January - April
- January 4 - Utah is admitted as the 45th U.S. state.
- January 5 - An Austrian newspaper reports that Wilhelm Röntgen discovered a type of radiation later known as X-rays.
- January 12 - H.L. Smith takes the first X-ray photograph.
- January 18 - The X-ray machine is exhibited for the first time.
- February 1 - The opera La bohème premieres (Turin).
- February 1 - Walter Arnold, of Kent, England, is fined for speeding in excess of the contemporary speed limit of 2 mph
- February 11 - Oscar Wilde's play Salomé premieres in Paris.
- March 1 - With the Battle of Adowa, Ethiopia defends its independence from Italy.
- April 3 - First edition of Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport is published.
- April 6 - Opening ceremonies of the 1896 Summer Olympics, the first modern Olympic Games.
May - August
- May 8 - Cricket: Against Warwickshire, Yorkshire sets a still-standing County Championship record when they accumulate an innings total of 887.
- May 18 - The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson, introducing the "separate but equal" doctrine.
- May 26 - Charles Dow publishes the first edition of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
- May 27 - The costliest and third deadliest tornado in U.S. history levels a mile wide swath of downtown St. Louis, Missouri, incurring $2.9 billion (1997 USD) in damages, killing more than 255 and injuring over 1,000 people.
- June 12 - J.T. Hearne sets a record for the earliest date of taking 100 wickets. It is equalled by Charlie Parker in 1931.
- June 15 - ? Earthquake and tsunami in Sanriku, Japan, kills 27.000
- June 30 - David Rose dies in the early morning hours from the June 24th poisoning, administered by his daughter Celia. The brother, Walter, would die on July 4th and Rebecca, the mother, would die on July 19th after receiving another lethal dose of 'rough on rats' in her breakfast. The crimes of Celia Rose occurred at present day Malabar Farm State Park in Richland County, Ohio and would become a featured news story during this year. The Rose home still stands today.
- July 9 - William Jennings Bryan delivers his Cross of gold speech.
- July 11 - Wilfrid Laurier becomes Canada's seventh prime minister.
- August 16 - Skookum Jim Mason, George Carmack and Dawson Charlie discover gold in the Klondike.
- August 27 - The shortest war in the world - 9.02 - 9.40 between Britain and Zanzibar
September - December
- September 22 - Queen Victoria surpassed her grandfather King George III as the longest reigning monarch in British history.
- October 3 - Dalton brothers try to rob two banks but only Emmet Dalton survives the shootout
- October 5 - After a long siege, Brazilian government troops take Canudos in north Brazil, crushing Antonio Conselheiro and his followers
- October 12 - In Richland county, Ohio, the trial of Celia Rose for the triple murder of her family begins.
- October 20 - In Richland county, Ohio, Celia Rose was acquitted on grounds of insanity.
- October 30 Augusta, KY Augusta High School corner stone laid marking the end of the Augusta Methodist College
- November - William McKinley defeats William Jennings Bryan in the U.S. presidential election.
- November 6 - Hale Johnson runs as vice-presidential candidate for Prohibition Party.
- November 16 - Cherry Sisters perform in Olympia Music Hall in New York City. At first audience is stunned but then begins to answer with catcalls...
- December 30 - Jose Rizal, Filipino scholar and poet, executed in the Philippines
- Nepalese archaeologists rediscover the great stone pillar of Ashoka at Lumbini, using Fa Xian's records.
- Pontifical University of Maynooth is established by decree of the Vatican
- France establishes an administrative post in Abengourou, Côte d'Ivoire.
