January 4 – Life magazine is founded in Los Angeles
January 10 – A fire at the Newhall Hotel in Milwaukee kills 73 people.
January 16 – The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, establishing the United States civil service, is passed.
January 19 – The first electric lighting system employing overhead wires begins service in Roselle, New Jersey; it was installed by Thomas Edison.
February – The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi is first published complete in book form in Italy.
February 13 – The German composer Richard Wagner dies of a heart attack in Venice, Italy.
February 16 – The Ladies' Home Journal is published for the first time.
February 23 – Alabama becomes the first U.S. state to enact an antitrust law.
February 28 – The first vaudeville theater is opened, in Boston, Massachusetts.
March 2 – The Hong Kong Observatory is formed.
March 14 – Karl Marx dies in London.
March 20 – Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.
April 5 – Oxygen is liquefied for the very first time.
April 28 – The first sevens tournament is played at Melrose RFC in Scotland.
May 23 – Robert Louis Stevenson's children's pirate adventure novel Treasure Island is first published in book format, in London.
May 24 – Brooklyn Bridge is opened to traffic after 13 years of construction.
May 30 – In New York City, a rumor that the Brooklyn Bridge is going to collapse causes a stampede which crushes 12 people.
June 3 – Sheikh Maktoum al Butthi takes power in Dubai. The al-Maktoum family is ruling Dubai as an Emirate ever since.
June 13 – Count Arvid Posse leaves office as Prime Minister of Sweden. He is succeeded by Carl Johan Thyselius, the first non-aristocrat ( Swedish ; "ofrälse" ) to serve as Swedish head of government, and Prime Minister.
June 16 – Victoria Hall disaster: A rush for treats results in 183 children being asphyxiated in a concert hall in Sunderland, England.
June 28 – In Milan, Italy the first central European electricity power station is inaugurated.
June 30 – Robert Louis Stevenson's novel The Black Arrow first appears as a serial in the British magazine Young Folks; A Boys' and Girls' Paper of Instructive and Entertaining Literature as by "Captain George North". Stevenson completes writing it at the end of the summer in France.
July 3 – The SS Daphne disaster in Glasgow leaves 124 dead.
July 4 – The world's first rodeo is held in Pecos, Texas.
July 22 – Zulu King Cetshwayo barely escapes a rebel attack with his life.
King William's College is opened on the Isle of Man.
August 12 – The last quagga dies at the Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam.
August 21 – An F5 tornado strikes Rochester, Minnesota, leading to the creation of the Mayo Clinic.
August 26–August 27 – Krakatoa volcano erupts at 10:02 AM (local time); 163 villages are destroyed, 36,380 killed by tsunami.
August 29 – Dunfermline Carnegie Library, the first Carnegie library, is opened in Andrew Carnegie's hometown, Dunfermline, Scotland.
September 11 – Major Evelyn Baring becomes Consul-General of Egypt under British rule.
The Bombay Natural History Society is founded.
The University of Texas at Austin opens to students.
September 29 – A consortium of flour mill operators in Minneapolis forms the Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie and Atlantic Railway as a means to get their product to the Great Lakes ports but avoid the high tariffs of Chicago.
October 1 – Sydney Boys High School (the first boys' public school) is founded in Sydney, Australia.
Amsterdam: The first International Colonial and Export Exhibition closes, having had over 1 million visitors.
The Boys' Brigade (the first uniformed youth organization in existence) is founded in Glasgow, Scotland.
The Orient Express train begins to run through from Paris Gare de l'Est to Giurgiu in Romania with onward ferry and train connections to Istanbul. The train has been running since June 5 as far as Vienna.
October 15 – The Supreme Court of the United States declares part of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 to be unconstitutional, allowing individuals and corporations to discriminate based on race.
October 20 – Peru and Chile sign the Treaty of Ancón, by which the Tarapacá province is ceded to Chile, ending Peru's involvement in the War of the Pacific.
October 24 – Cardiff University, Wales, opens (under the name of University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire).
October 30 – Two Clan na Gael dynamite bombs explode in the London Underground, injuring several people. The next day, Home Secretary Vernon Harcourt drafts 300 policemen to guard the underground and introduces the Explosives Bill.
November 3 – American Old West: Self-described "Black Bart the Po-8" makes his last stagecoach robbery, but leaves a handkerchief with a laundry mark that eventually leads to his capture.
November 14 – Chile's National Library of Congress is founded.
November 18 – U.S. and Canadian railroads institute 5 standard continental time zones, ending the confusion of thousands of local times.
November 28 – Whitman College is chartered as a 4-year college in Walla Walla, Washington.
December 5 – Five people are killed in the Bisbee Massacre, the robbery of a general store by bandits in Bisbee, Arizona.
