: Eleanor Roosevelt, human rights activist, wife of US president
- November 19 - José Raúl Capablanca, Cuban chess player (+ 1942).