1883 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar).
- 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 (Roselle, New Jersey) It was built by Thomas Edison.
- February 16 - 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 - An Australian Catholic school, Star of the Sea College is founded in Elsternwick, Victoria (now known as Gardenstown ) by the Irish Presentation Sisters .
- May 24 - Brooklyn Bridge is opened to traffic after 14 years of construction.
- May 30 - In New York City, a rumor that the Brooklyn Bridge was going to collapse causes a stampede which crushes twelve people.
- July 22 – Zulu king Cetshwayo barely escapes rebel attack with his life.
- August 12 - The last quagga dies at the Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam.
- August 26 - 28 - Krakatau volcano eruption (local time)- 163 villages destroyed, 36380 dead.
- September 15 - The Bombay Natural History Society is founded.
- September 29 - A consortium of flour mill operators in Minneapolis, Minnesota form 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 is founded in Sydney, Australia. It is the first boys public school in Australia.
- October 15 - The Supreme Court of the United States declares part of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 to be unconstitutional since it allowed individuals and corporations to discriminate based on race.
- November 3 - American Old West: Self-described "Black Bart the Po-8" gets away with his last stagecoach robbery, but leaves an incriminating clue that eventually leads to his capture.
- November 18 - US and Canadian railroads institute five standard continental time zones, ending the confusion of thousands of local times.
- November 28 - Whitman College is chartered as a four-year college in Walla Walla, Washington.
- January 3 - Clement Attlee, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1967)
- January 6 - Khalil Gibran, poet, painter, novelist (d. 1931)
- January 10 - Francis X. Bushman, actor (d. 1966)
- January 10 - Aleksei Nikolaevich Tolstoi, writer (d. 1945)
- January 21 - Olav Aukrust, Norwegian poet
- February 15 - Sax Rohmer, author (d. 1959)
- February 7 - Eubie Blake, musician, composer (d. 1983)
- February 11 - Paul August von Klenau Danish composer/conductor
- February 23 - Karl Jaspers, philosopher (d. 1969)
- February 23 - Victor Fleming, director (d. 1949)
- March 19 - Joseph Stilwell, US soldier (d. 1946)
- April 1 - Lon Chaney, Sr., actor (d. 1930)
- April 11 - Hozumi Shigeto, Japanese author
- April 15 - Stanley Bruce, eighth Prime Minister of Australia (d. 1967)
- May 1 - Tom Moore, actor (d. 1955)
- May 18 - Walter Gropius, architect, founder of Bauhaus (d. 1969)
- May 20 - King Faisal I of Iraq (d. 1933)
- May 23 - Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., actor, cofounder of United Artists (d. 1939)
- May 31 - Lauri Kristian Relander, President of Finland (d. 1942)
- June 5 - John Maynard Keynes, Economist (d. 1946)
- June 21 - Lluís Companys i Jover, President of Catalonia (d. 1940)
- June 24 - Victor Franz Hess, US physicist
- July 4 - Rube Goldberg, cartoonist (d. 1970)
- July 29 - Porfirio Barba-Jacob, Colombian poet and writer (d. 1942)
- July 29 - Benito Mussolini, fascist dictator of Italy (d. 1945)
- August 19 - Elsie Ferguson, American actress (d. 1961)
- August 23 - US General Jonathan Wainwright, Medal of Honor recipient
- August 30 - Theo van Doesburg, Dutch artist, painter, architect and poet
- September 15 - Esteban Terradas i Illa, Catalan mathematician, scientist and engineer (d. 1950)
- October 26 - Paul Pilgrim, American athlete
- November 8 - Arnold Bax, composer
- November 11 - Ernest Ansermet, Swiss conductor (d. 1969)
- November 18 - Carl Vinson, United States Congressman (d. 1981)
- November 25 - Harvey Spencer Lewis, F.R.C., Rosicrucian mysticist and Imperator of AMORC (d. 1939)
- November 25 - Merrill C. Meigs, newspaper publisher, aviation promoter (d. 1968)
- December 3 - Anton Webern, Austrian composer
- December 16 ? Max Linder, French comedic actor (d. 1925)
- December 22 - Edgar Varčse, French composer
- December 25 - Maurice Utrillo, artist and illustrator
- January 10 - Samuel Mudd, formerly doctor to John Wilkes Booth
- January 23 - Gustave Doré, French artist
- February 13 - Richard Wagner, German composer
- February 17 - Napoleon Coste, French guitarist, composer
- March 14 - Karl Marx, German philosopher
- April 30 - Edouard Manet, painter
- May 24 - Abdel Kadir, Algerian leader
- May 26 - Edward Sabine, astronomer
- July 22 - Edward Ord, US army officer
- October 30 - Robert Volkmann, composer
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