The California Golden Bears defeat the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 1938 Rose Bowl with a final score 13-0.
The Company 1938 OEM Industrial Groups is officially registered.
The new constitution of Estonia enters into force, which many consider to be the ending of the Era of Silence and the authoritarian regime.
Sir Alexander Cadogan succeeds Sir Robert Vansittart as permanent under-secretary at the British Foreign Office; Vansittart is "kicked upstairs" by being given the new and unimportant office of Chief Diplomatic Advisor to the Government.
The Merrie Melodies cartoon short Daffy Duck & Egghead is released, being the first cartoon to give Daffy Duck his continuing name, as well as his second appearance.
Creation of state-owned railroad networks by merger in France (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français – SNCF) and the Netherlands (Nederlandse Spoorwegen – NS).
January 3 – The March of Dimes is established as a foundation to combat infant polio by President of the united States Franklin D. Roosevelt.
January 12 – The German War Minister Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg marries Eva Gruhn in Berlin; Hermann Göring is best man at the wedding.
January 16 – Two landmark live sound recordings are produced this day: the very first of Mahler's Ninth by the Vienna Philharmonic under Bruno Walter in the face of dire circumstance; and Benny Goodman and his orchestra become the first jazz musicians to headline a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
January 20 – King Farouk of Egypt marries Safinaz Zulficar, who becomes Queen Farida, in Cairo.
January 22 – Thornton Wilder's play Our Town is performed for the first time anywhere in Princeton, New Jersey. It premieres in New York City on February 4.
January 25 – A brilliant aurora borealis described variously as "a curtain of fire" and a "huge blood-red beam of light" startles people across Europe and is visible as far south as Gibraltar.
The Niagara Bridge at Niagara Falls, New York collapses due to an ice jam.
German War Minister Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg resigns following the revelation that his new wife had previously posed for pornographic photos.
January 28 – The first ski tow in America begins operation in Vermont.
Adolf Hitler abolishes the War Ministry and creates the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (High Command of the Armed Forces), giving him direct control of the German military. In addition, Hitler dismisses political and military leaders considered unsympathetic to his philosophy or policies. General Werner von Fritsch is forced to resign as Commander of Chief of the German Army following accusations of homosexuality, and replaced by General Walther von Brauchitsch. Foreign Minister Baron Konstantin von Neurath is dismissed and replaced by Joachim von Ribbentrop.
Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first cel-animated feature in motion picture history, is released in the United States following a premiere the previous year.
February 6 – Black Sunday at Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia: 300 swimmers are dragged out to sea in 3 freak waves; 80 lifesavers save all but 5.
February 10 – Carol II of Romania takes dictatorial powers.
February 12 – Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg of Austria meets Adolf Hitler at Berchtesgaden and, under threat of invasion, is forced to yield to German demands for greater Nazi participation in the Austrian government.
February 14 – The British naval base at Singapore begins operations.
February 20 – Sir Anthony Eden resigns as British Foreign Secretary following major disagreements with Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain over the best policy to follow in regards to Italy, and is succeeded by Lord Halifax.
February 24 – A nylon bristle toothbrush becomes the first commercial product to be made with nylon yarn.
The Santa Ana River in California spills over its banks during a rainy winter, killing 58 people in Orange County and causing trouble as far inland as Palm Springs.
Oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia.
Sir Nevile Henderson, British Ambassador to Germany, presents a proposal to Hitler for an international consortium to rule much of Africa (in which Germany would be assigned a leading role) in exchange for a German promise never to resort to war to change her frontiers; Hitler rejects the British offer.
March 12 – Anschluss: German troops occupy Austria; annexation is declared the following day.
March 14 – French Premier Léon Blum reassures the Czechoslovak government that France will honor its treaty obligations to aid Czechoslovakia in event of German invasion.
March 15 – Soviet Union announces officially that Nikolai Bukharin has been executed.
March 17 – Poland presents an ultimatum to Lithuania, to establish normal diplomatic relations that were severed over the Vilnius Region.
Mexico nationalizes all foreign-owned oil properties within its borders.
General Werner von Fritsch is acquitted of charges of homosexuality at his court-martial.
March 27 – Italian mathematician Ettore Majorana disappears suddenly under mysterious circumstances while travelling by ship from Palermo to Naples.
March 28 – At a meeting with Hitler in Berlin Konrad Henlein is instructed to make increasing demands concerning the status of the Sudetenland but to avoid reaching an agreement with the Czechoslovak authorities.
March 30 – Italy's Duce Benito Mussolini is granted equal power over the Italian military to that of King Victor Emmanuel III as First Marshal of the Empire held exclusively by Victor Emmanuel and Mussolini.
Édouard Daladier becomes prime minister of France. He appoints as Foreign Minister a leading advocate of the policy of appeasement, Georges Bonnet, effectively negating Blum's reassurances of March 14.
In a result that astonished even Hitler, the Austrian electorate in a national referendum approved Anschluss by an overwhelming 99.73%.
April 16 – London and Rome sign an agreement that sees Britain recognise Italian control of Ethiopia in return for an Italian pledge to withdraw all its troops from Spain at the conclusion of the civil war there.
April 18 – First appearance of Superman (as a backup story), in Action Comics #1 (cover date June). The date is established in court documents released during the legal battle over the rights to Superman.
April 24 – Konstantin Päts becomes the first President of Estonia.
April 25 – Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins: The U.S. Supreme Court overturns a century of federal common law.
April 28 – The towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott in Massachusetts are disincorporated to make way for the Quabbin Reservoir.
The Vatican recognizes Francisco Franco's government in Spain.
General Ludwig Beck, Chief of the German Army's General Staff, submits a memorandum to Hitler opposing Fall Grün (Case Green), the plan for a war with Czechoslovakia, under the grounds that Germany is ill-prepared for the world war likely to result from such an attack.
May 12 – U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull rejects Russia's offer of a joint defence pact to counter rise of Nazi Germany.
May 14 – Chile withdraws from the League of Nations.