German bacteriologist Robert Koch discovers the cholera bacillus.
Antoni Gaudí begins to work on the Sagrada Família Cathedral in Barcelona (it will be consecrated in 2010).
Duncan, Arizona, is founded.
The suburb of Ingleburn, in Sydney, Australia, is established.
Construction of Speicherstadt as a free zone in the Port of Hamburg begins.
During construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1883, blasting and excavation reveal high concentrations of nickel–copper ore at Murray Mine on the edge of the Sudbury Basin located near Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.
Otto von Bismarck pushes the first social security law through the Reichstag.
A depression starts in Seattle, United States.
The British Parliament considers a major bill to allow Indian judges to try Europeans in India. The British community rises in protest and defeats the measure.
The Mexican government passes a law allowing real estate companies (controlled by General Porfirio Díaz's political associates) to survey public and "vacant" lands and to retain one third of the land they survey.
Bernard Kroger establishes the first Kroger grocery store, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The first purebred Percheron (horse) stud book is created in France.
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute
Raith Rovers F.C.
The Black Arabs F.C (now Bristol Rovers)
Dunstable Town F.C.
Ichirō Hatoyama, Prime Minister of Japan (d. 1959)
Dimitrios Semsis, Greek singer, violinist, and composer (d. 1950)
Alberto Gerchunoff, Argentine writer (d. 1949)
January 3 – Clement Attlee, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1967)
January 4 – Johanna Westerdijk, Dutch plant pathologist (d. 1961)
January 5 – Döme Sztójay, prime minister of Hungary (d. 1946)
January 6 – Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese poet, painter, and novelist (d. 1931)
Florence Reed, American actress (d. 1967)
Hubert Latham, pioneer aviator of the pre-World War I era (d. 1912)
Francis X. Bushman, American actor (d. 1966)
Aleksei Nikolaevich Tolstoi, Russian writer (d. 1945)
January 16 – Hugh Oswald Short, British aviation pioneer and aircraft builder, youngest of the Short Brothers (d. 1969)
January 19 - Waite Phillips, American businessman and philanthropist (d. 1964)
Enoch L. Johnson, American political boss and racketeer (d. 1968)
Bertram Ramsay, British admiral (d. 1945)
January 21 – Olav Aukrust, Norwegian poet (d. 1929)
January 30 – Eddie Collins, American vaudeville-veteran comic (d. 1940)
February 8 – Joseph Alois Schumpeter, Austrian economist (d. 1950)
February 9 – Fritz August Breuhaus de Groot, German architect, interior designer and designer (d. 1960)
February 15 – Sax Rohmer, English author (d. 1959)
February 16 – Elizabeth Craig, British writer (d. 1980)
February 18 – Nikos Kazantzakis, Greek writer (d. 1957)
Marguerite Clark, American silent film actress (d. 1940)
Abe Attell, American boxer (d. 1970)
February 23 – Karl Jaspers, German philosopher (d. 1969)
March 3 – Cyril Burt, educational psychologist (d. 1971)
Julius Fromm, German businessman and inventor known for the Condom machine (d. 1945)
Sam Langford, Canadian boxer (d. 1956)
March 7 – Michael Somogyi, Hungarian-American biochemist and professor (d. 1971)
Walter Haworth, British chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1950)
Joseph Stilwell, American general (d. 1946)
March 24 – Dorothy Campbell, Scottish golfer (d. 1945)
April 1 – Lon Chaney, Sr., American actor (d. 1930)
April 5 – Walter Huston, Canadian-born American actor (d. 1950)
April 11 – Leonard Mudie, English actor (d. 1965)
April 12 – Dally Messenger, Australian rugby league player (d. 1959)
April 15 – Stanley Bruce, eighth Prime Minister of Australia (d. 1967)
April 25 – Semyon Budyonny, Cossack cavalryman and Marshal of the Soviet Union (d. 1973)
April 27 – Hubert Harrison, African American writer, critic, and activist (d. 1927)
April 30 – Jaroslav Hašek, Czech writer (d. 1923)
May 1 – Tom Moore, Irish-American actor (d. 1955)
May 5 – Archibald Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell, British field marshal (d. 1950)
May 9 – José Ortega y Gasset, Spanish philosopher (d. 1955)
May 10 – Eugen Leviné, Communist leader of the Munich Soviet Republic (d. 1919)
May 16 – Celâl Bayar, Turkish politician, statesman and the third President of Turkey (d. 1986)