- Formation of the New York Telephone Company
- The great Realignment of the Republican Party of the United States of America
- Clarkson University is founded in Potsdam, New York
January - March
- January 2 - Dziga Vertov, Russian filmmaker (d. 1954)
- January 4 - Everett Dirksen, American politician (d. 1969)
- January 4 - André Masson, French artist (d. 1987)
- January 12 - Rex Ingram, Irish director and actor (d. 1950)
- January 14 - Martin Niemöller, German theologian and pacifist (d. 1984)
- January 14 - John Dos Passos, American author (d. 1970)
- January 20 - George Burns, American comedian (d. 1996)
- January 23 - Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg (d. 1985)
- February 18 - André Breton, French writer (d. 1966)
- February 28 - Philip Showalter Hench, American physician, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1965)
- February 29 - Morarji Desai, Indian politician (d. 1995)
- March 1 - Dimitri Mitropoulos, Greek conductor, pianist, and composer (d. 1960)
- March 20 - Wilfrid Reid "Wop" May, Canadian World War I pilot (d. 1952)
- March 29 - Wilhelm Ackermann, German mathematician (d. 1962)
- April 15 - Nikolay Nikolayevich Semyonov, Russian chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1986)
April - August
- April 30 - Gary Davis, American musician (d. 1972)
- May 30 - Howard Hawks, American director (d. 1977)
- June 7 - Robert S. Mulliken, American chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1986)
- June 7 - Douglas Campbell, American World War I flying ace (d. 1990)
- June 19 - Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor (d. 1986)
- July 2 - Quirino Cristiani, Argentine animated film director (d. 1984)
- July 16 - Trygve Lie, first United Nations Secretary General (d. 1968)
- August 9 - Jean Piaget, Swiss psychologist (d. 1980)
- August 15 - Gerty Cori, Austrian-born biochemist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1957)
- August 18 - Jack Pickford, American actor (d. 1933)
- August 30 - Raymond Massey, Canadian-born actor (d. 1983)
September - December
- September 1 - A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder of Hare Krishna movement (d. 1977)
- September 24 - F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer (d. 1940)
- October 1 - Liaquat Ali Khan, first Prime Minister of Pakistan (d. 1951)
- October 12 - Eugenio Montale, Italian writer, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1981)
- October 28 - Howard Hanson, American composer (d. 1981)
- October 31 - Ethel Waters, American singer and actress (d. 1977)
- November 4 - Carlos P. Garcia, president of the Philippines (d. 1971)
- November 8 - Bucky Harris, baseball player (d. 1977)
- November 10 - Jimmy Dykes, baseball player and manager (d. 1976)
- November 13 - Nobusuke Kishi, Prime Minister of Japan (d. 1987)
- November 14 - Mamie Eisenhower, First Lady of the United States (d. 1979)
- November 16 - Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists (d. 1980)
- November 17 - Lev Vygotsky, Russian psychologist (d. 1934)
- December 5 - Carl Ferdinand Cori, Austrian-born biochemist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (d. 1984)
- December 6 - Ira Gershwin, American lyricist (d. 1983)
- December 14 - Jimmy Doolittle, American World War II general (d. 1993)
- December 21 - Leroy Robertson, American composer (d. 1971)
- January 4 - Joseph Hubert Reinkens, German Old Catholic bishop (b. 1821)
- January 8 - Paul Verlaine, French lyric poet (b. 1844)
- April 30 - Hamilton Disston, Floridan developer (b. 1844)
- May 20 - Clara Schumann, German composer (b. 1819)
- July 1 - Harriet Beecher Stowe, American author (b. 1811)
- August 10 - Otto Lilienthal, German aviation pioneer (b. 1848)
- August 17 - Bridget Driscoll, world's first automobile fatality
- October 11 - Anton Bruckner, Austrian composer (b. 1824)
- October 11 - Edward White Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury (b. 1829)
- October 21 - James Henry Greathead, Famous engineer and inventor (b. 1884)
- October 23 - ? Columbus Delano, American statesman (b. 1809)
- December 10 - Alfred Nobel, Swedish inventor of dynamite and creator of the Nobel Prize (b. 1833)
- December 30 - José Rizal, national hero of the Philippines (b. 1861)
- February 20 - W.W. Denslow & Ann Waters Holden
- April 6 - Benjamin Harrison & Mary Scott Lord Dimmick
- April 8 - Jeanne Calment & Fernand Calment
- June 5 - Valborg Borchsenius & Johannes Norden Guldbrandsen
- June 26 - Jennette Lee & Gerald Stanley Lee
- July 22 - Queen Maud & King Haakon VII
- September 1 - W.S. Weatherwax & Anna L. Wallis
- October 15 - Lewis J. Selznick & Florence Flossie Sachs
- October 24 - King Victor Emmanuel III & Helen Petrovic-Njegos
- October 26 - Charles Fort & Anna Filing
- November 4 - Roberto Vittiglio & Wilhelmine Westphal
- December 1 - Neel Doff & Fernand Brouez
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