May 17 – Information Please debuts on NBC Radio in the United States.
May 19 – May Crisis begins when Czechoslovak intelligence receives reports of menacing German military concentrations. (It later appears the reports are false.)
May 20 – Czechoslovakia orders a partial mobilization of its armed forces along the German border.
May 21 – Matsuo Toi kills 30 people in a village in Okayama, Japan, in the Tsuyama massacre, the world's worst spree killing by an individual until 1982.
May 23 – No evidence of German troop movements against Czechoslovakia is found and May Crisis subsides. Germany is, nevertheless, perceived to have backed down in the face of Czechoslovak mobilization and international diplomatic unity but the issue of the future of the Sudetenland is far from resolved.
Spanish Civil War: Alicante is bombed by fascist rebels, resulting in 313 deaths.
The Soviet ambassador to the United States, A. A. Troyanovsky, declares Moscow ready to defend Czechoslovakia.
Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, a notable sports venue in Argentina, officially opens in Buenos Aires.
May 28 – In a conference at the Reich Chancellery, Hitler declares his decision to destroy Czechoslovakia by military force, and orders the immediate mobilization of 96 Wehrmacht divisions.
May 30 – Hitler issues a revised directive for Fall Grün ("Case Green") - the invasion of Czechoslovakia - to be carried out by 1 October 1938.
June 11 – Katnip Kollege is released to theaters.
June 11 – Fire destroys 214 buildings in Ludza, Latvia.
June 15 – László Bíró patents the ballpoint pen in Britain.
June 19 – Italy beats Hungary 4–2 to win the 1938 World Cup.
June 22 – Heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis knocks out Max Schmeling in the first round of their rematch at Yankee Stadium in New York City.
The Civil Aeronautics Act is signed into law, forming the Civil Aeronautics Authority as an independent agency in the United States with effect from August 22.
Marineland opens near St. Augustine, Florida.
June 24 – A 450-metric-ton (496-short-ton) meteorite explodes about 12 miles (19 km) above the earth near Chicora, Pennsylvania.
June 25 – Dr. Douglas Hyde is elected the first President of Ireland.
July – The Mauthausen concentration camp is built in Austria.
The steam locomotive Mallard sets the world speed record for steam by reaching 125.88 mph on the London and North Eastern Railway.
The last reunion of the Blue and Gray commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
July 5 – The Non-Intervention Committee reaches an agreement to withdraw all foreign volunteers from the Spanish Civil War. The agreement is respected by most Republican foreign volunteers, notably by those from England and the United States, but is ignored by the governments of Germany and Italy.
July 6 – The Evian Conference on Refugees is convened in France. No country in Europe is prepared to accept Jews fleeing persecution and the United States will only take 27,370. The prospect for European Jewry looks bleak.
July 14 – Howard Hughes sets a new record by completing a 91-hour airplane flight around the world.
July 18 – Wrong Way Corrigan takes off from New York, ostensibly heading for California. He lands in Ireland instead.
July 22 – Britain rejected a proposal from its ambassador in Berlin, Nevile Henderson, for a four power summit on Czechoslovakia consisting of Britain, France, Germany and the U.S.S.R. London would under no circumstances accept the U.S.S.R. as a diplomatic partner.
July 24 – First ascent of the Eiger north face.
A revolt against the Ioannis Metaxas dictatorship is put down in Chania, Greece.
Hawaii Clipper disappears with six passengers and nine crew en route from Guam to Manila.
July 30 – The first ever issue of The Beano children's comic is published in Britain.
August – In the face of overwhelming Japanese military pressure, Chiang Kai-shek withdraws his government to Chungking.
August 3 – Lord Runciman, sent by Neville Chamberlain, arrives in Prague on his Mission of mediation in the Sudetenland dispute.
August 6 – The Looney Tunes animated short Porky & Daffy is released.
August 10 – At a secret summit with his leading generals, Hitler attacks General Beck's arguments against Fall Grün, winning the majority of his senior officers over to his point of view.
The Thousand Islands Bridge, connecting the United States with Canada, is dedicated by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Colonel General Ludwig Beck, convinced that Hitler's decision to attack Czechoslovakia will lead to a general European war, resigns his position as Chief of the Army General Staff in protest.
Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin arrives in London looking for British support for an anti-Nazi putsch, using the looming crisis over the Sudetenland as a pretext. His private mission is dismissed by Neville Chamberlain as unimportant (Chamberlain refers to von Kleist as a "Jacobite"), but he finds a sympathetic if powerless audience in Winston Churchill.
August 23 – Hitler, hosting a dinner on board the ocean liner Patria in Kiel Bay, tells the Regent of Hungary, Admiral Horthy, that action against Czechoslovakia is imminent and that "he who wants to sit at the table must at least help in the kitchen", a reference to Horthy's designs on Carpathian Ruthenia.
August 27 – General Beck leaves office as Chief of the General Staff; he is replaced by General Franz Halder.
August 28 – Lord Runciman's mission to mitigate the Sudetenland crisis begins to break down. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain recalls the British Ambassador Nevile Henderson from Berlin, to instruct Henderson to set up a personal meeting between Chamberlain and Hitler.
August 31 – Winston Churchill, still believing France and Britain mean to honor their promises to defend Czechoslovakia against Nazi aggression, suggests in a personal note to Neville Chamberlain that His Majesty's Government may want to set up a broad international alliance including the United States (specifically mentioning U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as possibly receptive to the idea) and the Soviet Union.
September – The European crisis over German demands for annexation of the Sudeten borderland of Czechoslovakia heats up.
September 2 – Soviet Ambassador to Britain Ivan Maisky calls on Winston Churchill, to tell him that Soviet Foreign Commissar Maxim Litvinov has expressed to the French chargé d'affaires in Moscow that the Soviet Union is willing to fight over the territorial integrity of Czechoslovakia.
September 4 – During the ceremony marking the unveiling of a plaque at Pointe de Grave, France celebrating Franco-American friendship, American Ambassador William Bullitt in a speech states, "France and the United States were united in war and peace", leading to much speculation in the press that if war did break out over Czechoslovakia, then the United States would join the war on the Allied side.
