Timeline of Selected Events: 1880-1889

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1880 Book Icon

  • Zola's The Experimental Novel.
  • London's Savoy Theatre opens on October 10th and becomes the first building in the world with total electric illumination. Pic Icon
  • England's first high school for girls opens.
  • Half of New York's population is packed into tenements on the Lower East Side, an area that accounts for a disproportionate 70 percent of the city's deaths.
  • A pharmacy to dispense vaginal contraceptives (suppositories based on quinine and cocoa butter) opens in England.
  • The second "Jim Crow" law passed in Tennessee segregates black passengers on railroads and establishes a precedent that will be followed throughout the South.
  • Halftone photographic illustrations appear in newspapers for the first time.
  • First Boer War breaks out between Britain and the Transvaal.
  • Charles Bradlaugh elected MP for Northampton but is thrown out of House of Commons after being refused opportunity to make an affirmation of allegiance rather than swear an oath as he is an atheist. He will not be allowed to take his seat until 1886, despite being re-elected three times.

1881 Book Icon

  • Some 669,431 immigrants enter the US, up from 91,918 in 1861, as a decade begins that will see 5.25 million immigrants arrive.
  • U.S. population reaches 53 million, and Britain has 29.7 million.

1882 Book Icon

  • Pearl Street Power Station in New York brings electric power to U.S.
  • Jesse James, who has been living quietly in St. Joseph, MO under the name of Thomas Howard, is shot in the head by fellow outlaw Robert Ford for the reward money. Pic Icon
  • Congress passes first U.S. act restricting general immigration. It excludes convicts, paupers, and defectives and imposes a head tax on immigrants.
  • Robert Koch discovers the tuberculosis bacillus and establishes that the disease is communicable. Pic Icon
  • Only 2 percent of New York homes have water connections, and while tenements have some rudimentary plumbing facilities nearly every private house has a backyard privy.

1883 Book Icon

  • Nikola Tessla invents a prototype of modern electric motor.
  • Francis Galton's Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development introduces the term "eugenics." Pic Icon
  • U.S. contraceptive production is pioneered by German-American entrepreneur Julius Schmid using lamb intestines to make condoms.
  • Northern Pacific transcontinental railroad is completed.
  • U.S. railroads adopt standard time with four separate time zones: Eastern, Central, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific.
  • The first fully automatic machine gun is invented by Hiram Stevens Maxim. Pic Icon
  • Robert Koch identifies the bacillus that causes Asiatic cholera, but a worldwide cholera pandemic begins that will kill millions in the next 11 years.

1884 Book Icon

  • Telephone wires connect Boston to New York.
  • Suggested reading: Francis Galton's "Free Will—Observations and Inferences."

1885 Book Icon

  • Agnes M. Clerke's Popular History of Astronomy is published. It is successful enough to appear in three subsequent editions and four printings.
  • Francis Galton devises an identification system based on fingerprints.
  • The first successful gasoline-driven motor vehicle reaches a speed of 9 mph.
  • New French and English models of bicycle make it suitable for general use.
  • Pasteur first uses his vaccine against rabies. Pic Icon

1886 Book Icon

  • Second discovery of skeletons of the Neanderthal type
  • W. D. Howells begins his column in Harper's Weekly defending literary realism.
  • Statue of Liberty is dedicated, the pedestal of which is inscribed in 1903 with the words: "Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,/ The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./ Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed, to me:/ I lift my lamp beside the golden door". Pic Icon
  • The Haymarket Massacre in Chicago gives the U.S. labor movement its first martyrs and marks May Day as a worldwide revolutionary memorial day. Pic Icon
  • American Federation of Labor is founded by English-American cigar maker Samuel Gompers.
  • Labor agitation for an 8-hour day and better working conditions make this a peak year for strikes in nineteenth century America. Some 610,000 US workers go out on strike, and monetary losses exceed $33.5 million.
  • Das Kapital is published in English.

1887 Book Icon

  • U.S. telephone listings reach 200,000 by end of year.
  • Edward Muybridge's Animal Locomotion is published, with 781 groups of frames which give scientific information about motion. Pic Icon

1888 Book Icon

  • George Eastman perfects the box camera, revolutionizing photography by making it possible for any amateur to take satisfactory snapshots.
  • Jack the Ripper makes headlines, feeding women poisoned grapes and disemboweling them. Pic Icon

1889 Book Icon

  • Francis Galton's Natural Inheritance. Pic Icon
  • The "safety" bicycle is introduced in the U.S. and within 4 years more than a million Americans will be riding the new bikes.
  • Daimler and Maybach produce the first four-wheeled automobile. Pic Icon
  • Nellie Bly attempts to outdo the hero of Jules Verne's 1873 Around the World in 80 Days. She has earlier feigned madness to gain admission for 10 days to New York's insane asylum.
  • A worldwide influenza pandemic will affect 40 percent of the human race in next 2 years.
  • Coin operated telephones are installed in stores, hotels, restaurants and saloons (local calls will cost 5 cents until 1951).
  • Aunt Jemima pancake flour, invented in St. Joseph, MO, is the first self-rising flour for pancakes and the first ready-mix food ever to be introduced commercially. The name of flour is inspired by a minstrel show at which two blackfaced comedians do a New Orleans-style cakewalk to a tune called "Aunt Jemima."
  • 1860
  • 1870
  • 1880
  • 1890
  • 1900
  • 1910