Walter Gropius, German architect (d. 1969)
Hasui Kawase, Japanese painter and printmaker (d. 1957)
Douglas Fairbanks, American actor (d. 1939)
Ferenc Talányi, Slovene writer, partisan, and painter (d. 1959)
May 24 – Elsa Maxwell, American gossip columnist and international party giver (d. 1963)
May 25 – Lesley J. McNair, American general (d. 1944)
May 26 – Mamie Smith, American Vaudeville singer (d. 1943)
May 27 – Jessie Arms Botke, American artist (d. 1971)
May 28 – Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Indian pro-independence activist and Hindu nationalist (d. 1966)
May 31 – Lauri Kristian Relander, President of Finland (d. 1942)
June 5 – John Maynard Keynes, English economist (d. 1946)
June 7 – Sylvanus G. Morley, American scholar and World War I spy (d. 1948)
June 11 – Aubrey Fitch, American admiral (d. 1978)
June 18 – Mary Alden, American stage & screen actress (d. 1946)
June 20 – Royal E. Ingersoll, American admiral (d. 1976)
June 21 – Lluís Companys, President of Catalonia (d. 1940)
June 24 – Victor Franz Hess, Austrian-born physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1964)
June 28 – Pierre Laval, Prime Minister of France (d. 1945)
June 29 – Lothrop Stoddard, American eugenicist and Radical scientific racist (d. 1950)
July 1 – Arthur Borton, English soldier (d. 1933)
July 3 – Franz Kafka, Austrian writer (d. 1924)
July 4 – Rube Goldberg, American cartoonist (d. 1970)
July 7 – Toivo Kuula, Finnish composer (d. 1918)
July 10 – Johannes Blaskowitz, German general (d. 1948)
July 16 – Charles Sheeler, American photographer and artist (d. 1965)
July 19 – Max Fleischer, Austrian animator and film producer (Betty Boop) (d. 1972)
July 20 – Catherine Bramwell-Booth, English Officer in The Salvation Army (d. 1987)
July 25 – Alfredo Casella, Italian composer (d. 1947)
July 26 – Edwin Balmer, American science fiction and mystery writer (d. 1959)
July 28 – Angela Hitler, Austrian elder half-sister of Adolf Hitler (d. 1949)
Porfirio Barba-Jacob, Colombian writer (d. 1942)
Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy (d. 1945)
August 9 – Chester Gillette, American murderer (d. 1908 by execution)
Pauline Frederick, American stage and screen actress, (d. 1938)
Marion Lorne, American film, stage and television actress (d. 1968)
August 15 – Ivan Meštrović, Croatian sculptor and architect, (d. 1962)
Coco Chanel, French stylist (d. 1971)
Elsie Ferguson, American actress (d. 1961)
Leonid Kulik, Russian mineralogist (Tunguska event) (d. 1942)
Jesse Pennington, English footballer (d. 1970)
Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV, American general (d. 1953)
August 30 – Theo van Doesburg, Dutch artist, painter, architect, and poet (d. 1931)
September 2 – Rudolf Weigl, Polish biologist (d. 1957)
September 13 – August Zaleski, former President of Poland (d. 1972)
September 14 – Gadicherla Harisarvottama Rao, Indian journalist and independence activist (d. 1960)
September 15 – Esteban Terradas i Illa, Catalan mathematician, scientist, and engineer (d. 1950)
September 22 – Ferenc Oslay, Hungarian-Slovene historian, writer and irredenta (d. 1932)
October 8 – Otto Heinrich Warburg, German physician and physiologist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1970)
October 15 – Robert L. Ghormley, American admiral (d. 1958)
October 26 – Paul Pilgrim, American athlete (d. 1958)
October 30 – Bob Jones, Sr., American evangelist, pioneer religious broadcaster, and founder and first president of Bob Jones University (d. 1968)
October 31 – Anthony Wilding, New Zealand tennis player (d. 1915)
November 3 – Chaturbhuj Sahay, Samrth Guru and Spiritual Reformer (d. 1957)
November 4 – Nikolaos Plastiras, Greek general and politician (d. 1953)
November 8 – Arnold Bax, English composer (d. 1953)
November 9 – Edna May Oliver, stage & film character actress (d. 1942)
November 11 – Ernest Ansermet, Swiss conductor (d. 1969)
November 18 – Carl Vinson, U.S. Congressman (d. 1981)
Harvey Spencer Lewis, American occultist (b. 1939)
Merrill C. Meigs, American newspaper publisher and aviation promoter (d. 1968)
Percy Marmont, British stage & screen actor (d. 1977)
December 3 – Anton Webern, Austrian composer (d. 1945)
December 9 – Joseph Pilates, German physical culturist and developer of Pilates (d. 1967)
December 10 – Giovanni Messe, Italian field marshal and politician (d. 1968)