September 5 – Czechoslovakian President Edvard Beneš invites mid-level representatives of the Sudeten Germans to the Hradčany palace, to tell them he will accept whatever demands they care to make, provided the Sudetenland remains part of the Republic of Czechoslovakia.
September 6 – What eventually proves to be the last of the "Nuremberg Rallies" begins. It draws worldwide attention because it is widely assumed Hitler, in his closing remarks, will signal whether there will be peace with or war over Czechoslovakia.
September 7 – The Times publishes a lead article which calls on Czechoslovakia to cede the Sudetenland to Germany.
September 9 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt disallows the popular interpretation of Bullitt's speech at a press conference at the White House. Roosevelt states it is "100% wrong" the U.S. would join a "stop-Hitler bloc" under any circumstances and makes it quite clear that in the event of German aggression against Czechoslovakia, the U.S. would remain neutral.
September 10 – Hermann Göring, in a speech at Nuremberg, calls the Czechs a "miserable pygmy race" who are "harassing the human race." That same evening, Edvard Beneš, President of Czechoslovakia, makes a broadcast in which he appeals for calm.
September 12 – Hitler makes his much-anticipated closing address at Nuremberg, in which he vehemently attacks the Czech people and President Beneš. American news commentator Hans von Kaltenborn begins his famous marathon of broadcast bulletins over the CBS Radio Network with a summation of Hitler's address.
September 13 – The followers of Konrad Henlein begin an armed revolt against the Czechoslovak government in Sudetenland. Martial law is declared and after much bloodshed on both sides order is temporarily restored. Neville Chamberlain personally sends a telegram to Hitler urgently requesting that they both meet.
September 15 – Neville Chamberlain arrives in Berchtesgaden to begin negotiations with Hitler over the Sudetenland.
September 16 – Lord Runciman is recalled to London from Prague in order to brief the British government on the situation in the Sudetenland.
September 17 – Neville Chamberlain returns temporarily to London to confer with his cabinet. The U.S.S.R. Red Army masses along the Ukrainian frontier. Rumania agrees to allow Soviet soldiers free passage across her territory to defend Czechoslovakia.
During a meeting between Neville Chamberlain, the recently elected Premier of France, Édouard Daladier, and Daladier's Foreign Minister, Georges Bonnet, it becomes apparent neither the British nor the French governments are prepared to go to war over the Sudetenland. The Soviet Union declares it will come to the defence of Czechoslovakia only if France honours her commitment to defend Czechoslovak independence.
Mussolini makes a speech in Trieste, Italy where he indicates that Italy is supporting Germany in the Sudeten crisis.
In the early hours of the day, representatives of the French and British governments call on Czechoslovak President Edvard Beneš to tell him France and Britain will not fight Hitler if he decides to annex the Sudetenland by force. Late in the afternoon the Czechoslovak government capitulates to the French and British demands.
Winston Churchill warns of grave consequences to European security if Czechoslovakia is partitioned. The same day, Soviet Foreign Commissar Maxim Litvinov makes a similar statement in the League of Nations.
The 1938 New England hurricane strikes Long Island and southern New England, killing over 300 along the Rhode Island shoreline and 600 altogether.
Following the capitulation of the Czech government to Germany's demands both Poland and Hungary demand slices of Czech territory where their nationals reside.
Unable to survive the previous day's capitulation to the demands of the English and French governments, Czechoslovak premier Milan Hodža resigns. General Jan Syrový takes his place.
Neville Chamberlain arrives in the city of Bad Godesberg for another round of talks with Hitler over the Sudetenland crisis. Hitler raises his demands to include occupation of all German Sudeten territories by October 1. That night after a telephone conference, Chamberlain reverses himself and advises the Czechoslovaks to mobilize.
Olsen and Johnson's musical comedy revue Hellzapoppin begins its 3-year run on Broadway.
The Czechoslovak army mobilizes.
As the Polish army masses along the Czech border the Soviet Union warns Poland if it crosses the Czech frontier Russia will regard the 1932 non-aggression pact between the two countries void.
Sir Eric Phipps, British Ambassador to France, reports to London, "all that is best in France is against war, almost at any price", being opposed only by a "small, but noisy and corrupt, war group". Phipps's report creates major doubts about the ability and/or willingness of France to go to war.
At 1:30 AM, Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain conclude their talks on the Sudetenland. Chamberlain agrees to take Hitler's demands, codified in the Godesberg Memorandum, personally to the Czech Government. The Czech Government rejects the demands, as does Chamberlain's own cabinet. The French Government also initially rejects the terms and orders a partial mobilization of the French army.
September 26 – In a vitriolic speech at Berlin's Sportpalast, Hitler defies the world and implies war with Czechoslovakia will begin at any time.
September 28 – As his self-imposed October 1 deadline for occupation of the Sudetenland approaches, Adolf Hitler invites Italian Duce Benito Mussolini, French Premier Edourd Deladier and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to one last conference in Munich. The Czechs themselves are not invited.
Colonel Graham Christie, former British military attaché in Berlin, is told by Carl Friedrich Goerdeler that the mobilization of the Royal Navy has badly damaged the popularity of the Nazi regime, as the German public realizes that Fall Grün is likely to cause a world war.
Munich Agreement: German, Italian, British and French leaders agree to German demands regarding annexation of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovak government is largely excluded from the negotiations and is not a signatory to the agreement.
The Republic of Hatay is declared in Syria
September 30 – Neville Chamberlain returns to Britain from meeting with Adolf Hitler and declares "Peace for our time".
October – The Imperial Japanese Army largely overruns Canton.
October 1 – German troops march into the Sudetenland. The Polish government gives the Czech government an ultimatum stating that Zaolzie region must be handed over within twenty-four hours. The Czechs have little choice but to comply. Polish forces occupy Zaolzie.
Tiberias massacre: Arab raiders murder 19 Jewish immigrants.
