- January 1 - World celebrates what is regarded as the start of the new century. (Zero-ists' argument that new century should be celebrated in 1900 rejected worldwide).
- January 1 - The six colonies that make up Australia are federated as under an act of the British Parliament, though full independence is a gradual process (see Australian Constitutional History).
- January 1 - Nigeria becomes a British protectorate
- January 7 - Alferd Packer is released from prison after serving 18 years for cannibalism
- January 10 - The first great Texas gusher, oil discovered at Spindletop in Beaumont, Texas
- January 22 - Edward VII becomes King after his mother, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, dies. His own son Prince George, Duke of York becomes Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay.
- February 20 - The legislature of Hawaii Territory convenes for the first time.
- February 25 - J.P. Morgan incorporates the United States Steel Corporation.
- March 2 - The United States Congress passes the Platt amendment, limiting the autonomy of Cuba as a condition for the withdrawal of American troops.
- March 6 - In Bremen an assassin attempts to kill Wilhelm II of Germany.
- March 17 - A showing of 71 Vincent van Gogh paintings in Paris, 11 years after his death, creates a sensation.
- April 25 - New York state becomes the first to require automobile license plates.
- May 9 - Australia opens its first parliament in Melbourne.
- May 27 - In New Jersey, the Edison Storage Battery Company is founded.
- June 12 - Cuba becomes US protectorate
- June 24 - First exhibition of Pablo Picasso opens. It receives favorable reviews.
- July 4 - The 1,282 foot (390 meters) covered bridge crossing the St.John River at Hartland, New Brunswick, Canada opens. It is the longest covered bridge in the world.
- July 24 - O. Henry is released from prison in Austin, Texas after serving three years for embezzlement from a bank.
- September 2 - Vice President Theodore Roosevelt utters the famous phrase, "Speak softly and carry a big stick" at the Minnesota State Fair.
- September 5 - The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (later renamed Minor League Baseball), is formed in Chicago, Illinois.
- September 6 - American anarchist Leon Czolgosz shoots and fatally wounds US President William McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. McKinley dies there eight days later.
- September 7 - The Boxer Rebellion in China officially ends with the signing of the Peking Protocol.
- September 14 - With the death of William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt succeeds him as President of the United States
- October 2 - Royal Navy's first submarine launched at Barrow
- October 24 – Michigan schoolteacher Annie Taylor goes down Niagara Falls in a barrel and survives
- October 29 - In Amherst, Massachusetts nurse Jane Toppan is arrested for murdering the Davis family of Boston with an overdose of morphine.
- October 29 - Capital punishment: Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of US President William McKinley, is executed by electrocution.
- November 9 - Prince George, Duke of Cornwall becomes Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester.
- December 3 - US President Theodore Roosevelt delivers a 20,000-word speech to the House of Representatives asking Congress curb the power of trusts "within reasonable limits".
- December 10 – Marie Curie receives doctorate
- December 12 - Guglielmo Marconi receives the first trans-Atlantic radio signal in Newfoundland, Canada; it is Morse code for the letter "S."
- January 3 - Ngo Dinh Diem, President of South Vietnam (d. 1963)
- January 16 - Frank Zamboni, inventor; most famous for the Zamboni machine (d. 1988)
- January 26 - Stuart Symington, politician (d. 1988)
- January 27 - Willy Fritsch, actor (d. 1973)
- January 29 - Allen Du Mont, television pioneer
- January 29 - E. P. Taylor, Canadian business tycoon (d. 1989)
- January 30 - Rudolf Caracciola, driver of racing cars (d. 1959)
- January 31 - Marie Luise Kaschnitz, writer (d. 1974)
- February 1 - Clark Gable, American actor (d. 1960)
- February 2 - Jascha Heifetz, musician (d. 1987)
- February 10 - Stella Adler, acting teacher (d. 1992)
- February 16 - Wayne King, band leader ("The Waltz King")
- February 25 - Zeppo Marx, comedian, The Marx Brothers (d. 1979)
- February 27 - Horatio Luro, Hall of Fame horse trainer (d. 1991)
- February 28 - Linus Pauling, winner of Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1954 and Peace 1962; only person to win two Nobel Prizes outright (d. 1994)
- March 4 - Charles Goren, bridge expert (d. 1991)
- March 11 - Leopold III of Belgium (d.. 1983)
- March 21 - Karl Arnold, politician (d. 1958)
- March 24 - Ub Iwerks, cartoonist (d. 1971)
- March 27 - Carl Barks, Donald Duck illustrator (d. 2000)
- March 27 - Erich Ollenhauer, politician (d. 1963)
- April 1 - Whittaker Chambers, spy (d. 1961)
- April 29 - Emperor Hirohito of Japan (d. 1989)
- May 5 - Blind Willie McTell, blues singer (d. 1959)
- May 7 - Gary Cooper, actor (d. 1961)
- May 17 - Werner Egk, composer (d. 1983)
- May 20 - Max Euwe, Dutch world champion chess 1935-1937 (d. 1981)
- May 21 - Horace Heidt, band leader (d. 1986)
- May 21 - Sam Jaffe, producer (d. 2000)
- June 17 - F. F. E. Yeo-Thomas, WW II SOE agent and hero (d. 1964)
- June 18 - Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia (d. 1918)
- June 24 - Harry Partch, microtonal composer (d. 1974)
- July 17 - Bruno Jasieński, Polish poet (d. 1938)
- July 20 - Heinie Manush, Baseball Hall of Famer (d. 1971)
- July 31 - Jean Dubuffet, painter (d. 1985)
- August 4 - Louis Armstrong, jazz musician (d. 1971)
- September 9 - James Blades, English percussionist (d. 1999)
- September 29 - Enrico Fermi, Italian physicist (d. 1954)
- September 29 - Lanza del Vasto, philosopher, poet and non-violent activist (d. 1981)
- October 2 - Kiki, singer (d. 1953)
- October 10 - Alberto Giacometti, Italian sculptor (d. 1966)
- November 22 - Joaquin Rodrigo, composer (d. 1999)
- December 5 - Walter Elias Disney, later known as Walt Disney, American animator and film producer (d. 1966)
- December 5 - Werner Heisenberg, German physicist (d. 1976)
- December 16 - Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist (d. 1978)
- December 19 - Rudolf Hell, inventor (d. 2002)
- December 25- Her Royal Highness Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester
- Nadezhda Alliluyeva-Stalin, later second wife of Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin (d. 1932)
- January 11 - Vasily Kalinnikov, composer
- January 22 - Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom and Empress of India dies, after the longest ever reign by a British monarch.
- January 27 - Giuseppe Verdi, Italian grand opera composer
- February 11 - Milan I, king of Serbia.
- February 22 - George Francis FitzGerald, mathematician
- March 13 - Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States
- April 3 - Richard D'Oyly Carte, impresario
- June 2 - George Leslie Mackay, missionary
- July 4 - Johannes Schmidt, German linguist
- August 5 - The Empress Frederick, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria and mother of German Emperor Wilhelm II
- September 5 - Ignacij Klemenčič, Slovene physicist (b. 1853)
- September 9 - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, painter
- September 14 - William McKinley US President
- October 29 - Leon Czolgosz assassin of US President William McKinley
- Abdur Rahman Khan, amir of Afghanistan