Cliff Sterrett, American cartoonist (d. 1964)
Max Moody, Sr., American businessman and founder of M. D. Moody & Sons, Inc. (d. 1949)
December 13 – Belle da Costa Greene, American librarian, bibliographer, and archivist (d. 1950)
December 14 – Morihei Ueshiba, Japanese martial artist and founder of aikido (d. 1969)
David Powell, Scottish-American stage and film actor (d. 1925)
Max Linder, French actor (d. 1925)
December 17 – Raimu, French actor (d. 1946)
Edgard Varèse, French composer (d. 1965)
Edna Goodrich, American actress (d. 1972)
December 25 – Hugo Bergmann, German and Israeli Jewish philosopher (d. 1975)
December 26 – Maurice Utrillo, French artist and illustrator (d. 1955)
December 28 – Lloyd Fredendall, American general (d. 1963)
December 29 – Forrest Taylor, American stage, film and television actor (d. 1965)
December 31 – Leo Otis Colbert, American admiral and engineer, third Director of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (d. 1968)
Lotte Herrlich, German photographer (d. 1956)
Z. D. Mangoaela, South African folklorist and writer (d. 1963)
Chen Xiefen, Chinese feminist and journalist (d. 1923)
probable – T. F. O'Rahilly, Irish academic (d. 1953)
January 8 – Miska Magyarics, Slovene poet in Hungary (b. 1825)
Samuel Mudd, American doctor to John Wilkes Booth (b. 1833)
Elling Eielsen, Norwegian Lutheran leader (b. 1804)
January 23 – Gustave Doré, French artist (b. 1832)
January 24 – Friedrich von Flotow, German composer (b. 1812)
February 13 – Richard Wagner, German composer (b. 1813)
February 15 – Prince Kachō Hiroatsu of Japan (b. 1875)
Napoléon Coste, French guitarist and composer (b. 1806)
Vasudev Balwant Phadke, Indian revolutionary (b. 1845)
March 4 – Alexander Hamilton Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States of America (b. 1812)
March 14 – Karl Marx, German communist philosopher (b. 1818)
March 20 – Charles Lasègue, French physician (b. 1816)
March 21 – Grigol Orbeliani, Georgian poet and soldier (b. 1804)
March 28 – Napoleon Bonaparte Buford, American general and railroad executive (b. 1807)
April 4 – Peter Cooper, American industrialist, inventor and philanthropist (b. 1791)
April 15 – Frederick Francis II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (b. 1823)
April 16 – Charles II, Duke of Parma (b. 1799)
April 26 – Napoleon Orda, Belarusian composer and artist (b. 1807)
April 30 – Édouard Manet, French painter (b. 1832)
May 24 – Keʻelikōlani, princess of Hawaii (b. 1826)
May 26 – Abdelkader El Djezairi, Algerian leader (b. 1808)
June 20 – John William Colenso, Bishop of Natal (b. 1814)
June 26 – Edward Sabine, Irish astronomer (b. 1788)
July 22 – Edward Ord, U.S. Army officer (b. 1818)
July 23 – Rose Massey, English actress (b. 1851?)
July 24 – Matthew Webb, First recorded person to swim the English Channel without the use of artificial aids. (b. 1848)
July 27 – Montgomery Blair, American politician (b. 1813)
July 28 – Carlo Pellion di Persano, Italian admiral and politician (b. 1806)
August 24 – Henri, Count of Chambord, pretender to the French throne (b. 1820)
September 3 – Ivan Turgenev, Russian writer (b. 1818)
September 10 – Otto Pius Hippius, Baltic German architect (b. 1826)
September 16 – Junius Brutus Booth, Jr., American actor and theatre manager (b. 1821)
October 5 – Joachim Barrande, French palaeontologist (b. 1799)
October 14 – Sir Arthur Elton, 7th Baronet, writer and Liberal Party politician (b. 1818)
October 20 – George Chichester, 3rd Marquess of Donegall (b. 1797)
October 22 – Thomas Mayne Reid, Irish-American novelist (b. 1818)
Dayananda Saraswati, Hindu religious leader (b. 1824)
Robert Volkmann, German composer (b. 1815)
November 19 – Carl Wilhelm Siemens, German engineer (b. 1823)
December 13 – Victor de Laprade, French poet and critic (b. 1812)
December 27 – Andrew A. Humphreys, American general and civil engineer (b. 1810)
Margaret Agnes Bunn, British actress, (b. 1799)
1883 (MDCCCLXXXIII) was a common year starting on Monday (dominical letter G) of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Saturday (dominical letter B) of the Julian calendar, the 1883rd year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 883rd year of the 2nd millennium, the 83rd year of the 19th century, and the 4th year of the 1880s decade. As of the start of 1883, the Gregorian calendar was 12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.