Disgusted with Neville Chamberlain's conduct at Munich, Duff Cooper resigns his post as First Lord of the Admiralty. With his resignation, formal debate begins in the Parliament of the United Kingdom on the Munich Agreement, but with Chamberlain at the peak of his popularity, there can be little doubt His Majesty's Government will receive a vote of confidence.
October 3 – Production of the Jefferson nickel begins in the United States, replacing the Buffalo nickel (last struck in April). The new nickel is released on November 15.
October 4 – The Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War begin withdrawing their foreign volunteers from combat as agreed on July 5.
Edvard Beneš, president of Czechoslovakia, resigns.
Nuremberg Laws In Nazi Germany, Jews' passports are invalidated and those who need a passport for emigration purposes are given one marked with the letter J ("Jude" – "Jew").
October 10 – The Blue Water Bridge opens, connecting Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario.
October 16 – Winston Churchill, in a broadcast address to the United States, condemns the Munich Agreement as a defeat and calls upon America and western Europe to prepare for armed resistance against Hitler.
October 18 – The German government expels 12,000 Polish Jews living in Germany; the Polish government accepts 4,000 and refuses admittance to the remaining 8,000, who are forced to live in the no-man's land on the German-Polish frontier.
October 21 – In direct contravention of the recently signed Munich Agreement, Adolf Hitler circulates among his high command a secret memorandum stating that they should prepare for the "liquidation of the rest of Czechoslovakia" and the occupation of Memel.
The minimum wage is established by law in the United States.
French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet carries out a major purge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dismissing or exiling a number of anti-appeasement officials such as Pierre Comert and René Massigli.
At a "friendly luncheon" in Berchtesgaden, German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop tells Józef Lipski, the Polish ambassador to Germany, that the Free City of Danzig must return to Germany, that the Germans must be given extraterritorial rights in the Polish Corridor, and that Poland must sign the Anti-Comintern Pact.
DuPont announces a name for its new synthetic yarn: "nylon".
Jews with Polish citizenship are evicted from Nazi Germany.
October 30 – Orson Welles' radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds is broadcast, causing panic in various parts of the United States.
October 31 – Great Depression: In an effort to try restore investor confidence, the New York Stock Exchange unveils a 15-point program aimed to upgrade protection for the investing public.
November 1 – Horse racing: Seabiscuit defeats War Admiral by four lengths in their famous match race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
November 2 – Arising from The Munich Agreement Hungary is "awarded" the Felvidek region of South Slovakia and Ruthenia.
November 4 – At a public meeting in Epping, Winston Churchill narrowly survives an attempt by fellow Conservative and constituent Sir Colin Thornton-Kemsley to remove him from Parliament.
November 7 – Ernst vom Rath, the Third Secretary at the German Embassy in Paris, is assassinated by Herschel Grynszpan.
November 9 – Holocaust – Kristallnacht: In Germany, the "night of broken glass" begins as Nazi activists and sympathizers loot and burn Jewish businesses (the all night affair sees 7,500 Jewish businesses destroyed, 267 synagogues burned, 91 Jews killed and at least 25,000 Jewish men arrested).
On the eve of Armistice Day, Kate Smith sings Irving Berlin's God Bless America for the first time on her weekly radio show.
İsmet İnönü becomes the second president of Turkey.
November 11 – Celâl Bayar forms the new government of Turkey. (10th government; Celal Bayar had served twice as a prime minister)
November 12 – French Finance Minister Paul Reynaud brings into effect a series of laws aiming at improving French productivity (thus aiming to undo the economic weaknesses which led to Munich), and undoes most of the economic and social laws of the Popular Front.
Britain formally recognises Italy's control of Ethiopia. In return Mussolini agrees to withdraw 10,000 troops from Spain.
LSD is first synthesized by Albert Hofmann from ergotamine at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel.
The first reported "attack" of the Halifax Slasher mass hysteria incident in England.
November 18 – Trade union members elect John L. Lewis as the first president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations in the United States.
November 25 – French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet informs Léon Noël, the French Ambassador to Poland, that France should find an excuse for terminating the 1921 Franco-Polish alliance.
The Czechoslovak parliament elects Emil Hácha as the new president of Czechoslovakia.
Benito Mussolini and his Foreign Minister Count Galeazzo Ciano order "spontaneous" demonstrations in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, demanding that France cede Tunisia, Nice, Corsica and French Somaliland to Italy. This begins an acute crisis in Franco-Italian relations that lasts until March 1939.
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, leader of the Romanian fascist Iron Guard, is murdered on the orders of King Carol II of Romania. Officially, Codreanu and the 13 other Iron Guard leaders are "shot while trying to escape".
A general strike is called in France by the French Communist Party to protest the laws of November 12.
December – President Roosevelt agrees to loan $25 million to Chiang Kai-shek, cementing the Sino-American relationship and angering the Japanese government.
December 1 – Slovakia granted the status of an autonomous state under the Catholic priest Fr. Joseph Tiso.
December 6 – German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop visits Paris, where he is allegedly informed by French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet that France now recognizes all of Eastern Europe as being in Germany's exclusive sphere of influence. Bonnet's alleged statement (he subsequently always denies making the remark) to Ribbentrop is a major factor in German policy in 1939.
Kingdom of Yugoslavia parliamentary election: The opposition gains votes but not seats.
Following elections in the Lithuanian city of Memel the Lithuanian Nazi party wins over 90% of the votes.
December 13 – The Neuengamme concentration camp opens near Hamburg.
December 15 – Government of the Netherlands closes its border to refugees.
December 16 – MGM releases its successful film version of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. The film is originally intended to star Lionel Barrymore as Ebenezer Scrooge, but Barrymore, ill with arthritis, is replaced by Reginald Owen.
December 17 – Otto Hahn discovers the nuclear fission of uranium, the scientific and technological basis of nuclear power, which marks the beginning of the Atomic Age.
December 23 – A coelacanth, a fish thought to have been extinct, is caught off the coast of South Africa near Chalumna River.
December 27 – A massive avalanche of snow hits a construction worker dormitory site in Kurobe, Japan, killing 87.
December 30 – The ballet Romeo and Juliet with music by Prokofiev receives its first full performance at the Mahen Theatre in Brno, Czechoslovakia.
Establishment of Majlis Khuddam-ul Ahmadiyya by Khalifat-ul Masih II, Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad, the second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
In West Java, Daeng Soetigna tunes the traditional pentatonic angklung to play the diatonic scale.
Adolf Hitler is Time magazine's "Man of the Year", as the most influential person of the year.
The Walther P38 pistol is introduced in Germany.
The Schomburgk's deer becomes extinct by this date.
Herbert E. Ives and G. R. Stilwell execute the Ives–Stilwell experiment, showing that ions radiate at frequencies affected by their motion.
Family plots produce 22% of all Soviet agricultural produce on only 4% of all cultivated land.
Women are limited by law to a maximum of 10% of the better-paying jobs in industry and government in Italy.
Robert Jankel, British coachbuilder (d. 2005)
Frank Langella, American actor
Fuad Masum, 7th President of Iraq
Farouk El-Baz, Egyptian American space scientist
Ian Brady, British serial killer
Hans Herbjørnsrud, Norwegian author
Goh Kun, Mayor of Seoul
Bohumil Nemecek, Czechoslovakian Olympic boxer (d. 2010)
Dana Ulery, American computer scientist
January 5 – King Juan Carlos I of Spain
January 6 – Mario Rodríguez Cobos aka "Silo", Argentine author and spiritualist (d. 2010)
January 7 – Roland Topor, French illustrator (d. 1997)
January 8 – Bob Eubanks, American game show host
January 9 – Gary Starkweather, American inventor
Donald Knuth, American mathematician and computer scientist
Willie McCovey, American baseball player
Fischer Black, American economist (d. 1995)
Alastair Morton, British railway executive (d. 2004)
Teresa del Conde, Mexican art critic and historian
Lewis Fiander, Australian actor
Noel McNamara, Australian justice campaigner and commentator
Paavo Heininen, Finnish composer
Nachi Nozawa, Japanese voice actor (d. 2010)
Shivkumar Sharma, Indian musician
Daevid Allen, Australian musician (d. 2015)
Jack Jones, American singer and actor
Allen Toussaint, American musician and composer (d. 2015)
Morihiro Hosokawa, Japanese politician and 50th Prime Minister of Japan
January 17 – John Bellairs, American writer (d. 1991)
January 18 – Curt Flood, American baseball player (d. 1997)
January 20 – Derek Dougan, Northern Irish footballer (d. 2007)
January 21 – Wolfman Jack, American disc-jockey and actor (d. 1995)
January 23 – Georg Baselitz, German painter and sculptor
January 24 – Gyula Torok, Hungarian Olympic boxer (d. 2014)
Etta James, American singer (d. 2012)
Shotaro Ishinomori, Japanese author, Father of "Henshin heroes" (d. 1998)
Vladimir Vysotsky, Russian singer-songwriter, poet, actor (d. 1980)
January 28 – Tomas Lindahl, Swedish biochemist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
January 29 – Shuji Tsurumi, Japanese men's artistic gymnast
January 30 – Islam Karimov, President of Uzbekistan (d. 2016)
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands
Lynn Carlin, American actress
February 1 – Sherman Hemsley, American comedian and actor (d. 2012)
February 2 – Max Alvis, American baseball player
February 4 – Frank J. Dodd, American businessman and politician, president of the New Jersey Senate (d. 2010)
February 8 – Prentice Gautt, American football player (d. 2005)
Bevan Congdon, New Zealand cricketer
Mohammed Gammoudi, Tunisian Olympic athlete
Simone de Oliveira, Portuguese actress and singer
February 12 – Judy Blume, American author
February 13 – Oliver Reed, English actor (d. 1999)
February 14 – Lee Chamberlin, African-American actress (d. 2014)
Barry Primus, American actor
John Corigliano, American composer
February 17 – Yvonne Romain, English actress
February 18 – István Szabó, Hungarian film director
February 19 – René Muñoz, Cuba-born actor, Mexico-based telenovela/film screenwriter (d. 2000)
James Farentino, American actor (d. 2012)
Phil Knight, American sportswear entrepreneur
February 25 – Herb Elliott, Australian runner
February 27 – Jake Thackray, English singer-songwriter (d. 2002)
March 1 – Tufuga Efi, Samoa political figure, 3rd Prime Minister of Samoa and O le Ao o le Malo of Samoa
March 2 – Ricardo Lagos Escobar, President of Chile
Angus MacLise, American musician, occultist and calligrapher; drummer for The Velvet Underground (d. 1979)
Don Perkins, American football player
Paula Prentiss, American actress
David Baltimore, American biologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Janet Guthrie, American race car driver
March 8 – Bruno Pizzul, Italian sports journalist
March 9 – Charles Siebert, American actor and director
March 13 – Erma Franklin, American singer (d. 2002)
March 14 – Eleanor Bron, English actress
Rudolf Nureyev, Russian-born dancer and choreographer (d. 1993)
Keith Michael Patrick O'Brien, Roman Catholic prelate; Archbishop of Edinburgh
Shashi Kapoor, Indian actor, director, and producer
Charley Pride, American baseball player and country musician
March 19 – Joe Kapp, American football player and coach
March 21 – Fritz Pleitgen, German television journalist and author
March 21 – Luigi Tenco, Italian singer-songwriter (d. 1967)
March 23 – Maynard Jackson, American mayor of Atlanta, Georgia (d. 2003)
March 24 – David Irving, English historian and author
March 25 – Hoyt Axton, American country music singer-songwriter and actor (d. 1999)
March 26 – Anthony James Leggett, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate
March 30 – Klaus Schwab, German economist and founder of the World Economic Forum
March 31 – Joel Godard, American announcer
April 1 – John Quade, American actor (d. 2009)
April 2 – John Larsson, the 17th General of The Salvation Army
April 3 – Jeff Barry, American record producer and songwriter
April 4 – A. Bartlett Giamatti, American president of Yale University and baseball commissioner (d. 1989)
Jerry Brown, American politician and lawyer, Governor of California
Freddie Hubbard, American jazz trumpeter (d. 2008)
Jerre Levy, American psychologist
Spencer Dryden, American drummer (Jefferson Airplane) (d. 2005)
April 8 – Kofi Annan, Ghanaian Secretary-General of the United Nations, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize
Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russian politician (d. 2010)
Don Meredith, American football player and broadcaster (d. 2010)
Michael Deaver, Reagan Administration Deputy White House Chief of Staff (d. 2007)
Kurt Moll, German bass
April 12 – Roger Caron, Canadian author
April 13 – Frederic Rzewski, American composer and pianist
April 15 – Claudia Cardinale, Tunisian-born Italian actress
April 17 – Kerry Wendell Thornley, American counterculture figure, writer and co-founder of Discordianism (d. 1998)
April 19 – Stanley Fish, American literary theorist and legal scholar
April 20 – Tamási Eszter, Hungarian TV announcer and actress (d. 1991)
Alan Bond, English-born Australian businessman (d. 2015)
Issey Miyake, Japanese fashion designer
Adam Raphael, English journalist and editor
Giovanni Benvenuti, Italian Olympic boxer
Duane Eddy, American musician
Maurice Williams, American musician
Bernard Madoff, American criminal; financial fraudster
Larry Niven, American author
May 2 – King Moshoeshoe II of Lesotho (d. 1996)
May 4 – Tyrone Davis, American singer (d. 2005)
May 10 – Henry Fambrough, American singer (The Spinners)
May 11 – Fritz-Albert Popp, German biophysicist
May 12 – Luana Anders, American actress (d. 1996)
May 13 – Francine Pascal, American novelist and playwright
May 17 – Jason Bernard, American actor (d. 1996)
May 22 – Richard Benjamin, American actor
William Bolcom, American composer and music arranger
Pauline Parker, New Zealand convicted murderer
Teresa Stratas, Canadian operatic soprano
May 28 – Jerry West, American basketball player and executive
May 30 – Eugene Belliveau, Canadian football defensive lineman
Johnny Paycheck, American country singer (d. 2003)
Peter Yarrow, American singer
June 1 – Khawar Rizvi, Pakistani Poet and Scholar (d. 1981)
June 5 – Karin Balzer, German athlete
June 6 – Prince Luiz of Orléans-Braganza, pretender to the Brazilian throne
June 7 – Goose Gonsoulin, American football player
June 8 – Mack Vickery, American musician (d. 2004)
June 12 – Tom Oliver, Australian actor
June 14 – Shelby Stephenson, American poet
June 15 – Billy Williams, American baseball player
June 16 – James Bolam, British actor
Wahoo McDaniel, American football player and professional wrestler (d. 2002)
Ian Smith, Australian actor
Ron Ely, American actor (Tarzan)
Mario Minieri, Italian professional road bicycle racer
Celia Rodriguez, Filipina actress
Rosemary S. Pooler, U.S. federal judge
June 24 – Abulfaz Elchibey, Azerbaijani political figure, 2nd President of Azerbaijan (d. 2000)
June 25 – Mick Allen, Australian rower
June 30 – Billy Mills, American Olympic athlete
Susan Maughan, English singer
Diane Ravitch, American historian of education, an educational policy analyst
Dick Rutan, record-breaking aviator who piloted the Voyager
July 3 – Bolo Yeung, Hong Kong actor
Bill Withers, American singer and songwriter
Ernie Pieterse, South African racing driver
Tony Lewis, English cricketer
Uli Maslo, German football player and manager
Luana Patten, American actress (d. 1996)
July 7 – Ray Gripper, Rodesian cricketer
Andrey Myagkov, Soviet/Russian film and theater actor
Roger Palin, Royal Air Force commander.
Bill Spanswick, American professional baseball player
Paul Cronin, Australian actor
Vojtech Masný, Slovak football player
Justin Leiber, American philosopher and science fiction writer.
Liya Akhedzhakova, Russian actress
Brian Dennehy, American actor
Vera Shebeko, Russian anchorwoman
Tura Satana, Japanese-born American actress (d. 2011)
July 12 – Wieger Mensonides, Dutch swimmer
July 11 – Ted Schreiber, American former professional baseball player
July 14 – Tommy Vig, Hungarian composer, arranger, vibraphonist
Hampton Fancher, American actor
Ian Stewart, Scottish musician (The Rolling Stones) (d. 1985)
Paul Verhoeven, Dutch film director
July 19 – Jayant Narlikar, Indian astrophysicist
Roger Hunt, English footballer
Diana Rigg, English actress
Natalie Wood, American actress (d. 1981)
July 21 – Janet Reno, American lawyer (d. 2016)
Juliet Anderson, American actress (d. 2010)
Ronny Cox, American actor
Bert Newton, Australian actor and television show host
Götz George, German actor (d. 2016)
July 24 – Eugene J. Martin, American painter, artist (d. 2005)
July 27 – Gary Gygax, American author and game designer (d. 2008)
Luis Aragonés, Spanish football player and manager (d. 2014)
Alberto Fujimori, President of Peru
Anthony Joseph Burgess, Papua New Guinean Roman Catholic bishop (d. 2013)
Peter Jennings, Canadian-born television news reporter (d. 2005)
August 3 – Sir Terry Wogan, Irish-British radio broadcaster and television presenter/personality (d. 2016)
Otto Rehhagel, German football player and manager
Connie Stevens, American actress, singer and businesswoman
Leonid Kuchma, President of Ukraine
Rod Laver, Australian tennis player
August 10 – Grit Boettcher, German actress
Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Janusz A. Zajdel, Polish writer (d. 1985)
August 16 – Bill Masterton, Canadian hockey player (d. 1968)
Valentin Mankin, Ukrainian Soviet sailor, Olympic triple champion and silver medalist (d. 2014)
Diana Muldaur, American actress
August 20 – Alain Vivien, French politician
August 21 – Kenny Rogers, American country singer
August 22 – Paul Maguire, American football player
Halldór Blöndal, Icelandic politician
David Freiberg, American musician (Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jefferson Starship)
August 26 – Susan Harrison, American actress
Maurizio Costanzo, Italian television news reporter
Paul Martin, 21st Prime Minister of Canada
August 29 – Robert Rubin, American banker who served as the 70th United States Secretary of the Treasury
August 31 – Martin Bell, British journalist and politician
September 1 – Per Kirkeby, Danish artist
Clarence Felder, American actor
Giuliano Gemma, Italian actor (d. 2013)
September 3 – Ryōji Noyori, Japanese chemist, Nobel Prize laureate
September 6 – Dennis Oppenheim, American artist (d. 2011)
September 8 – Kenichi Horie, Japanese adventurer
September 10 – David Hamilton, British radio and TV personality
Angus Alan Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 15th Duke of Hamilton/12th Duke of Brandon (d. 2010)
John Smith, Scottish politician (d. 1994)
September 15 – Gaylord Perry, American baseball player
September 18 – Poornachandra Tejaswi, Kannada writer (d. 2007)
September 22 – Gene Mingo, American football player
Tom Lester, American actor and evangelist
Romy Schneider, Austrian actress (d. 1982)
September 25 – Jonathan Motzfeldt, Prime Minister of Greenland (d. 2010)
September 28 – Ben E. King, American singer (d. 2015)
September 29 – Wim Kok, Dutch politician, 48th Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1994 until 2002
October 1 – Stella Stevens, American actress and model
Eddie Cochran, American rock and roll singer (d. 1960)
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, President of Peru
October 4 – Kurt Wüthrich, Swiss chemist, Nobel Prize laureate
October 9 – Heinz Fischer, Austrian politician
October 13 – Christiane Hörbiger, Austrian television and film actress
Farah Diba, Empress of Iran
Ron Lancaster, Canadian Football League quarterback and coach (d. 2008)
October 15 – Fela Kuti, Nigerian musician and activist (d. 1997)
Carl Gunter, Jr., Louisiana State Representative (d. 1999)
Nico, German-American singer (d. 1988)
October 17 – Evel Knievel, American motorcycle daredevil (d. 2007)
October 18 – Dawn Wells, American actress
October 20 – Iain Macmillan, Abbey Road photographer (d. 2006)
October 22 – Christopher Lloyd, American actor
October 23 – H. John Heinz III, U.S. Senator (d. 1991)
October 25 – Claude Minière, French essayist and poet
October 28 – Anne Perry, English-born novelist
Ralph Bakshi, Israeli cartoonist, film director, and video producer
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 24th President of Liberia
October 30 – Ed Lauter, American actor (d. 2013)
Pat Buchanan, American political operative, journalist, pundit and one-time presidential candidate
David Lane, American white nationalist (d. 2007)
Queen Sofía of Spain
Enéas Carneiro, Brazilian politician (d. 2007)
Joe Dassin, French singer (d. 1980)
Mack Jones, American baseball player (d. 2004)
Branko Mikasinovich, Serbian-American journalist
November 10 – Michael Schultz, American film director and producer
November 11 – Ants Antson, Estonian speed skater (d. 2015)
November 12 – Benjamin Mkapa, 3rd President of Tanzania
November 13 – Jean Seberg, American actress (d. 1979)
November 16 – Robert Nozick, American philosopher (d. 2002)
November 17 – Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian folk singer
November 19 – Ted Turner, American entrepreneur
Oscar Robertson, American basketball player
Charles Starkweather, American spree killer (d. 1959)
November 26 – Porter J. Goss, American politician and Central Intelligence Agency director
December 2 – Luis Artime, Argentine footballer
Andre V. Marrou, U.S. Presidential candidate
Yvonne Minton, Australian soprano
December 5 – JJ Cale, American singer (d. 2013)
Ken Delo, American singer
John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor, President of Ghana
December 12 – Connie Francis, American singer and actress
December 13 – Heino, German singer
December 15 – Billy Shaw, American football player
Frank Deford, American sportswriter
Liv Ullmann, Norwegian actress
Carlo Little, British drummer (d. 2005)
Peter Snell, New Zealand athlete
December 18 – Roger E. Mosley, African-American actor
December 20 – John Harbison, American composer
December 22 – Brian Locking, English bassist (The Shadows)
December 23 – Bob Kahn, American Internet pioneer
December 24 – Bobby Henrich, American baseball player
December 25 – Duane Armstrong, American painter
December 28 – Lagumot Harris, Nauruan politician and President (d. 1999)
December 29 – Jon Voight, American actor
Michael Leader, British actor (d. 2016)
Yusuf Lodhi, Pakistani editor and cartoonist (d. 1996)
Neila Sathyalingam, Singaporean classical Indian dancer, choreographer and instructor
January 2 – Henry Victor Deligny, French general (b. 1855)
Johnny Gruelle, American cartoonist and children's book author (b. 1880)
Christian Rohlfs, German painter (b. 1849)
January 20 – Émile Cohl, French caricaturist and animator (b. 1857)
January 21 – Georges Méliès, French film director (b. 1861)
January 28 – Bernd Rosemeyer, German racing driver (b. 1909)
January 29 – Armando Palacio Valdés, Spanish writer (b. 1853)
February 7 – Harvey Firestone, American tire manufacturer (b. 1868)
February 10 – Richard A. Whiting, American composer (b. 1890)
February 11 – Kazimierz Twardowski, Polish philosopher and logician (b. 1866)
David King Udall, American politician (b. 1851)
Leopoldo Lugones, Argentine writer and journalist (b. 1874)
February 19 – Edmund Landau, German mathematician (b. 1877)
March 1 – Gabriele D'Annunzio, Italian writer, war hero, and politician (b. 1863)
William Blomfield, New Zealand cartoonist (b. 1866)
Ben Harney, American composer and pianist (b. 1871)
March 12 – Lyda Roberti, Polish actress (b. 1906)
March 13 – Clarence Darrow, American attorney (b. 1857)
Alexei Rykov, Premier of Russia and the Soviet Union (b. 1881)
Nikolai Bukharin, Soviet politician (b. 1888)
March 21 – Oscar Apfel, American actor and director (b. 1878)
March 27 – William Stern, German psychologist and philosopher (b. 1871)
April 1 – Louis-Henri Foreau, French painter (b. 1866)
April 8 – Joe "King" Oliver, American jazz musician (b. 1885)
April 12 – Feodor Chaliapin, Russian bass (b. 1873)
April 14 – Gillis Grafström, Swedish figure skater (b. 1893)
April 15 – César Vallejo, Peruvian poet (b. 1892)
April 16 – Steve Bloomer, English footballer (b. 1874)
April 21 – Allama Iqbal, Indian philosopher and poet (b. 1877)
April 25 – Aleksander Świętochowski, Polish writer (b. 1849)
April 26 – Edmund Husserl, Austrian philosopher (b. 1859)
May 4 – Carl von Ossietzky, German pacifist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (b. 1889)
May 9 – Thomas B. Thrige, Danish industrialist (b. 1866)
May 13 – Charles Édouard Guillaume, French physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1861)
May 16 – Lewis Bayly, British admiral (b. 1857)
May 23 – Frederick Ruple, American painter (b. 1871)
May 22 – William Glackens, American painter (b. 1870)
May 26 – John Jacob Abel, American pharmacologist (b. 1857)
June 15 – Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, German painter (b. 1880)
June 26 – James Weldon Johnson, American author, politician, and diplomat (b. 1871)
June 29 – Frederick William Vanderbilt, American railway magnate (b. 1856)
Otto Bauer, Austrian Social Democratic politician (b. 1881)
Suzanne Lenglen, French tennis champion (b. 1899)
Archibald Berkeley Milne, British admiral (b. 1855)
July 9 – Benjamin N. Cardozo, United States Supreme Court Justice (b. 1870)
July 17 – Robert Wiene, German director (b. 1873)
July 28 – Yakov Alksnis, Soviet aviator and commander of Red Army Air Forces (executed) (b. 1897)
August 1 – Edmund Charles Tarbell, American artist (b. 1862)
August 4 – Pearl White, American actress (b. 1889)
August 6 – Warner Oland, Swedish actor (b. 1879)
August 7 – Konstantin Stanislavsky, Russian theatre practitioner (b. 1863)
August 14 – Hugh Trumble, Australian test cricketer (b. 1876)
August 16 – Robert Johnson, American blues singer (b. 1911)
August 23 – Frank Hawks, American aviator (b. 1897)
August 29 – Béla Kun, Hungarian Communist leader (b. 1886)
September 1 – Nikolai Bryukhanov, Soviet statesman and political figure who served as People's Commissar of Finances (b. 1878)
September 15 – Thomas Wolfe, American author (b. 1900)
September 17 – Bruno Jasieński, Polish poet (b. 1901)
September 19 – Pauline Frederick, American stage & screen actress, (b. 1883)
Paul Olaf Bodding, Norwegian missionary to India and creator of the Santali Latin alphabet (b. 1865)
Anna Laurens Dawes, American author and suffragist (b. 1851)
September 28 – Con Conrad, American composer (b. 1891)
October 2 – Alexandru Averescu, Romanian soldier and politician, former Prime Minister (b. 1859)
October 4 – José Luis Tejada Sorzano, 40th President of Bolivia (b. 1882)
Faustina Kowalska, Polish saint, the Secretary of Divine Mercy (b. 1905)
Albert Ranft, Swedish theatre director and actor (b 1858)
October 13 – E. C. Segar, American comics artist and creator of Popeye (b. 1894)
October 17 – Karl Kautsky, Austrian Marxist theoretician (b. 1854)
October 22 – May Irwin, Canadian actress and singer (b. 1862)
October 24 – Ernst Barlach, German sculptor and poet (b. 1870)
October 25 – Alfonsina Storni, Argentine poet (b. 1892)
Lascelles Abercrombie, English poet and critic (b. 1881)
Alma Gluck, American soprano (b. 1884)
October 28 – Fred Kohler, American actor (b. 1888)
October 30 – Robert Woolsey, American film comedian (b. 1888)
November 1 – Charles Weeghman, American restaurateur and owner of Chicago Cubs (b. 1874)
November 4 – Samuel W. Bryant, American admiral (b. 1877)
Vasily Blyukher, Soviet military commander (b. 1889)
Ernst vom Rath, German diplomat (b. 1909)
November 10 – Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, 1st President of Turkey (b. 1881)
November 20 – Maud of Wales, queen of Haakon VII of Norway (b. 1869)
November 22 – Sahachiro Hata, Japanese bacteriologist (b. 1873)
November 25 – Otto von Lossow, Bavarian and German general (b. 1868)
November 30 – Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, Romanian fascist, leader of the Iron Guard (executed along other Guard activists) (b. 1899)
December 11 – Christian Lous Lange, Norwegian pacifist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (b. 1869)
December 20 – Annie Armstrong, American missionary leader (b. 1850)
December 25 – Karel Čapek, Czech author (b. 1890)
December 27 – Osip Mandelstam, Russian poet (b. 1891)
December 28 – Florence Lawrence, Canadian actress (b. 1886)
Harry Grant Dart, American cartoonist (b. 1869)
Physics – Enrico Fermi
Chemistry – Richard Kuhn
Physiology or Medicine – Corneille Jean François Heymans
Literature – Pearl S. Buck
Peace – Nansen International Office for Refugees, Geneva
1938 (MCMXXXVIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (dominical letter B) of the Gregorian calendar, the 1938th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 938th year of the 2nd millennium, the 38th year of the 20th century, and the 9th year of the 1930s decade.